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Share-My-Story Series: Melissa

Share-My-Story Series: Melissa

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.

Melissa’s Story:

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!

Share-My-Story Series: Kelli

Share-My-Story Series: Kelli

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:

Share-My-Story Series: Rachel

Share-My-Story Series: Rachel

I’ve known Rachel since she was a teenager. My first experience with meeting her was when I moved into her house at 8 months pregnant. My husband and I moved to Washington D.C. and needed a place to stay until we found an apartment. Rachel’s dad is my husband’s second cousin and offered to let us stay with them. Rachel gave up her room for me. She even decorated it with a welcome sign. What teenager in high school does that?! She willingly gave up her space and did it with a smile on her face. We stayed for a few weeks and she eventually got her room back. Her kindness and selflessness impacted me and made me want to be a better person. It was a big deal for her to leave her room. A sacrifice that I will forever be grateful to Rachel for. Since then Rachel has done dozens of similar acts of kindness for me. Rachel is good for all the right reasons and I am so grateful to call her my friend.

Rachel’s Story:

I have always been uncomfortable in my own skin. Always insecure with my looks, my personality, my sense of humor, my intelligence. My lack of self esteem drove me to being so worried and wrapped up in all my insecurities. I was so busy worrying about how I looked and acted that I forgot to really enjoy life. Which is why when I found out about Get Out There Girl I was instantly pulled in. It killed two very personal birds with one stone for me. The first stone is enjoying life by going on fun adventures with women who are accepting and nonjudgmental who are striving for the same things as me. And the second stone is loving yourself and building confidence. I really love this organization and what it stands for. I’m not going to pretend that I still don’t struggle with low self esteem, it’s a continuous battle for me on a day to day basis. Even just a few months ago I was able to go on trip with my husband to Costa Rica, a once in a lifetime vacation. I was 7 months pregnant. We were able to hike up to this amazing waterfall and there was one fall that you can jump off of which I was so excited about. But as soon as I saw the other girls in their swimming suits I instantly self imploded and sunk into an emotional downward spiral. I refused to be seen in my swimming suit and therefore passed up the opportunity to jump off the waterfall. I was so upset with myself that I let myself get into my head and robbed me of a fun life memory even after all I feel I have learned and tried to get over. Which is why it is so important to have a group of empowering women who get it and who fight the same battles. A chance to be reminded of true beauty: creating lasting happy memories, getting outside in nature, and myself just as I am.

“Share-My-Story” Series: Kim

“Share-My-Story” Series: Kim

I knew that the day would come when Brittany would ask me to share my story.  Honestly, I was super hesitant and did not want to because I had no clue where to even begin with “my story,” but I am a big people pleaser and advocate for getting out of your comfort zone, so here it is. I prefer not to be in the spotlight.  I tend to be a perfectionist and over analyze everything.  I try really hard to come across as a chill and go with the flow kind of girl (and I am in many aspects of my life) but when it comes to being vulnerable sharing something about myself, I would rather just run the other way.  I struggle with what people think of me more than I would like to admit and don’t want people to think I’m crazy.  I logically know these are self-defeating thoughts.  After all, I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and have heard many stories before and if anything, I feel more connected to a person when they are at their most vulnerable times in their life.  In fact, I honor it.  I admire it.  So why is it so difficult for me to do the same with others?  I’m human and have acknowledged that I struggle with fear and anxiety. 

Becoming a mother almost 12 years ago, really threw a curve ball at me.  When my oldest two were toddlers, I remember feeling like this would never end and my life was doomed to just cleaning up messes every. single. day.  I always knew that I really wanted to stay home with my kids to raise them and not have to work outside the home.  However, there were many days I wanted to just escape and run away.  I felt like I couldn’t breathe at times.  I do work from home teaching online courses which I thought was way harder for me since what would take me two hours working outside the home literally took me all day long.  I was so overwhelmed.  I knew some action had to be taken.  I finally decided to send them to daycare for a few hours a couple of times a week and I felt so guilty at first that I couldn’t just take on the world and had to ask for help.  Asking for help is definitely not my strong suit.  I knew that I needed this and my kids needed it too.  I became so stressed that I would be on edge all the time and yell at them way too much.  I even tried to work outside the home full-time a few years ago.  I really enjoyed some parts of it, but it was too much at the time.  I respect working moms so much.  Over the years, I have learned that self-compassion is so essential to life and especially in my role as a mother.  We are so quick to lay on the mom guilt that can become an overwhelming shame that lies deep within us.  I have been so grateful for women that have come into my life where I have been able to open up with and connect.  It has been a saving grace for me.  I am a strong, independent woman and often feel like I should be able to get through things on my own.  I quickly am reminded that it takes strength to ask for help and realize that you need other people in your life.  When I struggled through two miscarriages, great women beside me helped me through those difficult losses.  When I was losing my hair to an autoimmune disease, alopecia areata, so many friends were there for me.  I was fortunate to find out that I had celiac which keeps my alopecia at bay for now and I have my hair.  While I don’t like to be in the spotlight and center of attention, we all want to be seen.  I’m so grateful for good people that see me.  Bottom line, women need women. We are better together.  I know I would feel guilty at first when I would get together with my girlfriends and that it was taking away quality time with my husband and kids.  I have since learned that it is so essential for my emotional and mental health to give myself this gift to connect with other women.  This is where I can recharge and come back a stronger and better person, wife, and mother. 

I first heard about GOTG from a Facebook post that an old college friend Laura shared about the cowgirl retreat.  My curiosity peaked and I thought this sounds fun and at such an affordable price.  I went back and forth on it and finally told my husband and he told me to go ahead and just do it.  I then found myself signing up for it still not quite so sure about this.  I legitimately thought that it was possibly a scam.  I knew nothing about this company or group. I am super shy and reserved, but I am so glad that I went out of my comfort zone and went.  I really thought most girls there would really be like riding horses their whole life and I would feel so out of place.  While there were a few amazing riders, everyone there was so nice and never felt like I did not belong.  I love my time there being able to stretch myself in ways I haven’t before.  The snowmobile retreat was a similar experience and don’t regret going on either one.  These experiences have enriched my life. Thank you Brittany for all the good work you do and the amazing women I have met.  

Kim and her friend Laura hiking on the Cowgirl Retreat
Share-My-Story Series: Dawn

Share-My-Story Series: Dawn

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.  

Share-My-Story Series:Amberdaun

Share-My-Story Series:Amberdaun

Amberdaun is one of my great friends. She never ceases to amaze me with her strength and humility. She is strong and gentle, loving and generous. We originally connected through adventure, but have connected through so much more. I will always be grateful for the relationships GOTG brings into my life.

Amberdaun’s Story:

My name is Amberdaun. Because of a previously unresolved childhood trauma, I have always had major self doubt, feeling of no self worth, struggles with owning up to my own problems and severely hurting those I love most around me. I’ve struggled with depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts and actions. It took almost losing everything I had to make me “wake up” and feel the need to make some serious changes in my life, and my family’s life. That’s around when I went on my first Get Out There Girl adventure. I have gone on several retreats since then. One thing Get Out There Girl does is take these women who might not know each other on amazing adventures, and put them together to lift up and be vulnerable with each other and help us all overcome what ever difficulties we each face in this hard life.

Amberdaun on the June Zion Retreat

I struggle with always comparing myself to others. I would always measure my value on somebody else’s opinion of me, or what I thought their opinion was. I’m always putting myself down, so on these trips I would sit there and say to myself how perfect these gorgeous, amazing, successful, skinny, kind, women’s lives are, and how I don’t compare to them and that I shouldn’t be there. No one on these trips made me feel that way, its just the way I felt about myself. What I came to realize is that none of these women were judging me. I just needed to get out of my own head and enjoy my time in the outdoors, doing something that I enjoyed. It is a constant struggle for me not to compare myself to others, and it is something I am continuously trying to improve on.

Going on these adventures gets me doing something that I would not normally do. During one of the retreats, we hiked through some slot canyons. I am claustrophobic, but wanted a new adventure. During the whole hike, I had to keep taking deep breaths so that I would not totally panic. In one of the areas, it got quite narrow, and at one point, my foot got stuck between two boulders. I really started to freak out and have a panic attack. I’m talking full on crying, hyperventilating, panic attack. I kept thinking this is it, i’m a goner. There was this sweet person named Kristen that kept telling me it was OK, to be patient with myself. I had never met this person before this retreat, but there she was, on my side, helping me through something major. Two of my dear friends were also there to help me with breathing exercises and focus points other than being stuck. Even though I was stuck for what felt like an eternity (in all reality it was maybe 30 seconds) there were these other strong and confident women helping me through this trial and I am so grateful for them.

I’m also scared of heights. I have gone on a few rappelling trips and absolutely LOVED it! I even got my own gear because I liked it so much. Being around the supportive women of GOTG has helped me get over so many hurdles that I would normally not even think about conquering in life. I just hope to be that supportive example to someone else along the way as so many have been to me.

GOTG Birch Holllow Canyoneering Retreat

I used to think that I was selfish as a mother and a wife to want time alone. Then I soon realized that I needed time for myself to revive myself, to refill my cup. How could I expect to take care of my kids, my husband, my house and the various other responsibilities that I had when my cup was so empty. Sometimes its okay to take time for yourself and go on your own adventures. That is what Get Out There Girl has done for me. Helped me see past my own insecurities and the good that can come from truly finding yourself, your passions, and forever friendships that can come from spending time in the outdoors with old and new friends.

I will be forever grateful for what Brittany and GOTG have given me and for the friendships I have formed in the process.