Twenty years ago, I was an avid mountain biker. I flew off hills and ledges descending so quickly I was never sure how I’d land. These trails were so precise in their paths they looked more like movie sets than actual trails in the Canyon Lands of New Mexico. I was fueled by the thrill of adventure and the imprecision of the road ahead. I was resilient in my thoughts and my actions. I was brave.
A few years ago, my friend Hugh and I had a margarita or three and started talking about biking. “Let me just tell you something, I said, “I used to be a badass mountain biker.” As you might guess, Hugh, who is actually a badass mountain biker, has never let me live that comment down. And most recently, when this topic reared its ugly head, my husband said, “Yeah, you know the badass you advertised in the brochure when we first met? I really have yet to meet her.”
My first thought was to help him remember how I squeezed a living, breathing, human the size of a watermelon through a straw four years ago at the age of forty six. But, when I calmed down a bit my next thought was to acknowledge why his comment was so unsettling to me: because he was right. It was the cold, hard truth. In the last few years it’s been very challenging for me to remember what happened to the woman in that brochure. The one who was up for anything: the woman who had a fire burning in her gut and a light in her eyes.
I want my brochure to read: She is grateful. She is perceptive and intuitive. She’d road trip at the drop of a hat and swim the English Channel. She’d learn to surf and drive a race car. She would always take a risk when it came to fashion. Her head is always in a new book. She is a mother who has more questions than opinions and forgives her daughters more readily than they forgive themselves. She says no with ease and yes with pleasure. She believes in belly laughter. And listening. And margaritas.
My brochure actually reads: She’s a devoted mom. She loves and adores her family and her husband and always puts them first. She’s a faithful friend. She is having a lot of fun writing and getting her business off the ground but she feels guilty, a lot. She is a good daughter, a good sister. She is fit. She eats well. She’s pretty funny. She’s tired a lot. She likes her sleep. She reads from time to time. She is patient, more of the time. She listens, most of the time.
My husband’s “brochure” comment was my call to action. I've decided it’s time to up the ante when it comes to adventure. For now I’m focusing on goals that will challenge me to face new endeavors. The road has been rough but I’ve picked myself up and wiped the gravel from my hands. I’m leaving guilt and fear behind. I am bringing only the desire and permission to get back on the trails, metaphorically.
I’m leaving for Costa Rica soon and I will be in the water every day learning to surf. The ocean has always lured and intimidated me in equal measure. The beach, water and salty air inspire me and I’m going to get to know these parts of Mother Earth a little more intimately this year. I now recognize that my vulnerable self, my ability to remain open and be ok with falling down and getting back up, is my best self. This version of vulnerability opens a path which allows me to live life to its fullest. I still have it in me.