Happy Birthday, Mommy!

Today's is my Mom's birthday, and - just because she'll love me for saying this - she's turning 29.

If there's one great thing my Mom and I have in common, it's a love of travel, and I'm super grateful to have gotten that from her. Both of us are all about making the most of this big wide world and the oh, the places you'll go!

It's especially impressive to me when I consider that, unlike me, my Mom wasn't born to travel. She grew up in different parts of the U.S., ending up in Colorado her senior year of High School, but never left the country until she was in college. In fact, I'm not sure she'd even been on a plane before then. So it was kind of a big deal when - as a single 19-year-old woman in the early 1970s - she picked up and moved herself to Switzerland to study French. It just wasn't the type of things you hear about women doing in small-town America back then (or, come to think of it, now).

She stayed in Switzerland for 24 years. 

In that time, she had three kids and started teaching us what was out there in this crazy world. Starting young. My own first-ever trip was at the age of about two weeks, to Fontainebleau, France - ironically, a little town I would myself study in more that 30 years later.

When she returned to the U.S. as a single Mom in the mid-90s, it wasn't easy. But she still found the time and money to treat us to some pretty sweet vacations. For my High School graduation, it was Hawaii. For my college graduation, Australia and New Zealand. 

I'm especially proud that in her late 50s (oh oops, have I said too much?), she even founded her own travel company, We Wander Women, leading small groups of mostly-American, mostly-female travelers on affordable custom-designed trips. She started in 2012 as more of a hobby, and since then she's done many trips to Switzerland, France, Italy, Scotland, even Peru! I'd like to hope that in addition to a love of travel, perhaps I got just a little bit of her independent/entrepreneurial streak, too.

The picture above isn't from one of our "flashy" or exotic trips. It's a selfie taken outside Aztec, New Mexico, just about an hour from my Mom's home in Colorado. There are dozens of naturally-formed arches in the area, hidden away in the middle of nothing, no sign of life whatsoever. And one afternoon, a couple of years ago, our two adventure-seeking selves dragged ourselves up cliffs and through the wilderness, armed with nothing more than a truly vague map, hunting for arches. It wasn't the type of excursion I imagine just anyone would get excited about, but we loved it, and when we finally spotted one, the smiles were real.

Thanks for that, Mommy. Happy birthday!

Love,
Joëlle