This post is sponsored by REI. All thoughts and opinions are our own.

There’s a special relationship that can develop between a mother and a daughter. Especially when that mother is raising her daughter to be a Force of Nature. Today we’re excited to have Kathryn share her thoughts on motherhood.

Kathryn is part of our Ambassador team & an amazing artist. You can find her work here.


My feet grew a full size with each of my two pregnancies.

That’s not something I even knew was a thing!

My husband joked that it would just give me better balance on the trail.

It took me a year to part ways with my beautiful collection of heels that no longer fit, and that moment stung.

I couldn’t figure out why I had such a connection to a bunch of shoes. After all, I left the city 14 years ago and can’t even walk outside my house in heels without getting stuck in gravel and dirt.

There was something about those heels that told me I was a woman…what I was supposed to be as a woman.

The more I thought about it, I didn’t feel a pair of shiny, uncomfortable shoes represented anything at all about the type of woman I am or about the type of woman I wanted my daughter to exclusively look up to.

An act as simple as giving away those heels became a hugely liberating turning point for me.

It turned me into a Force of Nature.

I decided my idea of a beautiful closet had to change.

That’s when I began filling it with hiking boots, running shoes, and all the gear I could get my hands on.

I started to feel sexier in mud and sweat than in makeup and hairspray.

My daughter has always been enthusiastic about the outdoors, and this shift turned her dress up play from looking like a princess to often looking like a fierce outdoors(wo)man.

Photo courtesy Kathryn Petroff

I started looking up to strong women in the outdoors and felt, for the first time, at home and confident with who I am.

All these years I was searching for a place to fit in, and all along the answer was simple.

I fit in when I’m out.

Outside of the box.

Out of restrictive clothing.

Outside among nature.

The trick has been finding a community of women who fit a similar mold and at the same time drive their own unique path through nature….women who inspire.

Photo courtesy Kathryn Petroff

They ARE out there.

Trust me.

You might find a trailblazing mom the next state over to look up to, or a rad grandmother who rocks the trails and feels like family, or a single world traveler who shows you the endless adventures waiting to be grabbed by all women.

As soon as I let go of expectations I had placed on myself as a woman, as a wife, as a mom, I found my own tribe.

There is an uplifting power in a community.

From an early age, our daughters begin to mirror what they see in the women around them.

Photo courtesy Kathryn Petroff

What should that reflection look like?

And I don’t limit this question to just those of us who happen to be raising a girl in their home.

We are ALL making impressions on a new generation of women and helping to shape how they feel about what they can and can’t, should or shouldn’t do.

What does that look like?

How are we raising the next generation of women to be a force of nature?

I want my daughter to know she can be strong and feminine.

Those terms are not mutually exclusive.

She can be independent, confident, and a leader without hesitation. That means she needs a fierce community to look up to. One larger than I alone can provide.

She’s watching me all the time to figure out how to navigate this world.

Photo courtesy Kathryn Petroff

My son is also watching and learning what it means to be a girl, to be a woman.

I assure you, he sees that girls can hang with the boys.

He’ll tell you my daughter has a killer right hook if you mess with her!

We can all be that example for our daughters, our nieces, our friends, our mothers, our spouses, to strangers, and to ourselves.

It’s in there.

We just have to say it’s ok.

It’s ok to break the mold.

I am outdoors every opportunity I get.

I’m an artist and create most of my work in the nature around me.

THIS is who I am.

My daughter sees that.

She learns from that.

And through the community I surround her with, she is learning a little more each day that she can be unapologetically who she is.

A lot of people call my daughter a mini me.

However, that child is most definitely her own person.

I’d like to say I’m raising a little bad-ass, but in reality, she has been the force of nature reshaping me all along.

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