Amy is a mom, nature nerd, writer, and educator. She and her husband, Colby, founded GardensThatMatter.com because they believe many of the world’s problems can be solved in our gardens and backyards. With her husband and three young sons, she shares tutorials, tips, and lessons learned from successes (and messes) in her own garden. Amy loves to help other families grow beautiful, bountiful gardens together.

Tell us a little about your childhood and the impact your mother had on shaping you…

I grew up in the mountains of Western North Carolina as the oldest of three kids. My mom and dad were both teachers, so we spent summers playing and exploring together. Mom taught science and always pointed out the names of trees and flowers as we explored the woods around our house. She was very involved in the community as a volunteer and a leader–she still is today! She and Dad both inspired me to be generous with my time and talents, knowing that I’m creating a stronger community for our kids.

What has been a “spark moment” or “moments” that set you on your path?

Life has been full of little delightful moments that signaled the path ahead, but I’ll tell you about the recent one that shaped our path in a very real way. I worked at a zoo, aquarium, and botanic garden as the marketing manager. I loved my job, sharing awesome stories and images about animals, plants, and conservation….walking the gardens during my lunch break…and working with amazing professionals who were literally saving endangered species (and caring for lots of other species, too!). But that changed when I found out the department was consolidating all the marketing roles to work from City Hall. I remember being angry and upset. Looking back, I think I was heartbroken.

It was time for a change, and with two young sons, I longed to move closer to family. I also missed the mountains and forests of North Carolina where I’d grown up. My husband, Colby, was up for the change. So with help from Mom and Dad and lots of friends, we made the cross-country move. Since we were starting fresh, we decided to start our own business. I could combine my love of nature and gardening with my experience in marketing and communication. Thus, Gardens That Matter was born!

Colby and I are both still working as freelancers while we build the business. (He’s a designer and craftsman; I create website and marketing materials for eco-entreprenuers). Gardens That Matter is growing steadily, we’re getting lots of families excited about gardening, and it’s exciting to think about what’s more and more possible each day.

What is your passion and purpose (the “P” in EPIC)?

My passion is to help families connect with each other and connect with nature in their own backyards and neighborhoods!

What are you currently reading or listening to for inspiration?

I’ve been listening to Essentialism (third time through!) and The One Thing. My focus lately has been on creating more simplicity…figuring out what’s trivial and letting it go, so I can focus on the vital!

What is one message or affirmation you tell yourself to ground you on your quest?

This may sound a little funny, but I always use an affirmation as my password phrase. I pick letters, numbers or symbols to represent each word, and then I say the phrase mentally whenever I login to my password manager. So I’m saying it several times a day! A recent one that I loved was based on a poem from Rebecca Parker – the phrase was “What will you do with your gifts? Choose to bless the world!” It’s a good reminder that I have gifts (we all do!) and the choice to share them. (Full poem here: http://www.uucava.org/page/choose-to-bless-the-world-by)

In one word, what are you seeking most right now on your Quest?

Calm (I realize as a mom of three boys now that “calm” isn’t actually possible…but I choose the word because it feels like what I want – clarity and contentedness amid the chaos. 🙂

What challenge or offering would you like to share with the Mother’s Quest Community?

I would challenge and encourage moms to include nature in the times they are engaging with their kids. Going outside to dig or plant or just explore is a wonderful way to unplug and get present.

Since gardening can feel intimidating at first, I often talk about how gardens are safe places to practice trying and failing and trying again. Experimenting and learning are integral parts of the process, so gardening can be a great way to teach your kids (and self!) that kind of resilience. You can also access a free workshop on how to create a garden bustling with butterflies, bees and hummingbirds at https://www.gardensthatmatter.com/workshop.

How did you learn about Mother’s Quest?

Julie and I are connected on Facebook. Not sure how we originally connected, but I’ve enjoyed watching (and listening) as MQ has grown.

What have you appreciated the most about Mother’s Quest?

As you might guess, my favorite episode was Cultivating a Healthy Family with Michelle Ratcliffe–she’s doing inspiring work! In general, I love Julie’s focus on positive, inspiring stories and genuine interest in and connection with the people she interviews.

Do you want to share how you are living your truly E.P.I.C. life? Be featured on the weekly Mother on a Quest series by sending in your story here – http://mothersquest.com/mother-on-a-quest-application/

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