Interview on Hike Like a Woman

How does a mom, business owner, and outdoor adventurer balance it all? Have I ever had a family adventure that went horribly wrong? What would I tell my 12-year-old self?

Rebecca from Hike Like a Woman sure had a wide range of questions for me in her podcast, on an episode she called “Real Life in Banff.” Sounds about right, seeing as I get down to the bare bones (sometimes skeletons) of things, and give you the honest truth on my life as a parent, wife, entrepreneur. Plus, I was entirely unscripted and somewhat unprepared, so my answers are about as authentic as they come!

→ If you’d like to give the podcast a listen (I highly recommend tuning into her other episodes, too!), head on over to Hike Like a Woman.

My Favourite Things From 2015

I resisted writing this post today for various reasons. Busyness. Fatigue. Repetition. Mainly, I wondered if these more personal reflections are better kept in a journal.

But, as usual, my keyboard called me back.

I have been doing a year-end review online for nearly ten years, in one form or another. And every time it forces me to sit down and count my blessings, to recount the moments that made me smile. I have also enjoyed reading the annual reflections that other people are posting and think it’s silly to keep these thoughts to yourself. Putting them out there helps to spread positivity in this world, and I think there can never be too much of that. 

I recently heard that it’s in being grateful that we find joy and not the other way around. So, call this year-end round-up my way of expressing gratitude for yet another year of memorable, sometimes miraculous, things. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but sometimes the ‘top-of-mind’ items stand out for a reason. In no particular order…

My Husband.

If you’re wondering who inspires me, it’s my husband, a guy who chases his dreams with relentless passion. Seriously. I don’t know anyone else who, among many other things, stays up all hours of the night waiting to shoot dramatic and innovative photos of the Northern Lights, plans photography workshops in his dream destinations like Greenland, keeps up with a massive social media community, and manages to find an amazing amount of time for his wife and daughter.

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Paul under The Milky Way over the mountains in Mount Assinboine Provincial Park, British Columbia.

My Dream Job.

A “dream” job does not imply that everything is easy. While it’s quite the opposite, I am grateful for the opportunity to use my skills in a meaningful way and sink my teeth into an exciting project. Many of you have already seen a bit of what Crowfoot Media is up to, but I can’t wait to release the first volume of the Canadian Rockies Annual, our beautiful print magazine (if you’d like to have it, order a copy!).

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This is a mock up. Yeah, we make you wait for the real thing. ;)

My Daughter.

This little rock star is growing up to be a beautiful human, inside and out, with the most vibrant and vivacious personality in 100-square-kilometre radius. She calls me to be my best self each and every day and opens my eyes to new ideas and possibilities I often overlook. I love her spirit and can’t wait to create some new memories with her in 2016.

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This Quilt.

My mother sewed this quilt for my daughter for Christmas this year. It makes me grateful for the family ties and the love that flows through the generations. I don’t take this lightly as I have a number of people in my life who don’t share in this privilege. So here’s my shout out to anyone who has (or is married to someone with) Ward or Moore blood running in their veins, including my parents, sisters, brothers-in-law and nephews.

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Our Trip to Belize.

It was an ‘easy’ trip by our standards, in that we didn’t rough it or explore as much as we usually do. But it was exactly what we needed. We learned the hard way that on previous trips we had pushed our little girl a bit too far past the limits of her temperament. (On that note, you can read about that in The Difference a Year Makes).

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Biking to The Split on Caye Caulker, Belize. iPhone snap by Paul Ziza.

My Business Partner. 

The very term feels a bit too stifled since I’m lucky my Crowfoot Media business partner and I work insanely well together and we get along! Dee Larosa (Medcalf) is one of the most talented designers I know (check out Phaneric.com), and I am eternally grateful for her attention to detail and self-motivation. Knowing we can lock ourselves up for hours on end for a work retreat or take off in the backcountry for four days and come out still talking is totally awesome!

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Me and Dee (left) and our volunteers at the Spindrift Sessions back in June. Photo by Kurtis Kristianson/Spindrift Photography.

Mountains!

It has been a long journey back to this point, and one I’ve written about in depth over on AdventurousParents.com. This past year, I went on three backcountry trips (to Lake O’Hara/Abbott Pass Hut, Skoki and Egypt Lakes) and climbed Mt. St. Nicholas, Mt. Cory, Mt. St. Piran, Fairview, Mt. Lawrence Grassi, Lesser Pharoah Peak, Cirque Peak, Wastach Peak (am I forgetting a bunch?). The best thing was I fell right back into my stride as if I’d never taken a break.

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Coming down from St. Nicholas Peak. Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

 

And to complete the list…

I am grateful for my house, my friends (who shall go unnamed so that I don’t forget anybody!), my writing nook, the gym with the awesome views, cappuccinos, chocolate, hiking, biking with my little girl, yoga, skiing, Paw Patrol, gluten free baking,  Wild Women Magazine, Aventura Clothing, our Crowfoot Media contributors, the last light on Cascade Mountain, and everything else, even the ugly stuff that made me stronger.

Have a Happy New Year everyone!

A New Year on the Horizon: 3 Goals for 2015

Each year for me ends with a reflection on the previous twelve months, a review of last year’s goals, and goal-setting for the year to come. I can attribute much of my progress and evolution, particularly in my career, to clear goal-setting and revisiting my intentions often. I normally break these down into short, medium and long-term goals, but for the purposes of this post, I’ll keep it to the bigger picture. I recently included these in my newsletter with more of a backstory, if you’d like to read that, too.

Before I continue with my goals, I’d like to say thank you to my community, supportive readers, mentors and clients. It has been one of my more challenging years, but I feel so blessed with rich relationships – in work and in life. I also feel blessed with experiences, such as touring the South Pacific with my family, outdoor adventures, frequent publishing opportunities, and new ventures with my career. I am excited to tell you more about those ventures in the New Year. ;)

3 Goals for 2015

1. Focus less on the things I naturally do well.

I am not an extreme perfectionist, but I care about the quality of my work and often worry that it’s not good enough. I need to learn to trust in my experience and expertise, and focus instead on the areas I want to improve.

2. Commit to personal wellness.

If you’ve been following along closely, I’ve had a year of ups and downs on the health-front – physically, emotionally and psychologically. A good portion of that is due to self-neglect and poor priorities. My health and wellness needs to come first, and I need to arrange my schedule around that goal.

3. Seek counsel before I say Yes or No.

Often my default is to have a knee-jerk reaction. I say “Yes” without thinking. I have needed to train myself to pause and reflect, and request I take time to consider my options before committing to anything. This is one area where I could do even better. This year I want to seek counsel with my husband or another listening ear to discuss my options before I decide on any new commitments.

What are your goals for this upcoming year? I’d love for you to share them with me by simply replying in the comments. I always find it enlightening to know what others are working towards.

Goal setting helps me focus on what's really important in life. Photo by Paul Zizka.

Goal-setting helps me focus on what’s really important in life. Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

All the best for 2015,

Meghan

Special Announcement: The Campsite Finds New Owners

Back in January 2011 I had a vision: to create an online community that would facilitate discussion about the outdoor lifestyle and the inner journeys we experience there. To give budding writers, or those wanting to hone their skills, a home for their words. To network with the outdoor industry – from longstanding gear companies to grassroots campaigns. To feature high-quality, curated content that would distinguish this outdoor website from a field saturated with outdoor blogs.

Nearly four years later, The Campsite has become just that. It has a loyal community of readers and it has explored the outdoor journey in various forms. It continues to produce highly curated content, and has supported many writers, photographers, organizations and companies along the way. It has nurtured an impressive network. And, finally, in 2014 it was noted for its quality content with a nomination for USA Today/10 Best Readers’ Choice Award for Favourite Hiking and Outdoors Travel Blog – landing in the top ten.

But like many things in life, The Campsite needed new wings to let it evolve. Being a freelance writer, a full-time mom, and a woman with many passion projects, I wanted to see The Campsite thrive, but knew that I would not be the person to take it there. I considered shutting it down, then thought I could bring on someone to help keep it going while I figured out my next steps (thank Helena Artmann for being such an amazing team member!).

The Campsite.

The Campsite.

The Sale

About one month ago, I decided I would list The Campsite for sale using freemarket.com. I used a few websites to get a sense of its value, and took the bold leap to find it new owners. I had no idea what to expect. I had never built and sold a website before. After a quiet first few days, with the odd spark of interest, I got a phone call from a local acquaintance showing a bit more sincerity about taking over The Campsite. After a flurry of text messages, she and her partner were well on their way to putting together an offer for me. I knew instantly that these were the women meant to take over my beloved website. For me, it was about finding the right people to take over and I couldn’t believe these two women had pulled through. To find two other Canadian Rockies souls was a big bonus.

So, I’d like to introduce you to The Campsite‘s new owners as of 2015: Alannah Jensen and Jen Whalen. Alannah, of Lannie Rae Gourmet, and Jen, of Mountain Bound Photography, are teaming up to bring you the next iteration of this outdoor lifestyle blog! They are stoked, to say the least, and I’m equally excited that The Campsite will have the power of these two women behind it. We’ll be sure to give you a proper introduction to these women in the weeks to come.

Of course, I’m a bit sad. It is hard to let go of something you love so much, of something you built and nurtured. But we must let go of things in order to make space for new opportunities. And that’s where my life is leading me right now.

Jen and Alannah, I wish you all the best! And thanks to all of you for your loyal support. You taking the time to read my articles makes it easier to do what I do each day.

Keep Following The Campsite

Launching Monthly Newsletter: “Outside-In”

A tactic I used early on in my freelancing career was diversifying. By spreading myself out a bit, I could reach different audiences, do some experimenting, and carve a niche in various industries. But you know what happens after some time? You start feeling, well, spread more thinly than you’d like! Add to that motherhood and a slew of other commitments, and suddenly I was looking for a way to simplify.

The answer? Centralization. At least when it comes to how I communicate with my ever-supportive readers.

What that will look like is the launch of a brand new monthly newsletter. I’m calling it “outside-in”, a name I think pays tribute both to my love for the outdoors and also my passion for the inner journey that is well worth exploring. In my newsletter, I’ll do a round-up of my latest posts on the web (from my blogs and others), magazine publications, and projects I’m working on, as well as point to links from around the web that are inspiring my work.

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If you have previously signed up for my newsletter over on The Adventures in Parenthood Project, you are already subscribed (as I’ll be discontinuing that newsletter). You will, of course, be given option to unsubscribe at any time.

Keen to keep following my journey? Sign up for the outside-in newsletter.

Thanks, as always. You guys help me stay driven and motivated.

Meghan

Meghan J. Ward Nominated for Best Hiking and Outdoors Travel Blogger by USA Today and 10Best

I have just emerged from a four-day backcountry trip here in Banff National Park to find out I’ve been nominated for Best Hiking and Outdoors Travel Blogger by USA Today and 10Best (readers to decide the final verdict!). After 3.5 years of work on The Campsite Blog (with the help of an editorial assistant, Helena Artmann and a team of gear reviewers), I am thrilled with this nomination, and stoked to be amongst some friends I admire in the outdoor blogging industry.

USAToday 10Best Hiking and Outdoors Travel Blogger

Here’s how they decided the nominees:

From USA Today/10Best.com: The top hiking and outdoors bloggers have a passion for nature, history, cool gear — and they have the blisters to prove it. It goes with the territory when you’re out and about snapping photos and sharing your tips, maps, gear reviews and expert advice. For them, exploration is a gift to share through beautiful images, vibrant stories, detailed guides and breathtaking video. Voting begins August 4th at noon. Come back each day through September 1st to give your favorite travel and food blogger your support. Winners will be announced on September 3rd.

Please go and vote!

I’m not normally a fan of these popularity contests, and would rather be judged by a panel, but if you like what I do over on The Campsite, please cast your vote! You can vote once per day until September 1st.

Vote here.

Travel Logs from the South Pacific

I’ve been a bit quiet on here the past few months, but that’s because I’ve been island-hopping in the South Pacific with my husband (photographer Paul Zizka) and my now 13-month-old daughter, Mistaya.

Our travels have taken us to New Zealand, Niue, French Polynesia (the islands/atolls of Tahiti, Moorea, Huahine, Maupiti, Bora Bora, Tikehau and Fakarava), and Hawaii. Throughout the journey, I have been writing about the process of travelling abroad with a baby – the joys, challenges, enriching moments, and the struggles.

You can find all of these blog posts using the South Pacific tag on The Adventures in Parenthood Projecthttp://adventurousparents.com/tag/south-pacific/

Here is the archive:

70 Days in the South Pacific

Finding Our Bearings on the Banks Peninsula

Is Adventure Worth It Even When It’s Miserable? A Baby on Jetlag

Solitude and Separation at Punakaiki Beach

Finding Our Groove in Opunake

Why My Husband Hiked a Volcano in the Middle of the Night

Discovering More Than Meets the Eye in Niue

Paradise, Milestones, and a Reality Check in French Polynesia

6 Awesome Things About Travelling Abroad with a Baby

Thoughts Turning Homeward in Tikehau

Determining Success Amidst the Hardships of Travel