FREEDOM TO GROW / MADDIE BRENNEMAN’S STORY
Moved by the outdoors, Colorado fishing guide Maddie Brenneman feeds her soul in nature.
Sometimes, making a decision doesn’t have to result in a wrong or a right. It can just be a decision you made. There’s something about just acting. Not thinking. Doing. The thing in your heart that you know is right. Having the confidence to do it. To not look back in regret. For Maddie Brenneman, this is a personal tao. A way to look at decisions and consequences. A way to approach life. The best part? You can always choose a new way.
Since around college, fly fishing became everything to Maddie. She loved fishing as a kid, too. Spending summers in Canada with her family, fishing in lakes, and slowly falling in love with the outdoors. But it wasn’t until adulthood that she realized her absolute need to be out on the water fishing. Admittedly, for her it’s not even about catching fish. The water can be a wild place where she can be free, comfortable, and welcome. For Maddie, the water was home.
But that water would have to wait. For a few years following school, Maddie worked for a travel company in Santa Fe. It would take time to realize she wanted something different than planning epic trips for other people, but when she did, it was decision time again. Wanting to move home to Colorado, she found a job working with horses at a ranch in Granby. Here at least she could satisfy her urge to fish and spent much of her free time on the rivers there. When a position opened up to guide for the ranch, Maddie jumped at the opportunity to share her love of the water with the guests and other anglers. Lacking formal guiding experience at the time, she decided to jump in head first anyway. When it’s what you love, learning becomes exciting. She lived in the mountains guiding five days a week and spending her off season travelling across the globe. It was a dream for her, and she was living it.
After a year or so though, Maddie started to feel restless and drawn to the city. Drawn to her family and friends. Drawn to the art and food and community that cities provide. Decision time again. Maddie made a move to Denver. Still in love with guiding, but not wanting to do it full time, she commuted, guiding a couple days a week using the rest cultivating a city life, spending time with friends and family, and even starting her own side business selling handmade items— hats, jewelry, and leather handbags.
The time split between her life in Denver and guiding at the ranch though started to take its toll. Two and a half hours of commuting each way will do that to anyone. After making the decision to guide for a ranch closer to Denver and continue splitting her time between city and mountains, Maddie took a long look at what she wanted and where she wanted to be. Having both parts of her life was easier now, but gone was the happiness and joy of waking up deep in the mountains.
Everyone thinks and acts like you have to have it all together in your twenties. And it’s simply not true. Sure, having a direction helps. A north star to at least guide your footsteps, but as Maddie would tell you directly, it’s alright if that star changes. Essentially, that’s what growing up and growth is really about. Just having done something forever isn’t a great reason to keep doing it. Dreaming of the mountains again Maddie’s drive to make her life exactly what she wanted took hold. She decided to find her own way in a new place, once again in the mountains, once again along the water that had drawn her outdoors since she discovered fishing.
She would tell you she doesn’t know what her life mission is. She’d also tell you that she doesn’t need to know that. Energized and moved by mountains and water, she’s going to find ways to maximize her time in both. If you find what feeds your soul, you have to keep after that. That’s her key to living meaningfully. That’s her key to live happily. The ever after always being subject to change.