Hello all! Welcome to a new blog feature we are really excited about, Mom's Stuff Family! As you probably know, Lee originally made Mom's Stuff Salve® just for our family, but slowly friends and family pressured her into selling. Still today we feel like our customers are family. We make it to help people live happy lives and we love learning how it's helping you. So we wanted to start featuring some of our great 'family' members, and who better to start with than a woman who has been using Mom's Stuff back when it was just for family, and who we think may have even been the person to coin the name "Mom's Stuff"; Christa Sadler.
Christa is hands down AMAZING. It's a little daunting to try to write in one post all the phenomenal things she's done in her life and has/is doing for others. Christa is all heart.
Lee & Joe first met her on the Grand Canyon on a rafting trip MANY years ago, and she quickly became an adopted part of the Bennion family. Over the years we have logged countless miles on rivers and in canyons with her, and spent numerous hours, holidays, and trips laughing, singing, sharing, crying and loving each other.
Christa is a brilliant geologist, world class outdoor guide (rafting/hiking/sea kayaking/etc.), a founder of the non-profit organization ONE that helps educate and empower women in impoverished countries, a gifted teacher, a great story teller and author of several books, a community builder, an outdoor medic, beautiful singer, world traveller, a cat lover, and so much more. So, without further ado, I give Christa, in her own words, be ready to be inspired:
Q: Where are you from?
A: Originally from California. I live in Flagstaff, Arizona now, where I have been since 1987.
Q: What has your career path been?
A: Non-traditional :) I’ve never been good at doing only one thing, or sitting in one place or inside for very long. So I have looked for things that get me outdoors, help me keep learning, keep me interested, allow me to be with people and hopefully offer something to the world. Everything I do has an educational component to it, whether it’s my guiding, teaching or writing.
Q: What is you favorite place in the world?
A: Grand Canyon, southern Utah, Baja California and the Sea of Cortez, Alaska and the Yukon. Sorry! I don’t have only one favorite place :)
Q: How did you get into guiding?
A: I was invited to join my boyfriend’s (at the time) family on a 6-day river trip through Grand Canyon on motor rigs (30 foot long motorized pontoon boats) back in 1985. I was 23 and that was it. I was completely head over heels in love (with the canyon, not with him), and wanted to be in the Grand Canyon, rowing on that river, all the time. When I could finally look up and see a larger world outside the Grand Canyon, that led me into guiding in other places and in other ways (hiking, sea kayaking, etc.).
Q: Where have you guided?
A: Oregon and northern California, Grand Canyon, southern Utah and the San Juan River, southern Arizona, Alsek and Tatshenshini Rivers in the Yukon and southeast Alaska, Alaskan Arctic, Baja California and the Sea of Cortez, Glacier Bay, AK.
Q: What is your educational background?
A: I have a bachelors in anthropology from UC Berkeley and a mMasters in Earth Sciences from Northern Arizona University. And then there’s my wilderness guiding and my writing, which basically keep me in ‘school' all the time.
Q: How do you use Mom's Stuff? How does it help? Any 'miracle' stories?
A: I use Mom’s Stuff on the river, on backpack trips and sea kayak trips, and then just for everyday use in the winter here in Flagstaff. It’s super dry here, and my hands get really cracked in the winter. On the river, I will put Mom’s Stuff on my hands and then put on my gloves to row. It’s a great way to not have my hands be destroyed by the end of a trip. Seriously, my hands used to be a mass of cracks by the end of a trip, especially in Alaska, and with Mom’s Stuff and gloves, they will actually survive!
Miracle story: OK, this just happened recently. I got a bite, probably from a spider, on the back of my hand. Of course I was a classic river guide and ignored it until it was very infected and moving up my arm and I had a fever. Duh. So I got on antibiotics and it got better. But even though the infection was gone, there was a big circular area of raw, red, dead, ulcerous skin (sorry, kind of gross I know). I started putting Mom’s Stuff on it all the time. My doctor was horrified: “That’s not sterile!”I told him that natives have been using pinyon sap for hundreds of years and they aren’t dying of infections all the time! Anyway, nothing else worked but Mom’s Stuff. When I used regular cream or even antibiotic ointment, it didn’t heal. Now, I’m looking at it, and it’s almost completely gone! And people no longer stare in horror at my hand when they see it.
Q: What is ONE? When did you start it?
A: We started in March of 2011. Our mission is to provide educational opportunities and support to young women in need from developing nations, in order that they might contribute to the welfare of their families and their communities.
Q: What inspired you to start ONE?
A: I was working with a project in Nicaragua building houses, and we were working on one house where the 13 year old granddaughter was helping us. I really wanted to do something to help her; she was really bright and helpful. Her mother had had her when she was 15 years old, and her grandmother had her mother when she was 15 too. I just saw this beautiful girl and saw her future: a baby at 15, another a couple years later, etc. So I asked a friend in town about English lessons for Ana (the girl). She recommended that I pay for her to to go the private school in town, where she would get a better education and be with people more serious about studying and their futures. Total cost would be about $350 for the year. But she warned me not to tell them I was paying personally and tell them instead that I was from a foundation that gave scholarships. So I did, and then I thought, “Well, why NOT start a foundation?” My education has been so important to me, and I realize that my life is the result of it. I also realize that women in most countries are at the bottom of the ladder, and mostly they just end up pregnant and poor. Yet much research has shown that educating women in these countries will raise the per capita income and health levels, lower population levels, decrease violence, and have an enormously important and far-reaching effect on their families and the country.
Q: What have you learned from starting ONE?
A: Oh boy. A lot! I’ve learned a lot about the plight of women in this world, in terms of education or lack thereof. I’ve learned it’s much easier to ask for and receive money than to give it away in a way that is helpful and will have the best results. I’ve learned that there is the type of poverty that believes things should be given to them, and there is the type of poverty that is grateful for help and will work hard to get what they can in life. I’ve learned how important family support and buy-in is to a child’s education, especially a girl. I’ve learned that keeping an organization small and personal is better than growing enormous and overdoing it too quickly. I’ve learned that Americans are incredibly generous people who want to help in the world where they can. I’ve learned a little Kiswahili and Luganda, lots more Spanish, and how to read letters written by 8 year olds who don’t speak English all that well. And I’ve learned (once again) that I don’t know everything and other people have really good ideas that I should listen to.
Q: In all of your world travel and guiding, what is the craziest situation you've found yourself in?
A: Hmm. That is a question that might require many hours to answer; there have been many crazy situations in my life: climbing down cliffs at night, driving a zodiac with about 250 false killer whales surfing and blowing around me, sitting in the middle of a feeding frenzy in the Sea of Cortez with a gazillion birds diving, humpback whale blowing, sea lions leaping, dolphins squeaking . . . But what comes to mind is a hike I did with a friend about 4 years ago. Better settle in, this is a long story :) We were in Haines, AK for a river trip, and we had a couple days to spare. So we went up the highway into British Columbia to do a day hike. We camped out and then started in on the hike. I had heard of a way to circumnavigate the mountain near us and I thought that would be fun. We went down the valley, headed over to the glacier to hang out for a while and then discovered that we had lost the map somewhere along the way. Should we turn back and head back the way we came, or should we continue on up the other valley in front of us, which was going in approximately the right direction? Well, we decided to keep going because, well, why wouldn’t you? We crossed the glacier and several glacial streams (topping over our boots in the process - did I mention we were doing this hike in knee high rubber boots?) and kept going. The glacial outflow stream to our left got bigger and bigger and we realized that we would not ever be able to cross it, so we hoped we were on the right side! It was pretty soon a huge rushing river and our route (not a trail, never a trail) was being hemmed in by the canyon wall on one side and this rushing glacial river on the other. It rained. Of course. The rain quit, but we were nowhere within site of the highway and the day was wearing on. We finally took a break on the little ledge of rock next to this roaring gnashing river with a big black spruce forest at our backs. It wasn’t quite “dark” but at midnight it was dark enough that charging into a spruce forest in bear country without great light didn’t seem like a good idea. So we lit a teeny fire with spruce needles and rested for an hour, until it started to get light enough to really see. We kept going along the cliff on the river’s edge. Finally the river veered off and the bank got wider and wider. Pretty soon we were stumbling our way through a boggy, Arctic willow patch several miles wide. Did you know that Arctic willows have trunks like flexible iron and are perfectly designed to trip you up since they are knee high, and they grow all tangled together? Again, we sank in over our boot tops, over and over, but we looked ahead of us, and saw a single car in the distance, zooming along the two-lane highway. We were almost there! I’ve never been so happy to see a car in my life! However, we still had one more obstacle. We pushed through the willows to find ourselves face to face with a river across our path, which we would have to cross to get to the highway. It was moving pretty fast, and had been snow just a few hours before. It was about 100 feet across, which is just about a long enough distance to get completely hypothermic lost your ability to move and get washed downstream. But, we had to do it, so we took off our clothes and wrapped them in our daypacks on top of our heads and waded in. Luckily, it came up to my friend’s chest, and my shoulders, but we could still wade. The current was super strong, and we got swept a little downstream but we made it out just fine. Covered with mosquito bites and extremely cold, but fine :) Another half mile and we were on the blacktop with our thumbs out. The Haines Highway is not heavily used, and it was about 7:30 in the morning, so there wasn’t a lot of traffic. The first car by was a two-seater sports car, but she was willing to sit my soggy self down in the passenger seat and drive me back 14 miles to the car. I headed back up the highway and picked up my friend. Total miles: about 22. Total hours: 23.5. A true “day hike!” When we told friends back in Haines what we did they all said, “Oh that’s a great THREE or FOUR day hike!” Would I do it again? In a heartbeat :) In fact, I think I know the ‘right’ way to do it now.