Design a site like this with
Get started


When I distill down the history of Adventure Mamas, I recognize now that the decision to build a community was really the first of many ongoing acts of showing up for mamas, myself included. It was a shift from passivity to action, a transition that made all the difference.

Upon becoming a parent, I experienced all the feels I’d been told to expect: heart-expanding joy, love, relief, understanding, and bliss. But I was ill-prepared for the simultaneous onslaught of anxiety, grief, and mourning for the previous life I was expected to leave behind.

Like many women, somewhere between birth and giving birth, I’d absorbed the two-fold myth that motherhood entailed joyful martyrdom and that this maternal martyrdom was what was best for families. I’d like to say it was the product of subtle conditioning but to be honest, there was nothing subtle about it. For as long as I can remember, I’ve observed and read about women, modern and historic alike, putting aside their personal comfort, needs, and passions to care for their families. This was reiterated all throughout my pregnancy as I was subjected to a slew of recycled comments making it clear I better enjoy showering, hot meals, personal time, traveling, etc now while I could…

These comments rattled me. If daily basics like personal hygiene and hot meals were to no longer be assumed, I was definitely not holding out on being able to pursue my more rugged past times like rock climbing, cycling, and backpacking. I begrudgingly prepared to fold away that part of my life.

It took approximately 3 weeks into my new motherhood gig for me to formally call the bluff on a lifetime of maternal conditioning. I’m not opposed to sacrifice, I’m well-versed in the art of tackling challenge, and I’m somewhat of a sufferfest connoisseur, but the classic motherhood-martyr-trajectory dulled and depressed me.

In confiding in my longtime friend and adventure partner, Stephanie, who was also a new mom, I realized I was not nearly as alone as I felt. She was struggling with a similar paradox of mixed feelings. And if we both felt this way, there must be others.

There must be others who’d also had enough of the stereotypes, the social stigmas, and the hidden guilt and shame that so many women find themselves subjected to. We wanted something different and began dreaming of what it would look like to be surrounded by women who were raising wild-hearted children while honoring their own wild ambitions. Women who were tender, attentive, and compassionate caregivers but also practitioners of self-love, self-respect, and self-growth. Women that validated our need for nature and adrenaline and sunshine. Women that equally celebrated challenge chasing in the mountains and slow walks in the nearby hills. Women who reminded us that we should unabashedly pursue joy, passion, curiosity, peace, and space not because it makes us better mothers, but because we are unique individuals worthy of each of those things.

A blend of having my experience validated, knowing there must be others, and the curiosity of wondering if motherhood could actually look different were catalyst enough to set the wheels in motion. Together, Stephanie and I decided to move from passive lamenting to active problem solving. We wanted to initiate change, to redefine motherhood– even if it only ever impacted ourselves. Together, we decided to show up.

And the most brilliant part of all is that when we showed up, so did you. Collectively, this community has been gathering momentum every day since, a testament to the laws of inertia.

If you had asked me then, just three years ago, when AMI was a squirmy tadpole of a thing, how I thought the concept would play out, I don’t think my imagination was big enough to encompass today’s reality. What started as a small community group has transformed into so much more. Together, we are shifting the way the world perceives the mothering experience and perhaps more importantly, we are shifting the way that we each personally perceive our own mothering experience.

Motherhood was never intended to be a solitary journey, it takes a village. We need one another; we need support, validation, and love now more than ever. We each deserve encouragement to pursue a path through motherhood that is uniquely meaningful and fulfilling.

The AMI platform is here to help women discover that path and a community that supports them along the way. We are more than hashtags and highlight reels; more than a declared single day to pause and reflect on motherhood; more than some annual campaign. We are serious about maternal wellness and show up, day-in and day-out, to support women throughout all stages and phases of motherhood.

The same way that we as mothers need to show up for ourselves and for one another, we’re asking you to please show up for AMI. This is a project fueled by love. Our team of passionate volunteers gift their time, energy, passion, and talent to propel our mission forward– all to empower more mamas than ever. But the fact is, passion doesn’t keep the proverbial lights on. Programming, event coordination, hosting, insurance, web dev, and more– these things all cost money.

And so I’m asking you to move from passivity to action: STAND WITH US; show up for us as we have shown up for you. As we move into Mother’s Day weekend, please support our mission in a tangible way by providing a one-time donation, opting into recurring monthly donations, or purchasing a kickass bar of soap from Red Bud Suds who will be donating 50% of all profits to our organization. In doing so, you are ensuring that we can keep the mama-momentum going.

You can learn more about our organization and give back this Mother’s Day season by visiting Your contributions enable us to shed light on issues surrounding maternal wellness and help us reach more women than ever.

Your support is an act of solidarity that we appreciate more than words could ever relay. THANK YOU and HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

Privilege Outdoors

We aren’t gearheads, or brand-name loyalists. We aren’t technical junkies and I don’t remember the last time I walked into a brick-and-mortar store and bought a brand new piece of gear. And that’s okay. It works for my family. We fit somewhere in the gray area of the outdoor privileged.

It’s impossible to ignore and somehow simultaneously easy to overlook. It’s even easier when the system supports the idea that the wild spaces are for everyone, when in reality the outdoors are governed by the same socio economic “norms” that regulate many other areas of our lives.

This is a personal journey, a lifetime of experiences learning and growing from sometimes uncomfortable truths.

When I was growing up in Southern California I had (wrongly) assumed that everyone had been to the beach. I mean, it was right there. This belief was solidified by the fact that everyone I knew had been there. In fact, most of my friends were a part of surf families or at least beach bum folks who flocked to Zuma or Leo Carillo on the weekends. It never occured to me that there were people who lived closer by proximity to the beach and had never felt the sand beneath their feet or the salty water tangle their hair with a surf smell that lasts all day.

It wasn’t until I graduated high school, moved to Utah, and then come back to SoCal that it hit me: I was privileged.

I had grown up as a child of parents in the film industry so we had money. I had a swimming pool, access to weekends at cabins and whole days at the ocean. When I wanted to learn to SCUBA dive, I did. When I started backcountry camping, I got gear as birthday presents. However, it never occured to me, how lucky I was, because I had always had jobs and I got second-hand gear. I had grown up around money’s money, so my privilege seemed somehow dimmed in comparison. And that was wrong. It was around the time I had moved back to LA that  I got hooked up with an organization that worked to bring the ocean to kids who couldn’t access it. We taught ocean conservation, we shared photos and brought in sand, some of the leaders of the groups even were able to bring some of the kiddos and their families to Santa Monica Beach. This was the big aha moment for me. I wanted to imagine I hadn’t grown up in a bubble, I mean Los Angeles was all about diversity. But the uncomfortable truth is that there exists separation not only by race or religion, but by money. In the 2018 Outdoor Participation Report it showed that 66% of outdoor enthusiasts made over $50,000 a year.

The socio-economic lines don’t become blurred outdoors, as much as we want to believe they do. It isn’t as simple as taking a walk in the woods, although for those of us who have access, it seems that way. Numerous factors go into living “an outdoors lifestyle”.

Access to Space and Time

Growing up in a city like Los Angeles, it is obvious to me now how a person could live a mere 10 miles from the beach and not make it there. Lack of public transportation as well as the ability to invest the amount of time it would take can completely hinder one’s ability. Access to outdoor public space in many large cities is pretty dismal.

Unfortunately, this problem exists in all sizes of communities. The rural Wisconsin farm community I live in suffers from this same problem. Financially struggling parents cannot afford to take time off of work to spend the day outside, with or without their kids.

This goes for camping too. Yes, it seems like a cheap alternative to a “vacation”, until you consider that you still need time off from work and access to either nearby places or transportation to travel further. Also, state parks require a park pass (day or otherwise) as well as payment for a campsite. It seems potentially trivial, but for those who don’t have much, or a stable income, these fees add up.


The same socioeconomic prohibitors that go into camping translate into almost all outdoor activities. Camping, climbing, kayaking … the list goes on and none of them are cheap. Gear is expensive, even “affordable” gear generally comes with a hefty price tag. The gearhead culture only fuels the rising expense of gear. With each technical innovation the gear becomes better, but the exchange is the price skyrockets. These price hikes hinder those who aren’t diehard, but rather looking to break into said sport. Even something as seemingly trivial as a pair of boots can become an impossible purchase for a family who is worried about staying afloat. There are numerous avenues to find more affordable gear but a lot of the time you have to know about them- gear swaps, the REI garage sales,etc these things are often an “in the know” event. If you’re new to the outdoor community a lot of these things are hard to track down.

Outdoor Education and Sports

Access to education can also be a deterrent. Helping kids foster interests that are somewhat non-traditional, like most outdoor sports, is expensive. My son loves rock climbing so we signed him up for a class that includes a membership and it was NOT cheap. We were lucky enough to make this work. Again,  a lot of places offer sliding scales and scholarships… but sometimes it’s the time not the money that make these hobbies inaccessible.


Like I said, my son loves rock climbing. This is no accident.  My husband and I introduced him to the sport after realizing other sports weren’t really his “thing”. We figured since he was born with clubfeet, a sport with less running and more potential for upper body strength usage would really make sense. He took to it instantaneously.

Children learn interests by what they are exposed to, and our kids love the outdoors because they don’t know anything different. From an early age they were hiking, paddleboarding, swimming, etc., and that is because my husband and I intentionally shared this with them. For families who can’t access the outdoors as easily, the exposure is very limited. This means that the children will have little to no knowledge of not only how to do those things, but that they even exist. For example, when I was living in LA working with the ocean conservation kid’s program, almost none of the kids knew what SCUBA diving was. By depriving children of these opportunities we in turn may deprive ourselves. Perhaps one of those kids has the potential to be the next great ocean conservationist of their generation.

Inclusivity in Real Life

It is up to those of us who are in the place of privilege to lend our ears and hands to those advocating for inclusivity. There are numerous wonderful organizations that represent the underrepresented in the outdoor community. This isn’t just a socioeconomic issue, it is a race and gender and body issue. It is about those who have always been represented forgetting about those who have not.

My nephew is Hispanic, he lives with us part-time. We go hiking, climbing, skiing,  paddleboarding and camping, and he is almost always the only Hispanic kid, an unfortunate reality in southwestern Wisconsin. I am acutely aware of this and he is becoming aware too. It is important to make space for kids to feel included and not “othered” in all areas, including the outdoors. The outdoor community is a very homogenized group of people, and as uncomfortable as that makes people, it is the truth. A study done by the Outdoor Research Industry found that in 2018, 74% of people who participated in outdoor activities where white.

There is growing movement for inclusivity which has resulted in small, but meaningful change. According to ORI’s study, this was the first year that Hispanic participation in outdoor activities grew (by 1%). This means there is work to be done, but that things are headed in the right direction. Numerous groups have made it their mission to celebrate minorities outdoors and it is the job of the outdoor community to support them.

Open Ears, Open Hearts

So what do I do? I have asked myself this question a lot. We are a family of five (sometimes six) that makes less than the average outdoors person, however we still operate with the knowledge of our privilege.

I listen, I acknowledge, and I try to learn. By letting others take the lead- hearing the stories from people who have their experiences to share. Each time I talk to people I try to really hear what they have to say. Not nodding with glazed eyes waiting for my turn to speak— but really, actually listening.

It’s a process and I don’t have answers, but what I hope is that by sharing what I have learned we can all take pause and think about what each of us as people can do. Big change is a result of small practices. Nobody climbs a mountain alone in one step: it takes many people taking many small steps to reach the peak. So, make a community and lend a hand or take a hand and eventually we all rise together.

Pregnant Backpacking: How I fought Prenatal Depression and Anxiety by Solo Backpacking

On April 6th, in the 33rd week of my third pregnancy, I pulled over on a completely deserted road, grabbed a loaded pack out of my trunk, stepped into the cold of 20˚F and set off on my first ever, completely solo backpacking trip.

This year had been heavy, emotionally. Pregnancy is a hugely taxing journey that for me that results in depression and anxiety. My second pregnancy resulted in over eighteen months of postpartum depression and anxiety. This pregnancy I had made the choice to start on antidepressants, which was a major step forward in my advocating for my mental health. Medication was one factor in my new mental health plan. Additionally, I took stock of my current life trajectory and determined that a major factor that was missing from my personal and professional life was growth and challenge.

I needed a challenge. I needed to do something I’d never done before. I wanted to do it alone. I wanted to see if I could. I needed some exploration.

For me, as a mom of three, I am rarely alone. And those occasions where I am unattended by family, I am surrounded by friends and society. Even when I travel, I usually opt to travel with a companion. Lately, that had me feeling confined and pent up. Noise felt like it was physically assaulting me.

Becoming a mother has emphasized for me the need for space. I need and crave solitude.

In challenging myself this year, I decided I should do a solo backpacking trip. The trip would provide me with much needed respite before plunging into newborn sleeplessness. It would allow me to ponder how to approach schooling with my eldest (a topic that has been very stressful this year). I also hoped to work a bit on my writing career, something I’ve been working on since getting out of PPD/A.

Being alone….

That was my challenge. Would I like the me I had become? Would I even know the woman (who wouldn’t see a mirror during that trip) I was post-carrying two children and in the midst of the third? Liking myself prior to children was hard enough. Having gone through the reincarnation of myself twice before I knew it was coming again. Once again I would be required to adapt and change who I was and my life to accommodate the additional person I was carrying. But amidst all that, there was still me. Somehow I had to find a way to be enough for myself.

Why can’t you just go to a hotel? While going to a hotel would certainly give me the alone time I craved, it wouldn’t provide me with a sense of solitude, exploration or challenge. It didn’t require me to change myself in any way. Going backpacking, on the other hand, necessitated that I prepare my food, my route, my shelter. It meant that I would have to provide those for myself, and that whatever challenges I faced, I would be accomplishing them.

I had planned this trip in early February with hopes that the weather in April would cooperate with me. My doctor had cleared me up to the 36th week, though I could tell she’d appreciate if I went sooner rather than later. Between that and shelter availability, I didn’t have a lot of options. So into the cold, I went. I had planned for a 7 mile long segment of the Ice Age Scenic Trail. As part of the Southern Kettle Unit of the Wisconsin State Park system, I knew there would be a ranger nearby and that while “alone” I wouldn’t be stranded if I needed help. I picked this segment because it had geographical challenge and interest while also being flexible in terms of route. I was able to park close to where I would be camping at night. Then I could make a “loop” that would allow me to hike the whole of the segment.  I also originally was hoping to do a two night trip but when temperatures dropped, I scaled back to a one nighter. There would be no rescheduling.

I almost chickened out. I almost changed my mind. The cold is my personal nemesis. A quick panicky text to my sister (my personal backpacking hero and guru) resulted in this gem.

“Go. It’ll probably suck while you do it. But you’ll never regret having gone. Also, bring fluffy socks.”

And there it was. Often motherhood is like that. It sometimes sucks while you do it. There are meltdowns, whining, crying and injuries (and some of that from the kids too!). There are the moments when you think it’s the worst idea you ever had was to be a mom. But I’ll never regret having these three kids. Backpacking solo: it was going to be hard for me. I was going to miss my kids and my husband. And I’d also be really, really cold and most likely uncomfortable. But I wasn’t going to regret going.

So along with all my other gear, I threw in two extra pairs of socks and a down vest. I set up my tent and responded with humor when the ranger who checked in at the shelter looked shocked that I was due so soon. I made myself a dinner that did not stay hot despite my best efforts. Walking around the campsite I allowed myself to think about all those worries that had pent up over the last year. Sitting at the table alone and drinking my tea and not talking to anyone gave me a lot of peace that I desperately needed.

It was a bit sucky. Sleeping at 33 weeks pregnant wasn’t going to be great at home and was definitely more challenging in a one woman tent. Getting into and out of a one person tent while feeling approximately the size of an elephant was hysterical. I’m so happy there was no one there to watch. Especially since the first time it took about 5 minutes. But I wasn’t cold thanks to the super fluffy socks and extra down layers. (I never claimed to be an ultralight backpacker, In fact this trip I brought an extra blanket.) In the morning I woke up and I couldn’t get my fingers warm enough to use the lighter for the stove. I managed to drink some very icy coffee substitute and finished a meal bar. I opted not to continue fighting with the stove so I packed up and hiked the short way back to the car. It actually physically hurt to move that morning. It took me all the way home to finally warm up.

However, when asked if I’d go again, I didn’t hesitate. Yes, I would do that again. Those hours, so short, were worth whatever I needed to do to get there. In crossing that bridge I was forced to navigate past anxieties (about leaving my kids, about being alone, about who I was, and if I was good enough). In doing something I had never done before I challenged both my own mental image of me and my depression. Here was proof that I could change and grow and adapt. My depression told me that I couldn’t do anything right. Yet, this trip showed me I had already done it.

However, next time I go into the woods solo it’s going to be warm. And I’m not going to be pregnant.

Taking a Stand Requires Taking Action

Justine Nobbe here, Executive Director of AMI. I wanted to connect tonight to talk about something critical: the realities of functioning in the predominantly, often problematically, white, straight, traditionally-abled space of the outdoor industry. Although we have worked to create a welcoming, inclusive, and respectful community here at AMI, the glaring lack of diversity within our industry is a testament to the depth of work that we need to do.

On February 1, 2019, Camber Outdoors announced their Outdoor Industry CEO Diversity Pledge and falsely marketed it as the “first-of-its-kind.” Melanin Basecamp, a community group dedicated to diversifying the outdoors and advocating on behalf of people of color, was quick to identify the troubling issues surrounding this proclamation. Teresa Baker, a passionate and experienced Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) activist within the outdoor industry, had approached Camber a year earlier and asked them to consider expanding their then gender focused CEO pledge to include race. Camber declined. Teresa persisted though, moving on to spearhead the CEO Diversity Pledge. Aside from the patently and knowingly false novelty-marketing conducted by Camber, Melanin Basecamp further asserted, “the creation of a secondary, duplicate diversity pledge is inherently antagonistic towards the work already being done by grassroots DEI leaders around the U.S.”

We couldn’t agree more.

We stand beside Teresa, the organizers of Melanin Basecamp, and the plethora of organizations and communities led by people of color who are working daily to make the outdoor industry more diverse and inclusive. The reform and accountability they’ve requested from Camber needs to extend to ALL participants and leaders within the community.

Although we’ve made efforts to create an inclusive environment here at AMI by prioritizing DEI into our guiding principles, facilitating internal team trainings on equity and social justice, and actively seeking to place BIPOC mamas in leadership positions, we’re committed to doing more and recognize that progress requires continued action and accountability. This is why we are signing Teresa’s CEO Diversity Pledge.

Our BIPOC, differently-abled, alternatively-oriented, diversely-cultivated sisters deserve solidarity in the form of on-going action. As we vocally advocate for inclusion and equality, we must simultaneously step aside to create space for the talented, inspiring, tenacious, experienced, and insightful women in the outdoor community and beyond who are tragically underrepresented in both media and leadership. Allyship, true and deep, requires ongoing, self-initiated education which often looks a lot like us opting to respectfully STFU and listen to the voices, stories, and perspectives these individuals bring to the table.

So to the mamas who don’t check the “white, straight, traditionally-abled” majority box: we want you here. Actually scratch that, WE NEED YOU HERE. Your expertise, perspective, and talent are critical to AMI’s community and making the outdoors more accessible to all. We need you now, more than ever, in positions of leadership, power, influence, and prominence. Tangibly speaking, we are actively recruiting women from a diversity of backgrounds to expand our leadership team. If you are interested in helping us do this important work we’d love to have you join us in supporting and empowering mamas around the world. You can check out and if you don’t see an opportunity that suits you, reach out directly and we’ll put our heads together to explore a meaningful way to collaborate.

I recognize that for you to step up in a world where you have been historically underrepresented is a deeply courageous act. I am inspired by and learning from you, thanks for that opportunity.

I also want to recognize that there are many incredible organizations who have been pioneering DEI work in the outdoor industry for many years. If you are not already following and learning from @melaninbasecamp, @outdoorceopledge, @teresabaker11, @nativesoutdoors, @browngirlsclimb, @latinooutdoors, @queernature, @brownpeoplecamping, @outdoorafro, or one of the many other communities that exist, I encourage you to start right now (seriously, go follow them NOW). To the leaders of these movements and communities, I hope that the AMI mission of supporting maternal wellness can extend deeply into your communities. We’re here to support the work that you’ve initiated and we’re following your lead.

I should have stood front and center and said all of this sooner- I’m sorry and am committed to doing better. If I can encourage, engage, or support you, reach out via a comment below, a direct message, or an email to I will continue to provide updates as additional initiatives and efforts are made on our end. I know that there is a lot of tough, exciting, gritty, joyful, emotional, courageous, uncomfortable, and profound work to be done. AMI is in it for the long haul.

Might as Well Support Each Other Along the Way

Meet Lindsay and her son Finn:She’s got one helluva story about chasing your dreams with ferocity, humility, and curiosity and we think it’s worth telling.

Lindsay is a single-mama to son Finn, double part-time employee, and school bus convertin’ + dwellin’ handy-woman. In her free-time (which means during naps and after bedtime), she’s also working to develop a Bainbridge Island, WA hiking group for moms in collaboration with her local Parks and Rec Department– rad, right?

When Lindsay heard about AMI hosting the first-ever WFR Course for Mamas, she was immediately enthralled at the prospect. A WFR  is the professional industry standard, she knew this could be the experience that propelled her towards her goal of empowering and guiding women out on the local trails! And then naturally, reality sunk in and the barriers stacked up: that whole single-mom, double part-time employee sitch hadn’t been especially conducive to cushing out her bank account. There was no way she could make it work and put the course out of her mind.

Fast-forward a few weeks to when AMI published these words: “Instead of ruminating on road blocks, which are totally legitimate and real…dig into potential creative solutions. Give yourself permission to look into your options. So often the difference between those who do and those who don’t, comes down to who decided to say yes and explore solutions…Email us with your roadblocks and we’ll gladly explore solutions alongside you, mama to mama.”

Lindsay took this message to heart, mustered up the courage and humility to develop a GoFundMe page, and reached out to us directly to explore solutions. This power-tool-wielding, strong-willed, single-mama from the PNW was determined.

And so here we are, happily advocating on her behalf and we couldn’t be more inspired by her tenacity and persistence along the way.Lindsay has already navigated many barriers to make this experience a reality (childcare, professional time-off, and social stigmas to name a few) but where she needs our collective help is in financial support. Her goal is to raise $1500 by 2/20 to cover the course costs, travel, lodging, and additional childcare costs. Any leftover or additional funds will be applied towards funding for another mama at a future WFR course. If Lindsay does not raise the full amount by the 2/20 deadline, those funds will be applied towards her course tuition at the next AMI WFR course, tentatively scheduled for the fall of 2019.

So here’s our request: if you are in a position to donate a couple of bucks to help this rad mama chase her dreams, consider donating to Lindsay’s GoFundMe page. Maybe you’re a single mama yourself, maybe you’ve lived paycheck to paycheck with a young child, maybe you’ve worked multiple jobs, maybe you’re a fellow converted bus dweller, maybe you’ve had dreams about being a community organizer, maybe you wanted to make it to this WFR course yourself but some other barrier kept you from it this time around, maybe you’re just downright inspired by Lindsay’s tenacity, humility, and grit… Whatever it is that compels you to support her in this endeavor, we thank you.

We thought you might be curious to learn a little more about this mama so we asked her a couple of questions. Her thoughtful, engaging responses are below. Enjoy.

AMI: Alright mama, tell us a little bit more about you.
LM: First, and most importantly, I am a mother. And I am also a landscaper, employee at REI, tiny-home builder, and online student pursuing my Bachelor’s of Science in Holistic Health. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, a 30 minute ferry ride from Seattle on a small island called Bainbridge Island. After high school I rambled around in California, Hawaii, and Costa Rica for various reasons from school to surfing, but came back to this island to raise my son Finn — it’s where my heart lies.

The mountains are where I am happiest, where I draw the most inspiration. It is where I can breathe and think and feel alive. My best and happiest self is in the outdoors.

AMI: When did you begin adventuring?
LM: I grew up adventuring outside with my mom and sister; my childhood was a mix of playing in the Puget Sound and being up in the Olympic and Cascade mountains, hiking, camping, and skiing. In the summer breaks between school years, my mom would take my sister and I on trips that I truly believed shaped a big part of who I am today. These were low-budget, economy-class, run-out-of-money type trips. I remember coming back to school and talking with my friends about our summer, realizing that we didn’t travel like a lot of other families I grew up with. I specifically remember a trip to England where we hiked the Coast to Coast Walk — a 192-mile trek where we ran out of money and ended up polishing brassware in a local pub to pay for our dinner.

I had a mom who took us traveling during an age when women, let alone those with young children, didn’t travel solo. But my mom listened to her gut and passions and in this was made motherhood look easy. She is a true free spirit.
What was transitioning into motherhood like for you?
LM: When I found out I was pregnant, I was at an unhappy and low place in my life and dealing with debilitating anxiety.. I didn’t like who I was, the people I surrounded myself with, or my lifestyle. And while those were my decisions, I recognize now that I had just been passively following along. I wanted to get back to the independent, creative, adventurous girl I was in my childhood.

I really didn’t know where to start or who to turn to, so I just did the smallest, simplest thing I could think of — I went outside.

In those months of hiking pregnant, I radically changed my lifestyle and my mindset. I realized that if I was going to bring another human into this world, there was no better time to get my shit together and figure out exactly who I am. I started to feel happy again, and stronger than ever, physically and mentally.

I think if there is one thing I can do right in the millions of mistakes I will inevitably make as a mother, it is to teach Finn that a life well lived is a life outdoors. AMI: Give us the scoop about your school bus conversion!
LM: When Finn was 3-months-old, I bought a school bus and spent the next six months converting it into a 106 sq. ft home for us. I gave away or sold everything that wouldn’t fit in the space, didn’t serve a purpose, or didn’t have meaning to us. I wanted the items we did keep to be a part of the bigger intention I had set for our lives during my self-discovery while pregnant.

Buying this bus and building it out shocked a lot of people. It was something the “old” me would never have done and honestly, I did it just to see if I could. I gave myself what I thought was the most outlandish goal just to see if I could do it. And along the way, I created an alternative lifestyle I actually believed in.

Before my bus, I had barely picked up a hammer and knew next to nothing about construction, cars, plumbing or electrical work. I stayed up at night after Finn was asleep, reading blogs and forums. It took 6 months of living in my mom’s apartment with a baby and working every spare hour outside of my day-job landscaping, to get it done. I cried a lot, made mistakes, had to re-do things 2 or 3 times, and even threw my power drill out the bus doors one particularly long day in frustration. I also had a ton of fun through the process.I learned so much in those months. By the end I was just so happy and felt so empowered; I had built a home for my little family with my own two hands. AMI: Why do you think it’s important to pursue your own goals as a mama?
LM: Being a single mom is not easy — it’s the hardest thing I have ever done…But I feel so incredibly capable and continue to push myself. Making space for my passions, what drives me to be the best version of myself — this is what makes me a better mama to Finn. He sees me out chasing my dreams, however unattainable and crazy to others, and he sees me fail a lot. But he also sees how happy I am being outdoors, doing the things I love.

I have a lot of moms on social media and in person ask me how I did the bus thing or how I go out and hike with Finn. They want to make some changes, get outside, and feel safe while doing it. To help empower more women, I decided to start a mother’s hiking group with my local Parks & Recreation. Department. on Bainbridge Island called “Wild Mothers Hiking Group.”

It’s a slow process, this growing into who you are thing. I’m trying to live in the moment, slow down a bit, and enjoy the ride. AMI: Why do you want to attend the AMI WFR Course?
LM: I am trying to build up a mother’s hiking group in my area so when I saw that AMI was hosting a Wilderness First Responder course, that spoke to me! It was one of those “AHA” moments. I got really inspired and excited all at once. Since WFR certification is the industry standard, I want the women I lead on our hikes to feel confident that I am capable of administering first aid and have the ability to keep us having fun as safely as possible in the outdoors.

As often as I am outside with my son Finn; whether it’s hiking or camping, rock climbing, surfing or skiing, I would like to continue to adventure in the safest manner possible, as well as empower other women to do the same.

A few of my friends are WFR certified and I always thought it seemed like such great knowledge to have. But until recently it was nothing I personally considered doing. Only once I realized how many women are nervous to be outside alone, especially with their kids, did I want to get certified. I want to show women that if you want something, go after it, fearlessly. I like that this particular course is taught with the lens of motherhood in mind; it’s such a unique and powerful way to participate in this certification.

AMI: What do you think is unique about this community?
LM: I love the community surrounding AMI: a bunch of badass mamas who root for each other, inspire each other, and empower one another not only online, but through courses and meet-ups. A lot of online communities exist only on social media. They can be really inspirational but often it seems to stop there — I love that AMI is a non-profit that has local reach, holds real events and has a goal to educate and connect mamas who all have a mutual love for MOVING outside whether that’s through rock climbing, running, hiking, or mountain biking; it’s all welcome in this space.

It’s so important for us moms to feel ok with balance in our lives. Our kids are everything and can be all-consuming. As much as we love them, I really believe creating some time to go after your passions, with or without your kids in tow, is so vital for your happiness and in turn your kid’s happiness.
What message do you want to send to other mamas through this process?
LM: There are a lot of single moms, like me, who are not in a position to do something they are passionate about — like taking this 10-day course. Whether it be purely financial or a mix of other roadblocks like childcare, jobs, etc, it can seem overwhelming so why even try? I had those thoughts and then decided to move through them.

If I stayed in that place of doubt and fear, I would not have built a school bus tiny-home or any of the other things I am really proud of in my life. I think by supporting one mama in need, it encourages others to make something they are passionate about a reality. It is hard to ask for help sometimes, for me it goes against my nature. But I love that I can lean on a community of like-minded women who really care about seeing one another succeed. We are all in the same boat at the end of the day — trying to live happy, fulfilling, and meaningful lives out in the wild. Might as well support each other along the way.

To support Lindsay’s goal of attending the first-ever WFR course for mamas hosted by AMI, please donate to her GoFundMe. If you are interested in learning more about the course itself, check out:

If you have other questions, suggestions, or feedback, don’t hesitate to reach out:


5 Rock-Solid Tips for Climbing Mamas

Those seduced by the climbing bug may find it hard to articulate exactly why this sport has infected our being. To outsiders the idea of clambering up rock faces, with only a thin rope and a good friend to catch us, must seem freakin’ ludicrous. But, of course, we know better. Climbing builds our strength, calms our mind, and fills our heart with STOKE. Our belaytionships run deep, creating a family built on complete trust and endless encouragement. Climbing isn’t just a sport, it’s holistic problem-solving through movement, and a downright rad way of being.

Climbing can also be a powerful tool to balance the physical, mental and emotional demands of motherhood. But climbing mamas face unique challenges: logistics of time and often remote locations, risk that needs to be managed with complete diligence, and unwavering focus (the mythical unicorn of mothers). We demand performance from every part of our body, from the calloused pads on our fingers to the squished tips of our toes. We need to do all of this while keeping another being, or four, alive … and hopefully happy.

Of course the challenge is worth it, and whether your children are newborns or almost adults, here are five tips that will help you send your project.

  1. It takes a climb village to raise a crag baby: If you want to be a climbing mama, you have to rely on other people. Mom guilt can rudely announce that mothering must be your ONLY focus, and that you should NOT be palming off duties to others. Tell Mother Guilt that villages are the biological norm, and without one you may go insane.

    The fact is climbing requires complete focus, so we need people in our life who we trust with our babies. Family, close friends, crag aunts and uncles … start making a list of people who would be stoked to be in your village. Remind yourself that chasing your passion will fill your cup, and infuse your parenting with inspiration. By creating a life of balance and joy, you teach your children to do the same. Never underestimate how willing people are to help you on the journey. Give those who love you a chance to share the load, and share in the joy of raising rad, dirtbag, crag babies.
  2. Fuel your body: Learn to build a healthy plate of food with adequate protein, fats and carbs. Veggies first, then add healthy fats (avocado and/or coconut/olive oil), plus a palm sized amount of protein. Vegan mama’s should ensure they are eating enough calories to support their climb sessions; consider vegan protein powder if you’re feeling exhausted. Choose fruit over sugary refined snacks, coconut water over Gatorade.

    Fueling yourself with real food will help to prevent burnout. Remember to munch regularly, after 3-4 hours without food our adrenals switch into stress mode, and it can leave you feeling drained. If you don’t get hungry while climbing take bone broth or veggie broth to sip on throughout the day. That way you’re still getting nutrients. When you are climbing do not forget the H2O, particularly if you are breastfeeding. In cooler climates you need a minimum of two litres a day, and in warm climates a minimum of 4 litres. Limit tea and coffee on the day of your climb: they can dehydrate/act as a diuretic and affect performance. One morning coffee is fine! Moderation is key. Lastly, consider taking a high quality magnesium citrate with activated B vitamins. It can help energy, adrenal support and muscle relaxation.
  3. Care for your core: While climbing builds lots of core strength and stability, pregnancy tends to demolish that. Our ever expanding babies, along with pregnancy hormones, cause abdominals to change significantly in length and strength. Back muscles become shortened and overworked, while our hips become unstable. Housing another human is a big deal, and building back your core should start with good foundations.

    Here are three important points to keep in mind. 1) Soft tissue takes 6-12 weeks to heal post birth, so take it slow mama. If you are concerned about abdominal separation (diastasis of rectus abdominis muscle DRAM), or if you want more professional guidance then seek the advice of a physiotherapist. 2) Regular practice of pelvic floor exercises, and deep belly breathing (or pranayama for the yogis) are both great first steps back to a strong core. They also help you stop wanting to pee every 10 seconds. 3) The abdominals actually consist of four muscles: transverse abdominis (TA), internal oblique, external oblique, and rectus abdominis (your six pack). Training your core postpartum should begin with activating and strengthening the TA. There is plenty of online information when it comes to specific exercises.
  4. Body says NO: Modern day society often glorifies exhaustion, but that shit ain’t cool. If we are going to ask our body and mind to perform at it’s best, we also need to listen when everything says STOP. Earlier this year I went climbing when I actually felt terrible, I almost collapsed at the gym, it turned out I had pneumonia. Every inch of my body had been screaming at me for days, but I used Mama Superpower and carried on. It is so important to honour rest, to be truly aware of what we need, and to nurture oneself the way we would a good friend. If we ignore the signs, illness and injury will be waiting around the corner to sucker punch us into submission.
  5. Viparita Karani: My last tip is about getting your feet up the wall. No, not by climbing it. Viparita Karani, also known as legs-up-the-wall pose, is a yoga pose to cure everything. It helps relaxation, sleep, circulation, energy levels, rejuvenation … pretty much a wonder pill for motherhood. I love this pose because helps us to process cortisol, a hormone that is produced by the adrenals when we are in flight or fight mode.

    Interestingly enough it is also created when we do high intensity physical exercise … ahem scaling rock walls. If you ever wonder why you lay awake wired after an evening session at the climbing gym, this is probably why. Being an adventure mama can be exhausting at times, all this badassery plus being a mom is not all beer and skittles. So give yourself 10 minutes to lay down with ya legs up and zen out.

Big thanks to Amy from Womens Health Online and Low E from The Kindred Kollective for sharing the knowledge and helping me create this.

Project Swaddle Then Send


I’ve hesitated on writing this blog post for awhile. I’ve made it through the aptly named “fourth trimester”, I’ve completed my first outdoor lead climbs, and I’ve maintained my position at the nonprofit I’ve worked at for years. Really, I’ve done a lot during this postpartum year. But to write this post, to reflect on it all would mean that it has passed. It is done. And while, in relation to time, yes it is done… I’ve been lingering in this postpartum period of not quite anxiety, not quite worry, but really just exhaustion. So to write this post feels like I’m saying, “I’ve processed it all and here are five easy steps to do it all yourself”. When in reality, the processing and integration of motherhood, even on my second go around, is constantly occurring, sometimes so quickly, you feel like you cannot catch your breath. “The longest, shortest years” is so grossly true for someone who kind of hates cliches. I know I’m not the only who might feel this way. Who might feel like they’re just making it through the motions, checking boxes, without taking the time to slow down and acknowledge all that has passed and more importantly how it has changed you. So here is my moment of intentional processing, while also acknowledging that it is an iterative, dynamic process that is in no way linear, or clear-cut.

So, what does “Adventure Mama”-ing have to do with any of this? Let’s backtrack.

On December 28th, 2017, as a snowstorm raged, I gave birth to my second child. When I finally held this tiny being on my chest, after a profound birthing experience, I marveled at what I was capable of. It was a moment of empowerment and self-recognition that I clung onto as I ventured into the narrow passage of the postpartum fourth trimester.
This experience, and how I felt about it, held a sharp contrast to the anxiety-ridden memories of my first days/weeks/months of motherhood with my first. After I learned I was pregnant for the first time, in addition to the unending first trimester nausea, the onset of worry trickled into my mental space. I was an avid boulderer (claiming that as an actual word). Due to new circumstances of moving homes and being with child, I stopped climbing for the duration of my pregnancy. After giving birth, this little voice of worry evolved into postpartum anxiety that halted me from not only continuing the activities I loved pre-pregnancy, but paralyzed me with a silent fear that ruled my way of life.

Side note: I was really good at hiding it. When I talk about it now, some people are in disbelief, but that just tells me I’m a good actress.

I didn’t let anyone besides my husband and I watch my baby for the first six months of his life in constant fear of “something bad happening”. Part of these six months, I was solo-parenting while my husband was in Alaska for the fishing season. I was so afraid to let go and became consumed in my worries that I had lost sight of those things that made me happy, like climbing and hiking. Slowly, I recognized this anxiety and realized how detrimental this mode of mothering, this constant and extreme worry and lack of self-care, inhibited me from being not just a better mom but a whole person. The slow and steady re-integration of self-care practices, including just asking for help when I needed it and taking a moment for myself, allowed me to curb this anxiety that had run rampant.

When I found out I was pregnant with my second, I was adamant about continuing these self-care habits as well as setting outdoor goals for myself. I had just learned how to top-rope/belay in the spring at the new and only climbing gym in my area, reinvigorating my love for the sport. I didn’t want to lose myself again in the mental wreckage anxiety can reap in the transition to motherhood (again). I connected with Brittany Aäe at Magnetic North and enrolled in her first cohort for the Pregnant Athlete E-course.

I never really thought of myself as an “athlete”. I wasn’t “hardcore” enough, I wasn’t sponsored, I was just a work-at-home mom who had an affinity for climbing. With Brittany’s guidance and inspiration, I continued to climb and carry my toddler on my back through the mountains during my second pregnancy. Actually, I was hauling my bump up the wall of my local climbing gym less than 24 hours prior to giving birth (it’s like when they say to walk stairs to get your hips open and ready to give birth, just slightly more vertical). With baby still in my belly, I had set a goal for myself to my first lead climb outdoors in 2018.

Setting a goal for myself, outside of my comfort zone, during my postpartum period was the most chaotic, overwhelming and yet the most healing thing I could have done. Life teaches you if you let it. And I did. I soaked in all the sleep-deprived nights, felt the hormones release from my body (hot flashes anyone?), my autonomic nervous system was constantly on the verge of activation. But instead of letting it consume me, as my anxiety-leaning tendency has done historically, I just noticed it. Acknowledge it, and sent it on its merry way.

For example, this journal entry from January 20th, 2018, almost one-month postpartum, shows one of my rawest moments from this past year:

“This shit is hard. These feelings and doubts are palpable. And they fucking linger. Like smoke in a closed room. They burn my lungs and leave such a bad aftertaste. My stretch marks seem darker. My skin feels saggier. I feel like an incapable mom.”

On the day that I felt the most down and sleep deprived, I cried. I felt it all. And then, I released these doubts and fears. This is something similar to what I feel when I’m on the wall, because did I mention, I’m afraid of heights (ha!). Climbing had become this great life metaphor, this controlled incubator for overcoming my anxiety but also my disconnect from the millions of to-dos on my list and reconnection to the present moment.


During my postpartum recovery, I worked through a personalized transition training plan developed by Brittany Aäe at Magnetic North to go from a post-endurance event (i.e. birth) recovery period to training for climbing season. It is important to note that this plan a) was NOT about “bouncing back” because you can never “bounce back” to a previous version of yourself after becoming a mother because you’ve metamorphosed (end rant), and b) was done at a rate that was safe and appropriate for my body.

This plan was about taking incremental and appropriate steps based on my body. My continued training throughout my pregnancy had allowed me to come back to climbing sooner than one might expect based on the one-size fits all recommendations. For more explicit details, my postpartum bleeding had stopped, I was doing daily rehab of my pelvic floor, my first few weeks back to climbing were mellow on the 5.7 range and below, and I was listening to my body’s cues for when to back off (as one should do all the time).

A big reason for having a personalized training plan was to help ease my anxiety. On the many days where exhaustion from solo-parenting a toddler and newborn had overrun me, I knew that a simple neighborhood walk or an at-home Nike Training Club bodyweight session was all I had to do that day. For the one or two days a week when I had childcare, I would be found at my climbing gym, working for two hours in the cafe and then climbing for one (sometimes only 30 minutes – BECAUSE MOMS GET SHIT DONE).

Brittany also helped me outline the technical steps needed for lead climbing outdoors. This looked like taking a lead climbing class at my gym, scheduling a guided climbing course outdoors, practicing and integrating safety and technical skills into my climbing repertoire, familiarizing myself with the local terrain I would be climbing on, finding a belay partner that I trusted with my life, and much more.

The most important part of my coaching engagement with Brittany was the continued development of a mindfulness practice that translated into mindfulness in my climbing as well as in my mothering. Again, as someone who leans towards anxiety, this step was CRUCIAL. And it highlights how really my “Adventure Mama”-ing is about integrating this connection with the land, my kids, my partner, and ultimately myself, in a way that is intentional and mindful.

On September 15, 2018, I completed my first outdoor lead pitches on a granite slab, 25 minutes from my home. After reaching the bolts and building the anchor, I took a moment to look around. There I was, hoisted above the canyon floor, my children being cared for by their great-grandmother, my husband working hard in the middle of the Bering Sea, and me being held by belay partner turned dearest friend.

Breathing the crisp autumn air, I was sweating mildly from both the physical exertion and the personal bigness of this moment. This moment of completion really was a moment of beginning. Through this process, I had open the door for learning how to address my fears and anxiety, learning how to move on rock in a way that honors my humanity, learning how to be held by my village, and learning how to create space in my life for myself to fulfill my caregiving responsibilities with love, empathy and mindfulness. This is what Project Swaddle Then Send and all that “Adventure Mama”-ing was for. Now in this post-postpartum and project phase, while I still feel the exhaustion of a one-year-old who refuses to sleep train and a strong-willed two-and-half-year-old who refuses to potty train, I have remembered my own importance and ability to handle hard moments. I have a feeling this will continue to carry me through these years, projects, and phases ahead.

January: Becoming an Environmental Ally

Hello, 2019! As we welcome in the new year and all the epic adventure it will bring let’s not forget that many lost all that they had in 2018 due to the ever-increasing number of natural disasters, unchecked climate change, and general inaction by the public. There are small steps we can all start to take together to help reverse this awful trend.

While this isn’t meant to be an overly depressing piece, it is good to know that we can, and need, to take ownership to help protect the outdoor playgrounds we so desperately love and utilize. If you’re a fan of AMI, I’m guessing you take some pride in the accumulated dirt under your fingernails or the wicked raccoon tan after an epic day of spring skiing. And as a mama, a big priority for you is likely passing on that dirty fingernail, goggle-tan loving adventurous stoke onto your littles.

But it’s daunting to think about where to start, right? Or where do you even begin with ALL the options and not to mention greenwashing you have to sift through? I’ve been thinking up lists in my head on where to start and it’s never ending. You know how people that are sometimes crazy passionate about something can come off feeling a bit holier-than-thou and preachy? Well, that’s where I was headed. My stoke for protecting our planet is so strong, but I don’t want it to come off as like that, so we at AMI thought a digestible, monthly tip might be the place to start. You’ll not only get tips on lifestyle changes, there’ll also be information on policy and community action.

Some of these tips do have an upfront cost to them, but the investment pays off quite quickly for most. Example: dryer balls. Sure, they’ll set you back $15-30 initially, but they’re not laden with harmful chemicals and perfume, nor end up in the trash. And for any tips, it’s totally ok to acknowledge that there’s no way in hell that’ll work for your family. Example: alternative transportation. Personally, I love the idea, but it’s not happening with three kids (I mean have you seen a bike trailer that fits three?) and a 45 mile (one-way) commute.

There is no end to how we can do better, but there is a start. So, mamas, let’s begin!

January Tip
Let’s start the new year by focusing on cutting out plastic.

First, let’s examine the why. Plastic is a synthetic material used in seemingly every industry, due to it’s convenience. Unfortunately, it’s prolific use is horrible for the environment. When we discard plastic, it ends up in the ocean, in landfills, and in our bodies.

When heated, plastics can leach toxic chemicals into your body and the environment. Bisphenol A (BPA) is one of those chemicals we hear a lot about. BPA mimics hormones and disrupts your endocrine system, which studies are linking to causing an impressively devastating list of ailments, including obesity, infertility, chromosomal abnormalities in fetuses, breast and prostate cancers, PCOS, high blood pressure, increases risk of diabetes, and a ton more.

So I don’t have to get rid of all plastics, I can just stay away from BPA, right? Well, studies are finding that many BPA-free plastic products behave the same as BPA and are causing similar effects. “The latest study adds to the mounting research that suggests consumers aren’t off the hook buying BPA-free plastic. The results show that common BPA replacements—BPS, BPF, BPAF and diphenyl sulphone—can interfere with what Hunt characterizes as “the very, very, very, very earliest part of making eggs and sperm,” according to a super interesting National Geographic article based on the findings of geneticist Patricia Hunt. As an expectant mama, Hunt’s findings hit very close to home.

Moral of this depressing story, plastics = bad. So, now that you’re educated on the why, let’s quickly look at how our government is protecting us from plastic.

I say “quickly”, because there’s not a lot of efficient measures in place. Some states and cities are outlawing the use of plastic bags (check out a cool, interactive map here), but other states have passed legislation to block bag bans and bag fees.

To make matters more complicated, in January of 2018, China passed an environmental law, the New Sword, which bans the country from importing plastics, mixed paper and other materials. That’s right, the U.S., as well as many other first-world countries have been shipping their recycling/trash overseas instead of dealing with it. Unfortunately, we find ourselves an entire year later still struggling to even form a plan of how to handle the issue.

This unexpected urgency really puts the ball in our court. While it may seem like one mama cutting out one type of plastic will not make a difference, it’s important to remember that as consumers, we have the power to influence industries by purposely purchasing certain products. We can show that we don’t want (or need) plastics by purchasing plastic-free alternatives when they are available.

Here are some ways specific ways to cut out plastic usage. Thanks to a thoughtful post by regional coordinator Lauren Humphrey in the Northeast Collab, we had a fruitful discussion about small steps that can lead to big changes. We’ve included a few of them below, as well as other suggestions we have come across.. Feel free to select one to focus on, or many, however you feel you can make a lasting change.

  1. Ditch plastic bags. This is the most en vogue anti-plastic movement. For those of us who live in places that still distribute plastic bags, it can be hard to remember to bring your reusable bags shopping until it becomes a habit. Like most of life, the easiest way to tackle this is by establishing a routine. Northeast mamas suggested putting all groceries directly into the cart when checking out and bagging them when you return to the car. Another mama hangs the reusable bags on the door knob to the garage after unpacking groceries, and the next person to use the car puts them back. Lots of options, and the point is, find a routine that works for you and make it a priority.
  2. Stop purchasing products with plastic packaging. Easier said then done, right? But here are some examples: Use bar soap instead of liquid. Purchase meat from from a local butcher. Order milk from “the milkman” in reusable, glass containers.
  3. Say no to straws. But if you must, use straws made of metal, and even glass or hay. Keep some in your car incase you hit up a drive through, or frequent a restaurant that has stopped providing them.
  4. Change how you store food. Switch from plastic to glass storage containers. Glass options are more durable, and you don’t have to worry about placing hot food in them (heat causes plastic to leach chemicals into your food). Instead of using cling wrap, which cannot be recycled, use foil, which can. Better yet, try out beeswax wraps. They are made of cotton, pine resin, jojoba oil and beeswax. No need to worry about microplastics or leaching chemicals with this option, and they are reusable and compostable.
  5. Say no to glitter. It’s outlawed in our house because it’s so damn annoying, but I wish I could say I banned it because it’s a microplastic that eventually ends up in our food chain. The good news is if you really love to sparkle, there are eco-friendly, biodegradable glitters out there.

Mamas, that was a lot to take in! Plastic use is so prolific and affects so many areas of our lives. Not every month will be so intense (or lengthy), but we thought we would start out with an easy, yet impactful action. We look forward to experiencing this year-long journey toward becoming a better environmental ally and an agent of change together. If you have any questions about the month’s tip or suggestions for future tips feel free to send us an email at

1,000 Miles of Adventure Finale

The end of a year is here and, I’ll admit, this one went fast. December 31st marks the end of my ambassador project “1,000 Miles of Adventure”. I looked back at the “why” for this adventure and realized it changed in the rush of the year: life + the project + my brain = shifted focus. Time passed and I wasn’t reaching planned mileage goals through the year (ha!). Instead, I latched onto that number goal, and quantity began to trump quality.  

The original reason for the adventure was this: “The goal is about rediscovering that depth of self and what it looks like with new responsibilities and priorities (being a mom) – how to overcome the typical ‘mom guilt’…”. Honestly, I thought this would be an easy achievement with some planning.

Spoiler: I did not reach 1,000. Instead I’m sitting at 851 miles. I love to reach goals, tangible and measurable. It’s the satisfaction of checking items off a list. Over a month ago, I had five bike rides planned to reach that thousand. Those didn’t happen. The shift came when I realized I would just pedal familiar places to slay 150 miles, not for enjoyment. Doable? Yes. Was that the true goal? Big no.

Do I feel disappointed or like I failed? Not really, no. My mindset changed over this year. The variety of the adventures, time with family, and greater drive were worth each mile gained and not. I found that “the village” was essential. My fiancé and son (Matt and Eric), grandparents, friends, even a couple of babysitters gave time and support. Many miles were solo, but the family adventures were priceless.

I have a different respect for gear. Variety was the key for me and having gear that was multi-use and could overlap sports worked well. I learned how to diversify the gear that I have, then borrow, rent, or inexpensively find items needed to fill gaps. Creativity was also a big element during the year. Finding new trails, or maybe old trails in new ways, pushing gear to see what it could really handle, creative parenting and time management, all fueled the desire to keep going. That desire was a moving target, especially when adaptability became a theme.

During the 1,000 Miles of Adventure, I realized that 2018 looked nothing like 2017. Personal time (aka solo adventuring) was unique in how it refreshed. Motivation had less to do with the number of miles and more to do with what that day’s activity was or where it was going to happen. I learned new ways to train without feeling like all my free time was spent working out. I learned that I was rushing just to collect distance, rather than enjoying the places and moments.

I discovered that what I call “self-care” was merely surface-level and that I want to uncover better ways to be gentle with myself. Getting to know how that little voice inside talks to the rest of me when she’s under emotional pressure, physical stress, and harsh conditions was life-changing and after wrangling her, we decided to make friends. That only took about 700 miles.

What I really want to share with you, though, are the highlights. This epic adventure was contained within another one surrounding my family. We had a lifestyle change this year by starting road-schooling and planned to live in an RV for half the year. This plan was delayed drastically when the truck developed … issues. Once the truck was fixed and we were finally on the road, having a scheduled plan for the journey just wasn’t working … time to roll with it. We road-tripped 20,000 miles along with two dogs and a very old cat, visited eight breweries, and saw 22 states … plus the Conch Republic (wink).

I fell in love with mountain biking again, after I hadn’t touched it in 15 years. Kayaking near dolphins and circumnavigating Gasparilla Island, Florida, was an interesting (but fun) lesson in coastal tides and currents. Taking my sister on her first SUP day trip in Missouri with my family was something we all needed after a long winter. Kayaking on the Buffalo River in Arkansas reenergized my desire to paddle the whole thing in the future. Towing Eric in the Weehoo trailer on bike rides inspired me to find the little “whoopee” hills, just to hear him belly laugh.

We sailed an antique boat to her new home for a full-on holy-shit-we-have-a-sailboat moment. We fell in love with the McKenzie River Valley in Oregon through SUPing and mountain biking with family. Running up sand dunes in Oregon just to see the untouched texture at the top sticks with me. Eric absolutely crushed the hike up Wall Street in Bryce Canyon, blowing me away. Gravel biking Johnson Canyon Road from our campground in between Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park was brutal … until unexpectedly crossing into Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. I recorded the fastest speed I’d ever done on a bike (36 mph) between Canyonlands National Park and Moab, hooting my way down the switchbacking pass for the joy of it. Conversely, I submitted to a sufferfest-by-bike on the Katy Trail across Missouri, just to see how far I could push distance and my body over three days, peeling back another layer of self-discovery. I’m happy to report that I can feel my butt bones once again.  

To say that the 1,000 Miles of Adventure wasn’t reached doesn’t feel true when I look back at the year. There was simply so much more to the experience and living that challenge. Some days were bliss, others really sucked, yet all of them made the experience whole. I also felt inspired by the other moms and parents we met on the trails.

What did this adventure constantly reminded me of, though? Being a frickin’ mom. Many of us don’t really know what we’re doing when that adventure begins. Each day brings challenges or joys that we never expected, but we charge ahead. We learn about ourselves, our relationships, kids, life, and being human in ways we wouldn’t have imagined before. We quietly learn to take deeper breaths, to plan thoroughly, to study what we don’t know, or to be comfortable winging it.  

A thousand miles isn’t required to have an amazing adventure – it especially doesn’t guarantee one. An adventure starts with a choice and a vision, no matter how big or small it seems. And, mamas, you have a clan of other moms cheering for you, including this one. See you out there in 2019!

See an interview with Cristen about the 1,000 Miles of Adventure here. To follow Cristen and her family’s story, check them out on YouTube.

Life After Kids: Adventures of an Empty Nest Mama

I distinctly remember the day I met my mother-in-law for the first time. As I stepped into the hallway of the home she shares with my father-in-law in San Marcos, Calif., my husband pointed to STACKS of finisher medals draped around the neck of a statue. There were dozens and dozens of them: marathons, half marathons, 5ks. What really impressed me is that she had placed in the top three in her age group in most, if not all of these races. What impressed me even more? Each of these races she completed after she retired.

As I’ve gotten to know her I quickly realized that this was just the tip of the iceberg. In a casual conversation with my husband about any given mountain peak in Southern California, often his response is, “My mom did that one”.

Diana Field on the descent of Cactus to Clouds, a point to point hike in Palm Springs, Calif.

“Oh yeah, Mt. Whitney? My mom did that.”

“Oh, you want to train for Cactus to Clouds? My mom did that. Call her up. She’ll probably do it again.”

Guys, my mother-in-law is amazing. Read on to learn more about what she’s done and how she got started:

Kristi Field: How did you get started in running?

Diana after completing the Santa Rosa Marathon.

Diana Field: In 1961, President Kennedy started a youth fitness program. I was seven years old. We were able to perform all kinds of events from jumping jacks, push-ups, the long jump, and running. This was the first time that I ever did running as an organized event. I loved running. It was so different than it is today. Girls wore dresses or skirts to school and we brought shorts from home to perform these events in. The tennis shoes we used were the old fashion Keds.

Throughout my life, I continued to run. My physical education classes in school and college always centered around running. When my children were little, I would find time to get in a run. Most mornings before work, I would get up at 4:30 a.m. to get a run in before getting kids up for school and getting ready for work. I ran because I needed to push myself to achieve personal goals.

I never ran more than 5-10 miles until I retired at 57 years old. Then I began a series of organized runs that included five marathons and numerous half marathons. It has been exciting and self-rewarding to accomplish these running events. I would always start a running event with the mindset that I was going to place in the top three of my division. Which I usually did.

Diana enjoying the view of her local mountains with friends.

KF: Tell me about some of the peaks you climbed once you retired.

DF: Once I retired and in between running, I began hiking. I took on the same mindset that I had in running: to complete the goal the best I could. I joined a hiking club which mostly consisted of women, but we did have an occasional man join us. We trained three times a week in order to accomplish Cactus to Clouds, Mt. Whitney, and the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim (42.8 miles, elevation 10,500). We hiked all the major peaks in Southern California numerous times including San Jacinto Peak at 10,834 ft, San Gorgonio Mountain at 11,503 ft, and Mt. Baldy at 10,064 ft (Mount San Antonio).

Diana at the summit of San Jacinto Peak.

Cactus to Clouds was my favorite hike. It’s been rated as one of the hardest day hikes. It is a difficult hike beginning at 500 ft elevation and reaching to 10,834 ft in 16 miles. The total hike is 19 miles. After you summit, you have to hike down five more miles to take the tram down to Palm Springs. The hardest portion of the hike is in the first 8 miles because you climb over 8,400 ft. The biggest challenge for this hike is the weather and picking the best month and date to do it.

I hiked this peak in October 2015 and I was 61 years old. The temps at the start of the hike range somewhere in the 100’s and the peak can have snow. For our hike in October, we started at 2 a.m. using headlamps and ran into snow once we reached the upper trail. The hike was exciting and challenging. Because we started in the dark, I had to keep an eye out for rattlesnakes.

Diana enjoying the summit of San Bernardino Peak.

Another challenging hike was Mt. Whitney. The elevation is 14,504 ft. and it is the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states. The hike is 22 miles and I completed it in one day at the age of 61. This was not one of my favorite hikes. I trained very hard and made sure this training occurred at certain elevations. Yet, within the last five miles before the summit, I experienced extreme altitude sickness. At this point, my husband and I were hiking on a narrow pathway in between two deep canyons. My husband wanted me to stop and go back. I still remember telling him “I will crawl to the top”. Unfortunately, that is what I had to do. I remained sick all the way back to the trailhead and through the night in the hotel room. The next morning, I was well and very hungry.

KF: What is your advice for staying motivated?

Diana showing off her swag from the Bike the Coast century ride.

DF: Stay active. I always have, ever since President Kennedy’s fitness program. I am now 64 years old and can no longer run due to osteoarthritis. In my early 50’s, I had each of my hips totally replaced because of this. Yet, I kept running marathons and hiking peaks. Now, though, I have taken up cycling and plan to complete my first century ride (100-mile bike ride) in November. It is my belief that we can all achieve whatever goals and desires we have, we just need to keep moving. Exercise has always been important to me. It has helped me relieve stress and to face all of the other challenges in my life. Training for something gives me the motivation to keep moving.

Guess what mamas? She did just that. Diana completed Bike the Coast, a century ride in Southern California, at the beautiful young age of 64. Her attitude, drive, motivation, and spirit motivate me daily.

It doesn’t matter what your age is. It’s never too late to set a goal and smash it. Get out there and get after it!