Life is either a daring adventure or nothing….

Posted: December 25, 2010 in Uncategorized


Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.
Helen Keller

With less than TWO months to go I have been thinking more and more about My Purpose v My Inspiration:  I certainly have a purpose in running the Camino de Santiago but what initially inspired me is different.    You can see my purpose for running under the “MY PURPOSE” page but, essentially, it revolves around my own personal pilgrimage, individual goals, as well as to try to bring attention to a greater world need through the International Rescue Committee. 

My inspiration, on the other hand, comes from stories and experiences of others.  As Johann Gottfried Von Herder once said “Without inspiration the best powers of the mind remain dormant. There is a fuel in us which needs to be ignited with sparks.”  I have never been lagging in the goal setting department.  My husband always said that he’d be afraid of where I’d be if I didn’t have someone to anchor me.  Most of the time he represents my roots and tethers me in a very needed way.  Never the less, my weightless spirit has always been difficult to arrest.  I am constantly dreaming up new and daring ideas:  “Let’s pick up and move to Costa Rica and open our own business.”  – “Let’s live in Peru every summer to help the indigenous in the Andes mountains.”  – “Let’s travel out west, visit every national park, and camp every night this summer with the three kids in one car!”  – “I’d like to run nearly 300 miles traversing 40 of North Carolina’s peaks in less than a week with two friends.” – “Let’s take the kids to Spain and live there this summer!” – “Let’s go live in a cabin in the deep woods of New Hampshire this summer with the kids in a small cabin!”  – “I’d like to try the White Mts. Presidential Traverse today although I have to teach first thing in the morning.” …the list is endless.  Every day when my husband comes home, I begin with “So, I was thinking…”  He has been graced with patience to deal with my, at times, insane ideas.  He also gives me an amazing amount of freedom to dream my dreams.  When needed, he is very capable of returning me to reality.  Therefore, setting goals and coming up with new ideas comes naturally to me but I am grateful for the balance my family brings to my life.   

My inspiration for these goals derives from other people’s experiences and they lead me to places I never thought possible.  Some inspiration originates from particular non-fiction books (i.e. Between a Rock and Hard Place by Aron Ralston, Blind Courage by Bill Irwin, and Touching the Void by Joe Simpson) and other times, I am motivated by specific sports or adventure movies (Rocky, Rudy, Invincible, The Blind Side, Facing the Giants, etc.)  that convey an idea of accomplishing the seeming impossible. Even more awe-inspiring are the tangible “Rocky Balboas” that I have been fortunate enough to encounter in my short life thus far.   Many people have inspired me and motivated me without ever knowing it.  I hate to name names in case I leave even the most obvious out.  To be honest, most everyone in my life has inspired me in one way or another:  fellow athletes and runners, coaches, students, parents, adventure enthusiasts, philanthropists, teachers, soldiers, and other very wise people are to be specifically included in this note of gratitude.   Truly the list is endless but each of these individuals has taught me to utilize my deep faith, to reach beyond my limits, to overcome pain, difficulty, and fear in order to achieve seemingly unachievable goals.  We often don’t realize the impact and influence we have on others.   I’m grateful to have many in my life that fuel my dreams and help them to become reality.  Thank you to all of you that continue to inspire those around you.  Merry Christmas.   

“Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true.”  – Leon J. Suenes

  1. jennyanderson says:

    If someone inspires you, please post who that person is here as a comment.

    • I am inspired by the women I have met through trail and ultra running. Jenny, Rebekah, Tammy, Jenny, Beth, Annette, Amy, Anne…the list is just beginning. These women are tough adventure seekers whom I wish I had known in high school and college–but better late than never! I am so glad to see you all at each race and learn more about how you balance your lives as athletes, moms, wives, and friends. Thank you for inspiring me to be a better friend and person!

  2. Mike Clinton says:

    So excited for your journey!!!

  3. I agree…you are never wanting for goals and dreams!

    Love you. Take care. Train smart.

  4. Rick Gray says:

    Inspiration comes in so many different ways. I am inspired by athletic abilities, but my greatest inspiration comes from within each of you. Your faith, your friendship and caring attitude just bubble out.

    Jenny, you continue to amaze me. Not only do you juggle a full time job, but you are a wife and mother. And then you somehow find time to be an excellent runner. Then you head off on some adventure all alone to face the unknown. Your committment and faith will see to it that you succeed in your goals.

  5. jennyanderson says:

    Rick, Thank you so much. Likewise, you and Tammy are a great inspiration to me. Thank you.

  6. jennyanderson says:

    I am in completely awe inspired by the faith, love, strength, and courage that Eli and Megan are demonstrating to me during a time when they are faced with the greatest adversity. They are a true example to me of love, friendship sacrifice, bravery, and commitment. I am encouraged by what they teach me daily. My love, thoughts are prayers are with them and their two beautiful children as they face the greatest struggle of their lives. They are the strongest people I know.

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