56 Things I’m Proud of at 56

About Me Debi Slinger

What are the 56 things I'm proud of as another birthday on March 16 this year - when I turn 56. What have I done in those years that I'm proud of, grateful for, achieved?

Frankly, 56 isn't enough, I need to be 100 at least to write everything that has touched my life and so many of them are what I call 'box tickers' - saw the Pyramids, New Year's Eve in Dublin, paraglided in Hawaii. But there are others that are those more insignificant things that make your heart skip a beat and make you feel fortunate and gracious.

You also need to understand that my work has given me opportunities to do some things that others take for granted. I've been a climbing and abseiling instructor, skiing instructor, white water rafting guide, bushwalking leader and so on. So for some people going rafting would be on their list. For me - that's work (although still exciting).56 Things I'm Proud of

I know that as soon as I write this list, I'll think of other things I've done/seen/found that would supersede this but hey, gotta start somewhere.

So here we go. My 56 in no particular order. Ready. Set. Go.....

  1. Birthed three amazing children who have grown into amazing adults. Born 1998, 2000, 2002
  2. Swam with giant manta rays. 2011
  3. Sailed to Komodo Island to see the dragons. 2011
  4. Working at an orphanage in Cambodia. 2009
  5. Walked on the Great Wall of China in winter when there were no westerners around. 1985
  6. Lived in Hong Kong for a while with the most delightful Indian family. 199756 Things I'm proud of
  7. Walked on fire. 1995
  8. Spent hours watching orangutans being themselves in a rehab. centre. 2009
  9. Expedition Leader in South Australia on an ANZSES trip monitoring southern right whale behaviour (Head of Bight) and exploring an old whaling station (Fowlers Bay). 1994
  10. Expedition Manager for Earthwatch called Australian Reef Culture - monitoring and researching soft and hard coral spawning off Magnetic Island. 199456 Things I'm proud of
  11. Took 28 years but finally, lead climbed Little Thor (Grade 20) at Mt Arapiles that's been my nemesis for many years. Then led Pilot Error (Grade 21). Thor was clean, took a lead fall on Pilot Error. Not fancy but I did it. 2016
  12. Slept in the outdoors for over 2,200 nights of my life.
  13. Travelled to over 50 countries and still counting.
  14. Fell truly in love with an Icelandic man with an open heart and for the first time in my life felt appreciated, respected, honoured and loved. Unfortunately, he passed away and my heart still aches. 2016
  15. Rafted the Zambeze. 199456 Things I'm proud of
  16. Survived two narcissists in my life.
  17. Took control of my financial future. Now!
  18. Wrote two books that are published and one won an International Award 2010 & 2012
  19. Finished by Graduate Diploma in Outdoor Education. 1992
  20. At 16 walked in the Grampians on a school camp and five of us got lost. My dad always said, 'if you find a river, fence or track follow it.' So I did and we all made our way back to camp - before everyone else!
  21. Dux of my year in 1978.56 Things I'm proud of
  22. Sent over 100 letters typed on a good old 'typewriter' to protect our old growth forests - 1977 - 1980.
  23. Volunteered - a lot, actually around six weeks a year. Ongoing.
  24. Quit smoking. 1985
  25. Saved a man's life in a car accident. 2016
  26. Rode a camel in Jaisalmer into the desert night. 1986
  27. Hot air ballooning over The Serengeti. 1995
  28. My parents are still alive (84 and 85) and my two older brothers and we all get along beautifully. Ongoing
  29. Renovated four houses.56 Things I'm proud of
  30. Climbed Mount Kinabalu in Borneo with my kids. 2010
  31. Worked with young male offenders in the outdoors, toughened me up and gave me a perspective of how other peoples lives can be. 1991 - 1993
  32. Spent an afternoon listening to the Dalai Lama speak at an event. Magic! 2001
  33. Taught myself Auslan (Australian Sign Language). Ongoing
  34. Was a vegetarian for five years including during my first pregnancy and partly into my second. 1995 - 2000
  35. Learnt to fly fish and caught an 8lb rainbow trout (which I released back into the lake). 1985
  36. Became a certified scuba diver but then burst my eardrum. Doh! 1990
  37. Swam with dolphins and seals when 7 months pregnant with my first child. Brilliant. 1997
  38. Learnt how to not care what other people think of me. Ongoing
  39. Learnt what true friendships and not settle for less - discarded those that are just passing through my life. Ongoing
  40. State records in Shot Put, 50m butterfly in the '70s.
  41. Made gift hampers for a 56 Things I'm proud ofcommunity I was living in for those who were having a tough time. 2005 - 2009
  42. Protested environmental issues since 1979 - Gordon below Franklin River, Lake Peddar, Cattlemen in the High Country, Women's Right to Choose Abortion, Asylum Seeker support, Soup Kitchen support at Christmas + more. Ongoing
  43. Made myself a living out of teaching creative activities such as sculpting, mosaics, repurposing etc. 2003 - Ongoing
  44. Spent two nights at the Mount Kenya Safari Club with a girlfriend and two of the most lovely senior gentlemen I've ever met. 1995
  45. Spent a night on The Ark in Kenya (with same people above) 1995
  46. Managed to do 7 static chin-ups in my early 30's plus 3 one-handed chin-ups. Now I could do....3 on a good day. Doh. 1996
  47. I can't run but I've walked 35kms in one day just for fun. 1995
  48. Took the plunge and had a knee replacement at 47 despite the hesitancy of the surgeon. Was XC skiing three months later! 2008
  49. Made friends from all around the world that I'm still connected with and enlighten me on their own travels, lives, cultures, journeys, adventures and families. Dalia, Wayan, Semesa, Siggy, Pha. Ongoing
  50. Chosen true friends to be in my life and let the others go. 2016 and 2017.56 Things I'm proud of
  51. Built a Facebook network of 7,000 members who are passionate about repurposing and upcycling. Ongoing
  52. Created a Facebook page for locals in my community to Buy, Swap, Sell with over 4,500 members. Ongoing
  53. Watched my daughter graduate secondary school with her amazing friends and receive a Lifeworks Achievement Award. 2016
  54. Dinner with a Fijian family (he was my taxi driver), sharing stories of life in Fiji and Australia, playing with their children and drinking kava (which is like drinking mud).
  55. Taught myself to weld, do basic plumbing, can swing a hammer and fix, mend, repair and restore most basic household problems - except anything electrical.
  56. Raised over $10,000 for charity. Ongoing

Now it's your turn.

What are your Top 3 lifetime achievements?

Leave a comment below.


  1. Becca on April 2, 2018 at 11:12 pm

    Wish I`d done half the stuff you have. What an inspiration Debi.

    • deborah on April 13, 2018 at 12:03 pm

      Life is certainly a wonderful adventure Becca.

  2. Petra on June 25, 2018 at 11:34 am

    Are you sure you’re 56! Hope I look that good at 56!

    • deborah on June 27, 2018 at 11:22 am

      Good genes perhaps Petra.

  3. Petra on September 1, 2018 at 2:22 pm

    What was your highlight in all those years?

    • deborah on September 15, 2018 at 10:04 am

      Iceland was brilliant. Komodo Island amazing. But it’s often just the simple things like being part of a festival or coming across a wedding and you’re generously invited in. That’s the magic for me in travelling.

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