Who wakes up at the age of 50 and decides to start climbing mountains? Karen Simpson, that’s who, and she’s here to advise that we all do the same. Maybe not literal mountains – although she’d like to see the number of female climbers go up from 10% – but step-by-step movement toward the summit of our greatest fears.

Karen admits to have been out of shape before strapping on her first backpack, which threw her headlong into some serious lifestyle changes. Now, she’s not only climbed mountains, but she’s jumped off of them, biked long distances, slid around in the mud (yes, mud) and mastered running.

The latter of these, running, was never her forte – in fact, she admittedly had a “hate on” for the sport – but she did it to train for the climbs. This has culminated into a series of completed marathons and this week’s takeaway:

“You learn things about yourself that aren’t positive when you take on fears and things that you don’t like to do. On the other side of that, when you pull it off – heck, even if you don’t pull it off, but you try – is a big arm in the air. ‘Yay! Wow! I did it! I didn’t think I could, but I did!’ It really makes you feel badass.”

So true! Anytime I kick fear to the curb, I do a badass Rocky Balboa dance complete with theme song (oh, you think I’m kidding).

As for only 10% of climbers being female, I asked if we’re just less adventurous. Her observations suggest otherwise:

“From the minute we’re born, we’re expected to be perfect, and we’re protected like a little gift package. That kind of carries through our lives a lot of times. So, unless we have a family that encourages us to roughhouse and take on different risks, it’s all about us and our self-motivation to throw ourselves out there. Then we might discover at 50 that, hey, I loved all of those mud obstacle races!”

We can all find our own version of mud obstacle races, and so we should. Little gift packages can keep their bows intact and still be badasses. It doesn’t mean we’re any less special for taking risks. It actually means we’re even more so. This is about personal growth and pummeling regret, not protecting someone’s preconceived notions of who we are.

Regardless of your approach to fear, you can’t help but be inspired by this unstoppable woman. I, for one, got on the treadmill this week, and I even broke into a run! Who knows what’s in store next.

Check out Karen’s inspiring interview on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or by clicking here.

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