What the tales of the 'Mountain Mama' can teach us about ignoring hesitation.
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Nature Valley

Today, Amelia Mayer is known by many as the "Mountain Mama," but when it came to adventures with her own mama growing up, she wasn't into it.

When she was just 1 year old, Amelia's parents took her hiking up the glaciers and mountains surrounding her home in Alaska.

She may have been in the great outdoors often, but young Amelia had to be bribed with strawberries and pieces of chocolate.


All images via Amelia Mayer, used with permission.

Everything changed when she was around 7 years old — the same age her eldest son is now. For the first time, Amelia realized what made the outdoors so magical. She was hiking up "Lazy Pete" — a mountain you have to be anything but lazy to conquer.

"I clearly remember running to the end of it," she says, "and feeling that sense of accomplishment."

That sense of accomplishment went from being afraid and hesitant to a woman who discovered her calling.

As she got older, Amelia's love for the great outdoors only grew stronger — she even hiked and camped after her high school prom.

She'd take any excuse to be outdoors. In college, it became an even bigger part of her life. "I had a quarter where I had classes only two days a week, so I would literally go up to Mount Baker and go snow-shooting three days a week."

Once she started a family with her husband Bill, her passion for the outdoors went to a level she never thought possible.

Bill is a wildland firefighter and, believe it or not, was much more skilled than Amelia when it came to conquering the outdoors. "My husband really challenged me," she says. "To go beyond what I had known before and to get my past my mental limitations."

It's the same mentality they knew they wanted to instill in their kids — Jack (8), Peter (6), Liza (3), and Mara (1). "I want them to be able to feel comfortable enough to surpass even our knowledge," says Amelia. "Seek out something and be able to pass it on to the next generation."

Not many mothers would take on the task of looking after four kids while also keeping an eye out for elk, moose, and bears.

For Amelia, though, it's more like a typical Tuesday afternoon. The full-time mom, who lives in Yellowstone National Park, runs the popular "Tales of a Mountain Mama" blog and spends her days taking her children on epic adventures and offering practical advice for other parents on how to keep family adventures exciting and safe through her online program, "Outdoor Mom Academy."

The coolest part? Amelia's kids are learning the kind of skills that would intimidate most adults.

Whether that's rafting down a river, going cross-country skiing, or in some cases, dealing with wild animals.

In fact, those skills were put to the test when a bear unknowingly entered their campsite on one particular hike. "I turned around and I looked at the tent and literally right by the tent," Amelia explains, "the bear was standing there and my daughter was in the tent."

Immediately, Amelia grabbed her daughter while the family cleared the campsite of any food that might attract more bears and slowly made their way to safety inside their car.

It was an eye-opening moment, but one that Amelia knew her family had the strength and resolve to deal with.

Why? Whether it's a full-day river float or a 12-hour hike, these adventures serve as both confidence boosters and unparalleled family bonding experiences.

There's just something special about the bond created when you take your family off the grid and out of the comfort zone.

"Obviously, the outdoors provides a lot of unexpected challenges," says Amelia. "That's the beauty of it. We're learning those challenges as a family."

The great outdoors will always hit you with challenge after challenge. But when you push past your hesitation, more often than not, you'll surprise yourself.

Tackling tremendous feats in nature has helped her children build confidence at an early age, she says. "Pushing them just enough that they can see their strengths and the things that they can do."

The family continues to grow — it was on a backpacking trip along the Indian Creek Trail that Amelia announced she was pregnant with her fourth child.

Now, she has a fifth on the way, and it hasn't slowed her down.

"With getting outside, a lot of the limitations people put on themselves is the fear of the unknown," she says. "And I think once you get past that … we can really find great freedom in what we can do."

"There's a great strength in saying yes to adventures."

Courtesy of Macy's

Brantley and his snowman

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"Would you like to build a snowman?" If you asked five-year-old Brantley from Texas this question, the answer would be a resounding "Yes!" While it may sound like a simple dream, since Texas doesn't usually see much snow, it seemed like a lofty one for him, even more so because Brantley has a congenital heart disease.

On Dec. 11, 2019, however, the real Macy's Santa and his two elves teamed up with Make-A-Wish to surprise Brantley and his family on his way to Colorado where there was plenty of snow for him to build his very own snowman, fulfilling his wish as part of the Macy's Believe campaign. After a joy-filled plane ride where every passenger got gift bags from Macy's, the family arrived in Breckenridge, Colorado where Santa and his elves helped Brantley build a snowman.

Brantley, Brantley's mom, and Santa marveling at their snowmanAll photos courtesy of Macy's

Brantley, who according to his mom had never actually seen snow, was blown away by the experience.

"Well, I had to build a snowman because snowmen are my favorite," Brantley said in an interview with Summit Daily. "All of it was my favorite part."

This is just one example of the more than 330,000 wishes the nonprofit Make-A-Wish have fulfilled to bring joy to children fighting critical illnesses since its founding 40 years ago. Even though many of the children that Make-A-Wish grants wishes for manage or overcome their illnesses, they often face months, if not years of doctor's visits, hospital stays and uncomfortable treatments. The nonprofit helps these children and their families replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy and anxiety with hope.

It's hardly an outlandish notion — research shows that a wish come true can help increase these children's resiliency and improve their quality of life. Brantley is a prime example.

"This couldn't have come at a better time because we see all the hardships that we went through last year," Brantley's mom Brandi told Summit Daily.

Brantley playing with snowballs

Now more than ever, kids with critical illnesses need hope. Since they're particularly vulnerable to disease, they and their families have had to isolate even more during the pandemic and avoid the people they love most and many of the activities that recharge them. That's why Make-A-Wish is doing everything it can to fulfill wishes in spite of the unprecedented obstacles.

That's where you come in. Macy's has raised over $132 million for Make-A-Wish, and helped grant more than 15,500 wishes since their partnership began in 2003, but they couldn't have done that without the support of everyday people. The crux of that support comes from Macy's Believe Campaign — the longstanding holiday fundraising effort where for every letter to Santa that's written online at Macys.com or dropped off safely at the red Believe mailbox at their stores, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. New this year, National Believe Day will be expanded to National Believe Week and will provide customers the opportunity to double their donations ($2 per letter, up to an additional $1 million) for a full week from Sunday, Nov. 29 through Saturday, Dec. 5.

There are more ways to support Make-A-Wish besides letter-writing too. If you purchase a $4 Believe bracelet, $2 of each bracelet will be donated to Make-A-Wish through Dec. 31. And for families who are all about the holiday PJs, on Giving Tuesday (Dec. 1), 20 percent of the purchase price of select family pajamas will benefit Make-A-Wish.

Elizabeth living out her wish of being a fashion designer

Additionally, this year's campaign features 6-year-old Elizabeth, a Make-A-Wish child diagnosed with leukemia, whose wish to design a dress recently came true. Thanks to the style experts at Macy's Fashion Office and I.N.C. International Concepts, only at Macy's, Elizabeth had the opportunity to design a colorful floral maxi dress. Elizabeth's exclusive design is now available online at Macys.com and in select Macy's stores. In the spirit of giving back this holiday season, 20 percent of the purchase price of Elizabeth's dress (through Dec. 31) will benefit Make-A-Wish.You can also donate directly to Make-A-Wish via Macy's website.

This holiday season may be a tough one this year, but you can bring joy to children fighting critical illnesses by delivering hope for their wishes to come true.

via 1POCNews / Twitter

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