If watching drama unfold on Real Housewives of New York City is one of your guilty pleasures, you’ll recognize Heather Thomson from the reality TV show. But Thomson is also the creator of Yummie by Heather Thomson and an ambassador for the charity No Barriers USA. She’s sharing the journey involved in summiting a 14,000-foot peak with the organization, here—including what inspired her, how she prepared, and what it was really like—in this two-part column.
No Barriers not only inspired my new tagline on this season of the Real Housewives of New York City, but also a new way of life. I’ve discovered there’s something that stirs us all when we think about the idea that we can break through the things standing in our way. In our hectic lives, we all search for our path forward, our personal road map for overcoming challenges and living a full and purposeful life. I certainly do. Being a No Barriers ambassador helped me more deeply understand and discover the strength within to overcome the challenges I face—the challenges we all inevitably face.
Which is why on July 31st I’m going to be joining fellow No Barriers ambassadors and participants as we climb to the summit of a 14,000-foot peak in the Rocky Mountains during “What’s Your Everest,” a signature event.
I was especially drawn to participating in this event because it brings people of all backgrounds and abilities together for a day of challenge and inspiration. It symbolizes the climb we all choose to make when pushing through barriers—everyone has a summit they yearn to reach. For some it’s a physical goal, for others it might be more personal. I’ve learned that with the right support along the way, (at NB, we call it our “rope team”), anyone can learn to understand, break down their barriers, and discover that “what’s within you is stronger than what’s in your way.”
To help me prepare for the summit, I enlisted the help of my amazing trainer and friend, Will Torres, founder of New York City’s WillSpace. Will is helping to prepare me for success as a member of a team and to reach for my potential best, too. Just working on my abs or lower body won’t have any real life carry over when I go to climb this mountain.
Instead, the training I do with Will combines elements of balance, stability, strength, and endurance. The results have been amazing, and I’ve started to develop applicable real-life fitness that carries over into every aspect of my daily life. I feel prepared to look great, feel great, and move how I was built to move.
In addition to the training I’m doing in the gym, I recently attended and emceed No Barriers University, a part of the 2015 No Barriers Summit event that consisted of innovative thinkers on the forefront of assistive technologies sharing their discoveries and inventions in panel discussions.
This year’s speakers included Henry Evans, a quadriplegic who’s also mute and pioneers adaptive robotic technology at Robots for Humanity; and Not Impossible Labs founder Mick Ebeling, who demonstrated his latest inventions, including the Eye Writer, which enables paralyzed individuals to communicate and create art by using only the movement of their eyes. All of the incredible speakers inspired me to continue to live a path of giving to others and to make a commitment to change the world in even the smallest ways possible.
During the event, we also hiked Bald Mountain and summited at 12,000 feet. This was the perfect high-altitude training hike as I get ready for Breckenridge and the 14ers. We hiked with more than 50 people from the No Barriers community including veterans, children with disabilities, and the famous blind adventurer Erik Weinhenmayer, one of No Barriers’ founders.
More reading: Running the Grand Canyon blind
Being the mom of a child with challenges and watching people with disabilities climb this mountain helped reinforce in me that we should never take our health for granted. Focusing on promoting health and well-being is one of my main goals, and at the No Barriers Summit, I was beyond touched and inspired as I watched people dig really deep to create a path to success, not only for themselves, but for others.
As we stood on the top of the mountain, Erik shared an incredible motivational speech, and my favorite part was this quote: “The nature of the mind is like water—if you do not disturb it, it will become clear.”
I am so excited about continuing this transformative adventure. Next stop, Colorado! My advice to you: Life is short—think big! Do that thing that challenges and stretches you. You’ll be so glad you did. —Heather Thomson
(Photos: No Barriers, No Barriers Summit 2015)