There aren’t many places as inspiring, majestic or comforting as the ocean. Soft sand between your toes, the taste on your lips or the burn of it in your eyes, the unbroken attention of the sun and the sound of a million waves crashing along the shoreline magnifies how small we are; how big God is. Unexpected treasures such as finding perfect, unbroken seashells mingle with simple pleasures like building sandcastles and catching glimpses of wild animals like jellyfish or dolphins to create magic. Even those nervous about entering the waters because of rip currents, sharks or any other reason can usually find a peace and a stillness standing at the edge and staring out at the endless blue blanket.

I’ve tried to create a life of adventure for my daughters. When they were younger this included silly games like turning my body into a jungle gym, pretending we saw Winnie the Pooh or his friends in the tree outside our window, nigh daily treks to one of the dozen or so museums that surrounded our home. We’d camp out on the trampoline; we pitched tents and spent the night at the zoo multiple times. As they grew older, the adventures grew bolder: white water rafting, ziplining, firing ranges, and, sometimes, trips further away from home. A couple of trips to L.A. — one because it was Breathe’s dream to see California and another because Alight really wanted to see BTS, the band, and they were playing at SoFi, a couple of trips to Florida for things like the My Little Pony Convention, a couple to South Carolina, some to Gatlinburg and a really epic trip to the Bahamas.

Adventure births passion, hope and joy.

When we learn something new, we learn perseverance. When we explore the unknown, we taste freedom. When we pursue the biggest dream we know how to dream, whether we obtain it or not, we discover a kaleidoscope of new possibilities and worlds. When we step into the unknown, ultimately, we conquer fears and unearth inner strength we didn’t know we had. Adventure ignites a passion for life that fuels us when people break our hearts; when we chase it, the pendulum of hope flies within reach. The catch? I have to have something to motivate me to seek adventure; I have to have a reason to constantly chase the illusive rainbow. For me, that is my daughters.

For the last 18 years, they have been all I needed to chase Neverland, to seek out adventures that I normally wouldn’t embark upon myself and to push myself out of a comfort zone. The result has been a life filled with memories and a brighter tomorrow because we’ve trained our eyes to look toward the horizon when our feet stumble. Breathe wants to serve as a police officer; Alight wants to travel the world as a photojournalist. For a mama’s heart, unbraiding adventure from danger isn’t always easy. For a mama’s heart, staying in a familiar place with familiar sights, scents and sounds is putting on a coat of protection. Staying still means mitigating risks: risk of failure, risk of pain, risk of isolation, risk of heartbreak. It also means tearing a hole in a dream. It also encourages conformity instead of individuality. It also means blocking out some of adventure’s light. At first glance, adventure means sacrificing the peace that comes with stability for the chaos of making sense out of the unknown, a life of order and familiarity for one ripe with obstacles, hard work and no guarantees of the a reward. It isn’t until we take the leap that we find that, while you do sacrifice the peace that accompanies stability, you gain the greater peace that comes with being true to yourself. While you may not achieve your original desire, the reward is the journey itself and a vibrancy to life that’s not always present in the familiar. It’s reaching toward something, believing that there is something brighter than today ahead. It’s hope.

Each of us is different. We don’t all need the same level of adventure. I’m more content to seek hope’s flame within the confines of a mundane life than my daughters are. Standing in front of the ocean, though, white sand seeping between my toes, the wind lifting my hair and the ocean blue as far as I can see reminds me of the promises I made when my girls were born–to champion their dreams, to encourage them to take the risks, to be whoever they want to be–and it excites me to embark on a new, grand adventure.