how could i forget to pack this??

It was the night before my final ascent up Mount Kilimanjaro.

I was freezing, excited, nervous, dizzy, hungry, exhausted and feeling plenty of other emotions I don’t have words for.

I sat in our base camp and prepared my small pack for the 3am departure. I was deciding what I’d need to wear versus what I would carry on my back.

Maybe as a way to pass the time, I began to try on my 9-layer outfit, layer after layer, trying to envision what the early morning hours would entail, and wondering if my body would hold up.

And then I stopped.

I couldn’t pull my pants over my knees.

I looked down at the ski pants that would serve as my warmest, outermost layer and saw the words “Maddie Berna.”

I had brought my 11-year-old daughter’s ski pants to Mount Kilimanjaro!


Was I that rushed when I left NYC? Was I that unprepared for such an amazing trip? If I couldn’t remember whose pants I was wearing, how could I summit one of the highest mountains on the planet and keep it together?

Thankfully, our Tanzanian guide saved me with his spare pair. Ok, it was two sizes too big but at least they pulled up to my hips.

In that moment, I felt something subtle but real.

I went from being annoyed at myself and anxious to laughing…trying to find a kind of playfulness out of the situation. I mean, what were my options?


At the very least, I came up with a story that I would tell my daughter about her ski pants that climbed one of Earth’s highest mountains, albeit in my backpack…and perhaps one day she would climb it too.

Why do I share this with you?

Because I talk a lot about play. And play is, of course, an action you can take. It’s a choice. It’s about DOING something you love.

But play is also about BEING.

Playfulness is an energy. And a mindset.

It’s about feeling lighter and being less hard on yourself!!

So if you find yourself criticizing a mistake you made, try to remember my Maddie’s 11-year-old ski pants.

Flip the script in your head and see if you can find a more playful resolution.

Because in the end, I made it to the summit, sufficiently layered, pants and all.

And you can too.

With fierce love,

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