[Take a quiet moment, get comfortable, and don't rush THIS particular conversation. Yep, it's long. Nope, we're not sorry. It's pretty important and we think there's benefit to reading it from beginning to end.]
I get it a lot, “Adventure Mamas, that’s like the hardcore mom group, right?” I never know how to respond. “Uh, maybe? Perhaps? Depends on who you talk to? Errr… depends on what you’re into?” I mean honestly, what is hardcore anyways? Is learning how to snowboard at age 50 hardcore? What about running your first mile after giving birth? Your first ultra? Transitioning from gym climbing to outdoors? Sending a big alpine climb? How about getting the kids dressed, snacks packed, waters filled, backpacks prepped, sunscreen applied, and car loaded all while there is a cacophony of screaming, giggling, running, wrestling, and playing happening around you… Followed by unloading it all to then attempt to explore nature with 40lbs of toddler and gear on your back. Truly, all of these scenarios sound pretty hardcore to me.
I don’t necessarily mind that AMI is labeled hardcore, so long as the label-er understands that HARDCORE is entirely subjective and all are welcome here. Yes, we are advocates for the pursuit of challenge and we invite women to dream beyond their perceived limitations-- that’s just powerful stuff. But we also understand that each of our journeys are unique and so are our concepts of challenge and adventure.
There is a common thread here though: we are all mothers who desperately want the best for our children. We want them to thrive, to be well-adjusted, independent, affectionate, worldly, and authentic; we want these things with all of our being. The same mom out there bombing the single track wants to sit with her kiddos in a puddle of mud. The same mom waking up at 4 a.m. to catch a personal summit sunrise also wants to watch a glowing sunset with her little one snugly situated on her lap. The same mom training for her first postpartum race loves watching her babe wobble, run, and bump along the trails.
So yes, I guess AMI and the women in this community are hardcore, each in their own unique way. We are vocal, passionate advocates for maternal self-care; and for our mamas, that's often through adventure. We are a space where women can reignite or come to discover their hardcore side. But, this epic crew has a plethora of needs and AMI doesn’t pretend to be a one-stop shop. Our hardcore mamas are also thrilled to connect with organizations that help them explore with their kiddos, encourage experiential learning, and recognize the power of family bonding through nature. And THAT is why AMI is thrilled to collaborate with some truly exceptional organizations.
This long-winded, rambley introduction is inspired by and dedicated to our hardcore friends at Tinkergarten—they facilitate classes where playing in nature is considered to be a vital form of education. We’ve been in chats with them (and crushing ON them) for the past year because our two missions are complementary: AMI focuses on mama’s wellness and personal growth; Tinkergarten focuses on children’s wellness and personal growth—both use nature as the means. Tinkergarten and AMI are working with the same community and filling two different needs—that’s called symbiosis folks.
We recently chatted with Megan Fisher, an Adventure Mama + Tinkergarten Leader based out of Los Angeles, California. She shared some really incredible and moving details about how Tinkergarten has changed her life, positively affected her family, and helped her develop skills that make her a better person altogether. Her responses were thoughtful and chock-full of inspiration. The conversation reminded us that hardcore is entirely subjective and the most important pursuit of all is PASSION. Enjoy learning more about her journey and if you’re interested in merging your hardcore Adventure Mama status with becoming a Tinkergarten leader yourself, click HERE to start the conversation.
Megan, tell us more about what you're passionate about.
Honestly, before becoming a mother I had not found my passion in life. But since, I have discovered that I am passionate about being outdoors and constantly seeking small simple joys, like the smile on my litle girls face as she finds a beautiful rock and gives it to me as a special gift. I have found that when I get to see children quite simply be children… wild, free, curious, climbing, running and exploring outside; my heart is full. It reminds me of what life is truly about, the big eyed discoveries, the tiny celebrations and the enthusiasm, anticipation and excitement of the unknown.
What do you hope to model for your children?
I hope that my children see me as a woman who is not afraid to get dirty, who has a big heart and is a never ending adventure seeker. I hope they see me as a person who cares for and respects our natural world and also all humans who live on it.
Can you tell us what your self-care looks like?
Self care is doing what feels good for my heart. I tend to be very flighty and flustered with day to day responsibilities and have found that I am okay with walking away from dirty laundry and dishes in the sink and instead I head out to hike with my kids. Self care for me is also taking time to giggle with a girlfriend over a bottle of wine. I also love to dance and paint.
And Tinkergarten, how has becoming a leader impacted your life?
Before Tinkergarten I worked long hours in a dark room as a television editor. I have always loved the outdoors but my time spent playing outside was limited mostly to the weekends. Once having my children I decided to stay home with them. I loved it. I knew that one day I would go back to work, I just had no idea what that work would look like.
I started hiking and doing art with my girls when they were very young and found that I loved spending our days that way. I realized how much they learned and grew during all of our hours spent outside playing. When I found out about Tinkergarten two years ago, I was truly so excited. I just knew it would be perfect for me.
My younger daughter Ruby was 4 when I first started Tinkergarten, she was my little sidekick and helper; I loved teaching class with her. She was such a great leader and so helpful with the younger kids. I know for a fact that classes were a whole lot muddier when she was around. 🙂 Now I am about to start my 7th season as a leader, both my girls are in elementary school so it’s just me now. Although I miss them while they are away at school, I have found that Tinkergarten has allowed me to have special times with so many amazing families in my surrounding community and that makes me feel connected. What is so cool about Tinkergarten is that it brings parents from all different walks of life together. I have parents with all different careers, religions and interests in my classes. And I have noticed how so many of them have connected and started true friendships. Our weekly meeting in the woods is like a quick retreat and a gentle reminder to just “take it easy” for a few minutes and just “be” where you are.
It is also a unique opportunity for uninterrupted time with your child, something that feels more and more rare these days. Tinkergarten is part of my life now. What makes me feel good is seeing children’s little faces beam with big smiles as they conquer the wilderness around them. A child’s enthusiasm for life is contagious.
How has Tinkergarten impacted your family?
My children get to see that Mommy has an unconventional job, but one that she loves. My kids love telling their classmates at school that my job is making mud. I volunteer a lot at their school and have noticed that kids now give me a quick once over, looking for evidence of my “day at work”. Recently a child simply said, “Hey, did you get dirty today?” And admittedly quite often my jeans are filthy and I have crusted mud in my fingernails. My husband has also been very supportive and loves to see that I am doing something I love and that it directly impacts families in our community in a positive way. He has also been very tolerant of my disorganized collection of Tinkergarten treasures that is slowly taking over the garage.
Can you tell us more about how does your experience as a Tinkergarten leader relates to being a mom?
As a mom I have found that we often have to be flexible and creative on the fly. We come up with stories, ideas and solutions constantly. Tinkergarten has allowed me to use my quick thinking Momma skills on so many occasions. Thankfully, Tinkergarten provides the leaders with an amazingly well thought out curriculum for each season. So I try my best to be prepared for class every week. But as most of us have seen, things rarely can go precisely according to your plan when children are involved. And I love that. The kids, in a way, run the show and I am their production assistant. They lead us off our intended path and take us in so many new and exciting directions. Motherhood to me means adaptability and flexibility. Tinkergarten allows me to practice these skills in the most fun way.
Why do you think other women should consider becoming Tinkergarten leaders?
Oh goodness, there are so so many reasons, but to name a few:
-Freedom to create your own schedule
-The option of being able to bring your child to work with you
-Being able to share your love of the outdoors with people in your community
-Making new friends and connecting families with each other
-Feeling involved and valued; Meghan Fitzgerald, the founder of Tinkergarten has built an amazingly supportive team. They are constantly asking for and taking feedback from their community of leaders across the country. Tinkergarten does a great job of inspiring and educating their leaders. I truly have felt so supported every step of the way. It’s amazing to see how they have grown so much and still are able to stay on top of everything as well as come up with new tools for the Tinkergarten community to use. I am proud to work for them.
What have you gained through your experience with Tinkergarten?
I would say that I have gained a deeper sense of who I am and what I want out of this life. It has helped me develop more grit. It made me realize that things don’t always go my way but that’s okay and I can adapt. Tinkergarten helped me to realize that my true love and appreciation for the outdoors is a gift, one that can and should be shared.
What does adventure mean to YOU personally?
Adventure is LIFE. Life is ADVENTURE. Not everyday can be filled with grand adventures like climbing huge mountains or kayaking out to sea… but adventure to me can simply be finding a worm as we dig in the mud. Or watching the sunset on one of our favorite local trails. Adventure is continuously seeing the world around you in new ways and appreciating and acknowledging even the smallest of things.
What's your favorite thing to do outside?
Everything and anything. Life is better for me and my family when we spend it outside. We get along better. When we get to breathe in fresh air and stare out at beautiful painted horizons, life just feels easier. I love hiking, especially hiking with my children. I started hiking with them about 4.5 years ago and it was a very slow start. Sometimes we didn’t get very far at all. I used to call my younger one the trailLAZER. She would take a few steps and plop her diapered butt down in the dirt and be totally content there for hours. Patience was key back then. But nowadays I am running after them. They love hiking, especially when we bring friends along. Last year they hiked 113 times. This year they set their goal at 115 for the year.
You started a hiking community, LA Adventure Families, how did that come about?
I started a Facebook group , LA Adventure Families, about 4 years ago. I was inspired to create it when I realized many local friends started to ask me about hiking, after they had seen pictures of us out hiking together. So I thought why not invite them along? And now almost 4 years later we have almost 750 local families in the group and I have hosted so many hikes over the years that I lost count. Our largest hike was our Tinkergarten Lantern walk, we had over 100 people in attendance. It’s been such a great way for kids of all ages to get out and run wild in the hills. I love that my family has helped inspire other families to spend time together outdoors. That’s the best.
How does your love for the outdoors fuel your role as a Tinkergarten leader?
I think quite simply being outdoors is where I feel most at ease, most like me. Being comfortable and feeling like I am right where I want to be just makes the job that much more meaningful and enjoyable.
What are a few things on your personal adventure bucket list?
I have a big bucket list and then my more realistic “Tinkergarten pail” list. Big bucket is to travel the world with my family for years and be part of new communities as we go. I want my children to see how big the world is, but also feel the intimacy and connection of interactions with people from all different journeys in life. And back to the Tinkergarten Pail list, this list is full of everything the USA has to offer. I want to hop in a car and continue to explore. I grew up on the East Coast and have been in California for almost 14 years and have loved discovering so many amazing places that are a short car ride away. We fell in love with Southern Utah in the last few years, we have done a few RV trips now too and I would love to continue to see more of the country that way. I also love the mini Mommy vacations I take with my girls, we pack a bag, I find a cheap hotel and we check out a new place together. We often hike some new trails, practice our manners at a local eatery, maybe go to the beach to catch a sunset and then snuggle up together in bed to end the night. Those adventures are some of the most special times.
If you are interested in becoming a Tinkergarten leader or know someone who might be, please send 'em to http://bit.ly/2BYdiUw to learn more.
To follow Megan's adventures and writing, check out the following links: