People change and grow over time. I wasn’t born an “adventurer” and growing up I wouldn’t have considered my mom to be one either. I have always and will always carry a love for my mom only a son can know, but our relationship hasn’t always been perfect. My teenage years were a test of love and faith as she worked full time and tried her best to raise my sister and I. As an adolescent I never thought I would grow up to be almost exactly like my mom: steadfast, strong, passionate. (Can you tell by the all black Slash t-shirt?). As it turns out my mom also likes classic rock and in the last couple years going on adventures too.
Originally from an underprivileged neighborhood in San Antonio, Texas, my mother worked hard in high school and received a full-ride scholarship to Vassar: a private woman’s college in upstate New York. After two years she decided to come back to Texas, married my father, had me, and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin at the age of 19. After college, my mom worked full time for various digital mapping firms (pre-google earth/maps) in the 1990’s & early 2000’s that required her to travel all over the United States and eventually to Europe, India, and China. Looking back I start to realize that some of my “adventures” are childhood memories I’ve recreated to find my sense of self. I am rediscovering a love for life my mother taught me when I was young.
Eventually, we left Texas and moved to Colorado. Here I spent the majority of my adolescent life until I left for college. My adventurous spirit liked to do things outside, but I was full of anxiety and fear and limited myself from doing things I had only dreamed of. My biggest fears were flying and water. My mother saw the world through her work and always pushed me to see it for myself. I never thought I would be able to get over my fear of flying until I became an adult and now realize the love of travel she always wanted me to have. I couldn’t swim until I was 16 years old because I had a fear of water, and it was my mom that took me whitewater rafting and helped me invest in my first kayak. Less than two years later on my 18th birthday, I ran my first whitewater kayak trip on the Arkansas River in Colorado.
Over the years my mom experienced stress and health issues that prevented her from doing activities she had enjoyed in college. Imagine my surprise as every time I returned from an adventure or came home for the holidays from college to find my mom was beginning to take her own well deserved adventures. My mother changed her health and activity level through diet and exercise. She found friends (many of who are empowering women) in her church and work that helped her reach new heights literally.
I think the most profound moment for both of us during my mother’s lifestyle transformation was not the different activities she was trying (Snowshoeing, dogsledding, and snowmobiling being the most interesting!), but the fact that she achieved something that years earlier neither of us would have thought to be possible. I am proud to say that MY MOM biked over 200 miles in 10 days (YES on a bicycle) on the Katy Trail in St. Louis, Missouri. This was the moment I realized I am inspired by mom. Distance and methodology are arbitrary. The important lesson she taught me as an adult is to not limit ourselves and instead overcome what we previously thought not possible by pushing ourselves past the edge of our perceived limitations.
The recent years our relationship has improved many times over and we frequently meet up around the country on different adventures. I no longer live out home and am now out of college, but I still think about my mom and her story. My little sister is now getting ready to leave home for college and I see her and wonder who she will become. What will she accomplish as a person, a woman, and a dreamer like us?
And last but not least, I will always remember the moment depicted in this photo. It was my 22nd birthday and I would be graduating from college in a few weeks. My mother had come down to Texas from Colorado. We met her and my relatives for dinner in San Marcos. It was this moment that I opened a card from my mom like I do every year on my birthday and inside was a ticket to Iceland. I had been all over the United States, but the fear of true adventure always kept me close to home. She sealed my fate with that ticket across the world and now I am never going to go back to living in fear. Thanks mom for inspiring me to chase my dreams! (This moment did and still does bring me to tears)