The Happy Factor

Today I went to get my usual latte, extra large “skinny” latte from Joe’s Coffee on 30th St. I equate Joe’s to my very own Cheers bar, you know, that place where everyone knows your name?  That’s a big deal for me since I still don’t consider myself a Bouderite but I’m getting there!  Especially when I walk into Joe’s and Anthony is already making my latte.  I don’t even have to order it, Anthony just knows.  Today I wished Anthony a merry Christmas, happy holidays (one has to be very ‘pc’ here in Boulder) and a happy New Year.  I told him I would be out of town for awhile but I’d be back.  Anthony asked where I was going.  I’m sure he assumed I would say home for the holidays, or skiing in Sun Valley.  “Nope, I’m going to Antarctica!” 

“No, really?” 

“Yup, I’m going to Antarctica the day after Christmas to take on what I hope will be my fifth summit of my mission.”  By now others waiting in line were looking at me and listening to this conversation.  Now I make it a point NOT to look like a mountain climber.  I shave my legs, don’t have facial hair, wear makeup, skirts and I try to bathe at least daily.  I go out of my way to maintain some sort of resemblance to a female when I am not in the mountains.  Once over 10,000 feet all bets are off and one has to be careful what one says to another down clad individual least they mistake you for someone of the opposite sex.  The conversations can get pretty dicey up there.  But today I still had my girlie girl look going. 

Yes, I told the crowd (I was feeling more and more like Norm sitting at the Cheers bar) I was going to Antarctica to climb Vinson Massif.  I had already done four of the seven summits and I was from Boston until last spring.  Finally someone asked why I was taking on this mission. 

Because I am trying to show the world what people with MS can do and to encourage those living with MS to find their own mountain. 

Anthony stopped mid-latte.  “No wonder you are always so happy.” 

And so, right there in a coffee shop everything I am and everything I want to be and hope for in myself and others was so simply stated.  I am always happy. 

I am happy when my youngest brings seven friends for dinner to my tiny condo and the dinner table is filled with huge bodies and lively conversation.  I am happy when I go for a run up into the canyon and take my camera so that I can return east and show my friends and family just what I get to experience everyday living in Colorado. I am happy when I get to visit a foreign country like Ecuador, climb some amazing mountains and look for a dining establishment that has guinea pig on the menu.  I am happy as I make wonderful new friends here in Boulder and now have the best of both worlds, east and west. 

I am happy as I reach for higher summits, loftier peaks and take with me in my heart and head each and every person living with MS. 

Merry Christmas, happy holidays and peace in the New Year.  And may you too have something in your life that brings you joy and makes you happy because then you truly will be you and that’s the best. 

Climb On    

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1 Response to “The Happy Factor”


  1. 1 kathleen Donnelly December 22, 2007 at 10:08 pm

    We’re so fortunate to have you in students/our lives- you’ve inspired me to help up in juvenile detentional halls ( I’ve got specialized training from Endicott College for dyslexic students). If you know of more North Shore Centers/ I’ll go re; free tutoring in dyslexic teaching- Thanks for the inspriration! We’ll be following you and holding you near in our thoughts!


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About Wendy Booker

In June of 1998, this 55 year old mother of three was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS after experiencing balance problems, blurred vision and numbness on her left side. When first diagnosed, Wendy was devastated. But it took very little time for her to transform anguish into inspiration. She immediately turned her hobby of casual running into a continuous pursuit and has now completed nine marathons.

Mountain climbing became the next conquest. Wendy learned about a team of mountain climbers with Multiple Sclerosis who were attempting to climb Mt. McKinley (Denali) in Alaska. With no previous climbing experience, she dedicated a year to hard training and set off with them in 2002. Although weather conditions prohibited the team from completing, Wendy attempted the summit again in 2004 on her own and she succeeded!

The feeling of accomplishment she experienced propelled her next aspiration: to climb the highest mountain on each continent. Just five years later, Wendy Booker has successfully reached the top of six of The Seven Summits – Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. McKinley, Mt. Elbrus, Mt. Aconcagua, Mt. Vinson Massif and Mt. Kosciuszko. Mt. Everest, the highest mountain on earth, still awaits for 2010.


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