My sister Aidan turned 20 this summer and is working as a river guide in Gardiner, Montana. We just got back from visiting her there, where she treated us to a rafting trip down the Yellowstone River and to some hikes in Yellowstone National Park.
In many ways, Aidan is my role model. When she was my age (15), she made three, five-week trips to Arctic Alaska with my father and wrote about her experiences at her blog grittygal.com. Growing up, Aidan and I attended the same small school, where, despite my admiration for her, I grew increasingly tired of being known as her younger sister. Occasionally her friends would even call me “Little Aidan”, not because we resembled each other, but because that’s how they saw me. I was proud to be Aidan’s sister, but I wanted to be known for my own accomplishments. But that seemed impossible because everybody knew Aidan as a star: as the girl who won state her freshman year in the 800m; as the girl who survived living on an island with a polar bear; as the girl who got into Yale.
For a long time I wrestled with being in Aidan’s shadow until I realized that I had to define my own path, using Aidan as my inspiration. Aidan had followed her dreams and became the person she wanted to be; I was determined to do the same. I started Thai kickboxing classes after school; I joined a sailing club and raced; and I took up photography. These things were mine. But while struggling to define myself, I also needed to allow for the fact that Aidan and I had some of the same interests: Nordic skiing, Indie Folk music , and a love of travel–especially to remote places.
Last summer I took a NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) trip to the Talkeetna Mountains of Alaska and was as taken with the landscape as Aidan had been. Like Aidan, I am now inspired to write about my adventures–in Alaska, this summer in Papua New Guinea, and wherever else my dreams may take me.
I believe in following my bliss and this is the first in a series of blogs about that. I am hoping that some readers might be as inspired by me as they were by Aidan. I will try to blog as often as I can this summer from the jungles of New Guinea and this fall and winter from the woods of Wisconsin. I hope that you will follow me on my journeys.