Most New Year’s resolutions go something like this: Lose weight. Eat healthily. Exercise more. Get promoted. Stop procrastinating. Look familiar?
This past year, my list got a little bit out of control.
- Write my first book
- Have my first baby
- Travel across the globe to host my television show
- Move to North Carolina with my husband
- Buy my first home
- Keep up with my 1.7M+ social media followers
And to put things in perspective, this year came after a decade of chasing adventures, hosting an outdoor television show, and sometimes living out of a suitcase for 250 days of the year. I’ve barely spent enough time in one place to let a jug of milk expire. Adding to the fun, I’ve always taken people along on my travels—on television and through social media, trekking through mountains in the Yukon, trudging through the Moyowosi Swamp in the heart of Tanzania, setting up house (with that hockey player of mine) in the industrial-motherland of Russia.
Maybe you understand now why I’ve been accused of living to the beat of a drummer who just drank ten cans of Red Bull.
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But the past year turned into the most demanding journey I’ve ever been on. It wasn’t until I got married and then pregnant with my daughter that I truly understood what it means to slow down, focus on the details, and tell a story much longer and more meaningful than any I had ever attempted before.
Telling stories and sharing adventures has been a big part of my life, of course, and though writing a book has been a longtime dream, it hasn’t been in the cards. Until now.
I began writing the very same week that I found out that I was pregnant. This was a game-changer, and also an act of God. Not only did this allow me more time at home to work on the book (especially as I got further along in my pregnancy and couldn’t travel as much) but from day one, every sentence I wrote and every chapter I finished had more meaning. My messages needed to be clear, my stories inspiring. They needed to matter. I knew the content wasn’t going to vanish down an Instagram feed or get lost in a list of DVR’d TV shows.
Week after week, as my pregnancy progressed, my book also took shape, which meant dealing with morning sickness and fatigue while also trying to balance hours of writing with travel and work. Every mom-to-be faces her own seemingly impossible demands, right? I’m just letting you in on mine.
For me, the closer I got to meeting my baby, the more pressure I felt to make sure my book was something I would be proud for my soon-to-be-daughter to read someday. I noticed that working on the book made me feel more vulnerable than ever before. That makes sense, I guess. After all, the content is my life. These are my personal stories. And the process is so much more revealing than a quick Instagram snapshot with a witty caption.
And then the whole time I was writing and revising, I was getting pummeled by doubts: Will anyone buy it? Will people like it? Will they judge me? Will they hate me? The irony of my struggle is that my deepest desire for the book is that it will help others to reject stereotypes, be confident and courageous, and set out to walk their own path—no matter who along the way might think they’re crazy. In other words, I hope it helps readers take aim at all those doubts…and let ‘em have it.
Which brings me to the book’s title: Taking Aim: Daring to be Different, Happier, and Healthier in the Great Outdoors. I hope you love it. Creating it has been a challenge the whole way through, but I’m so glad I stuck with it.
My daughter Leni is now seven months old, and as I flip through the finished copy of my very own book, I am reminded why I started this journey in the first place. I wrote this for her. I wrote it for your daughter, your sister, your mom. It’s for anyone out there who is trying to find the bravery to pursue their own unique dream. Yes, the book reflects my life, but more importantly, it reflects I hope the life that Leni will believe in for herself when the time comes. She doesn’t need to be fearful, worried, insecure or intimidated. She is strong and talented, and anything she decides to do, she can be confident she has the ability to succeed at it.
I finished the last chapter of Taking Aim the week before Leni’s due date, and along the way, I managed to learn lessons that I thought I already knew. In the process of encouraging others, I found new courage and confidence within myself. I decided that some resolutions are meant to feel too big for us. And I came to believe that we’re all supposed to try—in our own small way—to lead by example for the next generation.
Featured illustration: Elsa Jenna; Author Photo: © Shawn Wagar; Photographs courtesy of Eva Shockey.