Ever thought what it would feel like to pursue a dream relentlessly? Everyday of your life, trying to fight for what makes you happy. Brittany Parker has. Not only has she thought about it, she has spent years working away at it. It all started pretty young. A passion for the outdoors fuelled by a deep desire to escape a stressful home. Her mother had suffered a brain tumour when pregnant with her and had come out of it struggling with depression and fell into addictions.
“She doesn’t really have a life, she just sleeps and lays in bed and doesn’t really do much, still to this day. Nature was always a way for me to, maybe escape it a little bit. Growing up I would just take the bus to the ski resort and go snowboarding. I was always skateboarding or hiking, anything I could do to be outside. To me, it just was a way to be present and not worry about her as much.”
Her escape grew to be an essential part of her life. She fell in love with snowboarding and had this big dream of becoming a professional snowboarder. Everyday, she was on the mountain trying her best to make it happen, but life had other plans for her it seems.
“I was pushing really hard for that dream. I moved to Breckenridge. I was living at the base of the mountain, snowboarding everyday. I fractured my tailbone, tore my ACL, fractured my tailbone again, broke some ribs. I just kept getting hurt. Then I thought, ‘this is not for me. It’s not going to happen’.”
Brittany puts aside her dream of making it in the snowboard world. She has to move on. During one of her summer job as a raft guide, she notices some people going down the river paddling while standing up on big boards. The girl that’s into pretty much every single board sport has her interest sparked immediately.
“When I saw them stand-up paddling, I was asking them about it and they invited me out and provided me with all the gear. I went out and did this class III section on my first time. It was super fun. I swam the whole time but I really really loved it. SUP surfing came about a year later for me. I’ve always wanted to surf but living in Colorado, it’s not super easy to get into. This was my opportunity and I love that more than I love any other part of the sport.”
Surfing and stand-up paddling consumed her life. She was in love with it and learning really fast. Because SUP was still new, she realized she ad the opportunity to be a pioneer with it when it came to river surfing. That was going to be her new goal.
“I was out everyday, I always invited people to go, I attended events. When I started, there were very few but there were some stand-up paddling events and I’d go to them, compete. I talked to Badfish Stand up Paddle. They liked my enthusiasm and my persistence and invited me to be on the team. That provided me with even more confidence to keep pursuing.”
For Brittany, it was not only about becoming a professional athlete. She had discovered that she enjoyed sharing her passion with other people, sharing the love.
“I started instructing and traveling around the country with my business RVR 2 RVR. I teach stand-up paddling, river surfing, river safety, just getting people out on the water is what I really really love. It’s changed my life and I know everyone who’s tried it, it seem to have changed theirs.”
This lifestyle allows her to do what she loves the most, travel to surf and paddle on rivers all around. Wether it be for a competition, teaching a class or to surf on a river with friends, Brittany is equally as excited about it and even if it’s not always easy to make a living off of it, she wouldn’t want to do anything else.
“I don’t make a lot of money but with all of my experiences, I feel really wealthy. There is a lot of ups and downs but my happiness outweighs the struggles. To be able to do this for as long as possible and just get a lot of people in the water is really important to me. I like the idea of being part of this movement of river surfing where these river waves and whitewater parks are being built all over the world. It’s just bringing people closer to the water and connecting them more to the river which in turn, is good for them but it’s also good for the river and for nature.”
For her, keeping the dream alive is what it’s all about. No end goal in sight except being able to continue living life doing what she loves. Her talent and determination has already gotten her far and there is no reason this smart women will be able to continue make her dream life a reality.
“It started out being an escape for me and it ended up being more just a necessity. It’s as essential as air is for me. It enhances my life in such a way that nothing else has been able to. I think if I didn’t have nature, my life would be very different. If I didn’t have that option, if I grew up in a city, and nature was far away from me and I didn’t know the effect it had on me or it could have on me, I could have gone down a really bad road and definitely not be where I am today. It’s definitely nature that, in a way, saved me from myself.”
Discovering nature and the positive effect it had on her may be what gave Brittany the opportunity to turn her life around but her hard work and determination is what made it possible and that, she only owe to herself.