Have you ever had a dream for so long that it never stopped bugging you until you decided to just do it? For me, it has always been Kilimanjaro. I have wanted to climb this epic mountain for over 15 years since my father did it in October 1999 before my wedding. There really has not been any dream or travel goal that I have had for that long.
Like most dreams, there have been many obstacles and road blocks along the way. The first big one was timing. There was no way I could go climb Kilimanjaro when I was in the midst of wedding planning, and honestly at that time I had never ever even considered climbing a mountain before. I had hiked all my life but had never climbed a mountain. My dad was always the mountain climber in the family, the one who took these amazing trips and challenged himself to new heights. Not me. Yet still his 1999 trip started a fire inside my wanderlust soul.
It wasn’t until 2001 a few months after September 11 that I did my first real, big, out-of-country hike. My dad and I hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru. I had never been on a multi-day hike before nor had I been above 12,000 feet. But this magical trip would be a turning point in my life. It would be the first of many hiking trips with my dad to off-the-beaten path places. It would open my eyes to the world outside of Europe, which had always been my safety net in traveling. It would instill a passion and desire to explore. A wanderlust that would never cease, not after getting married, having children, becoming a stay-at-home mom and turning 40.
Instead of satiating, my travel bug grew and grew and grew. Fortunately, instead of having all my travel end once I had children it actually blossomed. My dad and I continued to take yearly trips to Argentina, Iceland, France, China, India, Nepal and most recently Bolivia. My husband pushed me to follow my dreams and supported my decisions to volunteer abroad in Morocco, Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica. I began my blog and the travel door continued to open as I visited India, Ethiopia and Haiti.
I often get those questions or remarks such as “How do you do it?” or “You are so lucky, my husband would never let me go“. That feeling of guilt about why should I be able to do this when others can’t even feed their family. Yet I have pushed it aside and realized that I have an incredible opportunity to use the good fortune of traveling to give back. To make a difference. To dedicate my life to helping people who don’t have these luxuries. So that is why I do what I do and am who I am.
As with my dream of climbing Kilimanjaro, I could easily have just signed up to climb it and gone by myself. I had thought about doing it many times. I even was going to do it with my husband years ago but we decided on Chile instead. Then came the kids and we never wanted to leave them without at least one parent home (hence why my husband does not travel with me).
I wanted this climb to be special. I wanted it to mean something similar to my life-changing trip to Nepal.
Like an act of fate, I got the call two weeks ago from my dear friend and fellow blogger Elizabeth Atalay of Documama. Elizabeth and I met at a blogging conference a few years ago and since then we have worked together as writers at World Moms Blog, ONE.org, and Mom Bloggers for Social Good. One of our projects with Mom Bloggers for Social Good was to review an advanced copy of Betsy Teutsch’s new book called “100 Under $100: One Hundred Tools for Empowering Global Women”. One of the non-profits inside of that book was Solar Sister. Solar Sister is based in Rhode Island where my friend Elizabeth lives and Rhode Island is a small state.
Elizabeth was familiar with Solar Sister and over a lunch with one of the employees, she learned about their #SolarSisterSummit climb this July. Knowing this was a dream of mine, she phoned me right away to tell me about it. It was fate.
I did a Skype call with the team a few days later and signed up instantly and haven’t looked back. Climbing Kilimanjaro while knowing I am doing it not only for myself but to help others is amazing.
Over the next three months I will be actively fundraising with a goal of reaching $4,000 that will cover the training for 8 new Solar Sister Entrepreneurs in Sub-Saharan Africa. These women will have a new opportunity. It is a thrilling feeling knowing what an impact I will make.
The road ahead will be exhilarating. I have a lot of training to do and fundraising. But I know I can do it. My mom and dad always taught me to chase my dreams and never give up. I don’t think there is any better lesson I could have ever learned from them that is more valuable except of course to love, to be compassionate and to be grateful.
In case you are interested, here is a post “Solar Sister Climbs to New Heights” written by Elizabeth Atalay on World Moms Blog about Solar Sister and the Solar Sister Summit Campaign. I will be writing a lot more about it in the coming months but in case you are curious you can check this out.