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My purpose with the Share-My-Story Series is to help us see ourselves in each other’s stories. I truly believe that seeing our shared humanity will bring us closer together. We are much more alike than different and we all have battles we are fighting. I am so grateful to so many of you for sharing vulnerably. My heart is overwhelmed with love every time I read one of your stories.

I met Kelli on last year’s couples retreat in Moab, Utah. She and her husband, Mike, came with us and they are the type of people you want to come with you on every trip. Kelli is warm and friendly and as adventurous as heck. We had a couple hours of down time on the retreat and ended up going rock climbing spontaneously because it sounded fun. They are cool like that! Kelli is the type of person I wish I could hike with every week and just soak up her good energy. Kelli was brave and shared one of her struggles with us. Thank you Kelli for being you and for showing your vulnerable side with us. Love you!

Kelli’s Story:

Hello! I am Kelli. I am a Lover of mountain sports, all things outdoors, my beautiful children, my handsome husband, my amazing dogs and my family and friends. 

This was truly one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. My inspiring friend Brittany asked me to share my story. My Story. And for the next two weeks I put it off repeatedly because telling your story feels scary. Sharing the not so pretty parts, writing it all down makes it real and sharing it leaves me feeling vulnerable. Two things I do not particularly enjoy. I like to laugh and most people who’ve met me know that. I’m seemingly always delightful and full of joy and energy and sunshine. I enjoy light feelings, stupid humor, fart jokes and all things superficial, silly, casual and without depth because depth fills me with fear. I have a nervous mind. I think and over think and ruminate until I am unwell. Even the smallest of conflicts can create deep and resonating fears of abandonment because someone has seen that I’m imperfect. Only a very small handful of people know this about me, so sharing my story tells everyone the ugly truth. I decided to share my story because there have been so many brave women who went before me in their beautiful honesty and have allowed me the courage to face my own short comings and find healthy ways to cope. 

I was born a pretty girl. Now I know how that sounds, trust me, I am NOT full of myself, in fact quite the opposite. I am always surprised when people like me or find value in what I have to offer. I felt the pressures that are assigned to young girls, at least to me, to look a certain way, to wear my hair a certain way, to weigh a certain perfect amount of pounds so that I could be pleasing. When I was in Junior high I was teased on the bus and called “Santa Clause” for my imperfect 13 year old body. This is where my eating disorder began and my drive to at least be perceived as pleasing switched into over drive. Years of over working/under feeding and sort of perpetually living with the feeling that I was “in trouble” “ inadequate” and truly perpetually uncomfortable. (think the feeling you have when you’ve just been called to the principals office. All the time.) My mind didn’t allow any room for peace and my body was in a bad place. Now there were times when I was more lax, more nurturing, more understanding with myself but 4 years ago, I again found myself in a very dark and lonely place. I’d found a beautiful and wonderful Pilates place with an instructor I just adored, it started small, a few workouts a week and watching what I ate slowly became two-a-days and a real fear of eating. Then came “The Challenge “ this was an event at the studio that was meant to motivate and provide accountability to those healthy enough to participate. One aspect was measuring our body fat. My drive became laser focused. I began by adding a running mileage goal for myself in addition to daily workouts and a rigid meal plan. Every single calorie was accounted for. The challenge ended and I took second place losing 6 lbs and placing my 5’8 frame at around 116 lbs. I was so tired. Most of my days consisted of a class, a trail run and crashing the rest of the day from exhaustion. So deeply tired both mentally and physically . I worked out hard, I saw myself in the mirror, stringy and unwell, bruises on my spine from sit-ups on the floor, my face hardened and my clothes loose. Now this was an interesting time, I had some people absolutely praising me, telling me I’d never looked better, never been better and then there was my husband, fear in his eyes when he sat me down and told me he was genuinely worried about me. Then came the thoughts,  dark and unrelenting, the feeling of doom, the anxiety that started to cause panic attacks. I found myself wanting to die. To be no more. I sat at lunch with 3 of my closest friends and the entire time I thought about how they’d be better off without me. Everyone would. I am a mess. What could I possibly have to offer the 3 beautiful kids and husband I had been so blessed with. I looked at my life, comfortable and safe and I felt even more remorse for carrying that darkness in my heart. One day at the gym I suffered a panic attack in class, one moment I was doing burpees and the next I was having tunnel vision and crying uncontrollably, I ran to my car and called my Doctor. I could do no more. I had an emotional appointment that day with my Doc who placed me on an antidepressant. I felt ashamed that I needed one. I felt embarrassed telling my husband and the side effects initially were difficult to manage. I slowly entered a phase of complete burnout. I literally couldn’t find it inside me to go to the gym. I gave my body what it so desperately needed, rest, food, patience and most of all acceptance. Over the next year I healed, I took my antidepressants, I read, I spoke about things that left me feeling raw and exposed and slowly but surely I began to feel like someone worthwhile again. I became intentional about the things I did. About giving my time to the people I felt safe and loved and supported by. I prayed, prayed to God, prayed to Mother Nature, prayed to the mountain, prayed to a greater being for peace, calm, clarity, and comfort in the midst of the storm brewing inside me, and slowly but surely, it came. I set boundaries. This was and is the hardest part, there are those in my life who I know love me deeply and who I love and miss but at the same time were unable to engage in healthy and productive relationships. I stopped doing things that made me feel disappointed. I started to put my mental wellness first. I started to LOVE ME. 

The mountain became my holy place. Where my mind was quieted. Where my body didn’t need to look a certain way, only to perform, to be capable, strong and fast……or slow depending on the day. I am now in a better place. I’ve gained 20 lbs, I laugh a lot and I do it with a genuine heart. I hike, trail run, climb, ski, mountain bike and do Pilates. A little something to move my body everyday. I eat. I don’t count a damn calorie or macro ever. (I know so many people who are able to be successful at this and I’m certainly not against it, I just know it equals compulsive behavior in me) I share my story with a few safe people and now with the world. 

I am so deeply honored to be in this body. It has given life to 3 amazing kids who I love and adore with my entire being. It adventures with my husband who still gives me butterflies. I am worthy. I am strong. And I am great at dirty jokes. And still bad at vulnerability and being serious. 

It’s important to note that I am happier now than I’ve been in a long while. I’m able to be more of the mother, wife, and friend that I want to be. I’m capable and there is happiness enough in that. 

I feel overwhelming support and love from my tribe and my hope to each and every woman out there is that you may find the things and people who make you well. Those who give you wings. Who raise you up and show you what it means to be whole, complete and content. Now, Get out there Girls. The world is ours. ♥️ Kelli

P.S. Kelli makes and sells the softest blankets. Go check them out here: