I can honestly say that I've spent all 40 years of my life taking the path less traveled. As a child I was the little girl that talked so much my father would stick a spoonful of peanut butter in my mouth for an amusing break from my endless questions. It makes sense that I would inspire him to home-school me as my quest for knowledge was so self motivated that in my elementary years I would complete a full year's text book within a month then move on to more interesting reads.
What made college challenging was not the processing of information but rather the exposure to the inequalities of society that disengaged learning from problem solving. The quest for 100 stock answers that would equate to an A that would lead to a path of wealth, was more important then developing critical thinking. While working your way through school meant you had the disadvantage of being exhausted rather then adding to the depth of your experience. I always opted for experiences that let my mind grow in compassion and awareness. At first it was being one of the few women in pre-med while the feminine path was studying child development and meeting a boy in the pre-med program. But soon my workouts veered out of the gym and into the woods as I discovered mountain biking as a journey towards a greater enlightenment. There was wisdom in the forest that was missing between the lines of text and money driven ego lectures. The vibrancy my breathe gained from the trees and the challenge of exploration was so satisfying no peer pressure could break my self-confidence and will to be the change that I wanted to see in the world.
My quest for a deeper meaning to my own existence was exhilarated by each mountain that I conquered. The competition in the race was never about my superiority over another women but rather defying the assumed gender barriers. Women didn't race single speed bikes, so there wasn't a category, until I did it. Even on my journey as a Professional Mountain Bike Racer, just putting in the time lead me to bigger aspirations. While my competition spent their 20 hours a week on the bike focused on who they needed to beat to excel, my 20 hours pedaling was balanced with a full time job and became a scheduled time for my mind to wander meditatively contemplating how to apply my understanding to enlighten and empower other women.
What was wrong with me that I had to always chose the hardest way? Even stepping away from racing and starting my own business meant making decisions that were less profitable because integrity and sustainability were priority. Was it more important to sell more products or inspire more women? Always opting to inspire meant supporting my competition graciously while turning down greedy investors to stay true to the values of social responsibility and environmental consciousness.
So here I am at 40 wondering if being a pioneer is really worth it. I've made a lot of sacrifices and blessed a lot of people with profound life changing inspiration. I have won National Titles as both the only woman beating a bunch of men, and as a mother just wanting to inspire the young athletes I coached to never stop giving it your best. I've planted seeds both literally and figuratively all across this great country. I've tenaciously created a product that has inspired the shift while leaving me in the dust of it's consumerism ripple. I've captured the emotional complexity of feminism in our culture in paint and I've birthed the future in the spirit of my child. While I don't know exactly where tomorrow's road will take me, I am confident that even if I chose the road less traveled, I will find myself even more each day and cutting the path is part of who I am.