If you haven’t had a chance to read our bio page, then let me tell you that Mom has come a LONG way from the sheltered woman she was 10 even 4 years ago. Let me explain. It wasn’t until 5 years ago that she took her first international flight. It wasn’t until this year that she took her first girl’s trip, where she went out of the country for the first time without myself or my father in tow.
Look, Mom is 61, she comes from an era where women were not quite homemakers, but not exactly the independent women we millennials strive to be these days. More women from back when she was my age or even in her 20s were very reliant on their husband, they shared all bank accounts, and women weren’t avid solo travelers. Hell, Mom barely drives down the highway alone. She’s been very happy staying within her comfort zone and relying on my father and me to help her with everything, but in the past few years, something has changed in her.
Putting on a Brave New Face
I would say that Mom really started transitioning into her brave new lifestyle starting in 2015 when she was still in her 50s. I’m a huge fan of the Bert Show, and for years I’d heard of the Atlanta Moon Ride, but had never done it before.
If you’re not familiar with the Bert Show or the Atlanta Moon Ride, then let me give you the short version. Bert from the Bert Show started an organization with his ex-wife called Bert’s Big Adventure where they take children with terminal illnesses and their families down to Disney World. Throughout the year they have charity events and activities to get money for the trip. One of their biggest events is the Atlanta Moon Ride where 100s maybe even thousands of people ride bikes through the most popular areas of Atlanta including Little 5 Points, Inman Park, Midtown, and Virginia Highlands (most in costume) to raise money for the cause. Just look at the map of the route, it’s insane, but so much fun!
I told Mom all about the moon ride and how I wanted to do it and she actually agreed to go with me! At that point, that was a HUGE surprise, because it was a night time event in the middle of the city, we needed to wear costumes, and it was going to be a long ride. She went for it! We went to the event early to drink at Piedmont Park and then set off on the ride as Superwoman and Batwoman. I was so proud of her for forgetting she was in her 50s and going for it with me. Normally there would have been more pushback about being out that late, riding the bike that long at her age, or just the thought of being in the city outside at night. When there were zero excuses, I started feeling more excited about inviting her to do things with me, because for so long I was doing these types of things on my own. My husband hates the outdoors, hates adventure, and just isn’t really into trying new things like I am. I am the opposite of my Mom, I LOVE independence and have never been afraid of stepping out of my comfort zone. Mom said I’ve been really helping her and she’s grateful to have a daughter to keep her young.
International Trips Were a Possibility
As I said, 2015 was a pivotal year for Mom. In December Mom, Dad and I flew from Atlanta to Japan to visit my brother and his family. As I’ve mentioned before, that was our very first real international trip to a country where people didn’t always speak English. Prior to that trip I’d been to Toronto and she’d been to the Bahamas, but the Japan trip was so different. Mom was excited to be in a foreign country, she hated the flight and the food, but she made it!
Prior to 2015, there would have been some excuse for not making that trip. Whether it was the trip is too expensive, the flight is too long, not enough vacation time–whatever she and my father could have come up with as an excuse not to go would have normally been the case. Mom finally started just going with the flow, it had just taken her 5 decades to do it!
Colorado Gave Mom Confidence
The first time I noticed a big change with her outlook on life and adventure was when we took a trip to Colorado back in 2017 with my son (then 11 months) and my niece (then 15). I had to be there for work so I rented an SUV, pumped some breastmilk for the baby, and showed them the way to the mall. Normally Mom would just stay in the hotel and wait for me out of fear of driving in an unfamiliar car in an unfamiliar city. Surprisingly she ventured out (she’ll do anything to get to a mall, lol).
I took them to Red Rock Park by accident. She was so scared on the drive up the mountainside (she kept begging us to stop hopping out the car to take pictures), but eventually she relaxed enough to realize a little adventurous exploration could be fun. I think that was the first time she realized she didn’t need my Dad to help her with everything. I think a lot of time he wants to be her savior, so he does everything for her before she can attempt to learn to be self-sufficient. Without him there, she figured out she could use Google Maps, drive a rental, and be independent if she actually tried.
Diving Head First into Adventure
After I realized Mom was down for a little adventure, I didn’t feel as bad asking her to try new things. One thing I had always wanted to try was indoor skydiving. I have no desire to jump out of a plane, hell, I barely like flying as it is, but I did want to see how it felt to actually fly. Atlanta got its first iFly indoor skydiving facility at the end of 2016 and by July 2017, we were in there with my niece and my sister-in-law. Mom was down for the cause and even agreed to pay the extra fee to be taken to the top.
We took the training, and then the instructor asked who wanted to go first and guess who volunteered?! Yes, Mom did! I couldn’t believe it! She went into that air tunnel like a gangster and…well see for yourself below!
First Taste of Outdoor Adventure
Indoor Skydiving was super fun, but there are more adventurous things that I’m into. I have gone mountain biking on the craziest trail in Georgia. One of my favorite adventurous activities is kayaking. I kayaked down the Chattahoochee River back in like 2014 and it was such an amazing experience. I recall being in Chicago one year on a boat tour and longingly watched a group of kayakers going down the Chicago River. Fast forward to October of 2017, I had a work trip scheduled for Chicago, and I knew that kayaking was my next adventure.
Naturally, Mom opted to travel ahead with me so we could enjoy Chicago (one of our favorite places to visit in the US) for a few days. I told her about my plan, but she declined to partake in my kayaking tour. I found out that Dad had convinced her that kayaking was super dangerous and she shouldn’t do it. He had scared her. I reminded her how I had gone kayaking on a real river that was rapidly moving and I was fine! Plus, when were we ever going to have an opportunity to go kayaking in the middle of the city AT NIGHT?!
I won the debate and we booked the Moonlight Paddle kayaking tour through Wateriders in Chicago. The night of the tour it had been raining, which normally would send my Mom running because she wouldn’t want to be in the rain getting her hair wet, but there was something different in my Mom that day. She was so determined to get out there and have fun! It rained leading up to the tour, but we still went. When I say we had a good time, I mean we had a GOOD TIME! My Mom revealed that she told my father she wouldn’t go kayaking, but I’m glad she did.
Your Age Doesn’t Automatically Mean You Can’t
So many times she mentions her age…”I’m 61, I can’t be doing all this.” “I’m 61 I can’t wear that kind of stuff.” “I’m in my 60s, it’s too late to make friends. That was Mom before, but now she is doing all the stuff, traveling everywhere, and making new friends. I have never seen her so happy and free in my life. There are so many days where she is just going to do something with her girlfriends and I think back to 3 years ago when she would have been home bored or hanging out with me.
So the moral of this post is that it’s never too late to evolve. Whether you’re in your 20s or your 60s you can change your life. You can try new things little-by-little until the thought of doing and trying new things stops being scary. We hope we inspire people everywhere, especially women in their 50s and older, to try something new outside of their comfort zone. My next project for Mom is to get her to try new foods. That’s going to be a tough one, but I feel a #MomTriesNewFood challenge coming on!
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