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Share-My-Story Series: Jennie

Share-My-Story Series: Jennie

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!

Jennie’s Story:

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!  

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.

Share-My-Story Series: Stephanie

Share-My-Story Series: Stephanie

Today Stephanie shares her story with us. Thank you for being brave, real, and vulnerable Steph. You are amazing and I’m so grateful to know you.

Stephanie’s Story:

One of the things I love the most about Get Out There Girl is that it gives women the opportunity to take time for themselves and teaches them the importance of self care. Which is huge! I have never been the best at self care. Truth be told I stink at it. As a wife and a mother of 5 kids (ranging from the ages of 13–2 and one with a severe epileptic medical condition) life can be stressful, busy and unpredictable. I have always just naturally put their needs and their wants above my own, which I think as wives and moms is pretty common and something we just tend to do without thinking twice. Is that wrong? No way! I think it’s extremely selfless but I have learned the hard way that it can also be very damaging. There needs to be some sort of balance with taking care of my own needs, wants and desires.

See, the problem I have is that when I do have an opportunity to do something for myself, or buy something for myself, or go on a trip or a GNO etc, I instantly feel guilt. Every single time. I have this self destructive habit and battle in mind and my first initial reaction is always a big fat NO! Why? I think because it’s the easy answer, the safe answer. So I come up with every excuse in the book to back up the “No.” Such as, not enough time, not enough money, I’m busy, or it’s selfish and irresponsible. I then stew over it for a long time. I let insecurities, guilt, fear and my anxieties creep in which then it takes things to a whole new level. Even if I end up saying yes, those feelings still linger. I overthink everything, literally everything! Needless to say, doing things for myself does not come easy or naturally. This is not something I’m proud of either. Although, I genuinely and sincerely love serving others and find great joy in caring for the needs of my family. I know it’s just as important to put myself and my needs high on the priority list. If I don’t, then feelings of resentment creep in and the victim mentality starts to take over. That is not a fun place to be.

Steph and her cute family

I’m learning that the best thing I can do for myself AND for my family is to nurture my needs and to take time to do things for myself. Most importantly, to NOT feel guilty about it. I have a long way to go but I have been more intentional with it. I feel more balanced and I am able to be a better wife, a better mom and a better disciple of Jesus Christ. I am often reminded of the talk given by President Nelson a few years back. He shared a story about the oxygen mask, and that in order for us to be able to more fully take care of the ones that we love we must first take care of ourselves. I love this analogy and it speaks so much truth!

Another thing I absolutely love about Get Out There Girl is the focus it has on being in the outdoors. There is something very therapeutic to me about being out in nature. When I am in the outdoors whether it be under a starlit sky, sitting around a campfire, or hiking a beautiful trail, I feel a connection to God that I don’t feel any other way. I marvel at His creations. I find such peace and stillness that only comes from being out in nature. I felt all of these things at the Yoga retreat that I went on last year. It was so much fun! Not only was I able to go and be there with my 2 sisters and some friends, I was able to develop new friendships. I met so many women from all ages and stages of life, different backgrounds and beliefs. The unity, love and sisterhood that was felt there was pretty incredible! I learned new things, had some really neat experiences, made some deep connections, and left feeling totally rejuvenated! Oh and not to mention the yummy food!

I am so grateful that I fought off my initial “NO” (along with guilt, fear, anxiety and insecurities) and said “YES” to this opportunity that I took time for myself! I love EVERYTHING that Get Out There Girl is about and I hope to go on many more of the adventures/retreats in the future! I also just started the Self Compassion Workbook that Brittany wrote and it is awesome! I love that I am learning that self care is not a selfish thing at all. In fact, it is one of the best things we can do for ourselves and for the ones we love!

July Yoga Retreat 2020
Share-My-Story Series: Brittany L.

Share-My-Story Series: Brittany L.

Brittany’s story:

Hi! I’m Brittany Long! I was raised in Tennessee with my 9 siblings, by my amazing parents. I moved out west to go to college and met my husband a couple of years later. In fact, Brittany was my neighbor at the time! So, I’ve known her for about the same time as my hubby! My hubby and I have been out west ever since. Going on 15 years of marriage and 4 children later we are still alive and well.

I say alive and well, because August 30, 2016, I was diagnosed with AML, a rare form of leukemia. I was sent directly to the LDS hospital in Salt Lake City where I stayed 32 days and had extreme Chemo. While there my doctors realized I had a very low chance of survival unless I received a bone marrow transplant. Thankfully I have so many siblings, because 4 of them were full matches. The doctors chose my brother LeGrand to be my donor. I was sent home for 3 weeks while they prepped for my transplant. Then I was sent back to the hospital for another 28 day stay while I recovered from my transplant. I could go on and on to explain my full story, but this is just a quick explanation to give you somewhat of an idea of what happened almost 4 years ago. During that time, and for months after, I had to give in to allowing people to help me and my family. I had to swallow my pride and allow others to help raise my 4 children for me, bring meals and clean my house because I couldn’t physically do it myself. My amazing mom would come to take care of us, and stay for a month at a time with a few weeks break, and then come right back. When I finally looked at myself as others saw me I was finally able to have self compassion and fully lay back and focus on myself and getting better.

Brittany and her mom during one of her hospital stays

I am now in remission and doing amazing! Fast forward about a year and a half later and my wonderful mom was diagnosed with Gallbladder cancer. You’ve never heard of it? Neither had we! It’s a very rare cancer and is mainly found after getting your gallbladder removed, it’s also in the same family as pancreatic cancer. After her diagnosis I was able to fly to TN quite a few times to be with her. My family and I just “knew” she’d be a miracle just like me! But, sadly, she ended up dying 4 months after being diagnosed. This has been the hardest thing I’ve ever dealt with in my life. I would’ve had cancer over and over myself, if it meant not losing my mom. She was my best friend and seriously, a mom others envied.

Brittany and her mom

I have always loved being around people, in fact, I had more visitors come to the hospital than any of the nurses had ever seen! And that’s because I welcomed visitors, I welcomed them to join along in my journey. But, after Momma died, I closed myself off. I found myself having social anxiety. I couldn’t put myself out there. When I went out with friends, all I thought about was getting home and into a safe environment where I didn’t have to open myself up.

I started seeing advertisements for Brittany’s GOTG retreats. I longed to go on them but had anxiety thinking about it. I finally got the courage up enough to go on the Cowgirl Retreat…because…HORSES!! I was so nervous, but I was going to do it. But, sadly the plans fell through for me. Finally Britt advertised a day retreat, only a day! If I could do anything, I could get through only a day! So, I signed up, I went, and can I just say….it was exactly what I needed!!!

Other women talked to me, shared their stories and welcomed hearing my own. We went on a beautiful hike, had an amazing yoga session, a yummy lunch and a wonderful speaker who spoke on sharing your “unimaginable”!! It felt like it was planned for me. With other people sharing their unimaginables, somehow I felt comfortable sharing mine. There wasn’t one moment where I wanted to go home, where I felt anxious or judged. It was exactly what I’ve been longing for. I felt uplifted and stronger for going. I can’t wait for another retreat! It gave me the strength and courage I needed to know that I can get out there again and continue to be around others, because honestly, making connections with others is what gets me through this bumpy road we call life!

Share-My-Story Series: Tosha

Share-My-Story Series: Tosha

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.

Tosha’s 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.

Tosha and Chelsea on the June Retreat

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.