The most spiritual and soul-awakening journey I’ve been a part of was when I hiked the Inca Trail footpath through the Andes leading directly to the glorious gates of Machu Picchu. That adventure was only topped by elephant trekking in Chiang Mai, a sweet little city nestled in Northern Thailand—just a quick flight from Bangkok. I can’t begin to describe the feeling of trampling through forests and streams on the back of these monstrous beauties. I mean—I literally CANNOT describe it because neither of those adventures actually ever happened to me.
I am a mom to two precious little boys, aged five and three. Currently, travel and adventure is off the table as far as things we spend our money and time on. I used to read travel adventure pieces longingly. And then I had children and I would then read them jealously- knowing adventure was most likely something in my past. Both my sons also have autism and due to sensory overload and behavior issues we can't even tackle a trip to Disney Land right now. What is a girl who longs for adventure supposed to do? I wondered.
At the advent of 2014 I said screw resolutions. I don't do well on a diet of restrictions, but I thrive on cultivating happy. I decided to come up with three words I wanted to chase during the upcoming year. I chose learning, giving and adventure. I realized that adventure doesn’t have to equate to travel and it can occur in the simplest of circumstances. I just needed to change my perspective and my definition of adventure.
In my quest I found the following things to be true:
Adventure really just translates to the opposite of ordinary. Luckily that can look like many different things for any one of us. Like going to the craft store for canvas and paint and letting them create their very own masterpiece. You can go to a Farmer’s Market in your town and try all the different fruits. You can spend the day building a real outdoor cardboard fort or sleep outside under your very own stars. Give them a couple of dollars to go crazy with at the Dollar Store. Really anything that you don’t usually do.
Adventure can be in your own back yard. My kids constantly stand at our back door and plead at me with their eyes to open it. They still love to be out there, and it's still fun for them, even when it feels old and tired for me. Sometimes to keep things fresh we buy some new loot from Target and it's like a brand new back yard. Big bouncing balls, a new water table, bubbles as big as your head, fresh sidewalk chalk, fake snow in July, painting with pudding. Think messy, and that often equates to fun for these little humans beings.
Acting like a tourist in your own town is a great way to birth adventure. Ask Google where you should go. Try different foods particular to your hometown. Take a day trip on Amtrak, look for special exhibits at the zoo, visit landmarks with the fresh eyes of a child.
Adventure is best served with a dose of spontaneity. Don’t worry about reservations and plans and schedules, just hop in the car and go. Head to a local shelter or animal rescue to pet and walk the dogs. Grab a picnic lunch and watch planes take off at your airport. Go to a music store and bang on drums and pound on keyboards until you can’t take it anymore.
We can’t wait for the once a year big family vacations to find our happy. We have the power to create the ripe beauty of everyday adventure, which as a bonus is usually simple and stress free too. It doesn’t have to cost a penny or occur on the opposite side of the globe. It can happen in your very own back yard. In fact, simple is often the foundation of many of our very own best childhood memories that we still hold in our heart today. We need adventure in our life more than juice boxes and baby wipes and our children need it too.