The power of ‘yes’ and following your gut to outdoor adventures (Mimi Zieman, author, doctor and outdoor adventurer)

Jump To section

Mimi Zieman

What happens if you say “yes” to just one adventure or step out of your comfort zone? Maybe you’ll create a single unforgettable experience. Or maybe that “yes” will lead you down a path where you encounter more interesting (and maybe a little scary) ideas and opportunities.

That’s what today’s guest, author and physician Mimi Zieman, found when she stepped out of her comfort zone in New York City to try something new. From the streets of the city to the base camp of Mt. Everest, Mimi discovered how saying yes to ideas and taking up space in the world can lead to a lifetime of growth.

In this episode, Mimi takes us on her journey from “yes” to Everest and gives us tips for finding our own space by following the power of that one word. Listen now.

Some of the good stuff:

[2:42 ] – Mimi Zieman’s favorite outdoor space

[04:22] – How Mimi went from city to nature

[06:27] – The challenges Mimi found up at Rocky Mountain Biological Lab.

[09:25] – How Mimi ended up in Nepal

[15:10] – The wild challenges on Everest

[21:45] – Here’s how that Everest experience impacted Mimi.

[28:59] – Why you have to take up space in the world

[31:11] – Mimi’s best advice for those wanting to say yes to more adventures

Connect with this episode:

Listen to this episode on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.

The following is an edited transcript of this episode of Humans Outside.

You know that feeling you get when you spend even a little time outside? No matter how challenging it is to get out there, spending time in nature is always worth it. I’m your host, Amy Bouchat, and this is another episode of Humans Outside. Join me as we hear from fascinating outdoor minded guests and use the Humans Outside 365 challenge of spending time outside every day no matter what.

to push us outside daily. I’ve been a journalist for two decades, and I love asking questions, but I also love going outside. So why not combine the two? Ready to hear from experts and outdoor lovers who make heading into nature just a part of who they are, while we work to do the same? Let’s go.

Amy Bushatz: What happens when you let yourself say yes to unlikely adventures outside? So much of my life has been spent on unlikely things. And when I look back at them, what I see is the string of connection in the power of yes. Today’s guest, Mimi Zieman has lived a life of adventure. It’s part of the narrative woven through her memoir, Tapdancing on Everest. Raised in 1970s New York City and the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, Mimi navigated her way out of the city and into nature, following her ambition and dreams both professionally, by becoming a doctor, and personally, by finding adventures from Colorado to the mountains of Nepal. and Tibet. While still in school to become a doctor, she expertly provided medical support for a small group of climbers who took on the extra challenging East Face of Everest, summiting without porters or bottled oxygen, which is an incredible feat. Now a mother of three and a board certified gynecologist, Mimi is going to talk to us today about what she found through her adventure, the scary parts of saying yes, and why that word is so, so powerful.

Mimi, welcome to Humans Outside.

Mimi Zieman: Amy, thanks so much for having me. I’m so honored to be on your podcast that celebrates the outdoors and nature.

Amy Bushatz: And just so that people know that sometimes everyone makes mistakes, including me, we already did sort of this part of this recording without me pressing record. So, you know what, guys? Sometimes life happens, and since we’re all about being transparent here, that’s what happened today. But we didn’t get that far in, so I get to hear all about your adventures for the first time.


Mimi Zieman: And I didn’t have a second chance at doing a better job answering.

Amy Bushatz: Okay so We start our episodes pretending we’re with our guests in their favorite outdoor space, like we’re hanging out outside somewhere that you love having this conversation. So if that were the case, where are we with you today?

Mimi Zieman: Well, it’s easy to know that we would be in the mountains. The mountains are my happy place.the minute I’m in the mountains, I, my mood switches and, and I feel more alive and vibrant. So we would be sitting on the side of a hill. Looking at the scenery around us, feeling the mountain breeze. Smelling the earth, and feeling present as we talk to each other.

Amy Bushatz: I love it. I can perfectly imagine us there with you. So what, what a wonderful scene to go into this conversation with. You love the mountains you just said. So how did you become someone who likes to go outside? How did that become your happy place?

Mimi Zieman: I was introduced early as a, as a, you know, toddler to the Catskill mountains where my family went to a bungalow colony growing up. And I think that was a huge. contrast from my city life. So I think that was an introduction. And then I went to summer camp every summer for two months and it was definitely my happiest memories of childhood. But I really discovered the mountains again later in my teens, when I got to go to Colorado and, and that was really eyeopening.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah, so can you tell us about that experience in Colorado and, and, and how you found yourself there? Because this power of yes that we’re talking about today is certainly related to just being in Colorado. So how did you end up from growing up in New York City, you know, you did vacations out of the city, but you’re in the city, you’re not thinking Colorado thoughts probably every day. So how did you encounter that and end up there?

Mimi Zieman: Yeah, I love that you’re, framing my book as power of yes, because. It is so much that and also listening to instincts, and at one point I called them notions, like strange notions that we should usually just let pass, but somehow I said yes and made them happen. So I was, you know, raised in New York City, totally a city girl, not with a family who’s really spent, I mentioned the Catskills summers, but we didn’t, we weren’t an outdoorsy family, I should say.

And then I went to college in Montreal, another great vibrant city. And the dorm was on Mount Royal by the way. So I did learn how to cross country ski there. And that was wonderful outdoor experience and, and downhill ski. But I was studying biology and walking down the hall one day and I saw a poster with mountains on it that said Rocky Mountain Biological Lab. Come do field biology, which I had never thought of before, but I did totally admire Jane Goodall. And all of a sudden, I thought, wow, maybe I could be like Jane Goodall. I love animals. I love, you know, nature. Maybe I could go do this, but, you know, we didn’t have financial resources and I thought that that was impossible, but, you know, they had scholarships and I, and I made it there.

And once I was there, my life changed. It was, it was, the lab is built from an old mining town. It’s all log cabins at the time. I think it’s much bigger and more developed now, but it was very, very rustic. And it really got a sense of your day revolved around nature. You know, we were doing outdoor scientific activities and we would, you know, have to look at the sky and know when the thunder was coming. And you know, our free time was hiking and running and exploring the mountains. And yeah, my life changed. I became addicted.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah, yeah. You, in your book, you describe the sort of the moment you realize like there’s no indoor plumbing. and I just love that because it’s so relatable. It’s that moment where, you know, if you didn’t grow up doing this, you’re, , encountering this idea of, like, of what rustic means for the first time, and, and it’s such a memorable and eye opening experience, but I’m wondering if there was ever a, like, a time that you were like, oh my gosh, what have I gotten myself into? Like, just like, oh, what am I doing here?

Mimi Zieman: Well, that day, that first orientation for sure, when I realized it’s all outhouses and, you know, all of a sudden we were at high altitude and, you know, having some symptoms. I mean, it was 8, 500 feet, you know, not, not the highest, but definitely could feel it. And I thought, what’s this high altitude? I never had to think about that before.

So in a lot of my experiences, I felt out of my element. just being a city girl and, and certainly, you know, there and then, you know, with time got more comfortable and then had to return.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. I love that, what you just said about feeling out of your element because, I think the elements stretch for us, like to let us into that. And I mean, there’s always going to be like a challenge you have to rise to outside. There’s always going to be something that’s a little bit harder than what you were hoping.

Very rarely, for example, does the weather work out perfectly? You know, there’s always going to be small discomforts. But even when you’re out of your element, if you’re willing to open yourself to those experiences, you can stretch into them, and give yourself, you know, grace to do that. Like, we’re not climbing to the top of Everest, you know, speaking of literally, on the first day, but like, we’re acclimatizing, we’re getting higher, we’re feeling the, the elevation, and we’re giving ourselves time to stretch to that. And that can be literal as it was, you know, in the elevation of Colorado, or, you know, just an example, like just words for how we describe that, that experience.

Mimi Zieman: And you learn so much as you, as you stretch and adapt, like I’ve heard you talk about on your podcast, winter wear, you know, that makes all the difference. And I learned that even in living in Montreal, it’s a very cold city and, you know, having the right boots, the right coat, made all the difference in being in Colorado, learning, Oh, how do you notice where you are on the trail so you’ll know the way back? You know, that’s a real skill. And I mean, I hike with people now, you know, it’s so easy not to pay attention, but I’m always looking like that’s a skill I learned. Where am I going now? And how am I going to get back?

Amy Bushatz: Mm hmm.

Mimi Zieman: And, just practical things like that.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Yeah, and I mean, you mentioned learning to cross country ski, like, you didn’t have to do that. I’m assuming nobody made you, you know? And plenty of people live on a cross country ski course and don’t learn to cross country ski.

Mimi Zieman: Yeah.

Amy Bushatz: Like

Mimi Zieman: Well, it’s true. I never even thought about living on Mount Royal that first year of college. The dorms are up on the mountain, which is a little mountain in the middle of Montreal, which is named for Mont Real, Mount Royal. And yeah. I, that was so cool to wake up on a Sunday morning and go on the mountain and cross country ski and and downhill skiing there was so freezing. I could get my friends to go with me about once and then they gave up and I continue to go alone there.That’s what I love.

Amy Bushatz: Going to Colorado gave you the idea to trek through Nepal solo, which is all of this kind of leads to Everest eventually, but that’s a pretty bold move going to Nepal by yourself. I’m wondering what pushback you got from that over at home, over that decision.

Mimi Zieman: Yeah. So So that was another one of those weird notions, I’ll just say how it happened. A researcher was giving a slideshow about acid rain in Tibet the second summer I was there at the research station. And I was watching his pictures and just suddenly knew that I wanted to go there. Well, I went back to Manhattan. I decided to apply to medical school that year. And I was waitressing. And then I was trying to figure out how to get to Tibet.

Well, it turned out Tibet was closed to foreigners at that time. So I decided to go to Nepal. And actually the pushback, the hardest pushback was it was really hard to get information. I couldn’t find anyone in my circle or who had been there. So that, that was a real barrier. Because, you know, finally I found a friend of a friend who lived in Chicago who was willing to talk to me on the phone about trekking in Nepal.

And, I bought a guidebook and I kind of prepared myself as much as I could, which wasn’t really preparing myself because I say in the book my training for trekking was, you know, jazz and tap classes because I was a big dancer and I didn’t even own a backpack. I had to borrow one. I, I saved enough money to do the trek, but not to buy all the gear.and of course, you know, my mother thought I was nuts and didn’t want me to go, you know, trekking alone. I was 22 at that point.and again, I just felt this conviction inside, like I have to do this and I’m doing it. So, I did.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. have you read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic?

Mimi Zieman: No.

Amy Bushatz: So I really feel like everybody listening to this should read that and you should most certainly read it because that is, you know, I realized as we started this conversation and you’re talking about notions, that’s essentially what she talks about in this book is, is this, you know, when ideas come to you. And then you say yes to them, what happens? Or alternatively, her, you know, her theory on what happens when you say no, which is, that they go to someone else. And maybe, and maybe that’s why when you have a brilliant idea for some new invention and you don’t do anything about it, and then you turn around in a year and someone else has made it.

Interesting. Right? but she, it’s a wonderful read, and whether you believe in quote unquote big magic or not, I think that this idea of having these things that you think of, and building the muscle for saying yes to them, instead of just ignoring them, is, you relatable, and that it’s very powerful.

It’s a very powerful habit to create, and it can lead you to a lot of sort of loony places, but it can also, and, and some, you know, I will say from experience, exhaustion, but it can also lead you to just an incredibly rich life of adventure in all sorts of spots. Mm

Mimi Zieman: Yeah. And it also feels just very open because, I’m not a big planner. You might think, oh, you’re a doctor and you did these things. But these things happen because I was just open to listening to what was around me, which I kind of. Listening to opportunities, listening for opportunities, and if you listen, then, then you get the choice of whether you’re going to act, you know, but first you notice them.

And if you just keep your head down and you’re buried and you have a five year plan and a 10 year plan, you know, I hate those kinds of questions because then you can’t veer off the path and you can’t follow your gut and see what else is out there for you.

Amy Bushatz: So I feel like there’s a lot of parallels to this, to being outside because you could see an adventure coming for you and be like, Ooh, yeah, that, hmm, like,

Mimi Zieman: Yeah.

Amy Bushatz: that sounds really uncomfortable or really scary.

And I think that there’s, it’s important to honor those things to say, yeah, it does sound uncomfortable and it does sound scary. And then you have to make a decision, like, is it so scary that I don’t want to do it? That’s a fine thing to say. There’s really nothing wrong with that. would say consider what happens if you say yes.

Oh, yeah.

Mimi Zieman: Yeah. For me, I loved being in the Colorado mountains, so it made sense. Why not go to the Himalayan mountains

Amy Bushatz: Right. Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. That’s right. You know, and, and people you met there led to becoming, you becoming a part of the Everest expedition. So it’s like this long, the string of not coincidences. Oh, maybe serendipity is, is a, is a word. And obviously, I have to ask you about Everest. So, maybe tell us how you got to being on the Everest expedition.

And then I would love to know, like, what is it like to live up there as other people are expeditioning? You know, there, you weren’t summiting. They were. Doesn’t mean you weren’t there and a part of it, but it is a little bit of a different experience from what we usually hear about Everest. So tell us about that.

Mimi Zieman: Yeah. So, I had been hiking for a couple of months in Nepal on my own, but, you know, sometimes hooking up with different people that I met. Yeah. Yeah. when I came upon an American Everest expedition that was coming down, it was called the Westridge expedition in 1985 and became friends with some of those climbers and I was about to start medical school.And this is another kind of, this is me, proposing a yes I suppose we’re hiking down the trail, having a nice time. And, the, person who became our Everest expedition leader was already planning to come back. He was telling me all about it and it seemed really exciting. And here I was like, absolutely loving being in the Himalayas and I’m listening to him and thinking, well, that would be another opportunity to spend several months in the Himalayas.

So, and he was telling me how many years it takes to get a permit. So I said, well, if you need a doctor next time, call me. Figuring it would be a very long time, But he wrote to

Amy Bushatz: Isn’t that how it always goes? Like, yeah, that’s a future me is like really into that. So you call me back and future me will be like, yes. And the current me is like, and then future you’s like, past me what happened right there. What did you do?

Mimi Zieman: It’s true. Um, well, this was still in the days of letters. So about a year later, after my first year of medical school, I got the letter inviting me to be the doctor on an expedition, but it would be two years. from that moment. So I would be completing my third year of medical school. And at first, I thought that that was impossible. And sort of like our conversation has been going, how do you make impossible possible?

So I said, yes. And then, you know, studied and trained and consulted with experts and got time off from med school to go.

So what was it like? I’ll tell you, it was very different than what you see on Everest nowadays. So the expedition was in 1988. We were on the east face, which is a very remote side of the mountain.To this day, only around 15 people have ever summited from that side of the mountain, compared to over 11, 000 total. So you can get a sense of how remote it is, And also a dangerous side of the mountain, lots of avalanches. Well, this was a small team of just four climbers, a photographer and me., And so if you ask what it was like, we were basically most of the time camped on a glacier and didn’t see other people for, for a whole expedition took a couple of months.

Now we would go back to base camp. We would be local sometimes at base camp, you know, delivering mail. To us, or you know, but

Amy Bushatz: Hmm

Mimi Zieman: I, I, I write a lot in the book about what it was like being the only woman because I wanted to tell a woman’s story and a story about someone who is kind of in the background, not the mountaineer who’s climbing, which is really exciting to read all about them. But you know, other, or other interesting stories out there. What was it like for this city girl, camped out and, you know, in charge of everyone’s health, having some big responsibilities. also, the other thing I would say is, what was it like? It was both magnificent and A lot of tedium,

Amy Bushatz: hmm.

Mimi Zieman: Right? Because you are there in the middle of nowhere. This is before we could reach out our cell phones and get instantly entertained. And so looking back now, especially in, as relates to your podcast and being outside, you know, what a magnificent gift it was to be able to live outside isolated like that

Amy Bushatz: Yeah.

Mimi Zieman: At a time like that in history, where you were really forced to be. Cut off and experience nature fully.

Amy Bushatz: Right. And there’s such a, there’s such, well, two things. There’s such a power in being bored and being okay with that and getting comfortable with that. We’ve had a guy on this podcast, an author, Michael Easter. He has a book called The Comfort Crisis, and he talks about the power of being bored and how important that was based off of his experience hunting here in Alaska in the middle of nowhere. So like you are equally cut off, right? Because while you have that cell phone somewhere in your bag, that sucker does not work right now. There is no connectivity. And he talks about, you know, becoming intimately familiar with the ingredients on his Clif Bar. You know, like,

Mimi Zieman: ANd I talk about

Amy Bushatz: do.

Mimi Zieman: food packages too.

Amy Bushatz: Yep. Yep. I was, I was chuckling cause that’s, that’s, you know, you’re not the only one, and about how, you know, how important that was and how much that taught him.And so I just, I think there’s like this, this relatable thing that if you let yourself get to the moment where that happens or be in a space that happens or has this, have that self control in this connected world to let that happen. It’s going to be not very fun for a little while, and then it’s going to, ha well, that unfun may come and go, but it’s going to have benefits later that are worth the discomfort in that moment where you’re contemplating yet again the ingredients in that food package, right. Cause like, now you know, I mean, you know and maybe you are not going to eat that again later because you know so well.

Mimi Zieman: I mean, I can still taste the grapefruit drink mix that we had on the mountain. And I’ve never been able to find it anywhere again. But, you know, you combine that with glacial water and just this treat of drinking. And, you know, those kind of sensory things stay with you.

And being in our, and you know, We had a lot of setbacks trying to get to base camp. it took us weeks. And, you know, once we were there, I looked up in the sky and it was a full moon. And it reminded me it was the Jewish holiday. The Jewish holidays are all around the moon cycles. Like, when else would that be? it happened that I have to look at the moon to know what day it is, what’s happening in life and the calendar.

So I look at that time really fondly. It was special. And I think to do that now definitely would take more self control to like purposely cut off in that way. I think it’s so much harder nowadays.

Amy Bushatz: I wanted to note also how uncomfortable living on a glacier can be. you know, I, like, most people listening to this probably have never lived on a glacier or been on a glacier. But it, guys, it is a giant ice cube. Like, it’s, like, it’s quite literally a giant ice cube. And, and then you’re camping on it.

I have not camped on it, but I have trekked on glaciers. I do not want to camp on a glacier, the, the wind comes off the glacier, it can be very breezy and windy, right? And then the wind is, think about like an air conditioner, well, the first air conditioner ever was a, like, blowing air over an ice cube, same concept.

Okay? So, that’s, it is chilly, it is, cold, it is very bright. I mean, it can be very uncomfortable on your eyes. There are a lot of, like, a weird number of rocks. Just rocks everywhere. Like, where, why are there so many rocks here? Well, I mean, the ice is crushing. Yeah, it’s like a whole thing. So, I don’t know if you look fondly back on living on an ice cube, but that’s, that’s, that’s a whole different situation. Really

Mimi Zieman: I have to tell you something funny about that. I went to Iceland a couple of years ago and we did this glacier hike and the minute I got on it, I felt like I was home. It was funny. So I had really imprinted that time in me. I again had this elation of being on a glacier. So, the funny thing about you saying we’re camped on snow, yes, it was, camping on the snow was, was, was, was not uncomfortable, but as the spring progressed and the snow melted and we were camped on rocks, that became tough.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah, yep, yeah, and they’re like, trying to think, like, how do we describe glacial moraine rocks, like, that this, they’re like pointy, they’re, oh, flat, they can be very flat, they’re kind of pokey, because they’re being crushed by this magnitude of moving ice. and, and then spit out the top in sort of a dramatic kind of, geological phenomenon.

Mimi Zieman: It, it was, it was such a metaphor for life in general, you’re, you are, you’re camping, you’re, you’re aware that you’re camping on something that’s moving and shifting constantly, you know, what, what more apt environment to think about, you know, in terms of what we are as humans.

Amy Bushatz: hmm. Yeah. so, okay, so, you also face treating, people with very severe injuries, like lifelong, sort of could be lifelong injuries in a very austere environment, cold weather injuries as, as the climbers came off Everest with frostbite. So can you talk about that? What was, what was that like? And I’m, I’m wondering if you ever, felt afraid while doing that?

Mimi Zieman: Yes.I felt afraid just signing up for the responsibility of taking care of people so early in my medical training, I had to really get through a lot to even be there, but then I had prepared a lot. When the climbers came down with frostbite, it was, it was, after we didn’t think really they were alive anymore.

So it was a shock and it was middle of the night and we had to leap into action. And, I would say I was very afraid for their well being and just kind of working on, on motor, you know, on this is, you know, I, I, this is what I’m supposed to do. I have to do this, this, and this, and this. And I just, it was about a 24 hours before I could even stop to think, did I do everything right? We don’t know what’s going to happen to them. And then it continued for several weeks. So I was definitely. worried for their health. I, I write in the book, I had read, Maurice Herzog’s Annapurna as a young person. And, that story just haunted me because, in that story, the expedition doctor had to do amputations on the way out from the mountain. Now that was in around 1950. I’m not sure of the exact year. And so I, I, you know, was just worried for them,

Amy Bushatz: Yeah.

Mimi Zieman: Did the best that I could. And then, after not seeing anyone for months, we had this unexpected visit of trekkers that included some surgeons, and then they were able to reassure me that I had done everything correctly.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Yeah. There’s, I mean, you’re in a very, you’re in a position where you have a lot of, responsibility as you, you know, as you just said, there’s bravery to saying yes and things to things in life, whether it leads you to having that, you know, moment of super big responsibility or, you know, just putting yourself in a situation that feels uncomfortable.

So I’m wondering how do you overcome voices inside your head that tell you it might be too much? Like, how do you, how do you say like, Oh, the fact that I have not finished medical school, not a big deal. I can do this. How do you how do you get to that?

Mimi Zieman: Yeah. So I don’t always overcome them.I’d like to say that, but when I have, it’s really because I’m being driven internally in the I was driven to go there, but I, I really, really battled with those voices, which I write about in the book quite, quite a bit. And the reason I write about it is because I think that’s common.

I think that we have fears and that we don’t want to go forward. As you said, that’s fine. But if we do want to, there are ways to deal with fears and still go forward. If it’s a passion of yours or drive of yours. If it’s something that means that much to you. In this instance, you know, and every time that, whether it was, you know, going to Nepal to check alone or going on the expedition, it’s, it was almost like a soul calling, you know. And I had to do it and you had to work through it, but none of that was easy.

And but I think that many people can relate to that.

Amy Bushatz: , I love that because I think that that’s a muscle that we build, that to get to the moment where you’re finding yourself doing something, something big and scary. Yeah, I just, it seems like such a, on ramp to a bigger life.

Mimi Zieman: Yeah, and I mean, I can literally feel it in my body when I have that feeling like in my gut. You know, my gut is pulling me towards something and, yeah, I haven’t thought about it that way in terms of flexing a muscle, but I think that’s true.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah.Another side effect of saying yes to things is that it forces you to take up space in the world. You know, when so many, I think many of us would prefer just to kind of stay in our lane. You know, you hear people say that, but boom, there you are in the thick of it. So why does spending time exploring major places teach you to take up space instead? What’s the, what’s the thread there? Mm

Mimi Zieman: Oh, I love that. because when you’re on your own exploring, you have only yourself to rely on.

Amy Bushatz: hmm. Mm

Mimi Zieman: You become important all of a sudden, you know, it’s just you, you’re the driver, you’re the decision maker, you’re taking up space naturally because you’re in charge, I think, like when I was on the trail in Nepal, mostly it was me taking steps one after the other, the ground beneath me.

So again, I’m owning that little space that my body is taking up, but I’m looking around me and the external world is so vast. So it feels like I could expand and fill up that space. And that was revelatory for me because I think as a child I did feel very small. My comfortable space was kind of hiding and shrinking and not making noise.

There was enough noise in my family. so I think for me to, to be on that trail, you know, really changed my life.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah.

Mimi Zieman: I think, you know, when you say yes, in that kind of way to things outside your comfort zone, it also just gives you a new sense of self, right? Now you accomplished it. So you are someone who can do that thing. And I also think, yeah, like in terms of like you said, taking up space by, by exploring the world. And, and part of that is also, getting rid of the noise of the world that we’re in now, right? When you go outside. I mean, that’s the beauty of it, especially if you look at our world now where, you know, we have 24 7 noise. And so when you get to hear your inner thoughts and the world, it’s just like you’re living in a different world, and you’re connected to that world in a new way that connects you to yourself in a new way. So I think it’s that it’s kind of a, an empowering circle.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Did experiencing the rewards of that empowering circle help you while, while you were outside and having these adventures in outer spaces help you say yes to more things back home? Mm

Mimi Zieman: I think in the sense that it gave me a stronger sense of self, and by knowing myself better, I could know what I wanted to say yes to, and what, what was more aligning with my soul versus not.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah.

Mimi Zieman: Something I think about all the time, you know. If you’re in a job that’s unhappy, you know, you’re not happy in, but it has benefits, what do you do?

You know, when do you say yes? When do you say no? When do you stay? When do you leave? These are things we think about all the time. And I think that whole notion of being in the zone or just being aligned with your purpose or your, you know, sense of self makes those yes and no decisions easier or maybe not easier, have more information to make them more informed.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Do you have any advice for someone who wants to learn to say yes to adventure more??

Mimi Zieman: I do. I mean, When you ask that, it sounds more to someone who may want to say yes, but may be a little afraid.right? Because if it’s easy, you just do it.

Amy Bushatz: Mm hmm. Mm

Mimi Zieman: Um, so I think,

Amy Bushatz: hmm.

Mimi Zieman: You know, you, you, you can do things in small steps.But I also think that people, part of why I wrote the book is I think people, we all underestimate ourselves. And I did that. I write a lot about that in the book, my own underestimation of myself. But I think what I do in my experiences and then write about them is, is that is show that we are capable of more than we think we are.

So if you want to have adventure, if that is something that’s a conviction of yours, you can definitely do it. Maybe in small steps. Actually, I met someone this week. I did my first book club talk about tap dancing on Everest and this 85 year old gentleman came and he was so eager to tell me about all his adventures, but one of the greatest things was he said he went to Outward Bound at age 50. And that changed his life, and he’s been adventuring ever since.

So I think if you want to, there are things you can do. Maybe you go on a group trip, so you’re not involved, you know, you’re not in charge of all the logistics yourself, or you take small steps. But I think, you know, the thing to know is that you’re capable of more than what you think you are.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. I love that story because it also tells us it’s not too late.

Mimi Zieman: Yeah,

Amy Bushatz: he, I mean, at age 50, he’s doing this. Like, it’s not too late to decide you want to be taking a discomfort, uncomfortable risk or doing something that’s a little bit out of your comfort zone, your, the other reason for me that I don’t say yes more is because I feel like, well, maybe these are excuses because I am afraid, but I, I tell myself, Oh, you don’t have time.

Oh, this isn’t as important as these other things that you want to do. You know, I don’t prioritize it. I’m like, I’m sitting here today trying to decide when in the next two days I’m going to go for my two hour run, and if that’s more important than things I’m going to have to not do during that time, and, but it’s really not about the run. It’s about being outside on these trails that I was going to run on, and is that important, and how important is it, and just, you know, kind of prioritizing things. And, yeah in a world where we’re so busy, it’s hard, it’s hard to say yes to things that are inconvenient and feel unimportant compared to the thing right in front of you that feels very urgent but maybe logically as it actually isn’t.

Mimi Zieman: Yeah but then in that sense, maybe it isn’t that important of an activity. For you and making, not you, but you know, a person making that decision, maybe adventure isn’t on their priority list and that’s fine. Like it’s really only important if it’s something you, you know, feel important to do. And I think you prioritize it.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And, and I would argue that. you know, I, based on my own experience, right, so for me, when, if I take the time to do this two hours on this trail system today, okay, or to, or maybe I will do it, tomorrow instead of other things tomorrow. It’s going to happen in the next couple days.

If I take the time to do that, I know based on the experience I have of facing this quandary in the past, not the first time, that I will be grateful that I went, that the rest of the chaotic things I have to do will happen more easily because I took the time to spend that time outside, that I will have this problem again later, and have this exact same problem, conversation with myself again later, where I realize that if I go outside and do the thing there, I will have more time inside, it will expand, and on and on and on, right?

And, that’s how I quiet the chaos and say yes to things, is by remembering the lessons I’ve learned before, which is possible because I’ve, at some point, I managed to quiet the chaos and say yes to something smaller and then get to say something yes to bigger things over time. That’s for me.

Mimi Zieman: Yeah. And sometimes it becomes urgent because I do the same thing. I, I neglect my time outside or that I know is good for me until the point where it’s urgent. I need, I need that antidepressant. I need to get outside. I need the sunlight. I need the wind. I need to look at trees. And yeah, that’s not healthy. It, it should be more of a priority all the time, but you know, we’re all learning and doing the best we can.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Yeah, and conversations like this at least help me, you know, I think sometimes making this podcast is very selfish because I get to talk to people like you and, and learn these things over and over again. And, and I hope other people who are listening to this feel the same way. Mimi we close our episodes by asking our guests to describe a favorite outdoor moment. You know, it’s one of these moments. Maybe you closed your eyes and you were there. You’ve described a lot of time outdoors that has meant something to you today, but I’m wondering if there’s an outdoor moment that is something you can describe for us and take us there with you.

Mimi Zieman: Yeah. And it’s different than what you would expect, what I would expect. Cause I had to really think about this and, you know, of course I’ve talked about what the mountains mean to me, but then I thought about what my family means to me and I have this lovely memory when my oldest child was five. My middle daughter was three and I was pregnant and we were in Captiva Island.

Just riding the waves and just, my kids giggles at the at the wave peaking and coming down and how we were all sort of moving in the same motion and weather. It was just a beautiful moment outdoors. That I could experience with family. I, my husband was in the distance, so it’s not like he wasn’t there, but he wasn’t riding that way, that was ways with us.

and yeah, just feeling at one with nature in a different, in a different scene.

Amy Bushatz: I love it. Mimi, thank you so much for joining us on Humans Outside today. I really appreciate your time and sharing your story. Thank you.

Mimi Zieman: Thanks so much for having me, Amy. Love talking to you.

Amy Bushatz: That’s a wrap on this episode of Humans Outside, but hey, I need your help. Enjoy the show. Leave a five star rating or review wherever you get your podcasts. It makes me feel good, but it also helps others find the show too, which is cool, right? Now go get outside. Until next time, we’ll see you out there.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Jump To section



Humans Outside Instagram

How does spending at least 20 consecutive minutes outside every single day since Sept. 1, 2017 change your life? 

We’re on a mission to find out.

[instagram-feed feed=1]

JOIN Us Today


Keep up with the latest podcast episodes, resources and announcements