July 23, 2013

Empowered Woman Spotlight: An Interview with Amy Christensen.

Empowered Woman Spotlight: An inspirational interview series. For women about women.

The Empowered Woman Spotlight is designed to bring attention and awareness to the amazing work that women are doing in the world and inspire you to live your most brilliant life.

Welcome to the Empowered Woman Spotlight! Today, we are hearing from Amy Christensen, owner of Expand Outdoors. She offers life coaching for the adventurous (that’s you!).

Lydia Whitehead  first went to Amy because she had just finished running her first half marathon and in the weeks after, she missed the structure of training for that marathon and was feeling a little lost.

Lydia says, “Amy was offering an intro workshop on fitness foundations, so I was hoping to gain a good sense of where to go next. During the workshop, which met once a week for a few weeks, I found I really loved her energy and her openness. She just had a great way about her and a great way of noticing and questioning and pointing out things I hadn’t noticed in my own thinking or behaviors. Because of that, I decided to continue working with her after the workshop was over in order to start making sense of other things in my life. I felt I needed an outside perspective on my life, and she has been great at providing that.”

I asked Lydia what the outcome of her work with Amy was. She says, “I feel more grounded, peaceful and confident. Less chaotic and uncertain. I tend to be someone who can get a little Type A about planning and trying to control my life and knowing what’s next and Amy helps me to step back, breathe, see the big picture, and go from there. She’s helped me create more efficient structures and identify systems that work for me (such as, writing/journaling when I need to sort out a problem) and many a time has kept me from spinning my wheels for too long. She’s been a wonderful guide and facilitator to my own mind. She asks really great questions when they need to be asked and has spot on intuition. She’s been a supporter and encourager, and has helped me see the path more clearly. Generally, how we work together is, I spew out a number of thoughts, she pushes them around and usually asks clarifying questions, and then makes suggestions or we work to co-create a way to more forward and be productive about those thoughts, take action where needed.”

Interview with Amy Christensen

1) When you close your eyes and imagine an empowered woman, what do you see?

I see a woman comfortable in her own skin. A woman who is not afraid to use her voice and speak her truth, regardless of what others think. She is humble yet bold, living her life aligned with her values, passions and vision for herself.

2) Tell us a little bit about your own personal path of empowerment? What was significant?

I liken my path (which is still unfolding and ever-evolving) as very similar to hiking in the mountains. There have been so many moments of pure joy and innate beauty, along with challenges, hard work, and flat-out slogs through particularly rough spots.

If I were to look back at my path, I’d have to say I’ve always been on it, but a few key moments stand out:

The first being the first time I ran a mile in my life—at the age of 26. That run led me on a path of connecting myself very consciously to my physicality (which I had taken for granted before and not really thought much about). I learned that I was stronger than I thought. I learned that I was far more capable and resilient than I’d ever imagined. And I realized that I had a lot more to offer the world and those I loved, than I was allowing myself at the time. My world slowly began to open up to new possibility and opportunity after that first year of running. If I could run a 5K, could I run a 10K? Half marathon?

The boundaries I had (unconsciously) set for myself began to stretch and grow wider. Could I take a new job and double my salary? Could I move to a place of my own? What if I quit my job and started my own business? I got really curious about what was possible, which has opened so many amazing experiences for me.

Another key moment was when I did quit my corporate job. I ended up taking some time to figure out what I wanted to do and then when back to school for a coaching certification and started my own business (knowing very little about being an entrepreneur). It’s been a wild ride with lots of lessons, but I’ve grown so much as a business owner, a woman, and a coach. It’s been wonderful.

The last key moment I want to mention is when my husband and I bought a van, converted it into an adventure van, packed up everything we owned, put it in storage, and set out traveling around the country for a year. We adjusted our schedule to work part time during the week (we’re both self-employed) and spent the rest of the week trail running, climbing, mountain biking and camping. We covered 22,000 miles, 25 states and 23 National Parks in that year. As a woman who’d grown up in the same house for 18+ years, this was huge for me. I thrive on structure and routine and being forced to recreate what that means was an incredibly empowering and liberating experience. Not to mention redefining what “home” means and learning how to adapt to new situations every day.

 3) What advice or suggestions can you give to women walking the path of empowerment?

Trust yourself. Work to quiet the noise of the external world and really get to know what your voice sounds like. Sometimes it’ll be telling you something you don’t want to hear, but that’s usually when you need to listen to it most. Stay open to possibility and get curious. Let go of pre-conceived ideas and perspectives and cultivate an awareness of the world around you. Get out in nature and reconnect to the stillness.

4) How do you support women to live empowered lives?

My coaching practice really focuses on helping women quiet the “noise” of the world and learn what their own wisdom is telling them. I encourage healthy risk-taking and stepping out of that all-too-easy comfort zone. When we push our limits and challenge ourselves, we gain such valuable insight into how strong and courageous we really are. We’re so much more capable than we think.

5) What inspires you?

I find inspiration in the outdoors and nature. It’s where I go to quiet my own outside world and reconnect to myself and the things that are important to me. I’m also continually inspired by others who are living their lives on their terms. Who are passionate and excited about where (and who) they are and what’s ahead. People who are making a difference in unique and creative ways—whether it’s at home or on a bigger scale. I get really jazzed seeing others live their lives unapologetically and with gusto.

6) How do you take care of yourself everyday so that you stay balanced and centered?

This definitely fluctuates for me. There are times I’m much better at finding my center than others. But what helps me is to journal a lot, pay attention to my energy level, and let go of the things that are draining me and focus on the things that excite me. I also trail run in the foothills and that seems to be a pretty foolproof way for me to regain perspective when I’m feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Self-compassion and lots of rest help, too!

7) What is your vision or hope for women on the planet?

 That our voices are heard around the world.

8) What role do men play in supporting empowered women? How have men supported you?

I’ve been very fortunate to have amazing men in my life that continue to encourage and support me. I believe that both men and women have a critical role in empowering women. It’s about trusting each other and providing mutual respect. When we believe in others, in the unique talents and contributions of our neighbors, we have the ability to create a much stronger and connected community all around—for everyone.

9) Why is the outdoors so important in empowering women?

 I think the outdoors is important for everyone! It serves as a connection to our wisest selves and the greater world around us. I find we gather so much strength from being in nature and experiencing the awe that comes from knowing that the world is much bigger than it seems when we’re focused on our particular corner.

Thank you Amy Christensen for sharing your insights and wisdom and Lydia Whitehead for contributing your experience of working with Amy!

Do you have an amazing and empowered woman in your own life that has helped open a door to healthier and happier living? If so, submit your entry here! I’d be happy to connect with both of you for the Empowered Woman Spotlight.

Read the previous Empowered Woman Spotlight with Sue Van Raes, owner of Boulder Nutrition.

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Ed: Bryonie Wise

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