This month we’re thinking a lot about exploring:
where to go, what to do but also what happens when you push yourself to explore. Uncharted territory usually means there will be some discomfort, but also vision and growth. We want to understand the words that inspire us and end up on the bandanas.
when we made the Explore More bandana, one of the things guiding us was our wanderlust, our desire for adventure, travel and finding out what’s out there!
Digging into this phrase lead us to a woman that is for sure an explorer.
Maurrie Sussman is sister #1 of Sisters on the Fly - a huge group of women across the United States that are dedicated to having fun, pushing boundaries (in a fun way) and getting together with their unique trailers (check out a video here!). The best way to describe these women, in a nutshell, is their favorite phrase and hashtag: #wehavemorefunthananyone.
Sister #1 means that Maurrie is the founding member of Sisters on the Fly, with her sister (#2), Becky. The two sisters both had children and lived down the street from each other. Their mother had loved to camp and so they got together and planned trips. The sisters had so much fun their friends would always want to join. During one trip, Maurrie learned how to worm fish and then on another trip, her son taught her how to fly fish. She was…[can I say it?] hooked.
“It was beautiful. It was awesome.” Maurrie shared with us.
Maurrie loved trying new things and getting out and about. She was a hardworking mother of two. At the age of 40(!!) she graduated with a degree in business and kept things running in the house and providing for her family. What a tough lady!
Soon their trips grew and grew. Now, Sisters on the Fly hosts hundreds of events throughout the year and boasts a membership of more than 12,000 (since the founding in 1999). The large number of women - they are THE largest women’s organization dedicated to the outdoor recreation in the country - speaks to Maurrie’s deeper vision for exploration:
That everyone be included. Every. Single. Woman.
Maurrie wasn’t always the first pick for sports when she was younger. She told us, “I’m a powerful little thing but no one ever wanted me on the team, and that broke my heart. To this day we do what we do so that everyone can be on the team, no matter what it is.”
Wahoo! I LOVE hearing about acceptance amongst women. We need each other not only for fun, but for support. She told us about a woman who drove across the country from Tennessee, her very first time to ever pull a trailer, to attend Cowgirl College (that name… it’s the organization’s event for new members). After driving her minivan and trailer thousands of miles, she got on a horse at camp and said she was too scared to ride. Maurrie just looked at her incredulously and said, “Do you know what you just accomplished? You’re going to stay on that horse”. The girl ended up winning a contest that day and the experience kept her coming back to events. She even traded in her minivan for a yellow pickup when she got back to Knoxville. Recounting how the event had changed her life, Maurrie added, “that girl is gonna have a life now.”
Maurrie grew up wanting to be a bush pilot (how badass!?) but her dad wouldn’t let her. She says she’s impressed with women today and all the opportunities they have. When we talked with her earlier this week, she shared her version of the Jenni Earle bandana, a beaded shield she wears for courage and protection. It’s a Crow Indian piece; that particular tribe is native to the area of Montana that she calls home.
She says that when she explains the piece to women, “they get it immediately” but the men, not so much. “Men are never told they can’t do hard things, they are expected to do hard things. We have to forget what we’ve been told and do all the things we want!”
She has seen that there is something magical and powerful about the company of women. There is a freedom in exploration with fellow ladies. The only rules at Sisters on the Fly are; be nice, have fun and everyone is included. What a world it would be if those rules were followed by more people. (sub-rules are: no men & no kids!)
This year Maurrie wants to dedicate one day per month to fishing in a new river. She’s got friends all over the country and wants to spend more time traveling and enjoying her hobbies. Running a giant organization can be exhausting and time-consuming but she doesn’t want to lose sight of the need for adventure that started it all. She wants to keep exploring!
We leave you with that, explore more, y’all.
Thank you so much for spending an evening talking with us, Maurrie!