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Jun 30, 2021


Heidi Dusek


A catalyst, healthy disruptor and unshakeable optimist, Heidi’s passion lies in challenging the status quo, driving change and delivering experiences. Known as a translator between sectors whose background transcends education, health, nonprofits, university, business, philanthropy, design and podcasting. While stacking talents and lived experiences is her superpower, she continually embraces each role with a lens of empathy, trust and curiosity as critical threads embedded in the fabric of designing an authentic and memorable life.


Today she and her husband live in Wisconsin with 3 children and spend a considerable amount of time outdoors, remodeling their third generation farm house, mastering un-tourism, and creating connections with people around the world.  Her podcast Ordinary Sherpa inspires families to connect through simple adventures.

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Show Notes

Heidi grew up on a farm with a large family. She remembers meeting and greeting people often and spent the majority of her time outside. When she became a mom, she felt the need to choose between adventure, career, or motherhood and decided that would not be her story.


Heidi defines adventure as anything that creates a new experience and something that feels like a risk. (As in you may try and fail) She thinks it’s important for families to adventure together because it’s healthy physically and mentally and helps build resiliency, adversity and not let fear dictate your decision-making. Adventure is the most novel way for us to experience all of those benefits while having fun and connect. 


Jenna asks Heidi for practical and easy ways families can incorporate adventure into their lives, particularly right now during the pandemic. Heidi says it starts with intentionality - having a list of possible things the family can do when there is spare time, so they can refer back to it when boredom strikes. An example she gave is that her family decided to have a whole weekend around the theme; apples. Her family came up with lots of ideas about how to incorporate apples into their weekend, like cooking with apples, shooting apples with a bow, and dunking for apples. She doesn’t always do a lot of planning, so on unplanned weekends she refers to the list.


It’s also helped her family explore local attractions. She found many great places just in her area within 20-50 miles. 


Jenna asked if Heidi’s family keeps bags of essentials prepared and ready to go? Heidi says they definitely do. They started out with a beach bag and added a hiking bag and camping bin to the “ready to go in under 10 minutes’ essentials. They also have a weekender checklist. Jenna wonders, is part of the success of adventure, being prepared? Heidi says yes and no. There’s room for both. 


Jenna shares how her and her husband are never really fully prepared when they go on outings, yet they make it work and ultimately learn a lesson every single time they have an adventure. That’s one of the best things about adventuring, is the lessons learned along the way. Heidi shares a story of when her and her husband assumed that all their kids had all put shoes on when they left to go camping, but one of her kids hadn’t. Luckily they had a pair of crocs in the car (in the aforementioned beach bag). The unpredictability of adventure is what makes it fun. Jenna shares how her family went on a trip to Tenerife with friends and although she had checked the weather, it was a weather station at the top of the volcano on the island. Jenna had packed clothing for temperatures in the 50’s but it turned out to be really warm there. She had to buy some tank tops and she laughs about that now. 


Jenna asks, how do you include your kids in the adventure planning? First off, Heidi prefaces her suggestions with the fact that she doesn’t feel like an expert, she only shares what has worked for her family.  You all know your kids best and can better determine their strengths and weaknesses. She looks at fare sales, and then gives her kids a few options. Each of her kids have different interests and goals for adventuring. She asks them, “What excites you about these places?” and “What do you want this experience to look like?” Heidi adds that her role in adventuring with her kids is to provide the environment where they can thrive, not necessarily plan out each detail of the process. Jenna adds that the people in those environments provide our kids with more knowledge and insight that we (as in just the parents) can offer. 


Asking locals for directions or recommendations is a great way for kids to learn communication skills and become more comfortable talking with people of all ages, cultures, etc. Engaging with local communities is part of the learning process. It also provides children with an opportunity to interact with strangers safely. 

Jenna asks, do you ever split up to accommodate everyone’s needs and interests? Heidi says, “yes!” She points out that it’s actually great sometimes for the kids to separate because they had a nice break from each other. Jenna adds that her family has a lot to talk about when they do different things. Heidi says sometimes her kids get FOMO after splitting up and hearing what the others got to do, but it’s a great moment for them to reflect on their choices. Jenna thinks it’s also a great opportunity to change plans for the next few days to incorporate that activity. Jenna’s family loved white water rafting and she thinks they should have scheduled more of that on their trip to Colorado. Heidi cautions though that sometimes it’s great to end an activity when everyone is still having fun. 


Jenna asks what ways does Heidi think that adventuring creates a better family connection. Without all of the distractions of daily life, she feels like she gets to really get to talk with and learn from each other. It also creates a shared experience. Heidi adds that not all experiences are good ones, but they are great moments to build trust with each other. Jenna adds that those crappy moments give us a great opportunity for parents to model how to deal with those sticky situations. Heidi adds that she has seen a lot of generosity in those difficult moments as well. 


Jenna asks, what are some adventures families can do without leaving their neighborhood? Heidi gives an example of how her family made luminaries out of ice and rings of fruit for the birds. They try to think about things that will get them outside. They also do family game nights - her daughter recently chose kickball. Days ago, they went ice skating on a pond in their neighborhood. Jenna feels like the thought of a specific time allotment for adventure can be off putting. She says some of her best moments with her kids are in small incremental time slots throughout the day. She feels like forced game nights and activities are not superior to short, but authentic moments of connection. Heidi says yes, keep it simple!


Jenna asks, why do some families not embrace adventure or outdoor activities? Heidi says over 50% of parents surveyed said they don’t adventure with their kids for fear of not knowing the answer to something their kids ask them. Our culture and the public education system create this “need to know the answers” mentality. The current research showing the brain's neuroplasticity is another reason why it’s so important to adventure. New experiences help our brains form new connections. 


Jenna says that as self-directed learners, we know how following our curiosity is so important, but she knows from experience that we can also get into slumps and wonder, “what else can I do?” It’s always important to try new things. 


Jenna asks, what is the most memorable trip you’ve had with your family? Heidi said living in an RV was such a great learning experience. It was such a simple life. It was an eye opener. Life is so complicated and going back to a simple lifestyle made her realize it’s more about sharing moments together than anything else. They are very curious now about an RV lifestyle. Many of her best memories came from moments in their adventure that weren’t planned for, like witnessing a moose fight in the Tetons after snowshoeing. 


Jenna remembers a time when her family stayed in a small, bare bones cabin and it really made her reflect on their lifestyle too. It made her realize nothing really matters as much as the connection with each other. 


Heidi enjoyed quarantine time because she got to spend more time with her kids. Both her and her husband are thinking about homeschooling permanently because the structure is really limiting and uninspiring. We don’t do school well. We aren’t the teacher-pleaser kind of people. Heidi’s son started up 4-5 new hobbies with all the free time he had during quarantine. He isn’t thriving in the school environment. They are thinking about worldschooling, taking a year off, or something else. 


Heidi and her family are thinking about an RV trip or Hawaii in the future. 


Helpful Resources Mentioned in Today's Show


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Rogue Learner Homeschool Directory


Healthy Minds App


Ordinary Sherpa Website


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