Why Do I Believe In You? Because of My Story!

This website has been up and running for a few months now.  Some of you may have poked around, maybe even read the About Pages.  As I do these posts every week I’m learning that writing about myself feels … vulnerable.  Maybe not for some people, but for me it does.  I don’t want this website to be about “look at me” because that’s totally not the point.  At the same time, I think reading about others’ stories inspires us, so I’ll continue, because a lightbulb went off for me today.  The entire reason this website and the vision of building a community has been so important to me is because of the experiences and adventures I’ve had in my life for the last 10 years.  What I know for sure is if I can have those experiences, SO CAN YOU!  Not necessarily the ones I’ve had because obviously that may not be your dream, but the ones YOU want!  

When I was 50 there wasn’t one glimmer or hint of ANY of what I’m sharing below on my radar.  None.  Zip.  Nada.  Why? Because there had been no time to even think about what was coming next.  I was an entrepreneur mom, practically before the word existed.   I started a medical transcription business out of financial necessity and because I was determined to be at home with our infant daughter.  I knew nothing about transcription and had no experience.  Home computers were just appearing on the horizon.  That didn’t stop me.  I built a business, worked from home, and stayed with it for 12 years until I needed to challenge my brain in a different way.  At that point I returned to teaching piano (undergrad degree in Piano Performance) in a home studio.  The studio was packed, life was busy, our daughter went off to college.  For those of you who have not experienced that … It.  Is.  A.  Big. Transition.  And then came that question.  Now What?

This.  This my “what”.   It started from … nowhere, and surprised me as much as it surprised everyone else.  I had no climbing experience to speak of other than a couple of ascents of Mt. Rainier in the 1970’s because I spent my college summers working there (fabulous summer job, BTW!)

My answer?  Go climb Mt. Rainier again.  Why?  Because it was time.  That’s the best I can offer.  I had been busy with life, busy being a wife and mom, busy working.  But now – it was time to do something for me.  Yes, there was a defining moment.  April 14, 2007, to be exact.  I signed up for a climb with International Mountain Guides for Labor Day weekend, which gave me a little over 4 months to train.  My last climb of Rainier was in 1978, but I remembered enough about it to know that I had some work to do if I wanted to get to the top.

I had always been a walker and done a bit of running here and there.  But I didn’t belong to a gym and didn’t do any kind of regular physical training.  My convenient excuse was the same as it is for all of us – there was no time in my schedule.  (Totally true, but now I would tell you to find a way to make it happen!)   I didn’t own a pair of hiking boots.  I hadn’t had a pack on my back for 35+ years.  So.  In less than a week I  joined the gym I still belong to, signed up for a session with a trainer, got a solid training program on paper and spent the next couple of weeks IN PAIN!  It was one of the most exhilarating times of my life!!  My first hike in 35+ years happened that very next weekend.

Reactions ranged from astonishment to admiration.  Lots of eye rolling.  Lots of incredulous “you’re going to do what??”  Right. Labor Day weekend came and Mt. Rainier happened.   I made it to the top!   But far more importantly, I remembered everything that I loved about being in the mountains.  Why had I allowed that to escape from my life ???  Work, kid, blah, blah, blah …  Go figure.

I was now hiking every weekend.  It didn’t take me long after that climb to decide I was going to do Rainier again the next summer.   I chose a different side of the mountain for a change of scenery – one I’d never been on before.  And somewhere during that year I started to dream about something bigger … and it grew and grew into:

3 more climbs of Mt. Rainier followed in 2008, 2009, 2012

Mt. Whitney in 2010, 2012

Kilimanjaro/Africa 2008

Cayambe and Cotopaxi/Ecuador 2009

Bhutan trek 2009  

Mt. Elbrus/Russia 2010  

Aconcagua/Argentina 2011*  

Denali/Alaska 2011*

Orizaba and Ixtaccihautl/Mexico 2011

Nepal trek/Annapurna 2012

Nepal trek/Everest 2014

*Did not summit, and that’s a story for another post

 

Here’s my point.  This journey has TOTALLY CHANGED THE DIRECTION OF MY LIFE!!   It started with that question – NOW WHAT?  It became a dream, setting goal after goal, one step at a time, one mountain at a time.  I’m still working out at my gym, 5 mornings a week and fitness is a huge part of my life.  The list of where I want to go is getting longer.

The first time I was in Nepal in 2012, I had a glorious month to walk and think.  Being in the mountains always provides clarity for me and while I was there I knew a seed was being planted.  It grew during my second trip to Nepal in 2014.  Another month of walking, thinking.  That’s when I knew it was time to come home and find a way to start sharing this.  You Have to Just Start has launched, the dream of building a community to support and encourage others to live life fully is growing, and YOU are part of it!

So you guys – it’s your turn.  I want you to ask that same question.  NOW WHAT?  Dare to dream your dreams and dare to make them happen.  Are you ready?  You have to just start!

 

Your biggest fan!
Jean

Photos from my climbing adventures:

Nepal / Everest Trek 2014

Nepal / Prayer Flags 2014

Denali 2011 // Image Credit: Ann Sparks

Africa / Kilimanjaro 2008

Africa / Kilimanjaro 2008 Summit

Mt. Rainier 2008 Summit

Mt. Rainier 2008