26/03/2013 13:39 GMT | Updated 26/05/2013 06:12 BST

What Was the Most Memorable Experience?

Shelley Emling

"What was the most memorable experience from your childhood?" is a question that is often asked of us and I think that no matter what the answer is it is usually something which we did for the first time which pushed us into the unknown in some way and gave us our first adrenaline rush.

It's no surprise to me that it becomes an addictive feeling and something which a lot of us strive to recreate, or at least wish we did. While I am not exactly a stunt-woman or a Formula One driver, I still get that buzz from doing something new which challenges me - hence my trips into the jungle and leaping from 10 metre diving boards!

I have to attribute this to growing up as part of a large family. There are five of us 'Barker' children and I was the middle one. I always wanted to do what my two elder sisters were doing although they were that bit older (the five and seven year gap seemingly greater then) and would push myself to keep up with their swimming skills or biking/running/dancing. My eldest sister Jayne would often go with my mum to an evening class which I was deeply envious of - they would always opt for the creative courses and I think I would have given anything to go along, so much more fun than my boring schoolwork which I found so tedious.

Whether it is taking a new course or jumping from an aeroplane, everyone has their own personal idea of what a new adventure is to them yet; it is often thought that once you have children you are required to give up this part of your life. This has never been so untrue. It has become clear to me that just because I am classified as 'middle-aged' at 51, it doesn't mean that I'm on the scrap heap! Now I've got the time, the energy and the thirst for new experiences and I've never felt better.

It may be training how to dive, which was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life, or learning a new skill and finding a new hobby which I did by taking an online course on digital photography, the benefits of continuing to push ourselves outside our comfort zones are great.

It's healthy and invigorating for people to do something out of the ordinary once in a while and find some 'me time' for themselves, something which many parents might not be very familiar with anymore if they have children (grown up or not) and a career focus.

I have found that keeping myself active and pushing the boundary makes me feel happier and more satisfied with life, as well as feeling younger and giving me a refreshed outlook on life. I am constantly finding out new things about myself. When I undertake a new project, I quickly learn about my strengths and weaknesses and also how resilient I am at coping with failure or high expectations.

However, while I get great satisfaction from the various challenges which I have taken throughout my life and I believe that you should do things for yourself, when we have kids that changes and I hope that my daughter is inspired by what I have done and has inherited my enthusiasm for life. So, I challenge you to try something new this week, whether it's by yourself or getting the family on board too.

If you're struggling to find a gift for Easter other than chocolate, why not think outside the box and challenge her to try something new? She will reap the benefits and just remember, no matter how scary it might seem at first; at least it's not a 'Bushtucker Trial'!

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