Ode to 'WonderMum': 4 Lessons for a Life of Adventure
By KEEN Ambassador Laura Kennington
Heroes and role models come in all shapes and sizes. As a girl, growing up I didn’t see many female heroes celebrated in the media and social media wasn’t yet around. I did, however, see a lot of women in scantily clad outfits, either dancing around on stage in a girl band or in films as mostly decorative anecdotes to the male action heroes.
I grew up immersed in that world — I attended a theater school full time from the ages of 8 to 16 and worked in the theater/TV industry until my early 20s. It’s been a wiggly and often bumpy road from my days in that industry to carving out a career as an endurance athlete. It was a road I never expected to find myself on, a road that frequently made me think I’d taken a wrong turn and gotten lost. Being self-employed and building a career as an adventurer has proven a tricky path to navigate at times but nevertheless a path that has led me to places I couldn’t dream of.
Life didn’t come with a manual on how to do any of it, but thankfully it did come with my mum, the inspiration behind this blog. WonderMum, otherwise known to friends as Carrie, has been a constant source of support, love and empowerment in my life. In honor of International Women’s Day, I wanted to share some more about the most inspirational woman I know.
Everyone needs a champion and a little encouragement goes a long way.
Having previously run several hugely successful businesses before, Mum bravely stepped away from financial security and qualified as a life coach in 1999, long before personal development was the fashionable billion-dollar industry it is now. Driven by a desire to help people and to do work that mattered — she thrived and became a powerhouse of positive change for all of her clients, and worked with the infamous Tony Robbins for over a decade before she branched out as an independent life coach. Ironically, as a moody and rebellious teenager, I used to cringe at all of her sage wisdom and the topic of motivation/self-development in general. I would audibly balk and dramatically roll my eyes whenever I heard audio of Tony Robbins. Years later, however, I’ve come to appreciate that much of the mental resilience and daily mindset I rely on to get me through challenges of various kinds, all have their roots in the invaluable advice I’ve accumulated from Mum and her contemporaries (including Tony Robbins himself, who I feel very guilty about passionately disliking as a teenager because he actually seems like a lovely human who does loads to help others — oops!).
So, without further ado, here are the top 4 lessons WonderMum has taught me:
1. Be Kind and Take the Higher Ground
In a world full of negative headlines, internet trolls and trashy magazines that seem to flourish largely by tearing down others, it’s a powerful act to put kindness first. Even when it would be tempting to retaliate, I’ve learned that it’s usually much more productive to put your energy somewhere more positive. Set boundaries and take on feedback by all means but you can waste a lot of time and effort responding to negative nonsense — time and effort that is much better spent on building up something to make things better.
2. Be Brave — Run Your Own Race
I count myself very lucky in that Mum has always supported my adventure ideas — even when many of those same adventures have caused her to worry about my safety when thousands of miles away. I’ve learned not to tie my self-worth to success or failure, or what other people think, but instead to value the act of trying something new. I’ve learned the importance of growing by challenging myself and stretching past what is comfortable — how else do you find out what you’re really capable of?
We can all make our little corner of the world better in our own way.
3. Make It Count
In many ways, I’ve grown up in a very fortunate position — with a roof over my head, enough food to eat and good health. Chances are that those of you reading this blog are rather fortunate in that regard, too. Millions elsewhere have not been so lucky, and I often think that it’s a terrible crime to let such good fortune go to waste by drifting along. That’s not to say that I think everyone should quit their jobs and cycle across countries, but each of us has a spark of passion about something. We each have something unique to offer the world, we can all make our little corner of the world better in our own way. The more you’ve had to work and strive — really strive — for something, the better it feels. Each of us are packed so full of potential — make it count.
4. Empower Others
I suspect this one is actually inbuilt to Mum’s DNA — she’s the best cheerleader anyone could ever wish for. She cheers when I succeed and, perhaps even more importantly, she cheers when I stumble — encouraging me always to get back up and try again. Everyone needs a champion and a little encouragement goes a long way. Having seen Mum help literally thousands of people over the years, it made me want to do something that mattered, too. I turned my back on a well-paying “adult” career because I realised I didn’t want my legacy to be how much money I’d earned or how big my house is — I wanted it to be the amount of positive ripples I set in motion.
Not all superheroes wear capes, this one often wears a fleece-y jumper. On this International Women's Day, here’s to celebrating inspiring, kind and brilliant women everywhere!
Laura Kennington is a British adventure athlete, author, and speaker with a passion for the endurance capability of the human body. Previous adventures include solo cycling all 1,600 miles of the world's longest coastal route in Ireland, solo cycling Scotland’s North Coast 500 route, running the length of Fuerteventura (100 miles) in 4 days and circumnavigating three of the Channel Islands using three different sporting disciplines as part of a rather extreme triathlon! She has most recently returned from solo cycling 3,700 miles along the North Sea-facing coasts of 8 countries, from Scotland to Norway! A strong believer in the positive impact that adventure and sport can have on children and adults alike, Laura uses her human-powered journeys as a platform to inspire and encourage others to get outside. Follow Laura's adventures on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.