I write for several online travel blogs. The best, and by far the biggest is TravelingMom.com. It is one of the biggest travel sites in the online world. Through TravelingMom, I’ve had the privilege of meeting so many amazing women who identify with all aspects of mothering, as well as all stages. They are a wide range of strong, confident, successful and talented people. We all have TMOM names, mine happens to be Unstoppable TravelingMom. I’ve never really stopped to think about what it means to Be UnStoppable. It’s a hashtag I use and a state of being that I aspire to.
And the truth is that I typically feel quite unstoppable. My mentality, for better or worse, has always been me against the world, or as it stands now, Dan and the kids and I against the world. I don’t let anyone or any thing tell me what I can and cannot do. I have an aversion to authority, especially assumed authority…I’m not singing my praises, I’m simply stating what IS. Nothing infuriates me more than some random mom chastising my kids for climbing up the slide or on top of the monkey bars. Like, really lady, who made you the public playground police?
The people who are my tribe are the ones who go along with the innocent pranks my kids play, or, like the man in Golden, CO who was there from Connecticut visiting his kids. He took the time to come out and watch our kids (and Jacob) compete. He had seen them SUP’ing the day before and thought they were “good kids” and “good sports”. They are a little crazy, unconventional and wild, but they are all inherently good and kind.
But society would rather they walk up the steps of the slide and play on the playground equipment “the way it was designed”. I’m sure, if you’ve read this blog before you’ve heard the reference to the crazy lady at a park in Sparta, NC who called the cops because the kids were climbing trees? These are the same people who roll their eyes at toddlers playing at a train table OFF the tracks. These are the people, and I’m going to step in it here, who hate their jobs and their lives because they’ve never ventured off the beaten and approved paths. They don’t know how to live!
My kids aren’t perfect, I mean they are kids, they are pretty dumb, but they are good, they are learning the ways of the world, they have met amazing people and a few significantly less than amazing people. They are praised and they are destroyed. Each of them remain the same inside regardless of the ratio of kind v mean things they hear any given day. Our kids know who they are, they know they are safe and loved, they know they are children of God, that they have worth and a purpose … snide comments, cops and failure can’t keep them down.
Being Unstoppable Begins with Parenting
So in my research of Unstoppable-ness I seriously began to realize that being Unstoppable is a frame of mind that is a direct result of your outlook on the world around you and your experiences with it.
So if, as a kid, you are constantly told No, Be Careful, Watch Out, if you never are permitted to just be you and do you, you are never going to step outside the box. You won’t take chances because you don’t know how. These kids have parents who have instilled fear in their hearts, created doubt where there was none. With the serious lack of free play in
Kids are generally curious and love running and playing and exploring. This is the pre-cursor to Being Unstoppable. Let them be free, stand back and watch from a distance, give them space to inquire and to meet other kids and yes, even to run up the slide. The more they are free to push their limits the more they will learn about those limits and discover their fears. They will learn to manage that fear, with your help, and to push those limits.
Being Unstoppable Means Letting Them Fail
Failure is hard. It makes you question your worth, your abilities as well as your standing in the eyes of your peers. Failure is a hard pill to swallow for kids, for adults, and yes, even parents.
We want to coddle our kids, we hate to see them struggling, suffering and failing. You watch them work hard to achieve something and when they don’t you feel their pain as hard, if not more, as they do.
You gotta let them move through those feelings. Failure is the greatest thing next to winning because they are out there doing, trying, pushing, dreaming & experiencing … Failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success.
If our kids aren’t given the chance, the opportunity to fail, they will never know how to get back up, to keep forging forward. The members of this family fail A LOT. We are what could be called professional failures. But mixed in there with all the failures are some amazing and confidence boosting successes.
Just the other day, Coby (5) was longboarding and doing headstands on his longboard. He was instantly successful, until he got too much speed and I couldn’t get to him fast enough and he crashed into a parked bike. Scary but memorable for him as he learned to moderate his speed and to take in his surroundings and a few minutes later was back at it. And he’s 5 …
Stop Caring What Other People Think
Worrying about what other people think, is akin to imprisonment. It paralyzes your ability to think for yourself, this desire to be liked and accepted.. This fear of what other people think weighs so heavily on ,amy, young and old, that they can’t even identify what it is they want in life, being popular and well liked IS their life’s goal and that, that is devastatingly simple.
We have to teach our kids that they are their biggest advocate, that they have to be true to themselves. To hell what other people think. If we taught our kids to stop accepting bullying, and how to punch back; if we taught them to give the proverbial middle finger to anyone who tries to impart fear on their hearts, maybe these kids would grow up and take down the status-quo. They would be so empowered.
When we took off our on fulltime RVing adventure, 7 years ago, we did so amidst so much hatred, it was mind-boggling the things people said on public forums. But we knew what we wanted and we were being true to us. If someone had told me we would still be doing this 7 years later and that we’d be stopping to take selfies with fans and appearing on The Today Show and the like, I’d have laughed. We are simply doing life our way. The fact that people, most people, not all, now see the benefit of what we are doing is just part of the game.
Being Unstoppable Means Re-Evaluating the Status-Quo
Now, we are a society of rules and laws, many of these laws are well-founded, they protect the rights of others and the property of others.
Laws are unbreakable without a serious consequence. Rules, however, are flexible, fluid and ever changing. I’ve strived to teach my kids the careful balance of being respectful while also being forceful and persistent.
My daughter, Maddy, is the most persistent person you will ever meet. She asks, I say no, she retreats and reevaluates. She then comes back with some ammo, and then more ammo and then more ammo, until finally I have no choice but to say … yes.
In life we can either affect the status quo by influencing those in power, which is what you must do when you are 13, or you can dismantle it, throwing everyone’s games off by doing your own thing, therefore bringing the powers that be to your reality.
The latter is my preferred course of action. I don’t ask permission, only forgiveness. Dan and I were quite certain that this life of adventure and travel and non-conventional living would be greatly beneficial to our family. We took the chance, if it had sucked, we would have thrown in the towel told the world they were right and moved on to our next play.
Being Unstoppable Means Being You
In the end, Being Unstoppable means simply being you. Turning off the noise, and listening to your own inner voice.
In today’s digital world that center’s around social media, this can be difficult because the noise comes straight to you, via your phone. What I do, when I feel I’m being taken down by pessimism or even envy (because it happens to all of us) I turn off notifications and I go off the grid while I work on getting my head in the right space. And that’s me, a 40-something mom.
Imagine what our kids go through? I know of kids, 16,17,18 who pay for followers and like on IG! Their self-esteem rides on having a certain number of likes, of followers. This is sad to me, because while we have a social media presence, I don’t work it. My thing is I post and am gone. No time to scroll. Dan doesn’t scroll, our kids don’t scroll, much.
I also don’t post everything that happens, and neither do our kids. Believe it or not, the idea that “if it’s not on video it didn’t happen” is harmful af. One of my daughters had a friend who literally did everything “for the photo”. If she went to the beach it was for 20 minutes to get that picture. If she hiked, same thing.
We do more offline than ever makes a post. Can you believe there are mountains we climb, rivers we run, hikes we traverse, picnics we enjoy, and don’t take a single shot? Or if we do, it’s on the way home when we’ve finally remembered, “oh crap, a sponsor would like a photo of such and such”. Much of our life is private, because much of our life is public. There is a balance that we must teach our children.
Being Unstoppable Means Being Courageous
As parents, we must help our children learn how to turn off the static and focus on their own journey in life. We can guide them, we can help them identify their passions and their strengths and weaknesses. As parents, we can teach them how to never give up, to manage their emotions, make sure they receive a quality education. We can do so much, but what we can’t do is hover and dictate and warn and caution and entertain 24/7. Parents have to be present, but not oppressive.
We have to show them how to live an authentic life.
“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” ~E.E. Cummings