She’s a Survivor!

What an interesting experience this has been. For those of you who didn’t watch Survivor last night, my mom was voted out second! The house has been eerily quiet today despite being filled with family.

My sister and I think it is one of those things where people aren’t sure what to say. I assure you though, we are all OK with the results of the show last night. We have had a few months to adjust to it whereas many of you are going through the thoughts and emotions we felt when we first learned of the outcome.

I can still picture the night we picked her up from her journey to Gabon and hearing a few moments later how and when her journey had ended. I felt sad for the disappointment I was sure she was feeling. This was a quest she had set out on so long ago and it hadn’t ended the way she had planned. It was impossible to remain sad or disappointed for her for long though because it was much more important to focus on what she accomplished rather than what she didn’t accomplish.

As I get older, I realize that many journeys have a different destination that we had thought we wanted. But, when we got there we learned that that destination was just as good, only different. While she didn’t win the million, no one knows if this is the end of this particular journey or perhaps just the beginning. And while the unknown makes so many, many people absolutely crazy, I think that it can be the most exciting and charming part of life.

Too often, we insist on finding out the results so we can prepare ourselves for them rather than just enjoying the moment, experiencing the emotion and figuring it out as we go along.

We had an incredible premiere party last night with over 300 people in attendance! It was very emotional for me as we were setting up for the party to realize what I was a part of. It is not often that you see someone achieve a dream from start to finish. Not only is it unusual to watch first hand, so few people actually set their goals so high and then are able to complete them.

My mom had put together an AMAZING slideshow of her quest to be on Survivor. Man, does that woman embrace life, embrace every experience. I cried harder than I have in a long time watching those pictures because I don’t know if I know anyone else who has lived as full a life, accomplished as much or experienced so many incredible things. What a beautiful life she has made for herself!

Watching the show was very surreal. It was like watching the stories and people my mom had been telling us about for the last months but it wasn’t real to me that I was actually watching Survivor! There were so many stories that were not aired (obviously due to time constraints) and the way they choose to portray her isn’t complete accurate as far as how she is in normal life.

True, it is hard for her to bite her tongue and to sit back quietly. False, that she is a weaker old woman. She is strong, fit, helpful, hardworking and unfortunately that wasn’t portrayed. But as our family saying goes…”What’s life is life.”

For those of you who have been so excited, who have offered such support and enthusiasm, I thank you!! I think the joy so many of you have felt and the shear excitement you have shown for my mom and our family has been so incredible to feel and to see. It has been a reminder of the human spirit, that there are people around you, even people you barely know, who wish good things for you.

As with anything, there have been people who have reveled in the negative of this experience. For you, I hope that you can find satisfaction within your own life so that you no longer take pleasure in the defamation of others. Know that someone else’s achievement of their dreams does not take away your ability to create and accomplish your own.

To my mom…this has been a brilliant experience to share with you. Watching your face those first moments of the show is something I will never forget. The excitement in your voice and the smile on your face that you couldn’t contain was priceless!

You live such an incredibly full life filled with so many adventures. I know you will soon be off on the next adventure, always wanting to experience. I hope that people will feel moved to accomplish something new, whether it is big or small. My hope for you is to remember to put yourself first sometimes.

You deserve a thousand “Survivor” experiences and I know that you will not just sit around waiting for them to happen, YOU will make them happen! Continue to enjoy the ride…

With love and pride,

7 replies
  1. Becky
    Becky says:

    I think it was a huge disappointment to have had your mom voted out. I’m really sick of discrimination against our elderly population, mostly because some day we will ALL be there someday, God willing, and I don’t want to be treated as badly as your mother was by her team mates. Anyway, she is a true inspiration. I read on the Survivor site that she applied 14 times before getting on the show. Even though those morons voted her out early, I deeply admire that kind of persistance. I am a high school teacher and have drawn great inspiration from your mother’s journey. I hope I can inspire my students the way Gillian has inspired me.

  2. Rhoda
    Rhoda says:

    Gil, You are great and a real class act! I thought you handled yourself wonderfully in a difficult situation. I thought your words at the end of the show and on the Survivor web site (that night and next day) interviews showed your good character.
    Thank you for letting us share in the excitement of your adventure! I have a copy of the Hartford Courant TV Eye article I’ll send to you.
    I admire your determination and success in reaching your goal of being accepted to the Survivor Gabon cast. You’re a winner in my eyes, a role model for the “mature woman’! Congratulations,

  3. Mary Ann Niedzwiedz
    Mary Ann Niedzwiedz says:

    I admired your determination and conviction. What a stong individual you are! Somehow, I feel I will read more about you. Congratulations and continue on with your desires. God bless you. Your friend Mona speaks so highly of you.

  4. Connie
    Connie says:

    First of all I want to congratulate you on getting as far as you did, most people sit on the couch and think “oh that would be a neat thing to do” and that is as far as they get, the fact that you pursued your dream so long and did not give up shows the kind of guts and spirit you really have! Second of all it was brutal out there and if I followed it correctly you were actually in the game 6 whole days! I could not have done it and admire you for doing so! Your a winner in all the very most important aspects of life and any of us who have known you in the past or present know you are a woman with a lot of zest for life. Thanks for sharing another part of your journey! Connie

  5. Karin Ripp
    Karin Ripp says:

    I was sorry to see you go. Although the TV audience saw a skewed picture of the participants, you did come across a bit too bubbly. If you had researched Survivor, as you say you had, you should have know that that just doesn’t fly. I really would have liked to see more of you on the show. I am sure you would have been an asset to the group in the long run.

  6. Leandra Snow
    Leandra Snow says:

    You were definitely the class act on the team from start to finish. Too bad they didn’t show the “real” Gillian Larson on T.V. Congratulations on accomplishing your goal to be on Survivor. Good luck on the next adventure!

  7. Joanne
    Joanne says:

    Gillian- you are terrific! We are kindred spirits, I too am nearing 60, we share the love of Africa, travel, adventure and all things in the wild. When you suggested to the tribe they hunt for elephant dung to use for the fire I hooted with laughter. Then you picked it up and started to show everyone what amazing stuff it was. The look on their faces was priceless. I have been an environmental educator for almost 20 years and my favorite subject to teach kids is a program I developed called “The Scoop on Poop”. So needless to say I shared your enthusiasm for the stuff!
    But , alas I knew you weren’t long for the program because most of those young people haven’t had enough experiences in life to know a good thing when they see it. Unfortunately we in the older generation are looked upon with little respect and the only type of people that seem to make it are the flirty, clueless bimbos with big boobs.
    Sorry to see you go so soon- you were a kick in the pants! Keep on trekking.

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