When the opportunity arose to attend a Yoga/Hiking retreat with Get Out There Girl, my first thought was that I was too scared to go. I don’t love traveling (an understatement), and I feel an even more intense separation anxiety when I travel without my family. However, someone I love had attended a retreat previously and I saw the way it changed her life. My heart ached to experience a similar change in my own. The idea of reentering the world of yoga was intriguing, but I wasn’t excited about hiking. A few years ago, I had heat stroke and I suffer from PTSD whenever I am in the heat. This led to me feeling fearful about the whole trip. Going with people I don’t know, experiencing things that are hard and my fears screamed loudly that I couldn’t do it. One thing pushed me forward.
My greatest desire is to live anxiety free. Thus far in my 53 years, anxiety has been my continual companion and every effort made to conquer it has fallen short or failed completely. This time in the world with the pandemic has been especially difficult so I took advantage of a brief moment of bravery and signed up. Honestly, I almost canceled many times. But I chose to go and I will be forever grateful! There are a couple of significant things, among many great experiences, that made it worth all the worry and anxiety.
The first is that we had two workshops with one of the most amazing, talented and wise women I have ever met. Her name is Niki Olsen and she walked us through a method called Mind Body Bridging. The process was overwhelmingly impactful for me. Personally, I felt a change in my heart about anxiety. I now believe that, little by little, following this process will help me understand why I respond the way I do and allow me to move through it. Niki is a person I want to be like and I wish with all my heart she lived next door to me! When difficult things happen, I usually fall apart. However, the night after I got home from the retreat my son broke his collar bone in a severe manner and had to have surgery. There was definitely anxiety, but I put in to practice the things Niki had taught and I was far better than I would have been before the workshops and retreat.
The second was on a hike. These women didn’t know anything about my past or difficulties, as I didn’t know theirs, and I didn’t want to appear weak. As we started the hike I began to panic and my heart raced as I worried that the heat would overtake me. I had to stop a few times to breathe and put every effort into believing in myself. It wasn’t a difficult or demanding hike, but my anxiety started to overpower. My self-talk was negative and, with every part of my heart and mind, I had to push myself to keep going. I tried to tell myself I could do it and, step by step, I did it! The chatting among the women, who quickly began to feel like friends, and following them pushed me forward. There were many times that my belief in myself wavered, but I made it. At the top we rested at a beautiful waterfall and took pictures and had lunch. The others didn’t know what a triumph it was for me, but it’s a personal victory that I will always remember. And better yet….I want to go hiking again!
Our time practicing yoga was also amazing. We were outside in the most beautiful scenery and breathing in the fresh air among the trees. The view of the mountains and green grass was healing and invigorating at the same time. The entire weekend was important for me and I believe a turning point in my journey through this life. Bravery and adventure are not my strongest traits, but I am a few steps closer.
🌟 It’s Share-My-Story Monday! 🌟 Because of GOTG I have heard countless stories from women demonstrating their strength and resilience. I felt strongly that others needed to hear these stories as well. We need to connect with each other through our humanity. I hope you read the stories and see the connection you have with other women. See your shared humanity. See your similarities. See the courage. See the strength. See yourself in each story.
I have always enjoyed the outdoors, nature and connecting with it. There is just something about it that refreshes and clears my mind. I honestly am happy anytime I can hike, bike, run or just be outside in general. I love waking up every morning to the sun coming up over the beautiful Wasatch mountains. I spent time sharing this with my kids and somewhere along the way I forgot about how much I enjoyed nature. I don’t really know what happened looking back, I guess just getting busy with life and kids and all their activities and being married to someone who didn’t love nature like I did. I lost myself.
One day I walked past the mirror in my bathroom and didn’t even recognize the person I had become. I was the heaviest I had ever been, in an unfulfilling marriage and my kids were well on their way to adulthood. How did this happen? Who am I? I began to do A LOT of soul searching which lead my right back to nature and all the things I had once loved. I started to spend more time outdoors, incorporating friends who also love the outdoors.
I don’t really know how I found Get Out There Girl, I think it was on Facebook. I’m not sure if was an advertisement or someone else’s post but it was for a retreat in Zion. Perfect!! One my most favorite places!! I signed up with no expectations and by myself and thought no matter what happens I will be able to enjoy some of my favorite places. It was incredible!! I met some amazing people and had so much fun making new friends and connections. I loved that they accepted me, and I didn’t have to be anything more than me. I also went on the snowmobile retreat in January. I’m still learning to be vulnerable and open. On the way to the retreat in January I was driving with some amazing ladies who I didn’t know before this retreat. I felt compelled to share with them, not sure why. They listened to me and gave me valuable feedback, they allowed me to be vulnerable and showed me so much compassion and love. I can’t say enough about Brittany and these retreats! I absolutely love going, I love and value the friendships that I’ve made. Get Out There Girl is much more than some fruffy retreats, it’s a sisterhood I’m happy to be a part of.
Six and half years ago I moved from Virginia to Utah. It was winter and I was 8 months pregnant with baby #3. I had my baby and fell into postpartum depression. I felt alone. I didn’t have a support system or any friends. After struggling for several months my husband urged me to go see a counselor. I started seeing a woman named Joan Landes and she was absolutely wonderful. She validated me, listened to me, and gave me the necessary tools to fight my depression. One of the things I remember the most was her advice about making new friends. Real, genuine friends.
She advised me to try, what I termed, a friend test. She recommended I share something small and vulnerable about myself and see how my new friend responds. Does she move on and talk about herself? Does she change the subject? Or, does she listen and respond to my vulnerability with her own?
I am aware there are no perfect friends and even great friends may respond poorly sometimes. However, this test is a great indicator of whether or not you have a friend that you can be real, raw and open with.
Here is an example.
I am at Beth’s house for an arranged playdate. Our kids are playing outside and the opportunity to share something small and vulnerable comes up during our conversation. I mention the fact that when I moved to a new state, I did not have a support system after having a baby and I felt very alone. That’s it, I don’t go into details about my depression or how it wreaked havoc on my life. I keep it simple, short and just vulnerable enough to open the door.
Possible reaction #1:
Beth’s body language tenses up a little bit. She mentions how messy her kids are and picks up a few toys before changing the subject. I opened the vulnerability door and she didn’t walk in. I don’t give up on her as a friend, I just know that she might not be the friend that I can really open up with. She might be the friend I take shopping or workout with and she might be the friend who makes me laugh the hardest. The point is, she could become a great friend. However, if every time I try to share something vulnerable with her she closes off and changes the subject, that is my que. It obviously makes her uncomfortable and I won’t continue going there with her. Not only to protect myself, but also out of respect for her.
Possible reaction #2:
On the flip side, if Beth responds to my small and vulnerable info with a listening ear and follow up questions, then I know it doesn’t make her uncomfortable. The chances are high that she will open up and share her story with me as well. I’ve found a friend I don’t need to hide the real me from. I can be real, open and vulnerable. I opened the door and she walked in.
Try the friend test. Share something small and vulnerable with a friend and pay attention to how they respond.
I also encourage you to examine yourself and see what type of friend you are. How do you respond to a friend when they are vulnerable with you? Does it make you uncomfortable? Do you change the subject or do you listen intently and see the opportunity to connect in a deeper way? Are you a friend that someone can be open and vulnerable with?
I personally don’t stop being friends with someone if they fail the vulnerability test. I just know that they are not the person I’m going to call when I’m struggling and need a listening ear. It’s that simple. I try really hard to be the friend that people can call and open up to. When someone needs a shoulder to cry on, an ear to rant to, or a friend to validate them, I hope they call me or knock on my door. I hope they know I’m here for them because I’ve shown up in the past when they issued their own friend test.
I am so excited to begin the “Share My Story” series. Ever since GOTG was created I have heard hundreds of women’s stories. My heart has grown as I have listened to women’s struggles and triumphs. I have discovered that women want to share. For so long we (women) have put our best foot forward and only showed the parts of ourselves that we think people want to see. This is exhausting. I’ve learned that one of our deepest desires as human beings is to be seen. We want someone to see all of us and love us regardless. We want someone to see how far we’ve come and how hard we have fought to be who we are. We want someone to see ALL of us, our strengths and our weaknesses and love us. We don’t want to hide parts of us.
As I have heard countless stories I felt like others needed to hear them as well. We need to connect with each other through our humanity. I haven’t met a woman I didn’t love after hearing her story. I want you to hear each other’s stories and connect. Every Monday I plan to share another woman’s story. I hope you read the stories and see the connection you have with other women. See your shared humanity. See your similarities. See the courage. See the strength. See yourself in each story.
Growing up I was shy and didn’t have confidence in myself. I had some friends, but they were superficial. Some of my so called friends were really mean to me and I was never quite sure how to navigate my feelings and emotions during those situations. I experienced some trauma in my teenage years that shaped my behaviors into early adulthood. I always longed for deep meaningful connections with people, but my lack of self confidence always seemed to bring out my fear to connect. The many experiences of rejection in my life are a huge part of my story. I deeply feared rejection and a lot of my trauma as a kid, teen and young adult stems from some form of rejection.
When I was about 30, married for 7 1/2 years with 3 kids my life changed. I didn’t want my life circumstances to run my life. I didn’t want depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts to be such a struggle. I knew there was hope and I could somehow attain it even though I wasn’t exactly sure where to look. I thank God for his divine timing in directing me to the help I needed.
Over the last 5 years I have gained the tools and resources to help me heal and grow into who I am today. I now have more self confidence and self compassion then I ever have. I am more available for healthy relationships and willing to try things that take me out of my comfort zone. I love connecting with women in fact I thrive on it, but if I am being honest it sometimes scares me because of my past.
Over the last year I have had the opportunity to go on many adventures. A lot of these adventures have been with Get Out There Girl. Each adventure comes with its excitements and fears. I love trying new things that I normally don’t get the opportunity to do and each Get Out There Girl adventure has given me that kind of experience. However, every time I show up to an activity or experience where I have the opportunity to connect with other women, whether I know these women or not, I have to work really hard through my fear of rejection. You would think that with several years of experience I would have conquered this fear of not being wanted or not being enough. I have not arrived there yet, but the more I put myself out there and show up in an honest, vulnerable and authentic way I see growth and change in myself. I am grateful for the many examples of women I now have in my life that provide me opportunities to conquer my fear and grow my strengths.