My baby boomer mother gave me a sense of adventure

If there’s one thing better than baby boomers with a sense of adventure, it’s kids who admire it. And that’s what Washington DC freelance writer Holly Whitman is all about. She writes for BoomerCafé about How My Boomer Mother Gave Me a Sense of Adventure.

I still remember the hour, even the minute, that my mom told me she sold the car — to be realistic, she sold her baby, her car that she had painstakingly restored together with my grandfather. It was cherry-red and beautiful and the only thing we weren’t allowed to actually touch while growing up. But it all ended one day when she called me up and said matter-of-factly, “Sweetie, I’m going to Iceland. I sold the Camaro, and I leave on Friday. I won’t be back for 12 months. Will you take me to the airport?”

camaro-1966

WHAT?

I thought my mom had completely lost it. I was sure it was the grief talking. Pop had only been gone a few weeks. We all felt the empty space his absence created in the room and in our lives. Now I thought I was going to have to check my mother in to the nearest clinic. She had never traveled alone more than fifty miles from our hometown her whole life.

Writer Holly Whitman

Writer Holly Whitman

Now she had sold the car, jumped off the deep end, and was going to ICELAND of all places.

“It’s never too late.” Those were the words she said to me when I accused her of losing her marbles. That she had no business traveling solo at her age. Then she told me what my grandfather had made her promise before he passed away. It was this: “Be courageous. This life isn’t for waiting. My time left is short, but yours, yours my dear, has the potential to be infinite. Go see the world.”

So that’s what she did. She sold the ’66 Camaro for the $39,000 it was worth and bought the plane ticket that would take her on the biggest adventure of her life. That was nearly two years ago now, and she’s still going strong, pushing herself to try new things and continue to grow.

Strokkur geyser the geothermal area called Haukadalur in Iceland.

Strokkur geyser at the geothermal area called Haukadalur in Iceland.

She’s taught me to embrace the unknown.

That’s why my mother is my hero — and she was even before this crazy, ridiculous, around-the-world venture she decided to embark on. She was always my constant as I was growing up: a stay-at-home mom, my biggest cheerleader, the mom who helped more school bake sales than I can count.

And then she bought a ticket to Iceland.

Terrific place for a selfie ... at Þingvellir National Park in Iceland.

Terrific place for a selfie … at Þingvellir National Park in Iceland.

That day, I learned that my mother is an even more remarkable woman than I ever gave her credit for. She is the epitome of inspiration and the reason that I, too, have learned to challenge my boundaries and get outside of my comfort zone. I’ve studied abroad, I’ve travelled around the world with barely $500 in my bank account, I’ve lived in big cities with strangers to find my passion. All because of her.

The solitude of an ancient waterfall at Þingvellir National Park in Iceland.

The solitude of an ancient waterfall at Þingvellir National Park in Iceland.

Moral of the story? Sell the Camaro in your life. Don’t wait for the perfect moment to push yourself outside of your comfort zone.

5 Comments

  1. YES! “Sell the Camaro in your life. Don’t wait for the perfect moment to push yourself outside of your comfort zone.” That’s what I have been doing ever since my midlife crisis, pushing myself a little bit farther towards my dreams!

  2. Who wouldn’t want to go to Iceland for a year? Fantastic nation…we should be so fortunate. If you haven’t been to Iceland….you should go!

  3. Great story, well done, Holy! Sheryl Sandberg reportedly is working on a new book called “Plan B” (as a result of the grivious loss she’s sustained when her husband of 10 years unexpectedly died last year) and she could really take a leaf your mother’s story! What a Plan B that is, going to Iceland! Where is she now, how’s she doing? Do tell us!

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