It’s just a little over a year since Ellie’s climbing video went viral. I keep waiting for my current thoughts to pass but month after month they’re still there… stronger than ever. Recently, I’ve felt the need to share my thoughts as if it will lift this invisible weight off my shoulders.
We’re still bustling behind the scenes. We respond to messages on a daily basis. Messages from other parents who have questions about getting their children outdoors and active, messages from people who take the time to thank us for the inspiration we gave them and messages from media markets worldwide. Just in the past few weeks alone we’ve had offers to be flown to Argentina, Spain and China where we would appear on their national talk-shows in return. Our response is always the same, “Thank you, but we’re not interested at this time.” Most recently, one of them was persistent. Aside from covering airfare, meals and putting us up in a five-star hotel they also offered to put some money towards Ellie’s future adventures and education. While that’s generous and enticing, it’s not what we’re interested in. I don’t feel the need to prove to anyone that my toddler is a phenomenal rock climber for her age. I don’t feed my adrenaline by collecting a worldwide response of awe at the expense of my child. I know she’s strong and focused. We go to the playground and parents swoon around as they watch her gracefully glide through the monkey bars with minimal assist. We’re often told that what she’s doing is impressive for her age. “Is it?” I ask myself… perhaps but that’s also what she knows. Climbing and strength training is how we play. It’s how we relax, decompress and bond as a family. That’s all it is to me and that’s all I want it to be. I want it to continue to be our sanctuary. If people are genuinely interested in who we are as a family, have questions about the lifestyle we’re living or simply want to get to know us better, we’re 100% in. If they want us to parade our toddler around on camera we’re going to be very selective and more often than not, we’re going to say “no”.
As many of you are aware, we’re currently living the traveling lifestyle. Our first assignment was here in Fargo North Dakota and we’ve been on what I consider a little hiatus these past few months. We’ve been focusing on spending time together as a family without distractions or pressure. We’ve been going to the zoo, playing at the beach lakes in Minnesota, and kicking the soccer ball around in the open fields. We’ve taught Ellie how to ride her bike, we’ve watched a wild turtle lay eggs and we’ve made habit of going on family runs at sunset. The weeks have slowly gone by, we’ve decompressed and now in all honesty I’m ready to leave. In many respects, Fargo has given me more than I expected yet I’m craving the mountains, getting back to deeper connections with nature, single-track trails and endless climbing. Thankfully, that time is soon upon us and we’ll be on our way come mid July.
It seems so simple when I write it out. I want what’s best for my child and what I feel is best is keeping climbing natural for Ellie… I never want it to be an imposition. She will be adventurous and well educated whether outside sources contribute to that fund or not. I won’t let her innocence of childhood be stripped away by the pressure to perform on a worldwide media tour.
All of that said, we’re grateful for the opportunities that have been given to us this past year. The select media appearances that we’ve chosen to partake in have been a beautiful way to document this part of Ellie’s life. We’re excited to continue sharing our adventures with her followers as she travels and climbs. We are determined to integrate her into the world of climbing as organically as possible while working at a pace that is best for her. A pace that will maximize her enjoyment with the sport.
To those of you and the outdoor companies that have supported us along the way, I thank you. I thank you more deeply than you’ll ever know. To anyone that is skeptical, disgusted or judgmental I encourage you to get to know us a little better because striving to be a beautiful family and maintaining authenticity within our life is the very essence that I’m trying to pass along to our child. We’ve made a number of large decisions this year and Zak and I have done our very best to make the right choices. I have very few regrets; if any.
I am certain that many of you can relate to the ebb and flow of struggles and joys that life brings. Parents, you know how challenging and rewarding it can be to raise a child through infancy, the toddler years and beyond. Our life (Zak’s, Ellie’s and mine) is no different. We are all working towards becoming the best version of ourselves that we can foresee possible. May we all continue along that path while supporting and inspiring each other in that journey. We need a world where our children will love deeper than we do, be more forgiving than we are and settle into happiness more vastly than we ever knew was possible. I believe that they can have that if we give them the capacity.
Ellie will climb when she wants to climb. She will explore other sports as they interest her. She will be surrounded by two parents that love her more than she’ll ever know. She will find support and connection within her communities and above all else, I will raise her to be humble, thankful and authentic throughout her pursuits in life. I will try to build upon and grow those qualities in my own life as well.
We are incredibly happy living on the road. I believe that we have a beautiful family and I’ve come to find over the months that knowing that internally is the only opinion that really matters. We know how to support each other, laugh together and grow together. In each of our own lives, that happiness and connection is the core of what really matters. We have each other, we love each other and that in and of itself is enough.
Despite all of the offers from the mainstream media, you will find us consistently in the mountains. Authenticity is getting out and doing what we love. Partnering with companies that share a common vision, being with the athletes in our community and doing interviews that speak for who we are rather than performing on a stage… that is what is important to us. Aside from the occasional and select appearances we don’t plan on moving into the streets of Hollywood… because being a “normal family” is more than enough for me. I climb for reasons beyond the attention and I believe that my child will naturally do the same as well.
Why am I writing this? It’s been a year full of change. Fantastic and exciting change but mysterious change if you have not had the opportunity to sit down and sip a cup of tea with me while I explain where we are at as a family. We are in a beautiful place and we have not fallen victim to the media train that was and still is at our doorstep. I have felt the growing need to explain that and I thank YOU for taking the time to read this.