When I was knee-high to the cattle roaming near my Midwestern home, my grandfather gave me a block of old barn wood for my birthday. Burned into it was that famous Helen Keller quote, “Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” My grandfather knew a thing or two about growing things in the dirt, and about his precocious granddaughter.
Later, in a relatively abbreviated period of time, I went from a deliciously luxurious life spent marinating in grand adventures, near and far, to the sometimes austere and certainly crazed life of a single mama running her own business and running after a tiny human.
Where do great adventures factor in?
Do I still take that Chamonix ski trip, but this time pack in my kiddo instead of my ice tools? Do I throw caution to the Montana wind and buy a ticket to New Zealand? Or do I now buy two tickets and download 20 hours of cartoons to the iPad for the flight? And do I realize a lifelong dream of learning how to sail, press pause on my Montana life and allow the winds to carry me around the globe…albeit this time with a tiny-human sized life jacket aboard?
The answer is simple.
Yes, yes and YES!
I’ve made many mistakes at this parenting game that I've tackled on my own.
But what I am most proud of, what really sends the gooey, chocolate center of my heart into palpitation, is when my daughter runs up to me and says, “Mama, let’s go on an ADVENTURE!”
Now, to a nearly 3 year-old the term ‘adventure’ means a slew of different things. We often load up on crusty bread and ‘adventure’ on our bikes to the MSU duck pond and share carbs with our webbed friends. We also ‘adventure’ to nearby Yellowstone National Park for geyser gallivanting, to practice our elk calls and then spend the evening bouldering on grassy slopes high above Gardiner with Electric Peak on the horizon.
And most recently, ‘adventuring’ has included Kaia’s inflatable dragon floatie that we’ve launched for many aquatic missions across Montana’s rivers and lakes (Lake Upsata is a recent favorite…full of lily blossoms, loons and trumpeter swans!).
As my daughter grows older, she continues to astound me with her simple wisdom. She is correct in that ‘adventuring’ does not always have to include lengthy plane rides, schlepping gear up a far-flung mountain or river, and scaring myself silly in general. All of that is good in moderation, but what we are so lucky to enjoy in Montana is the spectrum of adventure. From meandering ambles scouting for bear grass on the Whitefish Trail in northwestern Montana, to leisurely canoe paddles in the stunning Missouri River breaks, to dawn patrol backcountry ski days filled with homemade muffins and fresh powder tele turns in Hyalite just south of Bozeman…we can fill our boots with adventure in any fashion we choose.
All we have to do is walk out our front door.
Becky Edwards is a runner, climber, skier and all around mountain lover who resides in the shadows of the Bridger Range with her family. She owns a communications and marketing consulting company: www.SunSnowCreative.com and is a founder of www.MontanaMountainMamas.org.
In the Fall of 2014, Tylenol launched an ad campaign, called For What Matters Most, in which Abigail Rockwell, the granddaughter of the great American painter Norman Rockwell, looks at "Freedom from Want" (pictured below), her grandfather's famous depiction of the stereotypical American family, and comments that "Our definition of family is now expanding."
Not long ago, I heard country star, Jake Owen, sing his hit song, What We Ain’t Got during a concert in Phoenix. It’s not a holiday ballad, but the core message of the song certainly applies during this season of list-making and gift-giving.
We struggle to find the right gadget or gear for those on our list. And often spend a fortune mailing last minute gifts to faraway friends and relatives.But what is it that they (and we) really want?
We ain't happy where we are,
There's greener grass in the neighbors yard.
A bigger house and a faster car.
Ask the elderly, the cancer patient or the returning vet what's on his or her wish list and most likely it won’t be more stuff. Perhaps their list includes good health, a roll back of the clock, and extra time with loved ones.
Our favorite doors are always locked.
On a higher hill with a taller top.
It’s hard to say why it’s such a struggle for most of us to askew the stuff and ask for what we might really want. If I knew….well, that’s a discussion for a different time!
But this year, right now, my holiday wish for all is for more sparkling laughter and meaningful experiences.
More fresh air, art, music and poetry. More time listening to snow fall (I know), children giggling, waves lapping on the beach and wind in the trees. More time sharing stories and quiet moments with those we love.
And more time appreciating what we’ve got.
Editor's Note: Teddy Hayes took a break from collegiate studies to spend six months in Ecuador learning Spanish, salsa dancing, volunteering and traveling. He spent time bunking with family friends who were in the midst of a year long Ecuadoran adventure. Their goal: to provide their two young children the taste of another culture.
The sound disturbed me on some primal level. Deep, mournful, incessant. Mother cows calling out for their young calves. Separated by fencing, the pairs would not be reunited until the day’s branding ritual was completed.
I remember that Saturday like it was yesterday, the day I attended my first neighborhood branding. New to Montana, everything about the process was unfamiliar.
"Ok, everyone. Look at me and smile!”
I snapped a picture of Tim, Katie and Matt standing at the exact gate where the bulls would be released during the upcoming San Fermin Festival in Pamplona, Spain.
“Everyone ready?” asked Tim.
Lately, I have been thinking about and discussing with friends, family, and colleagues, the delicate balance we seek when managing risk, fear, preparation, wisdom, loss, knowledge and exploration.
Perhaps our formula is different when the situation involves our children.