Ronda was my next-door neighbor in Virginia. She and her husband bought their home shortly after we bought ours. Our oldest two kids are the same ages and in fact, both of our 12-year-old’s are redheads. So fun! Ronda was the best neighbor. She always invited us over for holidays and other events. She and her husband Jason are such good people. Here’s the deal though, I never got to know Ronda on a deep level. I was so wrapped up in my busy life of two little kids etc. that I never asked her deeper questions. I never took the time to really get to know Ronda. I regret that. I’ve changed a lot since my struggle with depression etc. I value relationships more. I’m grateful Ronda and I still keep in touch through social media and I’m so so grateful she was willing to share her story of finding peace in herself and with God.
Hi, my name is Ronda. I am a wife, mother of 3 wild boys, and work in the SPED department at a local high school. I am originally from California, but have my current residence in northern Virginia. I have a big heart, and I am a people pleaser. As I get older (almost 45-years-old now) I am re-learning my worth. Also, since late in my teen years, I have longed for a place that felt like home. Can anyone relate?
I was raised in a what seemed like a perfect Christian home. I went to church with my family and went to private school until 6th grade. I never thought divorce would occur in my family. Fast forward to when I was about 19, and yep, my parents divorced. The only place that seemed normal was Grandma’s house. She and her home were exactly the same. It was safe and warm. Comfort at its finest.
I decided when I was 24, I needed a new start, and moved to Louisiana. This is where my mom moved after the divorce and where my mother’s side of family lived. I thought for sure home will be there. Nope, not a fit. Wonderful people, but not a place for me.
Fast forward a few years, and I move back to California. Met my husband and had our firstborn son. He got a call for a new job in Northern Virginia, and off into the sunset we went. As I sit here today, I cannot say Virginia has been bad. In fact, we have had 2 more sons, bought a house, and we both have fabulous jobs. Being in a new place and having young children I yearned for friends, other moms to hang out with and understand me, a place to feel my worth and to feel validated. So, I joined our elementary school PTO. I even eventually, became the PTO President. I am shaking my head at this right now. If you are looking to feel validated and worthy, the PTO is NOT where you will find it! I am in no way saying volunteering for PTO, or any organization is bad. In fact, I feel is necessary. Just not to the point of giving yourself away, to exhaustion. I really wanted to just share my time and talents. However, with the good comes the bad, and my people pleasing was in the forefront. I did learn and grow during this time and my PTO board and I were very successful, despite the heavy criticism. We worked our tushes off! The only good thing to come from that experience was the close bonds of sisterhood I developed with three ladies, Becky, Amanda, and Letitia and the support we helped provide our children’s school. I already had about a handful of friends in another city 15 minutes south, but having sister like friendships 5 minutes from home was what I like to say was a divine intervention. God sent them to me.
While I was PTO President, as I said above, I had severely depleted myself, in every way possible. I gave it all away and had nothing left for myself. With the help of my sisters and husband, I realized I was in desperate shape. January 2018, I made a change in my exercise and diet and realized I was worthy of better! And I then reached out to my step-sister in Utah. I needed an adventure! Nature was calling.
A few years ago, my husband, my boys, and I got a Groupon for a cabin in the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. The Smoky Mountains look and smell like Heaven on earth! I have never felt so much peace in my life! It felt like I was home! We have since been back twice. Once for our 10-year Anniversary and again with my father and family for Thanksgiving. Every time, it felt like home. If you want to make me happy, take me to the mountains. I never knew this about myself! Ronda, a mountain girl!
So, after I finished my duties in 2018 as PTO President, I knew I needed mountains. I traveled to Utah, Idaho, and Yellowstone, and visited with family and friends. I went white water rafting in Yellowstone. I went trap shooting with my dad in Yellowstone. I was home once again! Side note, I went without my kids or hubby. I needed time to be me. It is not selfish, it was necessary.
Long story short, I found my home in GOD! He gave me the friends my soul desired. He gave me the family that I needed. He has built this beautiful land for us to restore ourselves! He shows us we are worthy. We never need to question that! When we seek the worlds approval (PTO, friends or family who gossip, bad jobs, keeping up with the Jones’s, just to name a few), we will never find that validation. We will never find peace. You will never find your home.
God never asks us to give more than we can give. We take that on ourselves. If we sit patiently, and we are rested for His work and needs, we will never be put out or tired. In fact, I know it is from God when I am full of joy and peace.
We are worthy and loved. He will supply all our needs. He will restore you! God is our home. Our comfort and peace. He will send you His best in friends. Most times, when God sends these special friends, they become family. You find comfort and understanding. You never have to fight for their attention. You never have to worry for their approval or if they will talk behind your back. When God sends his best, know your soul will feel complete. He will send you that perfect job! He did for me, and that is a whole other story!
And mommas, or daddies, when you need a moment to yourself. Go for that drive! Go to your place of peace. Smell that open air. You are worth it! You need that peace to be a complete and healthy person. You need time rest and restoration. You need HIM!
I met Delee on the Zipline Retreat. It was her birthday and the retreat was her birthday present. Delee radiates confidence and happiness. I love the story that she shares about connecting who she is and what she is passionate about with a mission to make the world a better place. That is true alignment if you ask me.
I grew up in the Northwest on a small farm with a lot of room to explore. I spent my time playing with my siblings in the woods, working the farm, and chasing my pony who liked to run away down the street. As I became a teenager my friends, job, and appearance became my top priorities. Shopping was my main hobby and I spent almost all my hard-earned income on clothing. My budget changed as I went to cosmetology school, got married, and had four children by the time I was 31. I found myself shopping for clothing regularly, finding deals and discounts, and constantly rotating my wardrobe thinking I was doing some good by donating my clothing to charitable organizations. Then I found Slow Fashion. I stumbled upon a YouTube influencer who challenged my shopping habits and opened my eyes to the global impact of the fast-fashion world. I was shocked! Did you know we own 60% more clothing than our parent’s generation and we keep them half as long? Did you know there is currently enough clothing on our planet to clothe the next 6 generations? Did you know the fashion industry is the most labor-intense industry on the earth, and that most garment workers don’t make a living wage? I started making small changes, then bigger changes and eventually decided to start a business to help other women do the same. I am a wardrobe stylist who encourages my clients to love what they have and shop sustainably. What an adventure it has been! I find myself reconnecting with my childhood self. I have spent more time outdoors, enjoying long walks and hikes. For my birthday I chose an outdoor adventure, instead of shopping. (A zip line retreat with Brittany!) I have made new friends, so many incredible women! I have found my passion: Connecting with women, healing our planet, and making the world a better place for labor workers around the world.
I met Amy several years ago because we were going through a similar trial. She seemed like a super hero to me. She was confident, calm and knowledgeable. She was all of those things because she had chosen to develop those skills. I love that about her. I’m excited for you to read a small part of her story and see the changes that self-compassion made for her.
I used to think that I had to change who I was or what I was working on to match society’s standards or expectations. That who I was wasn’t enough. I always had to do more and be more. And do and be what other people wanted me to do even if it was different than what I wanted.
In high school and college I was an overachiever to the tee. I remember my freshman year in college, I told my mom about all the clubs I was interested in and trying to be a part of plus my school schedule and she said, “You know it’s impossible to be in EVERY club and do EVERY thing while you’re there, right?” (Even though I knew she was right, part of me still thought I could do it.)
I put so much of my identity and worth in my grades, in my piano performance, in how many cool things I was doing, that I experienced burn out ALL the time. And I wouldn’t even let myself go to sleep sometimes. I remember one night my roommates came back at 3 am from seeing a Harry Potter midnight release. I was STILL up perfecting a paper for my Anthropology class. It was already a great paper before, and I would have loved to go to the movie with them. But I operated from the belief that I couldn’t have fun until all my work was done, and I couldn’t be done until it was perfect. So I didn’t go. I was hustling around trying to earn my worth like a chicken running around with it’s head cut off. I get exhausted just thinking about that stage of my life again! So many expectations!
After I got married, my husband and I ended up having some really hard times and things to work through. And that’s when I really started to learn that I couldn’t ACTUALLY do it all. I wasn’t taking care of myself. I wasn’t allowing myself to feel emotions and be where I was at. And the situation we were dealing with was in a lot of ways out of my control. So I couldn’t hustle or manage it to make it better. I had to slow down and start learning how to take care of myself and be where I was at so I could start to heal and love myself as I was instead of as I thought I “should” be.
Along the way I learned something pretty cool about compassion. The word compassion actually means “to suffer with.” And another definition of “suffer” is “to support, to allow.” How often do we do this for ourselves? How often do we operate in a space of self-compassion where we offer support to ourselves and allow ourselves to be where we are at? And then to be able to see and love and celebrate who we are? Not enough in my opinion. We seem to constantly be trying to change ourselves or our situations instead of being where we are at and making decisions grounded in true alignment to our highest self.
As I learned to practice self-compassion, I have experienced the greatest peace and confidence in my life. I have learned to actually look at myself and be with myself in good and bad times. To see MY heart and focus on nourishing it and allowing it to grow instead of looking at the people around me and burying my true self with expectations, comparisons and lies about who I am.
Practicing self-compassion–actually being WITH ourselves without comparing believing we need to change who we are to grow–is powerful. And I believe that’s the most important journey any woman can embark on. It’s not about becoming someone different, it’s about discovering and resting in the strength of who we ALREADY ARE. I believe that a woman who knows who she is and whose she is is the most powerful force for good on this earth! So no matter where you are on this journey, stay on the trail! It will be the best view you’ve ever seen with lots of beauty on the way!
Along with my story, I wanted to share one simple act of compassion that I’ve used in my journey. And you can do it right now. 🙂 Put your hand on your heart. Close your eyes. Take three deep breaths, and say to yourself “I see you and I love you [insert your name].” It’s a simple gesture that can be the next step to resting the strength of who you already are.
Jennie is my next door neighbor. When I read her story I was shocked. One of my favorite things about Jennie is how comfortable she is with herself. I love being around her because she doesn’t try to be anything other than herself. It’s so refreshing! We can all learn a lot from her. Thanks for sharing Jennie!
Most of my friends today would probably have a hard time believing that when I was young, I was probably one of the most shy people on the entire planet. I talked plenty and was pretty normal at home, but I would hardly say anything while spending the entire day at my babysitter’s house, prior to starting school. It only grew worse in kindergarten. I spent the entire year of kindergarten not saying a single word to my teacher or any of my classmates. I would often get the lid of my cardboard pencil box stuck down inside the box and couldn’t get it out. I would take it to my teacher and just hold it out to her. One time she told me she wouldn’t fix it again unless I asked her to. Of course, it happened again, I wouldn’t ask, and she just had to fix it for me. Another time I was muttering something to myself while doing some work at my desk and was caught by the student sitting next to me. I remember them proclaiming, “She speaks!” I was horrified. At recess I would just walk around the playground and observe all the other kids playing because I refused to talk with any of them.
Luckily, this didn’t continue in 1st grade, but I continued to be quite shy the rest of my school years. I never raised my hand. I only answered questions if I was called on. I would offer the bare minimum participation if it was a class where my grade depended on it. I would get very nervous to give presentations in front of my class. I had friends and hung out with them at lunch, but usually offered very little to any conversations. I was the best listener in that period of my life. My friends could tell me anything because they knew I wouldn’t pass it on to others.
Sports have always been a huge part of my life and they were a haven for me as I grew up so shy. In elementary school I was usually found on the playground to be playing tetherball, handball, basketball or football. I could enjoy my passions without having to say a whole lot while participating. I played on softball and soccer teams every year and gained most of my friendships, outside of church, from participating on a team.
I also had an amazing friend that came into my life when I was a freshman in high school. Our ward boundaries at church were changed that year and I was super upset about it at first. My closest friend at church, who had been my friend since 2nd grade, was being moved into a different ward. I was already shy and was starting high school, so this was bad timing, or so I thought. However, after some new families were put into our ward, a girl from one of them really showed interest in being my friend. She pursued our friendship very hard and was really able to get me to open up to someone outside my family more than I ever had before. We became inseparable throughout my years in high school.
Besides this friend, my biggest joys in high school came from playing on our varsity softball team for four years. Our team was really good! We were named National Champions my senior year by USA Today. Spending four years on this team, playing with at least three future USA softball team members and winning championships really helped me to develop a strong confidence in myself despite my natural shyness. At the softball banquet at the end of each year, the seniors would give speeches. Of course, this really stressed me out leading up to my senior year, knowing I would one day have to deliver a speech to our team, coaches, parents, and whoever else was there. During my senior year I would sometimes be asked by teammates what I planned to say at the banquet. I would always reply that I wasn’t sure. The banquet arrived and the three other seniors all had their speeches written out and prepared and they were visibly nervous, which is normally how I expected to be. They were shocked to see that I didn’t have a speech prepared on paper at all! I had experience giving talks in church each year, as a youth, to the entire congregation, so I was blessed to have more public speaking experience than my other teammates. They had probably only spoken in front of classes, and therefore, were about to deliver a speech to their largest crowd. They all gave pretty quick speeches and then I took my turn last. I went to the microphone and just started speaking. I told stories and memories from my four years on the team, talked far longer than the others, and then ended my speech. The room was in complete amazement of what I had just done!
After high school, I left southern CA and went to Ricks College in Rexburg, ID. I didn’t know a single person who was going to Ricks College that year and I was about to meet five roommates I knew nothing about. I had gained confidence in myself through high school while playing softball, having a close friend and learning how to speak in public. I decided that I was going to completely change as I went off to college. When everyone knew me as the shy kid it was hard to change into anything else, especially when it was against my nature, and I was comfortable in that role. However, as I was starting from scratch in a new environment, where no one knew me or had labeled me, I was able to find the confidence to put myself out there, open up to others, and offer my opinions in classes, at church, or in social situations. I found my college years to be very rewarding as I made some great friends, continued to play softball on the Ricks College team, pursued new interests, and found new passions.
Today, I feel far away from that deathly shy little girl. Today, as many probably know, it is hard to get me to stop talking when I am roped into a conversation about one of my passions: sports, politics, the gospel, my family, my hobbies, etc. When I speak in public, give talks at church, or teach a lesson, I still don’t write the entire thing out. I just have an index card with some notes and a direction for where I want my thoughts to go. I am living proof that our weaknesses can become strengths! The more I connect with others, the more I have become my true self. I believe shyness may have been my true nature then, but I was meant to learn, grow, and overcome that nature so that I could reach my full potential. I have been on a few retreats with Get Out There Girl and I have never felt out of place or uncomfortable, even if I didn’t know a majority of the women there. I love that I can feel comfortable around others, especially those I am getting to know. Being shy was very restrictive, but leaving it behind has been freeing!
I met Emily through my husband’s work. She was gracious enough to go to lunch with me and share her business expertise. Ever since that day I have been drawn to Emily. Her positive energy and self confidence are contagious. Emily is a supportive friend who remembers details that other friends might forget. She is an amazing woman who adds value wherever she goes. I am so thankful she was willing to share her story. I learned a lot from her and I know you will as well.
I think I was born with high self-esteem. I LOVE MYSELF. Truly. People ask how I learned to love myself so completely, but I don’t know, which is why I think I must have been born with it. I’m not the ideal body type and never have been, but that has never affected my deep-rooted knowledge that I am beautiful. I also think I’m pretty funny, but I’m self-aware enough to know that sometimes I’m the only one laughing at my jokes…and that’s ok! Something I want all women to know is that it’s not prideful to have self-love.
Even with my insanely high self esteem, I’ve had times where I let people “get in my head”. I’m a bold and bright personality and there have been people close to me that in the name of “helping” tried to tone me down. I was told my passion, my appearance, my style, etc were not the norm and that I needed to tame them down to fit in and get ahead.
In all my life, I’ve never tried to fit in, however as a responsible adult I wanted to listen to the feedback from people I thought had my best interest at heart. So, a few years ago I bought clothes that were more neutral, spoke up less in groups, dyed my hair blonde (I hated it, but a well meaning friend suggested it), and frankly got more boring. As a response to everything else being muted at that time, I dyed my hair bold red, and it’s a decision I will never regret (I LOVE it).
Now, I have plenty of room for improvement, but it took some time and skill to learn to differentiate between the people in my life that truly had my best interest at heart and those that cared more about appearances and didn’t understand my unique ability to not care what the generic public thinks of me (I reserve the caring for my inner circle).
My “wake up” moment was meeting, Bob, the kind of person that is your instant best friend. Almost in the first breath, he had me googling “Bob Quick’s Journey” to see for myself his amazing accomplishments, including bicycling across america (3x), having 32 heart procedures in the last 16 years, 20 stents, and most recently a quadruple bypass surgery. We became friends on Facebook and he is continually the most encouraging and positive person. I met Bob when he was at work, helping me buy a new door. Even in a professional setting, he could completely own who he is and Bob’s total openness instantly endeared me to him. Bob’s light sparked the realization (or perhaps remembrance) that it’s our beautiful differences that not only make us human, but also attract friendships.
I moved into a new house during the couple of years I spent suppressing my more bold nature and truly struggled to make close friends. I love all my neighbors and positively feel a friendship with all of them, but had no best friend. I shed many tears seeing women enjoy close friendships, but honestly didn’t know how to forge one of my own. It was hard. I went on a lot of solo hikes during that time (the mountains are my balm). There’s something about the fresh air, achieving a new height, feeling the refreshing spray of a waterfall, meandering a trail, and enjoying God’s varied creations that fills my soul with peace and joy. It’s a renewal that I treasure!
Something that held me back from inviting friends hiking, is that I’m very slow. But, this last Summer I pushed past my worry that I’d hold my more spry friends back and shared some great hikes and walks with a few incredible women, and on occasion their families. Communing with nature and people is a magical combo.
The reclaiming of my oddities this past year opened the door to finally making some dear friends, which has been very fulfilling. It takes some serious faith to let go of inhibition and “bee yourself” (as the genie in Aladdin says), but it has greatly helped me connect with people in deeper, more meaningful ways. Accept yourself flaws and all, and I believe that invites others to feel comfortable being their flawed self with you.
P.S. I love people and making new friends, if you do too let’s connect on Instagram @mcleanentertain
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.
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.