Meet Jackie Blackburn, founder of She Guides The Way. This is her story of how the outdoors raised her self-esteem, transformed her career and helped her (in her words) drop the “bullshit stories”.
Feet grounded, heart open, arms stretched out wide and head tilted back, flowing in the energy of the sunset on the side of a mountain. For me this is a sacred space of aligning with I who really am. Basically, dropping all of the bullshit stories I carry in my mind and in my body. The stories of not being good enough, being too much, basically being too whatever everyone thinks I should be, our do, or look like. Most importantly finally actually loving who I am and know I am enough just as I am, for the first time in my life. The letting go wasn’t anything that I had learned, this is what my soul was crying out for. So I asked for guidance and I went with it, I trusted my inner-knowing to begin teaching me how the Universe really thought of me and how it wanted me to let go of my perceptions of how the world is and it did all of this through hiking and connecting with nature.
When I first began hiking alone, I did so because everyone was busy. Well I couldn’t just wait around for someone so, I created the motto “Make Your Own Adventures.” I would hike only a couple of different trails, a few hours before sunset. It helped me to gain my confidence in my abilities especially with my feet and unstable rock. “Let the feet do the thinking” quickly became my motto, because when you overthink your steps that’s when you fall. You’re body knows what to do and that is the beauty about hiking, it teaches you to trust your mind, body and soul. This is the part that lights me up, because so often as a child and even a grown adult I didn’t feel capable of doing anything like this. I had my fair share of childhood accidents that made me feel incapable and hiking changed all of that for me. It helped me to completely shift my mindset from fear to I got this!
With my self-esteem built up, soon I was hiking up the mountain later to meditate and watch the sunset and for me this was my everything. It quickly became a ritual for me because if you have ever seen an Arizona sunset you know why! On weekends I would get up early to hike before people were on the trail, sometimes taking a nap on some rocks or reading a book. As I spent more time on my trail the more I was connecting to the magic I had never seen before. My spirit animal the red tailed hawk kiting over me on numerous occasions. The hooting of great horned owls. Little creatures like lizards, the caterpillars that would you have to walk around, and sparrows tweeting so loudly. Hiking the same trail and seeing the subtle changes of the seasons over the years. I like call all of this “Tangible Divinity” because when you pay attention to nature you can see that the divinity that is in all things is also within you. There is Divine Love connecting us all.
With all of these spiritual truths coming to me as I hiked and finding myself, I was beginning to see a new path being created for me. This would eventually become my life’s purpose of guiding people into their own inner-knowing. So I created my company, She Guides The Way. I am a Life Coach that likes to get my clients on the trail, connect with nature, tap into their own inner-knowing, all while building their confidence in their capabilities. I lead Full Moon group hikes that helps people connect with the sun, moon, Mother Earth and Father Sky. These are powerful ceremonies full of love, healing and intention setting.
But let’s be honest here for a second, there were always nay sayers and people concerned with my well-being. Saying things like, “A young woman like you shouldn’t be hiking alone in the dark.” And while I honor their point of view, it has always been my responsibility to stay in my peace and know my abilities. I was always responsible with the right gear and a head lamp. It is so easy to go on the path of illusions with your fears. It is a constant resurgence of trusting yourself. This is how inner-power is built, because at the end of the day no one knows how to live your life better than you.
You can follow Jackie on Instagram: @sheguidestheway
When I started Here with Her I wasn’t exactly clear on what it could become. I knew I wanted to empower women to get outside and feel the freedom I do in nature. As I moved toward this calling I put my faith in a higher power to guide me. I wrote this prayer:
“I know you put this dream in my heart because you want me to see it through. I will walk in your path as you guide my steps. I turn my fears over to you and trust in your plan. Thy will be done.”
The path started to become clear when I posted this picture (above) from The Moanalua Valley Trail in Hawaii. I wanted to share this moment of pure elation on my hike through the most breathtaking beauty I’ve ever seen. For the first time in my life I didn’t care that I was about to post a photo with my hair totally out of place, my crow’s feet showing, no fake lashes, no eyeliner. I wanted to share my experience, my accomplishment and my bravery on this hike.
Up until last year, I placed my value on my appearance. I thought what my body looked like was more important that what it was capable of. I needed my physique to be perfect, my hair to be glamorous, my lashes to be long and my skin to be free of any imperfections. It turns out, I didn’t actually care about any of these things to please myself, I cared about them to please others.
I spent my entire adulthood in the TV industry where I had to endure cruel opinions about my appearance. I felt ashamed about the way I looked. I was born with light blonde hair that grew to my hips by middle school. I got curves at 14 years old. I was told so many times during my career that my hair was too blonde for TV. I looked too much like Barbie. My boobs were too big and needed to become less of a distraction. I endured the humiliating experience of having a consultant take me BRA SHOPPING. It was reinforced for many years that no one would take me seriously because of my appearance.
Do you know how much that hurts? To be told your appearance is going to hold you back regardless of your effort, skills or intelligence?
Somehow public judgment of my appearance was worth more than my talent.
Unfortunately, I believe most women understand this pain. For one reason or another, the way we look seems to somehow be used against us at some point in our lives. For some it’s because we are a so-called Barbie, others are considered overweight, some are judged for the color of their skin, maybe they’re considered masculine. I mean, we’re too skinny, not skinny enough, we’re too old, we’re not old enough… BLAH BLAH BLAH!
The pressure for me to change and look another way doesn’t align with who I really am. Succumbing to judgment does not align with who any of us really are.
When we get outdoors there is no judgment. Nature doesn’t think I’m too blonde. Nature doesn’t get offended by my curves. Nature doesn’t mind my wrinkles. Nature doesn’t care that I bite my nails and have an autoimmune disease causing my hands to peel.
Nature only cares that I show up for her.
The person I am out here… this is who I really am. Out here, I don’t think about what I look like. Out here I just think about how I feel. Out here I don’t think about my legs having cellulite, scars and stretch marks. I think about where my legs can take me. Out here I don’t worry about judgments. In fact, I don’t worry about anything.
I thank God for giving me a love for the outdoors. The outdoors saved me from a superficial life. The outdoors saved me from this trap of trying to be perfect. The outdoors saved me from the prison of public opinion.
From here forward, I am dedicating this brand to not only sharing beautiful outdoor destinations, but also to sharing stories of how nature has helped women defy society’s insane expectations of them.
So please ladies- share your stories with me. Tell me how nature has helped you see the REAL you. Tell me how it’s changed your life for the better. We want to hear your story. We need to hear your story.
Please tag @here_with_her in your Instagram posts and use #herewithher. You can also send an email with your story and photo to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your support!