This week Laura shares her story of overcoming an eating disorder and using her knowledge to help thousands of other women do the same. Laura is a gem. She is one of those people you could talk to forever because you instantly feel connected to her. I’m honored to know her and have personally benefitted from her gratitude journals. I use mine every single morning. Go check them out on her website Remarkable Now.
I am so excited to share my story here on Brittany’s blog! When I found out about Brittany’s mission to connect and empower women through getting out in nature and finding common ground with each other, I immediately felt connected to her. Connection and nature are two of the most healing tools we have on this earth and have played a major role in my life.
About seven years ago, I recovered from a 16 yr long battle with an eating disorder. Through six of my seven children, I struggled with this disorder that left me feeling alone, broken, and un-fixable. I never wanted to talk about it with other people, because I felt like I was the only woman in the world who struggled like I did. I just knew there was something wrong with me, and worried that despite all my best efforts, I would never find true peace with my body.
After the birth of my sixth child, I ended up with a severe thyroid condition that forced me to finally give up control, since I literally had no control. It was the hardest and BEST thing that ever happened to me…as most challenges in life are. In an attempt to figure out who I really was (seperate from my disorder) I focused on one thing and one thing only. Gratitude. Every morning and every evening I would write five things I was grateful for. That was it. Day in and day out, that was the ONLY thing I did. Seems so simple, and it is…but it changed my life. Gratitude changed my life. Over the course of the next year, gratitude for everything else around me turned into gratitude for myself and gratitude for the gifts God blessed me with and my eyes opened to who I was and what I was meant to do.
During my recovery, nature became a sanctuary for me, a sacred place to go to connect with my spirit and to God. There was one hike I would go on 2-3x/week, and I would grab a rock at the bottom of the hike and make that rock the concern or burden I was carrying that day, and then take that rock to the very top and then unload it. I would leave that burden at the top of the highest mountain, and every single time, I felt peace. There is something about nature that speaks to our souls, to our very spirits, and that kind of connection was exactly what I needed. I needed to connect my spirit and my body and find alignment again. I found that on my mountain.
When I finally got the courage to speak about my struggle…literally tearing up and shaking as I wrote my very first post to tell my story, the most beautiful thing happened. Connection. Turns out, every single one of us is broken in some beautiful way. Turns out, I wasn’t different from everyone else, but actually just like everyone else. The truth that we all hurt, we all struggle, we are all human and broken is what saved me and continues to save me.
What I LOVE about what Britanny is doing with Get Out There Girl is that she is combining two powerful forces of change. Connection and Nature. The combination can be life-changing. Putting yourself in an environment where you can feel your spirit speak to you, and then having the opportunity to connect with other remarkable woman who also struggle and also hurt, but also give and also love is truly a gift. When we connect with other women, we connect with our power. The power to change the world in our homes and in our communities, the power to truly see our gifts and our strengths, and ultimately the power to heal.
I am so grateful for each woman who shares her story with us. There is power in connection and vulnerability. Melissa is an amazing woman who I love being around. She radiates a love for life that is contagious. You can feel her strength and her resilience when you are around her. When you read her story you will see that life hasn’t turned out the way she planned but she has embraced it and made it wonderful. I just love her attitude and her strength! Thank you for sharing and being a wonderful example to all of us Melissa.
When I was a teenager I imagined a yellow brick road to eternal bliss upon which I would perfectly make everyone in my circles happy and proud of me. I would have a joyful marriage with adventures my husband would plan for us, a handful of kids and I would be totally appreciated as a stay-at-home mom. Today I am 46 years old with 5 awesome kids. I’ve been divorced twice and have needed YEARS of therapy to recover from two deeply damaging marriages (and divorces) and very low self-esteem. At times I felt hopeless, weak and all I could do was cry and wish for someone to come save me.
I have had to redefine my hopes and dreams and take charge of them myself. Amazing therapists and my own determination have guided me to develop the strength to trust myself, learn my own value, and feel empowered to create my own happiness. It has been so hard and has not come naturally to me! I now work full time, run my own household, and recognize that I no longer need or want someone to save me. I have learned how to save myself!
I didn’t use to practice the art of being kind to myself. Did you know perfection is impossible? It has taken time to gently understand that I am just doing the best I can in each deficient moment and with each mistake. Instead of criticizing myself, I have worked to view each fall as a teaching moment and learn from it. I needed to accept my imperfections and love myself exactly as I am. This has been crucial! Without even realizing it, I’m also teaching my kids about self-care by showing them what that looks like when I handle my mistakes with grace and take time for myself to go on adventures for personal fulfillment.
How does a single mom express her adventurous side? “Mom Fieldtrips” with my incredible kids started out small with local hikes. All we needed were shoes on our feet and a map on my phone. As I have become more courageous, our activities have progressed into weekends out of town camping, spelunking, and strapping on microspikes so we can hike to frozen waterfalls.
Another step in my journey has been slowly testing my courage without my kids. Last fall for the first time I spent a few weekends canyoneering and I even rappelled down a 300 foot drop-off! I am so proud of myself. When I head into the mountains I feel the weight of life on my shoulders. Once I hit the trail those worries disappear because of the beauty surrounding me. I’m the girl who exclaims every 10 feet, “Oh! What a gorgeous view! Look at the river! Can you hear the birds?” Being out in nature is therapy for my soul.
One thing that has been missing for me in these adventures has been connecting with women who are looking for the same thing. Last fall I found Get Out There Girl and a few other female-based hiking groups. In January I was able to go up to Starr Valley, Wyoming on a dogsledding weekend with Brittany and 10 women I had never met before. I was nervous! Would they like me? Would I feel comfortable? Would I like them? I was thrilled to discover that each of these women also came seeking connection. We shared about our relationships and experiences in open ways that allowed us to get to know each other’s hearts and intentions. Brittany taught a workshop on vulnerability that resonated with me. You get what you put into something. If you come into a situation willing to listen and share with open hearts, you’re going to be able to connect with people who are doing the same thing.
Life is happier when I am kind to myself and I make myself a priority. I can’t wait to meet more women who are doing the same and to see where my next adventures will take me!
When I first learned about Self-Compassion I thought it was just making excuses. I hated excuses! I was one that wanted results and wanted accountability when results didn’t happen. I was hard on myself and those around me. I held everyone to a high standard and when I was disappointed I would always think “Well, I better do it myself.” When I fell short I would criticize myself and vow to do better.
Then Self-Compassion entered my life and I gave it a try. I was blown away at how compassion motivated me and put things into perspective for me. It wasn’t making excuses. It was far from it actually. Let me explain.
Self-compassion takes responsibility and requires accountability. You are mindful of your actions and you own up to them. You can accept that your behavior was bad without thinking that you are bad.
Excuses are when we blame another person or a circumstance for our behavior. It’s the opposite of taking accountability for our actions. We feel shame and dismiss our behavior based on our excuse.
Excuses never lead to true change. Excuses lead to a cycle of shame and co-dependency based on outside circumstances.
Self-compassion on the other hand does lead to true change because motivation comes naturally when you are kind and compassionate to yourself. You view yourself as an imperfect human being who makes mistakes and can acknowledge them and also correct them. Self-compassion allows you to be objective and honest with yourself because you know you are good and your worth doesn’t change.
I urge you to try Self-Compassion. Give it a shot. You will immediately reap the benefits of being kind to yourself and so will the people around you.
Chelsea and I met over a year ago at her first GOTG retreat. She had just moved to Utah from Ohio and was looking for friends who loved the outdoors. I will forever be grateful for hashtags because that is how Chelsea found GOTG. Chelsea has become a good friend who I love hanging out with every chance I get. She is fun, genuine, honest, and kind. All the things I look for in a friend.
I met Gretchen at the GOTG March Retreat and I spent time talking to her as we hiked. I could feel the depth of Gretchen’s soul as we talked and I knew how important getting out in nature was to her. It’s not easy being vulnerable and sharing your story. I am so grateful she shared her’s with us today.
“Is it possible to be an introvert and extrovert? Or are we shaped by how we live? I believe the latter.
The more I am stuck inside without nature and human interaction, the more introverted I feel.
The more I am outside, active, with nature and people, the more extroverted I feel.
Hmmmm…I choose extrovert!
My name is Gretchen. I am 55 years young and I am an extrovert
I grew up in a small town in Ohio as a shy, overweight pre-teen and then moved to Idaho in 7th grade. My parents took us out exploring Idaho camping, fishing and skiing. However, it wasn’t until I was in my late 20s and early 30s that I found I had a passion for the outdoors and how it made me feel when I was challenged by some great outdoor adventure. As a Mom and a friend, I encourage others to enjoy the outdoors with me.
For the past three years, I backpack with a friend over our summer birthdays. Tough backpacking – heavy packs, long miles, serious elevation gains, but an awesome challenge. This year was no different other than I was completely out of shape from big life changes over the past eight months , but rather than fret about it, I really took time to mentally prepare and think about how good being outside with my friend was going to be. We set out on a five day adventure with a goal of 40 miles. Day one was tough. Not gonna lie. I was hurting. 40 pound backpack (4 nights, 5 days worth of “stuff”), 10 mile hike in to 8500 feet. We did a few days of daypacking (kept camp at one lake for three nights) and that really helped us get in the miles. We ended up with 46.7 miles, 8400 feet of elevation gain, a renewed strength, clarity to resolve problems at home and a “can-do” attitude. I’d like to share what I walked away with.
Lesson learned: Self-Compassion through Mindset. I went into this trip with a completely different mindset. I knew I was not physically well-prepared for this trip, but I stayed positive. Things I said on the trail were positive. I did not focus on how exhausted I was, but physically I was slow – and that was okay. I accepted that I was a bit out of shape – I accepted that this was me, now, in this moment. I had only myself to hold accountable and I had no excuses. I got to our destination on my own two feet…there was no one to carry me and I would never turn back. There was no “I can’t”; just “I’ll try”. I was not afraid to fail. It’s all for fun and adventure and no one was judging me. My friend was super supportive and encouraging. We listen to each other and mentally lift each other up. I also realized I would never, ever take these times for granted. The time with my friend and her dog are precious. The mountains, lakes, trails, people we met – just beautiful! I mentally soaked in all this while we were out on the trail. They say, “Stop and smell the roses.”, well, I did Took lots of pictures and tucked away many vivid images in my head for those tough days ahead.
Lesson learned: Connections. As we continued to hike throughout the week, it felt like we were in our own little world. We had gone with the intention of hiking in far enough and high enough to be away from most people. It’s sad how the current Covid situation leaves us feeling like we are in a battle to protect our own thoughts and feelings and not be mis-guided by others. I looked forward to being away from social media and the news in general. It was a wonderful break. But what I did not expect was the connections I would make with my friend (even though we have been friends for three years) as well as with those we met on the trail. We saw others and encouraged them. We stopped to chat and learned from them. We shared in the solitude and we connected with them. Father/daughter duos, girlfriends and guy friends, old and young and families with little kids that just blew us away. Everyone was respectful and everyone loving every minute of being there together. It was very special!
Lesson learned: Clarity. Do you ever feel like there is so much “noise” that you cannot think clearly to work through issues? Simple and big issues I face and I can’t find ways to deal with them until I’m out on the trail. Then everything is clear. I have quiet time to actually think through the issue and even talk through some issues with my friend. Many times, those thoughts and conversations are GREAT distractions during tough parts of the hike. It’s like having your own personal counselor. I also take time to meditate and write when I retire into my tent at night. It’s typically pretty early, but I don’t fall asleep for hours after. I’ll listen to mindful, inspiring podcasts and write in my journal afterwards. Something about having this time outdoors, listening to birds, babbling brooks, gentle breezes, it opens my mind and allows me to know very clearly how I’m going to resolve issues.
It’s outdoor adventures like these that really turn my life around! I’m so grateful I get to be out in nature with friends, family, or by myself and really take advantage of these opportunities. Not only do I physically feel stronger, but I feel mentally stronger from all I learned through connections and clarity. And I know, with the right mindset, I can do and be anything I want for myself. If you have the chance, get out there!”
I’m so excited to share Kami’s story with you. Kami is smart, determined, kind, and genuine. She is one of my closest friends who I admire because of her unconditional love for people, (me included). I love and agree with the advice Kami gave as she shared her story.
Side Note: Kami announced something big to me in this story. See if you can figure out what it is. I’ll tell you at the end so you can see if you were right.
“I absolutely love being a mom! Some may think it’s silly, but that’s all I ever wanted to be when I grew up! From the second I got married at 22 I wanted kids. But my sweet and very smart husband said that I needed to finish my degree before kids or I would never do it after!
It took me 4 long years to finish my degree while working full time, but I did it!! The following month we got pregnant. I was very fortunate that I was able to quit my full-time job and stay home with my little one. Life was amazing for the first couple of weeks while my husband was home and we had family in town to keep me company, but I soon found that being home all day and not being able to get out freely was lonely.
I am shy but very extroverted and I craved being around people. Prior to this precious little bean my husband and I worked out daily together after work, or I went running with friends! I worked out up until the day that I gave birth, and I loved every minute of it! It was my time, where I felt free… I was either having great conversation connecting with friends on runs or listening to music at the gym clearing my mind! It was and still is very therapeutic for me.
Fast forward 8 years and I now have 3 amazing little boys that are 7.5, 6, and 3, with one on the way! They fill my life with so much fun, energy, pure happiness, and love! Yet I still need “me” time.
It took me many years to understand that it was okay to love to be a mom, but also okay to need to getaway! I used to feel guilty when I would complain about a job that I loved and even guiltier when I would say “I just need a break”. Now my family knows that I am a better wife and mom because I make time for myself!! I still go to the gym 4-5 times a week, go running with friends, bike rides in the evening, have a girls night once a week connecting with other women that know exactly where I’m coming from, going dancing every couple of months, and finding new adventures that fill my bucket!
All of the hats that we wear are important and bring value to our lives and others! I haven’t mastered the balance, but it is something that I work towards every day! After many years of feeling like I was losing who I was, I strive to be the best version of myself so that I can in turn be the best mom and wife I can be! You can’t truly make others happy if you aren’t happy yourself!
The balancing act as moms is simply amazing and in my opinion, overlooked every day! For some, you wake up to your kids crying… it’s a day full of putting everyone else first and taking care of their needs and wants! Cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, playing barbies or soldiers, coming up with fun activities, and trying will all your might to teach them to be good people. For others, you wake up to an alarm and get your kids ready so that you can go to work, come home, and do all of the above after a full day in the office! Finding the balance between family and me time is hard but worth the time to navigate!
A couple pieces of advice to both working moms and stay at home moms is know without a doubt that you are incredible and appreciated! Your efforts may go unnoticed now, but one day when our kids are older they will recognize all you did, and thank you! Secondly, live life to its fullest- I know we have all heard that statement a million times, but have you ever sat down and asked what that statement means to you?? My advice is to figure it out and make it happen! Make time doing what makes you happy even if it can only happen once a month and don’t feel guilty about it.”
**Kami announced that she was pregnant with baby #4!!!!**