Today is the last day of our Live Your Passion series – held in conjunction with Nuu-Muu – with a great look at how a working mom balances her pleasures and her responsibilities while remaining a passionate bicycle and transit advocate. There’s still time to win in our Nutcase Nuu-Muu Giveaway. Go to our Instagram page for details on how to easily enter.

Name
Mary Anderson

So, what do you do?
I am a transportation planner at the Whatcom Council of Governments in Bellingham, Washington, working primarily on non-motorized projects, and I’m passionate about making sure people have transportation choices. My work has been focused on bicycle education and encouragement for eight years, but I’m currently spending more time on transit projects, including a transit passenger survey and a grant to help senior citizens use transit.

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During the spring, half of my time is devoted to providing bicycle education to local elementary school children. It’s a great balance for me. I’m a total data nerd, so I love collecting and analyzing data but I also love being able to work with kids. I get paid to ride my bike – it’s a dream.

Super fun! We’d love to hear a bit about how bikes fit into your family.
My husband and I have a twelve-year-old daughter and a two-and-a-half year old son. We have one car and many bikes. It can be challenging to coordinate family life with one car, but it’s worth it. I love showing my kids that a motor vehicle isn’t the only way to get places. We do still drive, but one of us bikes to work every day and my daughter always bikes or walks to school.

How did you know you wanted to be a transportation planner? And how did you make it happen for yourself?
I got a B.S. in Environmental Science back in 2003 and started riding my bike then for both environmental and monetary reasons. In 2007, I took a job at everybodyBIKE, the bicycle program of Whatcom Smart Trips. At the time, I was focused solely on bicycle education projects. I was bitten by the transportation bug, decided to further my education, and graduated with a Masters in Sustainable Transportation from the University of Washington in 2014.

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What is the best thing about Living Your Passion?
Being a working mom is hard; time away from your kids weighs on your heart. I count my blessings every day that I have a job I love and feel like I’m making a positive difference in the world. I am excited to go work in the morning. I work on projects that improve people’s lives. It’s rewarding.

What’s not so fun?
Sometimes I wish I could just ride my bike to ride my bike, not to change the world.

It’s pretty clear that you love bikes. What else do you love to do?
Having a two year old and a twelve year old makes it hard to have any real hobbies but I do like to make jewelry and to read.

How do Nuu-Muu and Nutcase help you along the way?
Nuu-Muus are by far the best thing to wear while doing bicycle education. They are comfortable and stylish. I can wear my dress as I bike to work, during the day while teaching bicycle education, and on the way home when I stop at the store. I love that Nuu-Muu is made in the USA and that the company is so supportive of empowering women. And lets be honest – they are SO cute!

Nutcase helmets are SO. MUCH. FUN. I have a bright blue helmet with a giant star and glitter. It is very visible. I’ve had quite a few people tell me they saw me from a few streets away because of my helmet, which is especially helpful during our rainy season in the Pacific Northwest. The fun styles remind me not to take myself too seriously. I also love the magnetic clasp.
I get compliments on both my Nuu-Muu and my Nutcase almost daily. The combo makes for a great commute to work or a mother/daughter bike date.

Do you have any advice for folks who are inspired to live passions of their own and might want to lead a similar lifestyle?
If you do find your dream job, be warned that you might still have blah days. It can be easy to get burned out when you’re very passionate about something and live and breathe it. Remember to maintain a healthy balance of work, family, friends, exercise and faith or spirituality. Another important thing I learned the hard way is to know when to say “no”. Don’t sacrifice your health or your family relationships just because you feel that you should do something.

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Mary invites you to check out the great things the Whatcom Council of Governments is doing with their Smart Trips Program. www.whatcomsmarttrips.org

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