The word adventure may conjure up an exciting image in your imagination. You may picture Bear Grylls swinging under a helicopter on his way to eat bugs and drink his own pee during a desert survival journey. You may picture cage diving with sharks or white water rafting or climbing Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. You might even picture an African safari or maybe, just maybe, Coachella.
Adventure surely can be all of those things. Those things certainly SOUND adventurous, don’t they? But for the average woman, that kind of adventure is out of our league. We can’t realistically leave behind our every day responsibilities to go wild with Bear, exhausting our bank accounts, bodies, and energy stores. I certainly can’t. I have 6 kids. I have a mortgage. I have chickens. I am needed here, in my life, every day.
Still, those activities call to my soul. I suffer from wander lust in a barely containable way. I want to climb all the rocks and swim all the oceans and safari all the continents. I crave friendships formed in far away countries that are continued via Facebook and renewed with visits every few years. I need to explore, to learn, to experience, to let my spirit stretch and grow and dance in a field of flowers (hypothetically…but also really).
For years and years and years I denied my need for adventure. It didn’t fit into the box I was trying so desperately to make work. I didn’t think a “good” wife and mom would be one who adventured. I should be satisfied with my babies, my home, my faithful and kind husband and my group of church friends. I should be spending my time clipping coupons, teaching my children, keeping a tidy home, keeping it tight, and being active at church. I should be fulfilled with this life. Right? I was filled with fear that meeting my needs would mean I was failing at the roles I love–mother, wife, sister, daughter, human, daughter of God.
Really, I look back at that phase of my life and see that I couldn’t really suppress my need for adventure. I birthed my babies in the water and/or without drugs, I raced a triathlon, I went grain-free, I became a foster parent, I cloth diapered my babies, I ran 2 half-marathons. I was adventuring. I didn’t know it. I denied my need for it and mentally beat myself up for craving time outside of my family and outside of the walls of my home (which I constantly repainted). But fear kept me from naming my need and making it a priority.
Now, I fully embrace my need for adventure. Denying my need has never resulted in better relationships with my family, with God, or with myself. Denying has only hurt me and others in my world. But, how is adventure defined in my life now? I would LOVE to travel and see the world. Even at almost 40-years-old I dream of backpacking through Europe, zip-lining in Costa Rica, trekking the John Muir Trail, and ice climbing in Greenland. But none of those are realistic for my life right now. My kids need me here and I want to be here with my kids, too. Nevertheless, letting my spirit shrivel again is not an option. Letting fear keep me stuck is not going to happen any more.
So, I’ve had to create my own definition of adventure and means of accommodating my needs. And, yes, NEEDS, not wants, is the absolute right term. Adventure is any way that I nurture learning, exploring, and connecting to the world around me. I make knowing myself a high priority in my life so that I can meet my own needs in efficient ways. For example, I love non-American cultures. That isn’t to say I dislike America. I love being a free American, but I love African, Asian, European and Middle Eastern cultures. I can’t travel to those areas of the globe, but I live near a major city where all of those people groups have emigrated via various routes. I am partial to those here on refugee status, so I make a point of volunteering with a refugee resettlement agency, going to refugee-owned and operated restaurants and stores, and attending different celebrations across our metropolitan area.
But let’s come up with a more static definition of adventure, shall we?
Dictionary.com defines adventure as:
- an exciting or very unusual experience.
- participation in exciting undertakings or enterprises: the spirit of adventure.
- a bold, usually risky undertaking; hazardous action of uncertain outcome.
Moreover, as a verb, adventure is defined as “to take the chance of”. These are fabulous phrases and easily applicable in our everyday lives. You can plainly see that the definition of adventure is not limited to dangerous or thrilling or unusually risky undertakings.
If we push off of the first definition, we can find ways to add adventure in every day. “An exciting or very unusual experience” is a highly subjective statement. What is unusual to me may be commonplace to you. What is exciting to you may be bore-ville to me. We can create adventure based on our own likes, dislikes, living situations, etc.
I would go a step further in creating a statistic definition of adventure as:
“an exciting or unusual experience that nourishes your soul and further inspires your spirit of adventure; usually requiring curiosity, bravery, and connectedness.”
If your adventure is not making your life BETTER, then it has crossed the line of adventure into a hazardous undertaking. Adventure is often accompanied by a level of unknown, but if it crosses into stressful and dangerous then it isn’t serving you and you can let it go. It is okay to feel some stress when stepping into new adventures, but big, continued stress is when you should hit the eject button without hesitation.
Take some time this week to notice what seems exciting to you. What seems like it might be an unusual experience? What bold action pulls you toward participating in an exciting undertaking?
Let me know in the comments what adventures are pulling you their way?
Here is a brief list of potential adventures I have noticed and started planning for over the past few weeks:
1.) Attending one of the free lunches for kids in my area.
2.) Attending webinars about immigration reform.
3.) Research “How to protest with kids in tow?” and go to an immigration reform protest.
4.) That 3-mile hike near me that I haven’t tried out yet.
5.) The free art time at the library with the kids.
6.) Free music in the park in Minneapolis.
7.) Making my own water kefir.
8.) Applying for the Adult ESL Certification at Hamline University in St. Paul.
10.) Research an Immersion Trip to the border to get first-hand experience with what is happening there.