Hey GRRRLS hey!  I’ve spent a lot of time over the last year sharing the stories on your experiences at GRRRL Live 2018. Just head back through the blog and check out all the memories!  But, as you can see, I’ve neglected to share my own! As I make my plans to attend this years event which is just around the corner at the beautiful Palms in Las Vegas this June. I’m reminded of so many sweet an cherished moments experienced last April. I don’t even know how to begin expressing into words the deep and lasting impact that is GRRRL LIVE. How do you write a feeling. In my case it was more in the subtle things, the undercurrent and energy of it all. So, I will try my best to put those feelings into words for you so that you can understand.

For example, I had never seen a real life palm tree before. I know it’s such a simple little thing but, I grew up in Canada and was a troubled teen. I dropped out of school very young and left home young. So no fancy family vacations growing up. I had to grow up way to fast and in some ways not fast enough.Traveling for pleasure and adventure was never an option. If I traveled anywhere it was out of necessity and usually to get away from one bad situation and into another. I had never really been on an actual grown ass woman trip. Traveling to Vegas was INCREDIBLE for me just for those reasons alone. I had missed out on so much in my past and little did I know that this particular weekend would become about reclaiming so many things that I didn’t even know I had lost.

I’ve been a part of the GRRRLARMY for about  three years, not quite one of the OG ladies but almost!  I discovered GRRRL on Instagram shortly after I had started training to become a  competitive powerlifter. My friend Kim whom I had met on Instagram through the powerlifting community shared GRRRLS powerful message with me and once I had discovered Kortney Olson it was all over. I knew that I had plugged into something different and the sisterhood  quickly became a deep and profound influence in my life. Who knew how much this involvement would catapult me into woman I am today! The Spunky you all know and love!

Kim and I had been friends on social media for over two years by the time I got my ass to Vegas in 2018.  We had supported each other through our lifting, competing and life’s ups and downs. We became very close friends and up until that point had never met in person so this trip was already epic because she was my roommate!

A lot of tears flowed the day I walked into the GRRRL sign in and meeting room! I cry easily these days, but man I cried that day. I was already so emotionally charged by the significance of just being present in that room. The epic-ness of everything it took to get me there for that one particular moment. I almost chickened out and stayed home!! I had almost convinced myself that I would not belong. The event hadn’t even begun yet but, I had already won my prize. It was like my life was coming full circle and I was stepping into something completely new as an  adult woman. This was for me and it was significant and real.

One thing I enjoyed immensely is that the entire weekend was like this ENORMOUS  girls sleepover. The reason I enjoyed this so much was because this type of interaction is completely foreign to me. I never experienced anything like that when as a young woman. I never had those slumber parties where a bunch of girls got together and braided each others hair while watching chick flicks laughing and talking about boys ect.  I never had that because I never really had a normal teenage life. I was robbed of those necessary experiences and I didn’t connect with other girls my age. I was not the type of girl that fit in with other girls growing up and they made that abundantly clear to me. It was quite odd at 40 years old to have this epiphany! I had been living my entire life with this HUGE hole in my heart. I didn’t even know it existed because I had never understood the deep, necessary and natural relational experiences I should have had as a young woman.

Now, we didn’t sit around in our rooms braiding each others hair and talking about boys but we did experience deep meaningful conversations and morning dance parties in our hotel robes. We had wonderful meals and deep laughter. We had late night reflections and just a general sense that we were doing something bigger than ourselves together. It’s actually taken me until just recently to unpack exactly what that weekend meant to me.

 I had spent  the better portion of my life believing the lie that I didn’t belong. I spent it believing that I was not intelligent or worthy of having these types of  interactions. But, here I was surrounded by a huge group of women who collectively were there to support my growth and wanted nothing more than to see me succeed and thrive. It was a completely safe,loving, supportive and nurturing environment. Where everyone was just content in being themselves and the insecurity was checked at the door when you walked in. We were the manifestation of the complete and total opposite of what we are told a group of women should be like and it was the best thing ever!

When I originally started writing out this blog I wanted to touch on all the quality speakers and sessions that I attended because KO spends a lot of time and effort to bring you guys the very best of the best and she delivers! You definitely need  be sure to take advantage of everything that is presented to you because it is all so valuable! But, in light of that, I just feel like GRRRL LIVE was so much more than the information, tools and workshops.

For myself  the experience was profound on a level that reaches down deep into a woman’s heart. It wasn’t anything tangible on the surface but more the pulse or the life blood running through everyone that weekend. It was the collective energy. It was a sense that I was coming home to something that I never realized I was missing, that so many of us are missing

When you come together with a group of like minded women such as the GRRRLARMY there is a sense of wholeness and completeness. This quiet unknown ache and desire for true and honest connection and interaction deep down that we can’t seem to put our finger on, is fulfilled so beautifully. When you return home you’re different. You’re stronger  because of it and you feel less alone because you know you’ve made lifelong connections. I don’t know how you could possibly not be changed by the energy that is created in that environment. But, I do know that every day I try to emulate it and expand my world because of it.

GRRRL LIVE  instilled in me the courage to be the change that never came to me as a young woman. That is the most epic thing that could have ever happened to me.  Even now, I find that I lack the words to adequately describe the feeling in my heart. You will have to just go and experience it for yourself! I look forward to seeing you all there!

Spunky

As most of you know, every story in my past is a direct result from disordered eating.

Up until I was 33, my life was a constant mental battle of self-hatred, projected towards my body. Even after being crowned “Woman with the world’s deadliest thighs” by ‘the’ Stan Lee, I still found a way to obsess, hate, and despise my body on a daily basis. Primarily my legs.  (Ever notice how many designs at GRRRL are around embracing legs?)

But now all of this gets to change.

At GRRRL, we aren’t just selling a few t-shirts or squat proof leggings, we are solving a public health crisis.
We get to create a new paradigm. We get to stop the cycle of dieting, chasing thinness, and whatever used to be or currently is, the “ideal beauty”. Because as we know, society and what we nowadays call ‘influencers’, are ever changing what that ideal is.

In the 1500’s women wanted to look robust because it was a sign of wealth, as they could afford to eat.  Thinness was a sign of poverty.  Similar to wanting to have ultra-white skin, as that was a sign of elite wealth.  A tan was only a working class ‘thing’ because they spent the day outside… working.

Fast forward to the beginning of the 21st  century, and we see a similar trend with curves coming back.  Then in the 1920’s, curves went “out of fashion” with the flapper-style and boyish figure appeal. Back to curves in the 1950’s with Monroe, to back out of style again in the 60-70’s to the androgynous look dominating the scene and loathing over ‘Twiggy’.  Into the 80’s we embark back into ‘fullness’ and big hair, then flip back around in the 90’s to Kate Moss, Bongo Jeans, Calvin Klein and being a size 0.

It’s like we’re constantly chasing something we’ll never hold onto for more than a few moments.

So just how do we create a new paradigm of acceptance and freedom? We do this by first creating awareness.  Without awareness of a problem, then there is no problem to solve.  We must get real clear that we are in a state of emergency globally, with the number of eating disorders drastically on the rise, and kids as little as 4 years old wanting to diet. We’re not even discussing the number of suicide attempts, completions, or self-harm incidents here either – almost all of which can be traced back to having poor body image

We take daily actions like #ThePledge where we vow to stop talking negatively about ourselves, as well as others grrrls. This is where our hashtag of #notyourcompetition comes from.  When women belittle and tear down other women, it’s simply because they are not happy or content within themselves.  Furthermore, women are programmed from birth by society, (through TV, movies, books, etc) to believe that we’re ‘born this way’ and that other women are our competition.

(Of course until now)

No more standing in the mirror, in front of your kids saying how fat, old and disgusting we look. We might still be thinking that internally, but in order to break the cycle of false beliefs, we have to sometimes ‘fake it till we make it’.

We start by creating new conversations.

We stop complimenting little girls on how pretty they are, and instead say: You are so Strong. Resilient. Brave. Intelligent. Clever.  After we start working on ourselves, we get to learn practical, affordable, and effective tools to help the Next Gen learn a new narrative. Learn to accept their body. And to learn that:

Their value is unrelated to the exterior.

Recovery and this journey of “self love and radical acceptance” doesn’t happen over night.  It often doesn’t happen over months, or even years.  It’s a daily act and sometimes it’s off the charts amazing, and others, it’s right back to where you started.  But the important thing is, is knowing that you’re not alone, there is hope, and collectively we are ALL pioneers in this new world.

As we know, prevention is so much better than cure.

We are doing more than prevention, we are CHANGING the entire landscape for humankind.  Imagine a world where you didn’t have worry for a second about how you looked, and if you’ll be judged.  But instead, all you had to think about was the level of gratitude you have for owning a functioning body.

You don’t need to go out and start your own charity to make change. The power you possess to help one person, will have a massive ripple effect in the fabric of society, and multiply out exponentially.

Whether you aim to be at one of NEDA’s walks with us, or are planning on coming to our first pilot training for the GRRRL Project, we’ll help you find a way wherever you are in your journey, to make change. Our first organized NEDA walk will be in Phoenix with size Heather and I, March 17th, and our first GRRRL Project pilot program facilitator training will be May 30th in Las Vegas

Our first fundraise for NEDA started with a presale of our new Freedom Fit bamboo line of t-shirts, with 15% of proceeds going straight to NEDA.  These shirts are a unisex style fit, and we encourage ALL people to get into it.

NEDA awareness week starts today, so get involved any way you can via our Instagram page.

To learn more about ED, visit NEDA.

Please share this if you’re done with the old paradigm, and ready to storm the front lines with us!