Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Celebrating our Outdoor Selves

   A theme that continually popped in my head when reading the last 100 pages of "Up: A Mother and Daughter's Peakbagging Experience" by Patricia Ellis Herr was her humble nature to praise her daughter Alex and not herself. Patricia leads her daughter on a journey to peak bag the forty-eight 4,000 foot White Mountains when Alex is age five and six. Yes, Alex is a unique child to one, want to do this but second, follow through to completion. I would like to praise her mom though. Patricia does not give herself a high five in the book for one, seeing and acknowledging Alex's desire to summit all 4,000 foot peaks in the Whites; second, learning the art of hiking in the Whites; third, leading her daughter safely up each peak; and fourth, acknowledging her own desire to summit all 48 and then completing this achievement. It struck me that throughout the book, she continually wrote, intentionally and inferentially, how much of this adventure was her daughter's and not her own. At the end of the book, she finally acknowledges her own accomplishment and admits that she selfishly invested in this adventure for herself and not just for Alex. Why at the end of the book? Why only one sentence about it?   Mothers are nurturers. We are giving: of ourselves, our time and our energy. Our giving is unconditional. Often receiving (and sometimes wanting) nothing in return; except for maybe love. This is the theme of another recent book I read, Brothers and Me by Donna Britt. She chronicles her life of giving: to her brothers, her husbands and her children. It isn't until the end of the book that she realizes giving is selfish - in a good way. Giving is purposeful, even if done subconsciously, because it allows the giver to feel good about herself. Donna acknowledges and gives her readers permission to feel okay for selfishly giving to others, whether to their family, friends or community. This was my own revelation about myself when reading Brothers and Me which allowed me to read Ellis's book with a new set of lenses.
   Patricia gave unconditionally to her daughter's peakbagging adventure. As she explains in her book, she wants to foster and not inhibit her daughters' passions and desires for exploration. Her story is an example of how mothers give consciously and subconsciously to help their children fulfill their dreams and aspirations.  Patricia deserves a high five for being a giver but also for  finally acknowledging her accomplishment, even if it was brief and at the end of the book. Most importantly, I celebrate her because she selfishly had a vision to climb all forty-eight, 4,000 foot peaks in the White Mountains with her daughter. She implemented her vision and accomplishment it. Yes, Alex did it and that is amazing. However, Alex couldn't have done it without her mom. In her story, Patricia exemplifies a mother with  a strong mind, body and spirit that made choices to adventure and accomplish. I celebrate her!

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