• Skyler Neal

A Place To Be Wild

Updated: Feb 14

I'm not sure how to explain it, what this trip meant for me. I came from a period of my life where I had worked harder than I ever had before and I was burnt out, a little shaken, and I needed some quality time to myself. Unfortunately, the reason why my family and I traveled to Colorado was a melancholy one. My grandmother had passed away earlier in the summer. However, with each pass of life comes a new opportunity to live a fuller one. My grandmother was kind of an understated badass. She came across as prim and proper and with each sip of wine or tea (depending on the occasion), grandma made sure to look as dainty and elegant as possible. In a way, she had a certain political grace that swept across the lives of all her grand children entertaining the idea that they to should be on their best behavior, at least around her.

My grandmother was kind and thrived in any environment where she felt she was needed. Perhaps this is the great tragedy of all women from her generation. She felt as though her only existence on this planet was to serve others and that is the only way in her religious viewpoint, she could please God, herself, but most importantly: others. One wonders if this pattern of purposeful existence is slowly dying or continuously thriving through the narcissistic and even superficial undertones of the social media takeover. Are we, the users of social media, the problem or is this just a new era that highlights in particular, the thoughts and opinions of others through likes and shares? My grandmother taught me through her own tendency to rely on the opinions of others for validation that my own purpose on social media will be my outlet to affect others positively, with or without their support.

One of the most important lessons my grandmother unknowingly taught me was that I could do absolutely anything I set my mind to. Grandma, according to my limited knowledge of her household, was the classic housewife of the fifties and sixties. Her life previous to that however, was nothing ordinary. Her mother had been put in a mental hospital for reasons unknown to me but it had something to do with her rarely high intelligence. Intelligent women in the thirties were apparently a great nuisance to society. My grandmother's extended family was very wealthy but her parents were considered the black sheep of that generation, therefore the wealth was not generously shared amongst her family. Without the support of her mother and her family she had to learn how to make a penny buy more than it was worth. Till the day she passed, if she saved a couple of pennies on a purchase she would be very pleased with herself, knowing those extra pennies could go towards another purchase. Through this struggle she learned how to persevere and conquer, quietly.

Around her forties she began to pick up skiing as a hobby, a popular one in her area seeing as how she lived five minutes away from a fantastic ski resort up on the mountains. She became so good, that she started competing in the Senior Olympics (yes that's a real thing) and even won tons of medals coming in first place more than a few times. She also competed in the swimming competition where she outranked everyone. This tiny, dainty, cookie-bakin' woman killed it in the Olympic Senior games, like it was no big deal. She worked her butt off and drew inspiration from the top woman skiers of the time proving that anyone can conquer their fears.

As I looked around at the mountains I thought of her and her willingness to not only survive but thrive in a world where women were pushed down for going beyond their limits. She climbed her own personal mountains and she never gave up until she reached the tippy-top even in the case of learning how to use an ipad :).

In Colorado, there is a sense of freedom when you look around at the rugged climate. It's the type of freedom that let's you take a deep breathe and realize that no matter what happens, you will survive. The mountains are there to remind you that there are challenges ahead, and with each new challenge, an opportunity to conquer your fears and become someone greater than you were before arises. Some of what I've said may be somewhat of a cliché but in my experience some clichés are actually true. Not everything that is simplified in nature is untrue. I tend to take clichés as a form of knowledge that you can decide what to do with. Take it as you like it. If I learned anything from my Grandma, it's to do whatever you like, and never apologize for it if it's something you love.

"One day she remembered that it wasn't her job to make everyone happy" - Robin Lee

In memory of my lovely Grandmother

by Skyler Neal

#colorado #grandmothers #sunsets #wildflowers #mountains