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!
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!
Hey everyone! GRRRL Clothing is nothing without you. The history of this amazing brand starts with your personal GRRRL story! I’m Kicking off this new year with some GRRRL Talk and Maddie Harr’s story!
SPUNKY: How did you discover GRRRL?
MADDIE: I was introduced to GRRRL by one of my very best friends, Beth. She was at GRRRL Live and attended the OG event in 2017. She reached out to me as she knew I had been struggling with my self esteem and self love for a VERY long time.
SPUNKY: What made you want to become part of this movement?
MADDIE: I’ll be honest, I’m a sucker for fun clothing. I was already hooked from the get go hah! What’s kept me around and deepening my love for GRRRL has to be the message and the community. I’ve never been a part of something where I feel completely comfortable baring the emotional scars I carried and I feel that I can with GRRRL. It’s truly changed my outlook in so many things.
SPUNKY:What was the first thing you wore?
MADDIE: The OG unicorn next levels and the Guerilla GRRRL muscle tee!
SPUNKY:How did finding GRRRL change your life?
MADDIE: GRRRL came into my life during a very difficult time. My mom has just passed away from a short and completely unexpected battle with lung cancer. My mom had been my biggest cheerleader and I felt a huge hole in my life. I have Major Depressive Disorder, and I could feel myself going down a dark road. I felt so lost. But then GRRRL came along and suddenly I was wanting to try new things again! I had always wanted to try CrossFit and powerlifting, but I gained a lot of weight since my mom’s illness. I didn’t think I could do it. Seeing GRRRLs of all shapes and sizes gave me the confidence I needed to give it a shot. As a result, I now have some of the best friends I could have ever asked for and my self esteem is up. For the first time in a long time, I’m excited to live. I don’t think I would still be here without the support I received from my fellow GRRRLS.
SPUNKY:What would you say to other women out there right now, what do you think they need to hear?
MADDIE: You are enough. You’re not too much or too little, you are just right. Breathe. Your sisters are here and they will help you navigate this journey.
That says it all! My heart is full of GRRRL love and all the feels!
Hey everyone! GRRRL Clothing is nothing without you. The history of this amazing brand starts with your personal GRRRL story! I am making it my mission to share your stories by featuring one special GRRRL every few weeks! Lets see what Anneliese had to say in this edition of #GRRRLTALK.
SPUNKY: How did you discover GRRRL?
ANNELIESE: I discovered GRRRL online, I saw a video of KO on the street taking the GRRRL pledge with folks and admired her boldness and willingness to defy cultural narratives aggressively and publicly.
SPUNKY: What was the first thing you wore?
ANNELIESE: The first thing I wore was the RUN LIKE A GRRRL shirt.
SPUNKY: How did finding GRRRL change your life and what made you want to become part of this movement?
ANNELIESE: Background on me,I have been deep into weightlifting and strength and conditioning since I was 13 years old and now I am set to graduate with a degree in Kinesiology and a minor in Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies from Kansas State University in the spring semester. As a gay woman and as someone who presents more masculine of center most of the time, I found the norms in the social cultures in bodybuilding and in weightlifting disturbing and unwelcoming on a lot of levels. Homophobia, harmful gender stereotypes, misunderstandings about race, and blatant self absorbed vanity seemed to abound. I was left feeling isolated from a training community that I desperately wanted. I knew there had to be others like myself, others who just wanted to be strong, who wanted other women to rise up, who wanted to see disabled folks, and queers, and all the freak outcasts of the world become empowered and be warriors, and who wanted to dismantle the beliefs and norms that poison our world, but I wasn’t sure if a cohesive community existed. Finding GRRRL showed me that this community was real. GRRRL is filled with so many women of all shapes, sizes, races, abilities, ages, etc… and I love that because it is liberating. GRRRL changed my life because it gives me encouragement and hope about where this community can head and the types of effective change it can create in people at one on one level, a community level, and on a global level.
SPUNKY: What would you say to other women out there right now, what do you think they need to hear?
ANNELIESE: If I were to tell women one thing right now, it would be to take time to investigate all the inner workings of her person and to get to know her and to love her through belief and action, and it would be to stay encouraged and to stay connected because I believe that together we are strong.
Keep talking that GRRRLTALK
love you all
Hey everyone! GRRRL Clothing is nothing without you. The history of this amazing brand starts with your personal GRRRL story! I am making it my mission to share your stories by featuring one special GRRRL each month! Lets see what Josie had to say in this edition of #GRRRLTALK.
SPUNKY: How did you discover GRRRL?
JOSIE: Randomly on FB! I came across a few of Kortney’s videos and the rest is history. I Joined immediately after that.
SPUNKY: What made you want to become part of this movement?
JOSIE: The realness! Women being strong and standing up for unity. There is a collectiveness amongst the ladies, although we may believe different things and come from different backgrounds we are all one, and we stand as one.
SPUNKY: What was the first thing you wore?
SPUNKY: How did finding GRRRL change your life?
JOSIE: I went through a pretty horrific time earlier this year, and not once did I feel alone.In our closed Facebook group my grief questions were answered with love and sympathy, and when I needed a laugh there was always something there. I’m a SHW powerlifter in NZ, and I’ve never really felt out of place. Being a part of GRRRL helped me realise that my quirks and interests were mine, and they are what makes me who I am. I also became a lot more picky about who I spend my time with, and who takes up my energy. My energy is precious!
SPUNKY: What would you say to other women out there right now, what do you think they need to hear?
JOSIE: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Seek the support you need, and let people know if you need them. Life is a great big adventure, and there are so many ups and downs, but you don’t need to fly it alone.
Keep walking that GRRRL walk and talking that GRRRL talk
Hey everyone! GRRRL Clothing is nothing without you. The history of this amazing brand starts with your personal GRRRL story! I am making it my mission to share your stories by featuring one special GRRRL each month! Lets see what Amelia had to say in this edition of #GRRRLTALK.
SPUNKY: How did you discover GRRRL?
AMELIA: I honestly don’t even remember. I think it may have been on either a FB group or Instagram. Someone recommended GRRRL and I had to go check it out.
Hey everyone! GRRRL Clothing is nothing without you. The history of this amazing brand starts with your personal GRRRL story! I am making it my mission to share your stories by featuring one special GRRRL each month! Lets see what Katherine had to say in this our first edition of #GRRRLtalk.
Spunky: How did you discover GRRRL?
Katherine: I can’t remember exactly 100%, but, I think it started with Instagram. I bought GRRRL leggings after I had a beautiful pair of expensive video game leggings by another company not live up to the expectation. I had seen several GRRRLS on Instagram wearing the leggings and for months I tried to justify buying a pair. Then I saw someone participating in the same running challenge that I was involved with (zombies Run) wearing a pair of GRRRL leggings. I decided that I deserved a reward for completing my goals. The Next Level style of leggings dropped and I bought them and fell in love.
Spunky: Do you remember the first GRRRL item you wore?
Katherine: The Next Level SuperShero leggings. I didn’t take them off for 3 days.
Spunky: What made you want to become part of this movement?
Katherine: I saw so many GRRRLS with an incredible passion for fitness. No matter what sport they were involved in and they were my size!. A lot of the women in my gym are very petite so, being exposed to other women with huge thighs was amazing to me and inspiring. I now follow so many women on Facebook and instagram because of GRRRL and the private Facebook group. It’s genuinely one of the best feelings when I see another GRRRL post about a new Personal Best. I also love reading about women overcoming their obstacles.The group is extremely supportive and I feel like all of these female warriors are my family. I have never in my life had that available to me.
Spunky: How did finding GRRRL change your life?
Katherine: Finding GRRRL inspired and encouraged me to compete in my sport. I’m healthier, happier and generally able to do more stuff. I feel like my life is in a better place and I feel like I can stand my ground. I wish I had discovered GRRRL back when I was a teacher. I feel it would’ve given me the guts to stand up to the horrible bullying that was going on in the school.
Spunky: What would you say to other women out there right now? What do you think they need to hear?
Katherine:It’s tough out there right now. The planet is not happy (it’s having a bit of a hot flush). Keeping our spirits up is tough. But we are stronger, we are better and we will not only survive but we will thrive!
Our clothes won’t change the world. But, the women who wear them will.
“GL18 was life changing for my daughters. They believe in this brand and movement so hard now. My thirteen year old is so proud to be part of this and feels so powerful as a girl. She’s always known she was smart but there is a different sort of confidence to her knowing she has support of women like you and knowing that she deserves all the things she wants to go after in life, and that she doesn’t have to fit into some mold that the rest of society tells us to be successful.
My 17 year old has found a group of girls who she can relate to and reach out to when she needs support. Something she has never really felt she needed. She fees supported in a way that doesn’t come from
Family. On top of that she has learned so much about what she faces as a woman becoming an adult and also what other women who aren’t as privileged face and it’s changed her outlook on life.
I can’t even put into words how grateful I am for the two of them to have you and this army of girls, never mind it’s effect on me ❤”
“Why I attended GR18. Last year at GR17 I was given a great opportunity to reflect on my own journey and build tools to improve. In reflection – it was a great time to work on me. This year, GR18 gave me time to reflect on how I am putting the lessons learned, my current mindset and the tools learned on my journey to the outer world. In other words – how can I put the message of self love and improved perspective outside of myself. This year GR18 gave me a chance to think about how I can be active in our community. Several personal activities gave me time to think about how to “pay it forward”. Its not just about learning – its also about sharing. And this year – you instilled this in my mindset.”
“GL18 was so life changing for me. As cliche as it may sound, I truly felt accepted and loved for who I was. Not once did I feel out of unloved or unwanted. I have battled severe depression for almost 20 years and I lost my mother 10 months before GL18. I was ready to end it all before I went and had this experience. I was ready to leave this world. This woman, Kortney Olson and her wonderful GRRRL tribe saved my life in one weekend. I will support this company and Kortney Olson until the end. I will return to GL19, GL20, GL21, GL30, GL40, GL50. GRRRL: Live saved my life and I owe everything to this tribe of warriors ❤”
“I was at GL17 which was so cool but this year my experience at GL18 was nothing short of amazing. The opportunity to connect with other women in a supportive and engaging environment is something that is so hard to come by now a days. Kortney has created a platform for women to come together, learn, grow, and heal. Personally i was able to continue to address and work on my own personal issues in an incredibly supportive environment. I am so thankful for Grrrl clothing and the experience at GL18. I have already purchased my ticket for GL19 as I now know this is something that has to be a part of my life every year.”
GL18 was a life changing event. I broke through what’s been holding me back from happiness… LITERALLY!!! The sense of sisterhood and community was so incredible and overwhelming. As soon as it was over I told (not asked) my sister that she is coming next year, and we have already both bought tickets! KO built a little home for all of us to feel seen, loved and acknowledged, and that means the world to me. GL18 gave me the push I needed to finally focus on myself and love who I see in the mirror. I cannot wait for next year!!!
I walked away from GL18 with a type of self confidence that can’t be broken. I learned some key parenting techniques that have already improved my relationship with my kids. I made life-long, meaningful connections; I now have grrrl friends across the globe that I know I could call on if I needed them. If I had to sum up the weekend in just three words they’d be: community, sisterhood and strength.
I’ll be attending GL19 & have already bought my ticket a year in advance. This is an event that I would encourage every grrrl to attend, words can’t really sum up all the personal gains you will walk away with.
GL18 literally changed my life. It opened my eyes and my heart. Even though it’s been about a month Some of the lessons still hit me. People have seen a change in me.
I made friends that I consider my sisters. We talk all the time. It was such a wonderful experience. I WILL be back next year along with a few others that after hearing my stories want to come too
GL 2018 was 100% life changing. The overwhelming feeling of sisterhood and love is there in room, in every single grrrl’s eyes, in the way they greet you and hug you and cry with you as we all took the same gorgeous journey to self love. The seminars were eye openers and life affirming. I learned to love myself again. I wore shorts for the first time in years and wasn’t self conscious or worrying about what other people thought of me.
And best of all, I made lifelong connections and friends from all over the world. I believe every woman should attend GRRRL Live to take their confidence and self love back.
GL18 was the first grrrl event I had ever attended, yet going there and seeing the grrrl army felt like going home. Imagine going somewhere where total strangers wave and yell “Hey grrrl hey!!” From across the room. Being able to walk up to a crowd of complete strangers and feel welcomed and supported. It was something very new and different for me and it is something I will never forget. We were all able to bond and share some pretty deep dark stuff and always get a hug whenever needed. The speakers were awesome as well and I learned a lot about so many things, way too much to go into here. I already have tickets for next year ❤❤❤
I went to GL18, and I learned so much. The first thing I noticed was that the clothing is a way to identify my sisters. But the friendships are more important. I learned it’s okay to 100% be myself, and I will be accepted because of my authenticity. My confidence has soared; a price can’t be placed on empowered women.
GL18 was my very first experience meeting all the amazing women that I have come to know and love from our online Facebook group. At first I was very nervous that I may not fit in or have anyone to talk to; however once I arrived that feeling very quickly vanished! Every single woman I met was amazing, sweet,beautiful and strong there was such an amazing sisterhood that flooded the rooms and through out the entire hotel. Meeting Kortney Olson was the very highlight of the whole experience she was 100% everything she appears to be online and so much more! When you speak she stops and truly listens and takes an interest in what you have to say. The movement that Kortney Olson has started is like no other she is the ripple effect. I left GL18 with a whole new love for myself and my new found sisters I have already purchased my ticket for GL19 because when you hear GRRRLS say it is a life changing event you better believe it!!! Thank you Kortney Olson for just simply being you and showing me that it is ok to love myself. 💙
This is my 2nd GRRRL LIVE & it was as transformative as the 1st but in a different way. I got to meet so many women that I had been talking to online for 2 plus years & that made my heart swell. But as a women of color the panel on I intersectional feminism really made me happy & proud to see issues that directly affect my life & community talked about & also addressed in a way that could help us build bridges & make action items. I loved hearing from out deaf community on that panel as well. I learned so much from Amber & Clara Baldwin. When we talk about intersectional feminism & realizes that our disabled community gets forgotten about & they have issues & deserve to have their voices heard. The final thing is after 25 plus years of dealing with disordered eating & binge eating I am finally on a path to working on those issues & it’s with the big help of GL18 as I am slowly working with one of the speakers Debbie Lichter. I can’t thank y’all enough for everything. And I most definitely am coming to GL19. I wouldn’t miss it & holler at me if you need any help ❤❤❤
I’ve spent my whole life feeling judged and looked down upon when surrounded by women. Like I was never “enough” to fit the norm. And then I went to GL18 and I finally felt what its like walk into a room full of women and feel a wave of love and acceptance, rather than competitive judgement. I made lifetime friends with women who before that weekend I had never met. I found the woman that I used to be, and the woman I want to move toward becoming. And I will forever owe that to Grrrl and GL18. I have every intention of being at every Grrrl Live that follows!❤
The moment I stepped off the plane I was wrapped in the arms of sisterhood. Seeing women come together from all over the world to not only learn about themselves but also sisterhood was unbelievable. It was the first time I felt like I belonged somewhere. I learned that I am stronger both physically and mentally than I thought I was. Breaking a board and lifting a 100lbs sandbag ( I’m coming for that 140lbs next year) were things I never thought I could do physically however being able to open up to a group of females about my pasted showed me just how strong I really can be. For a small town girl with social anxiety to jump on a plane for the first time ever to come to this event says how important this event was. We as females are strong and we need Grrrl to be able to spread this message and be able to reach more Grrrls.
I bought my GL19 ticket 78 seconds after the email announced they were for sale. This movement is changing lives and I plan to be a part of it, for every women. This forum is where the work happens, where the hard conversations happen, where change takes place. One of my life goals is to one day be a speaker at these events. In the mean time, I am so grateful for the opportunity to continue to learn and grow from each and every member of the GRRRL Army. #GRRRL
Let’s get real. I met KO almost 2 months after almost attempting suicide. She pulled me in, heard my story and told me to get my ass to Vegas. Sponsored my tickets. Two panic attacks. Flying alone for the first time as an adult. And the weekend changed me. Is still changing me. I have made life long friends. Who impact my life in the daily. I bought my GL19 tickets the day they released. You will not find anyone else like her. She sacrifices herself to cause a ripple effect that is touching so many souls. I might not have made it this far without her and her movement.
This was my second time going to GRRRL Live and it was amazing! I was able to help some grrrls who needed it, I saw positive changes in grrrls from guest speakers, and I’ve made lifelong, amazing, supporting relationships which I and they both need!❤ I was able to build confidence by breaking a board with my fist, throw an axe (got a bullseye), and get out of my comfort zone by dancing and doing a photo shoot around other women. Things like that make me stronger! I’m 43yrs old and am learning so many things, I only wish I had Kortney, my grrrls and GRRRL Clothing in my life sooner. I can’t wait to see my friends, meet & help new grrrls next year and learn even more life skills for myself!
Liz Stigler, PhD
The work being done at GL18 and by the brand, largely, is unlike any of its kind. The fidelity of this model exists in its ability to create an international network of women and girls who have been searching for a home and find it at GRRRL. This brand is truly a community of folks dedicated to eradicating injustice and misogyny of all sorts. There is no brand in the world doing this kind of work on this level with this sort of motivated following.
This was my first time going to GRRRL Live and words cannot explain how amazing this experience was. I have NEVER seen a movement like this before with so many grrrls supporting each other through thick and thin. I literally built so much confidence going there, it helped me build connections to incredible women around the world and reach out to them whenever, got rid of my stage fright, and let me open up more. This was a safe environment and I know no one would judge me there and that made me so happy. Hearing the guest speakers changed my life and I hope I touched the lives of people there as well. Thank you Sistah KO for the opportunity! I cannot wait for GRRRL Live ‘19!!!
The GRRRL who boarded the plane was not the same GRRRL who came back home. Not only did I make life long friends but I was surrounded by nothing but love and empowerment — which money can’t buy! I am learning how to love myself and truly be happy. I am much more proactive because well… life is short. I am coming back in 2019 ready for more growth! Can’t wait!
It’s not everyday you go to a 3 day event not knowing a single person and leave with a whole entire new Family. GL18 truly changed me. I loved all the events and speakers but what changed me was all the conversation and connects I made with all the Grrrls. I never knew I needed these ladies in my life. Now I have sisters that get me, that are there for me and are apart of me. So yes GL18 changed my life. GRRRL POWER!!!!!
GL18 awakened something in me that I forgot existed and I’m ready to set the world afire!! I was actually very hesitant to attend at first and talked myself out of it several times. However I realized if im willing to spend money on my professional and leadership growth why can’t I do it for emotional growth and sisterhood. Day 1 was jammed packed with empowerment and embracing our inner strength. Day 2 was emotionally raw and helped me face many truths I have never said out loud before. Not only that but every conversation was amazing and making such incredible connections with extraordinary women was beautiful and unlike anythjng Ive ever experienced before. I definitely plan to attend next yr.
I learned that I’m stronger than I think. I learned that I can help others reach their goals even though I havent conquered mine yet! I learned that there are so many different women everywhere but when we have have the same accord: celebrate ourselves and eachother, we are one and differences dont even matter. This year I brought 4 extras woman, next year I am bringing as many woman as I can next year.
GL18 allowed me to connect with other like-minded women who I remain connected with … and whom will play a significant role in my future, which in turn will impact the world (through the work that I will be doing). I have already invested in GL19, because I know that I am worth it and the content and connections I’ll experience there will be worth 100 times the cost of admission. #blessings #TogetherWeRise
GL18 completely changed my life. I have never been one to show emotion because showing emotion was showing weakness. Kortney Olson and the whole GRRRL Army showed me to embrace my emotions. My emotions are a strength! They are who I am! I will be attending the next GRRRL Live and every single one that follows!! I believe this event is something every woman should have the opportunity to attend!
GL18 is the ONLY place bringing women together in this manner to lift each other up to celebrate one another to learn grown and educate each other. An army of women on a mission to do good thing to
Love one another as well as ourselves to make a positive impact on this world! It’s time to do good things and GL is where it’s starting! Yes I will be at GL19 and GL20 and GL21 and GL22 and everyone after that. I’ll bring more and more grrrls with me year after year and we will make a positive impact on this planet and all those who walk it.
GL18 changed my life. First time was this year and I will never ever miss a year going forward. I have learnt so much about myself in that one weekend that no other human or doctor could teach me in 38 yrs! I flew to Vegas and travelled by myself, shared a hotel with a stranger and I would do it all over again without a doubt! The grrrlarmy is nothing but a loving, supporting and non judgmental group that I am proud to be a part of! I’ve never cried so much in my life and it was so freeing to not be ashamed to let it all out! KO your a goddess and someone that everyone should look up to! You have the power to change the world!
GL has doubled in numbers since I attended the very first one and I assure you that it will TRIPLE next year. With this being said-there will be more representation in diversity that we will serve to accommodate so they experience the conference just like everyone else. I have sparked some new deaf grrrls’ interest in attending GL 19’ and it will make sense to have more fundings for professional ASL interpreting team. We must choose venue that will be conscious of all Grrrls’ needs. Within 5 years or less of time GL will be something everyone talks about and you will either: wished that you provided the sponsorship or is GLAD that you guys did! I’ve learned so much and as a deaf person it feels really great to be able to interact with many bearing grrrls!
I went to GL18 without having connected with anyone and without anyone I know. I was SO out of my comfort zone. However, I knew I was in a bad spot in my life. A verbally/mentally abusive MMA coach damaged my thought process/the way I view myself and then life threw some big changes at me at the last second causing me to move back in with my parents after being on my own for 5 years following the completion of my masters degree. I went to GL18 terrified, broken, 25 pounds heavier than I was last year, with a masters degree I didn’t want to use, that I feel extremely guilty about not wanting to use because my parents are so proud and I worked so hard. I came home and I made some life decisions. I interviewed for a bunch of jobs that use my licensure and masters degree. I got a lot of job offers from them. I turned them all down. Today I accepted a job as a health coach, making more money than my masters degree jobs would get me, and one week from today I’m moving 5 hours from home to chase whatever it is that makes me happy (not sure exactly what that is but I’m going to figure it out damn it). I’ll be training with a new coach who doesn’t undermine my hard work or mock the fact that I’m a woman and that I have lots of feelings or tell me I won’t ever be good enough. Going so far away scares the shit out of me and I never planned on doing this, but I’m here for it. Thank you, Kortney Olson and every single person who spoke with me for drastically changing the course of my life.
Amber Galloway-Gallego, I love this GRRRL. Her presence has a powerful and lasting impact. I will never forget what she said during the panel at GRRRL live “When is the last time you had to think about how you were going to communicate with others?” That one sentence changed my whole universe. I have never thought about it, I’ve never had too. Thank you Amber for educating us and sharing your world with us. I love your beautiful spirit. – Kelly aka Spunky
“One day I was asked to participate in a GRRRL interview. I thought to myself “well what in the world is GRRRL clothing?” I quickly searched, found the website and felt something the moment I heard the first testimony and I quickly texted KO back “it would be an honor to be a part of this in any way I can be.”
Less than a month later I received another text from KO “hey we are swinging by Texas and also there is a song… could you sign it for us?” I respond “ of course I will do whatever you need” the Van of merch arrives and KO, Brit and Tori jump out. Once the Interview is done and after a few tears and smiles KO asks, “what are you doing this up coming weekend? can you come to GRRRL Live and speak?” I think “what’s GRRRl live?” Yet again, that night I went Back to the google search to understand what I might be getting myself into. My heart immediately said yes! I texted KO and responded “ I will be there” I and purchased my ticket.
This movement is new for me! This GRRRL stuff is new to me! I headed to Vegas and I knew no one really. I had absolutely no clue what I was about to experience. I do know my heart and mind were excited to educate and try to inspire others about access. Little did I know that I would step into a world of woman power, beauty of all races, sizes, shapes and inspiration. It forever changed me.
I checked in and went to the pool party. I felt alone because I didn’t know anyone. I am hard of hearing. I have difficulty hearing conversations. I didn’t know if I would be judged because I am not pretty enough, muscular enough, or strong enough. This is what myself and I am sure others have felt so many times before heading into an all woman event. As I observed and watched interactions, I truly saw such love and beauty. After a while the DJ asked everyone to surround the 18 and under GRRRls. I stood and watched as these beautiful women lifted each other up and gave words of “womenisdom” women+wisdom to the younger GRRRLs.
I realized that I have always needed GRRRL in my life and didn’t know I did! Wait no all Grrrls need A #GRRRLARMY. If I had this maybe I would not have tried so hard to find the wrong love, I would have loved myself more, I would have had the tools I needed and I would not have allowed what I have allowed to happen. Maybe my scars would not have been so deep. I know I am damaged. I am broken. I feel so alone on days, I sometimes feel hopeless. I also know I am stronger because of my brokenness. I know I am better because of my awareness of others experiences.
I find hope in others and inspiration. I am a better human because I choose to approach others with equality, and to honor each persons experience and let them know they have value. I feel empowered now and want the whole world to know how killer it is to be a part of the #GRRRLARMY! What GRRRL did was solidify that we are GRRRLS, we are worthy, we are united, yes we are damaged but yet we are beautifully O.K.”
The stories keep coming in and I can’t get enough of em! This week I continue on my mission to share ALL your GRRRL Live 2018 stories. I never want to forget what happened in Las Vegas that weekend! They say “whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” in our case we left a whole lot of stuff behind and we came home new women with an even stronger sense of sisterhood. Something like that can’t just stay in Vegas. We took it home with us and we’re using our circle of influence collectively to change the world one GRRRL at a time. –Kelly
Since getting back to life in Minneapolis, I put up the GRRRL pledge in my bathroom and have been taking good care of my fresh GRRRL tattoo that Cara added to my bad ass lady sleeve. The daily reminder of the pledge and tattoo make me want to push myself to be the best grrrl possible while empowering other grrrls to do the same. GL18 was life changing. I’ll be back next year! :)” @butchtalk
“I don’t even know where to start! I’ve been proud to be part of the #GRRRLARMY for almost 2 years now, and decided I needed to make time to meet (in person) more of these amazing souls I have been connecting with. GL18 did not disappoint! The energy and love in the room, on that first night, was so real and powerful. Having the opportunity to meet, share stories, and network with so much positivity was beyond any expectation I had. And yes, while there was lots of laughter, there were some happy tears too (xoxo Kathy Hardman!).
It costs nothing to share a kind word or act with someone, to lift someone up, to tell someone YOU MATTER, YOU are AMAZING, you CAN get through it, WE can and WILL! We are here to support each other, and kick some a** in life! Thank you so much to the MFCEO, K.O. for gathering the army, and thank you to Bridge Raftery for always capturing the best in life through your incredible eyes! We ARE GRRRLs!” Amalia Chevalier @fitjourney_southbay
The speakers were incredible. I felt on multiple occasions that they were speaking directly to me. When Melodee Meyer had us break the boards with what was holding us back, I felt a huge emotional release. When Inspirational Eve had us share our personal belief about ourselves I immediately panicked but when I spoke, my sisters listened. It was an emotionally rewarding weekend, one that I will never forget. I will definitely be back for GL19!”- Love Kristen
I caught up with Gretchen Hoffer and i’m really excited to share her point of view on GRRRL Live. Before attending GRRRL Live I was completely ignorant to the needs of the deaf community and I have to say, I still have so much to learn. I appreciate Gretchen for being patient with my questions and truly educating me. I’m so thankful that topics like these were addressed during the panel and that we GRRRLS have been given the opportunity to become better humans. – Kelly aka Spunky
“My experience with GRRRL live 2018 was nothing short of amazing. I also attended GL17 and while it, too, was life changing, this year really brought home the idea of sisterhood as well as bringing us all together in such amazing ways. The opportunity we had to build connections with each other as well as the work that we were able to do on ourselves really made this year so much better. When I think back to what I took away from that weekend it is always the moments where I was focusing on what I wanted to improve about myself or an experience in connecting with another Grrrl. I seriously cannot wait for GL19 because I know that it is only going to be bigger and better than each year before it!!
I was brought into GRRRL Live last year and this year as interpreter for one of our fellow Grrrls, who is deaf and uses ASL to communicate. It was exciting to be part of the movement and also to advocate for the deaf community in this way. My husband is deaf and I work with the deaf as a mental health therapist so being able to connect with others in the community, help bring awareness to the community, and support deaf Grrrls has been so amazing.
- Can you please tell me your thoughts on being involved in the panel?
When I first saw this question I immediately clarified to Kelly that I wasn’t actually on the panel and that it was Clara Baldwin and Amber Galloway Gallego who were on the intersectional feminism panel. I was just one of the interpreters for them. Kelly informed me that she wanted to get my perspective on my experience. It took me a while to think about how to answer this question as well as if I even wanted to answer it. The reason for that is because my role was as an interpreter and in that role I am not important. I am not to take away from the Deaf individuals who I am interpreting for because I am their voice and that is it. A great example of this is Clara’s friend and fellow interpreter, Brenna, who was at GRRRL Live and worked with me to interpret for the weekend. When we were given nametags to write our names on and wear she wrote on hers, “The interpreter has no name.” It was the perfect way to symbolize our role as interpreter. In interpreting situations, we are not important and should not be recognized.
Why is it more interesting that the interpreter knows sign than the fact that this is a Deaf person’s language that they use every day? It is just something to think about and ponder. Often it is the interpreter who gets the attention, praise, and notoriety. That is not our purpose and takes away from the reason we are there and also does not then give the attention to the Deaf individual. Both Clara and Amber talked about this during the panel and it is important to recognize and be careful who is getting the attention in these situations. Instead of commending the interpreter on their skills maybe we can communicate to the Deaf individual how beautiful ASL is as a language or another way to appreciate their culture.
- There is a video floating around social media with you teaching Rose Namajunas some important ASL signs. What was that like for you? Can you tell us about the signs you were teaching her?
I first met Rose and Pat last year at GRRRL Live 2017 during a car ride over to the venue. I was immediately aware of their genuineness and how humble they are in their lives as well as how easy it was to just chat with them. Meeting Rose and Pat again this year was such a great experience and in no way did I think that Clara and I would end up teaching Rose and Pat some ASL!
It really all started with some of the other GRRRLs at the VIG lunch asking me questions about ASL in an effort to try to understand the language better. Pat overheard the conversation and had some questions himself about the language, how the hands were used, and it led to me showing him a few signs to help him understand those parts of ASL, specifically the difference between one handed signs and two handed signs because he wanted to understand what you did with your other hand that you weren’t using to fingerspell/sign. I showed then taught him the signs “work” and “mountain.” After the VIG lunch was over Pat was going around showing every how to sign “mountain” and that included coming up to Rose and showing her. That prompted the explanation as to why Pat was running around the room signing “Mountain” to everyone. So I also showed Rose how to sign “work” and “mountain.” Since they are from Colorado I showed them how to sign their home state. Clara saw us signing and taught them how to sign Denver and then I showed them how to say “I live in Denver, Colorado.”
Clara then came over to see Rose and Pat sign and told them that she was going to test them on their ability to remember the signs that they were taught. She tested them on work, mountain, Denver, Colorado, and then added in some new signs that they hadn’t yet been taught. This is where the video started and it shows Clara asking them to sign “Champ,” which they didn’t know, and then “Rose.” The time we had together was so much fun. Both Rose and Pat were so awesome to take the time to learn more about the language and communicate with Clara, who is a huge MMA fan.
While this experience was really cool and amazing, what was also amazing was all the times that different Grrrls came up to me throughout the weekend to ask questions about ASL, Deaf culture, the Deaf community, and how they can be more respectful and understanding of the needs of a Deaf person. Especially after the panel on intersectional feminism, which really opened the eyes to many Grrrls about the struggles that individuals who are Deaf or hard of hearing struggle with on a daily basis. It has been such an amazing experience to see so much growth happen not only in myself but from all the Grrrls around me and how much GRRRL Live created a place for us to do this kind of exploration and development.”
It was an amazing thing to be in the room watching all the GRRRLS unite in freedom, movement and power. The atmosphere changes when power like that is released. We explored our inner sexy without reservation during the chair dancing portion of the body confidence workshop. It seriously was a great time. Here is what Irys had to say about her experience as she led her portion of the class – Spunky
Attending GRRRL Live was an opportunity that has most definitely changed my outlook on life as a whole. It changed how I see others but more than anything else, it changed how I see MYSELF!
My nerves were a wreck because I had never been so excited to be part of something so great. A revolution among women that are changing the world, starting with themselves. The keynote speakers were there to wake us up and it worked! I have never been around so many women that welcome strangers with open arms, without judgement. There really aren’t enough words to describe the breakthrough I had emotionally. Kortney warned me that this experience would be life changing, but I never imagined HOW life changing it would be! I learned so much about myself and my new friends as well as the friends that accompanied me from home. Jessy De La Vega and Brendalyn Romero. It changed our friendship and made us so much closer. I was able to shed tears that for so long were suppressed deep down inside of me, because I have been through so much alone and I didn’t have time to cry! I was vulnerable but safe and that is why I loved being at GRRRL Live so much. I was safe! I am forever humbled by this experience. I am anew and with so many goals that I am now about to crush with the support of my new GRRRLfriends.
When I was asked to teach a workshop at GRRRL Live, I was more than honored and jumped at the chance. I would be crazy if I didn’t! The day my section of the workshop took place, I literally woke up from dreaming about the song I was going to present and doing counts in my head to the rhythm of the song. As I showered, I played the song over and over and even did the dance in the shower ( so glad I didn’t slip). I was so nervous! Nothing, I mean NOTHING can compare to the pride and overwhelming emotions I felt when I saw all of the GRRRLs in the workshop class. It was maybe the biggest class I had ever led! It was breathtaking to see all of those gorgeous ladies ready to experience something new. Once that warm up song came on, it was on and seeing the confidence in the ladies working their cat walks and diva turns and “touching their goodies” was a blessing. Everyone was so free. Sexy. Happy and in ove with their bodies. My experience was sublime and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Vegas Stiletto Fitness with Irys, Ladies Night Out Events is all about self-love and confidence. I try to do that with everyone that comes in and trys a class. One stiletto at a time. This experience turned me into a butterfly on more levels than one!
“Dear younger me,
I’m not going to tell you to smile…to keep your chin up…because life is full of difficulty, struggle, and pain. But what I will say is this: Keep. Going.
You may feel like nothing will ever go right for you. You’ve been traumatised by your 6th grade crush responding to the question of if he liked you with “No that’s f***ing sick.” You feel like no one will ever love you or want you. Rest assured that this is not so. You have the love of an incredible man, who against all odds, married you.
You hate your body, but…let me tell you that health is so important…and while you might hate the pain your body causes you sometimes later in life, you think you’re fat and ugly…it will also provide you with such pleasure, in so many different ways.
Chase after your dreams. You can do anything, literally ANYTHING you want to do in life.
There will be snags. Hangups. Loss of friends. Pain. Heartbreak. But there will also be love. Love from your husband, from your family, from your friends, and from your sisters that you will come to know over time. Love, acceptance, joy, passion, laughter, dancing, reading, knitting, movement… As much as you love music, you’ve found your passion in dance! You are exceptional at it. Enjoy falling in love with it.
I know it seems hard right now. But trust me. Even the hard times are worth it. Keep going. Push through the pain. You’re more beautiful and more powerful than you realize right now. You’ll come to know it at the right time. When you do, have no regrets for the path or the length of time it took you to find your power…but rather, revel in the gloriousness that you found it, and have it…and go out there and change the world. “
“Dear baby Kar,
what a little pistol you are. There will be times when the world will try to dull your smile, but keep powering through. There will be some really tough times right ahead, like your parents divorce, your brother’s freak accident, high school in general and college.. but you’ll be okay.
Stay true to yourself always. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. If you’re doing something that doesn’t make you happy, stop doing it. Quit the job you hate, end the toxic friendship that’s providing you nothing but heartache, quit trying to make things work with people that don’t put in any effort.
So go out of your way to visit your loved ones, especially your Grandparents, they won’t be here forever. Don’t ever lose your drive or determination, it will carry you further than you know.
Always remember, if you ever feel like you’re living a life you’re not proud of, you have the courage to start over.. I promise you that”
You’ve had a rough time growing up. Kids were not kind to someone so different from them. You were bullied for simply being who you are and how you looked- for being tall, for having red hair, for being smart, and for being overweight. I wish I could tell you that it won’t have lasting effects on you, but it will. You will struggle with the damage that did to you into your adult life but it will not break you. You will one day learn to love and embrace being different, I promise you this.
But, with being torn down so much in life by others, you don’t see your self worth. I wish I could shelter you from all the pain this will cause you by letting others take advantage of you- mainly men in the “relationships” you find. They will use you for money, abuse you physically and mentally, and treat you like just a piece of meat- and you’ll start to believe that’s all you are. These men will make you feel bad about your body more than you already do to manipulate you for their own personal gain. It’ll bring on some really dark times in your life but you will find the light.
I want you to realize most of all, that even though there were awful things done to you, it all happened for a reason. Every time you were bullied or every man that treated you horribly, there was a lesson to be learned and girl, you will always learn from them and be a stronger woman for it. These are the things that make you the bad ass woman you are. There’s light at the end of the tunnel, baby, don’t give up hope.
Finally, you will make the decision to change your unhealthy lifestyle and get out of that 314 pound body you find yourself in. I want you to know it will be a damn struggle but it gets easier every day. But sweetie, let me tell you about how much joy you will find when you step foot into that gym. For the first time in your life, you will finally feel like you belong somewhere
So be patient, know your worth, and LOVE your body because it’s the only one you get. And most importantly, don’t be afraid to just be yourself because she’s amazing 💛”
“Dear Younger Ashley –
Your life will be hard. You will be faced with many hardships and you will struggle, but you’ll come out on top. I promise. Your struggles will make you strong. Your struggles will keep you kind and humble. You’ve always had a good heart, but you will sometimes make STOOOOPID decisions. Don’t fret.
Stupid decisions leads to great changes and those changes will make you a better person. Experience is the greatest teacher and you’ll experience a lot.
Remember who you are and try hard not to lose yourself. It’s easily done. Remember what daddy always told you, “The world meets nobody halfway.” & you’ll be good to go. Be strong. Don’t take anybody’s shit and what shit you’re handed, you throw right back. “
Love – Future Ashley
I love hearing stories about women finding themselves after feeling lost for a while. It motivates me to keep pushing. Aixa Owens’s recount of freedom is inspiring!
“My experience at Grrrl live, wow, where do I begin? I walked into the Golden Nugget to not knowing what to expect and I came out of there with my mind blown away. Not only was the insane energy so powerful, every GRRRL there was just like me, needing to be surrounded by other GRRRLS who understood them.
I was meant to be there, share my story and listen to everyone else’s as well. As we cried, hugged and cheered each other on all weekend, I grew stronger. What ailed me no longer held me back, my self greif and most powerful of them all, the hatred I carried inside. For so long I carried this burden written all over my face and as I broke my board I felt that demon leave me.
Now like Bruce Lee, I crouch down, whip my arm forward and with the palm of my hand I invite any other doubt to try and get me, cuz it will go down!
GRRRL Live saved a part of me I knew I was losing. Thanks to KO for giving me the opportunity to be surrounded by so much love and acceptance. For my GRRRL Heather and Annie, for sticking with me knowing I was panicking being submerged by so many people. As I type these words, tears are flowing down my face but, these are tears of joy and acceptance. I am a free GRRRL.”
I am certainly excited for GL19 as I sit here and read all of your stories
Changing the game one GRRRL at a time
You were in some of the darkest days of your life here. You were so good at putting your head down and putting on that fake smile. So much so that now you refuse to smile unless it’s really from your heart. You binge on food to the point of purging when you feel guilt and shame realizing you couldn’t really control those feelings or fill that hollow spot. Your past sexual abuse from your chilhood affected all your relationships. You made poor choices in partners because You wanted all the control. You wanted to die period end of story. No One Would Notice Right? WRONG! You were so wrong on so many levels. Your depression felt suffocating to the point that you sought help and your village came forward because you are loved. You were 21….a baby really….You had so much to live for. Those were your darkest days. You still struggle with all of the above but you cope you are so STRONG! You fall down but you get back up. Remember to give yourself the kindness you have always so readily given to others. You deserve love…..do you hear that young one! You are Beautiful Outside and Inside…your body is a fucking powerhouse. You have built it to carry yourself and fight through this life. You still struggle with eating and how you feel and think about food but you work through it every day. You have a little boy watching you….thats right you gave life to an amazing kind hearted child that loves you even when your not at your best. You found a partner in every sense of the word that lifts you up and tells you that you deserve the world and more…..sometimes you even believe him…. Forgive yourself. Love yourself. Stop treading water young one….start fighting. You Are Worth It. You have made it…..and still you have so much more to learn and that is ok. You are OK. Keep your eyes up you got this.”
“Oh my darling girl,
If you could see the way the stars will shine you would never doubt your reason for being here. You’re family loves you. You are worth more than you could ever believe. You will be a Mama one day, to an amazing little man who sees you with no faults. “You’re my Mama,” he will say, “you are beautiful every day and I love you.” You will survive the emotional and physical abuse of your peers. You will survive the rape. You will survive the death of your Father, your first love and you will grow beyond measure. You will be someone people look to for comfort and counseling, sometimes even for inspiration.
You will NEVER be defined by society because you make your own music and march to the beat of your own drummer.
You will find love, when you least expect it. Someone who treasures your heart and weird mind.
You cannot allow your past to ever dictate who you are.
Be brave. Be kind. Be responsible. Never take any shit. Know your limits. Be open to possibilities. Take a chance on the guy. Go to school. Ride rollercoasters.
Love hard. 💜 M”
“Dear Younger Kristen,
Your body is starting to change. Some things you will like, some things you won’t. Embrace both. Love both, because the body is powerful and beautiful. I know it’s difficult to love your body when you see all the beautiful women in movies, magazines, and social media. But they don’t actually look like that in real life. They have been digitally altered and photoshopped into creating a fake image. They too have stretch marks, cellulite, and body fat just like everyone else. Seeing these images will make you think that your body isn’t perfect. Making you feel like you’re fat. But don’t compare yourself to anyone. Other women are not your competition. It will only make you think you’re not skinny enough or pretty enough but you are enough. You are beautiful and just the right size. Remember you are smart, funny, caring, brave, stronger than you will ever know, special, loved, and worthy of everything. So instead of focusing on being “fat” or “skinny”, focus on being healthy. Focus on being happy. Real beauty comes from within. It comes from talking positively about yourself and others. It comes from standing up for yourself and others. From being kind and caring but not lettings others push you around. So stop talking to yourself with hate and disgust but talk with love and compassion.
Because you grrrl, are perfect. Love, future Kristen “
“Dear Jenn, where do I begin baby grrrl. 20Years ago this month you were getting ready to walk across the stage for one of the most proud days of your life and start your own journey. It was your turn to shine and walk away from all the heartache , bullying, trauma, violence,insecurities you had encountered by this age. But I wish I could of told you then it wasn’t gonna be that easy. I wish I could have told you to be prepared for even harder times and that you were gonna abuse yourself with drugs, attempt suicide multiple times that you where gonna have experience more trauma of your pops being shot and killed, you where gonna lose yourself looking for love in all the wrong places, you where be diagnosed with depression and ptsd. Oh baby grrrl there’s so much more, but I will tell you this. It never got easier but got so much better. Eventually you start to find yourself and started giving yourself the love you needed that you longed for. That you started to love what you thought where flaws. That you started given zero fucks about what society thought you. That you let god lead your way. That you become a powerlifter and eventually will become a barber when schools over and be your own boss. That your learned that you still make bad decisions but learning from the and keep going and growing. That your learning to be proud of yourself. That you’ve been off drugs now for 8Years and have become the healthiest and strongest you’ve been this far and are getting even stronger. No you haven’t met prince Charming yet but the love you long for from him your giving your self. That you turned your Ls into lessons. Baby grrrl you’ve always been a fighter and your winning. It took a while but that’s OK. You got this. And one more important thing your part of a world wide #Grrrlarmy who’s goal is to be the inspiration you long for and making a difference in others lives. Your absolutely amazing,beautiful, loved and doing the damn thing baby grrrl. You still have faults but that OK..just continue to grow from them and love yourself and you’ll get there”
#DearGrrrl from @butchtalk
“Dear lil’ Whitney,
What a rad tomboy you are! I know you don’t see it now because you’ve been struggling with self-esteem issues since 1st grade, but you are truly one-of-a-kind. Despite all the family struggles, harmful cult-like church camps and retreats, depression, anxiety, physical and verbal assault for being gay you have already dealt with and will face in the future, you are strong and a fighter. You learn that asking for help isn’t weakness, it’s strength, and you learn to hold your head up high and walk your truth.
You’ll try to dress more feminine and put on makeup to fit societies expectations of girls and women, but you’ll eventually fully embrace your female masculinity and stop dressing in drag. Sidenote: you’re fucking smokin’ in your butchness. Own it grrrl!
As much as your brain tells you that you’re the worst, you’re not. No one beats you up more and harder than you do, but you know what? It lessens with time, lots of therapy, medication, and retraining your brain. It’s a shitton of work, but so worth it.
You are absolutely, 100%, exactly who you’re supposed to be, lil’ Whitney. A gem of a human.
In time you’ll believe it.
Be kind to yourself.
As much as you love others, give that love to yourself. You deserve it.
Welcome to our #deargrrrl project inspired by Dr Carolyn Becker. We’re asking you to write a letter to a younger you. It’s a process to promote self love, self esteem and forgiveness. To share your knowledge, help heal the scars of childhood, and help others that need encouragement right now. PLEASE join us & #deargrrrl
Wow. I’m not even sure where to start. I hate to tell you, but you’re about to experience the most challenging years of your life. You grew up with family who were sick from alcoholism. You need to know that they aren’t bad people who need to get good, but sick people who need to get well. Be mindful that you’ll walk straight into their shoes if you don’t watch your behaviours.
Everything that you are about to experience is an opportunity to grow stronger. You’re exactly where you’re meant to be in your journey, of every second that you are experiencing life.
You simply cannot fail – you are merely learning. Know that you are fully responsible for your life. You are not a victim.
You’ll make bad decisions from time to time, but as long as you take responsibility for your part, make amends, and do the next right thing, you can never truly do any wrong. Also, if you have to lie about something, you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.
You have spent your life hating your body, but I want to tell you that you are a masterpiece. I commend you for continuing to get up every time you felt like dying. While you fumble through these awkward years of your life trying to “figure it all out”, just know that you don’t have to know what your purpose is, ever. It may be big, it may be small. But trust the process.
Know that there is a God, and you aren’t it my dear. Ask for guidance from The Universe, our ego-centric minds will never be able to navigate this world on our own.
Know there are 1000 ways to do something, and the only one that is factually ‘right’ is the one that works for you. Trust your intuition.
Remember that the present moment is all we truly have.
Finally, we operate from either 1 of 2 places: Fear or Love.
Your stories keep rolling in and I couldn’t be happier to share them. This one from Gretchen has me in tears. I can relate to this feeling and I admire her courage and transparency in sharing this :
“GRRRL Live was not at all like I anticipated it would be. It was better and harder. It kicked my ass more mentally than physically. I was walking to the event Saturday morning when I got the call that my 5 year old son was sick. As a mom I instantly felt guilt for not being home. I walked into the room and the #GRRRLARMY was already in formation. I made myself feel like an outsider. With each passing empowering moment I shrunk a bit more. The old voices in my head were gaining strength. “You’re not one of them. They won’t like you. You’re not enough. Women like them aren’t friends with girls like you.” And you know what? The voice won for most of the weekend. I sat alone in a room with the #GRRRLARMY and silently struggled. I cried when I couldn’t will myself to participate and I debated attending Sunday. I worked up the nerve to chase two of my IG (s)heroes down and emotionally explained to them how following them has helped me.
Day 2 came and I slowly I got that inner voice to shut up. When it came time for board breaking I couldn’t break my board in the room with everyone else but I worked up the courage to do it in my hotel room alone. I introduced myself to another Gretchen, and then another Gretchen. There’s some magic to the fact that a name unused for 1000 years belongs to 3 women in the same movement. I gained strength at GRRRL Live by being my weakest, by realizing I still struggle to accept who I am becoming, by still being intimidated by the strength of other women because I’m scared to find my own. I can’t wait to go back next year!”
We all struggle at times. Getting out of our comfort zones and into the right environment is key. There is no better place or time to do that than at GRRRL Live with the #GRRRLARMY standing with you. I am so excited for you Gretchen. You are stronger than you give yourself credit for. It takes TONS of grown ass woman strength to step out and fight the fear that is in your head. That was no small thing! I cant wait to see you next year! Be prepared for one of my patented Spunky Hugs. We love you GRRRL xo
That feeling when you go away but it’s just like coming home. That’s what reading Lydia Valentine’s story about what GRRRL Live meant to her reminds me of.
“Ever since I became aware of GRRRL Live and it’s inception in 2017, I knew I needed to go. I had already followed GRRRLS from all over and I wanted to meet them all. Rarely do I stay interested and passionate about things in the “fitness” industry. But, I have only grown more involved and intense about this brand and what it’s about.
I work a full-time job on a college campus that prevents me from leaving town during the school year. But when the opportunity came up for me to attend GRRRL Live 2018, I did everything in my power to make it happen.
I had had a long few weeks before the weekend of GL and found out last minute that I could get coverage at my job, so I made a decision and did it. I was so tired from the week when Friday rolled around (my flight was at 10pm) I almost wasn’t excited about it; I just wanted to sleep. But I’m so happy I made it happen.
Through the GRRRL Facebook page I was able to find one of my GRRRLS who was landing around the same time as I was. We took an Uber to the Golden Nugget together. She ended up being my closest friend for the weekend and we always knew we had someone to hangout with. Shout-out to Krystal Schmidt for being my airport buddy! We finally got to the hotel. But, sadly it was after the pool party had finished and we hadn’t seen any GRRRLS until we went to the lobby to check in. Who was the first person we saw? None other than Kortney Olson herself!! There may or may not have been some crying. I was exhausted but, I’ve never felt more comfortable around a group of women.
For 2 days I forgot about my other worries. I let myself feel completely free and comfortable in the company of these amazing women. They were nothing but welcoming, friendly and loving. All things good. I tend to get caught up with how I look. I’m afraid of doing things that I want to do in fear of looking stupid and I worry about what others might think. At GRRRL Live I was entirely free from that feeling. I learned about myself, and how to be a better person for the people in my life
You know when you get so accustomed to something and you figure that’s just how it is? But, then you try this other thing and it’s so much better? and you’re like, “this is how it’s SUPPOSED to be.” That’s how I felt when I was surrounded by these women. I was accepted for me exactly as I am. I normally surround myself with supportive people but this was a whole new level!
GRRRL will always be a part of me and I couldn’t be more thankful that I had the chance to attend GRRRL Live 2018.”
Changing the game one GRRRL at a time
I had a lot of fun in the body confidence break away session at GRRRL Live and I know all of you GRRRL’s did too! There was so much energy and freedom in the room that day. Here is what Yassmin Diab had to share on her experience with teaching us all about the beautiful art of belly dancing:
“What an absolutely incredible opportunity this was, not only to be present for GRRRL Live 2018, but to be a part of teaching a workshop with 2 other bad ass women.
When I approached Kortney after GL17 about teaching a belly dance workshop, I was really doing so on a whim. Kortney didn’t know very much about me outside of being a part of the GRRRL Facebook group, and that I live in Vegas. But she was all for it! How thrilled was I?! A few months later, she emailed me about combining dance workshops to create one MEGA workshop, and that sounded like WAY too much fun to pass up!!
I’ve been a student of Arab Dance for 15 ½ years. I’ve taught various classes and workshops over the past 10. This was by far the most challenging, and the most rewarding.
I say challenging, because I’m used to teaching for an hour to an hour and a half. The structure of this workshop allotted myself and the other two GRRRLS about 35 minutes each. Who doesn’t love a challenge?
Preparing was hard. There is SO much material that I wanted to cover, I overwhelmed myself a bit. I’d go off on crazy tangents, I had well over 3 hours of music to sort through and select. However, with the help of my amazing GRRRL Supporting husband, I got the structure, the material, and the music laid out and ready.
I loved the concept of the workshop, too: Body confidence through movement! Leslie and Iryss both brought incredible classes! Leslie’s twerkshop was super high energy, and had GRRRLS dancing on the walls!! Iryss brought the super sexy chair dancing, strutting, and hair tossing! It was amazing to share time with them.
GL18 was incredible. There were so many important topics discussed over the weekend, I can’t possibly describe all of them with the attention and accolades they deserve. One that did have a profound impact on me was the Intersectional Feminism talk and the Panel. This tied directly into my portion of the workshops the next day: as a white woman who studies, performs, and teaches Arab dance, I am always conscious about cultural appropriation. I don’t want to pick and choose bits and pieces of the dance, leave the rest, and claim it as my own. I have the utmost respect and love for Arab culture. I study with Arab musicians, dancers, and teachers. This dance is someone’s culture. I have a responsibility to educate my students about it. Even if it’s something as brief as making a statement about where the dance originates from before diving into movement, or using as many of the Arabic terms for movements as possible.
Having the opportunity to not only educate the incredible GRRRLS who took the class about the origins of one of the oldest dance forms in the world. And also sharing my passion, and hopefully help impart a bit of the confidence that studying dance has granted me, has been an incredible experience. Every single GRRRL present did an amazing job picking up the minute and a half routine I presented. I couldn’t be more proud and more humbled to have been a part of this incredible event. I hope there will be opportunities in the future for me to do this again, and again, and again!! ”
Changing the game one GRRRL at a time
I Used To Be The Pretty Girl
I used to be the pretty girl that guys would talk to with ease,
I used to know how to use my smile and my body to tease.
I’m not talking about the girl before a punch took my smile,
I’m talking about the girl who stood tall and who wore the latest style.
She would never let someone knock her down.
I used to be the pretty girl that everyone knew in town,
The girl who would refuse to give in,
Knowing that what the dickhead asked of her was a crime and a sin.
Her lips wouldn’t be afraid to say no,yes,maybe, whatever he didn’t want to hear.
I used to be the pretty girl who would never let someone keep her prisoner for years,
Always begging for the anger and nasty words to stop,
I was that pretty girl who wasn’t listened to by the cops.
I’m trying to be that pretty girl again,
The broken smile I will wear proudly because I took off his ring and began.
I can be that pretty girl because I made the risky and dangerous dive,
But there are so many pretty girls who never make it out alive.
This pretty girl will hold her head high with its missing whites,
Because I’m remembering what exactly are my personal rights.
And I will be that pretty girl again someday,
You beautiful people are helping me find my way!
Your stories from GRRRL Live 2018 are starting to roll in and I’ve made it my mission to share as many as I possibly can! That weekend meant so many things to so many of us. I find myself wiping away tears while reading all of the beautiful recaps of sisterhood, new friendships and strength. My inbox is flooded and I’m loving it!
I caught up with Clinay Cameron and here is what she had to say about her experience in Las Vegas last week:
“I want to first start off by saying thank you for reaching out. I’m honored to share my experience with you. I wrote a lot because I had a lot to say. Words can’t describe how great my experience was.
I came to Grrrl Live 2018 with my friend and teammate Inky from Northern California. We both had no idea of what to expect but we were ready for anything. On Day 1, I was excited to have seen and/or met surprise guests such as Chuckie Welch and Amber Galloway. With them having roles in events like this (big or small) just makes the experience much more impactful, because you have that true form of representation in the conference. To be able to physically speak with or hear from a person you resonate with on a more personal level, is both refreshing and empowering.
I was also greatly appreciative of the themes we went over for each day, which included public and interpersonal issues we as women deal with on a day to day basis. It was awesome to see Kortney and her team of speakers addressing topics such as intersectional feminism, and the public issue of immense lack of diversity and inclusion in society as a whole.
Lastly, I was hesitant to participate in either of the Strongwoman or deadlifting competitions because I didn’t want to intimidate any of the GRRRLS from trying because of my size (and I have bad stage fright when it comes to competitions). So, I definitely did not dress or prepare for the occasion. But, what hit home for me, was seeing many of these GRRRLS go out of their way to support and cheer on one another during these two workshops. The positive energy was AUTHENTICALLY INSANE! I attempted to stay off to the side to support, but Inky and several other GRRRLS were not having it and encouraged me to deadlift and do the Strongman medley. Had I not listened, I wouldn’t have had the experience of hitting a 400 pound deadlifting PR with the #GRRRLARMY rooting for me! That was one hell of an experience I’ll never forget. I’m one who encourages people to step out of their comfort zones for a living and my hand was dealt to do do the same.
I want to give a special thanks and congratulations to Kortney Olson for doing it again! We could not have made this visit possible if it weren’t for your love, encouragement, and support. I’ll be seeing you, and thank you for all you do.”
Thank you Clinay for sharing your awesome #GRRRLLIVE2018 story! Congrats on that badass deadlift PR!
Peace, Love and Lollipops GRRRL’s