I made a vow to get out of my house more this year. That may sound silly, but I work from home and it can be very isolating, plus it feels like I don’t see enough actual humans, which also makes me feel less connected to the outside world. So I’ve given myself a challenge, what I’m calling my IRL (In real life) Challenge. Get out of my house, meet new people and feel more connected overall. And how better to connect with the outside world than to meet someone who’s been all over the planet and just may be a secret, superhero disguised as a badass, scientist mom?
Last weekend I had the unforgettable experience of seeing Mireya Mayor, PhD speak at the Barclay Center Theatre at the University of California, Irvine. Mireya just happens to be a fellow member of the O Mag Insiders and she also just happens to be the bravest person I’ve ever met in person. Seriously. I’m inspired and in awe of what she’s done and what she is yet to accomplish. She’s just, well, O-mazing.
Not only did Mireya Mayor cheer for the Miami Dolphins, with another fabulous, fellow insider, Rachel Simmonds, but she’s done incredibly important work all over the world. She is a fearless primatologist, an anthropologist, Fulbright scholar, National Science Foundation Fellow, plus a global correspondent for National Geographic and she discovered a new species of mouse lemur. Yeah, you heard me, she discovered a new species!!! All I did this week was decided to cut soy from my diet. Sheeez, I got work to do.
Mayor is known around the world as the “Female Indiana Jones”, and her life is just the stuff that movies are made of, but even better. Her talk was full of heart, humor, information, and breathtaking images and videos of her travels and discoveries. We could feel her passion for all creatures and her deep admiration for the locals and their diverse cultures. To see a little more of her journey check out this cool video from Nat Geo.
Some of my favorite stories were those of the gorillas and their behavior. Mayor spoke about the Silverback male who charged at her and why it was an especially terrifying experience. This particular gorilla was upset with his female counterparts and seemed to be taking it out on Mayor. Yikes talk about primal projection. She also told the story of a mama gorilla who punched a daddy gorilla for being aggressive towards their son. Seeing the image of the rambunctious young gorilla celebrating after watching his dad get punched was priceless. It just shows us how similar we are to these breathtaking creatures.
What stood out most about Mayor though was her bravery and fearlessness. I can’t imagine going on even one of her excursions, and she’s had so many crazy adventures. She’s survived a plane crash, captured animals on film who had never been photographed before, and she even starred on a reality show by Mark Burnett called Expedition Africa.
Mayor has also been chased by elephants, bitten by poisonous bugs, studied great white sharks, eaten fried slugs and so much more. With her impressive resume I pictured her as a single girl facing the world, and she was, and she does, but she is also a wife (she met her dashing husband on one of her excursions) and she is the mother of six children. You heard me. SIX children!!!!!!!!! How cool would it be to have a mom like Mireya? To see a little more about her thoughts about being a mom and an explorer check out this touching video from Nat Geo.
When asked what we could do as civilians on this precious earth, she said to become better informed and educated consumers. Don’t throw things out just to buy new things. Frequent second hand stores. Pass on buying palm oil and find out where the wood you are purchasing is coming from, because it may be destroying forests across the planet. I don’t know about you, but I think we could all take some time to educate ourselves on what we are buying, where it comes from, and if we reeeeeeallllly need it.
The night had a major impact on me. Mayor’s warmth, energy, and love of animals was so infectious I could have listened to her for hours. She is an important example of a girly adventurer who gets down and dirty, wears hot pink stilettos when she chooses, and is passionate about science. She is a woman who travels the rain forests, and helps raise a loving family. And Mireya is nowhere near done, she will continue to explore the earth and take on even more amazing adventures. I can’t wait to see what she does next. I’m so proud to have spent even a little time with her this weekend IRL and I look forward to our next adventure, preferably over a glass of wine.
Follow Mireya on her adventures: