February is the month of love and I made you wait all month for this lovely #WCW. The Women Crush Wednesday hashtag and social media trend is nothing new. But I am trying to reclaim that title not just for half naked celebrities or women you actually know nothing about. The women I crush over are using their womenhood, their voice and their passions to make our world brighter. I have some incredible women in my life so I am honored to share them with you. I hope you find them as inspiring as I do.
The first time I went down to Bondi Beach for a free yoga event I had no idea what to expect. When I got there there were about 250 people there and I didn’t know a single soul. It was Ally’s first time ever teaching after her yoga teacher training and her familiar American accent and bubbly personality caught my attention right away. (One of us. One of us.) She took us through an awesome practice and shared such vulnerable pieces of her life story. After this experience I decided I would come back because she said there was free yoga at One Wave’s events every Friday. I quickly realized it was not just yoga but a whole non profit organization and community dedicated to breaking the stigma against mental health.
Slowly but surely Ally turned from my yoga teacher into my good friend but I felt like I knew her much more than she knew me because a yoga class with Ally is like experiencing part of her soul. She is such an incredible story teller and weaves themes throughout her classes in a way I’ve never seen someone else do. She is someone I am genuinely so grateful to know and I know that anyone who knows her feels the same. Thank you Ally, for shining your light in this world. For being vulnerable, strong, independent, funny and most of all caring. Your friendship and yoga teaching has inspired me in so many ways I’m not sure I could ever explain them all. I’ll let Ally take it from here so you can get to know her too.
- What do you think makes a woman worth “crushing” over?
Her confidence and ability to show her authentic self no matter what audience she is in front of. Someone who can drop the masks and show her true heart.
- What do you do for a living? What is the most challenging part about it?
Last year I walked away from a corporate sales/marketing career of 13 years. I suffered from extreme burnout after dealing with the politics and pressures of working for large companies my entire career. I longed for a more purpose driven life so I took a leap of faith and launched my own LLC called The Spirit Bird Life which focuses on empowerment through yoga & life coaching.
The hardest part initially has been dropping my own ego. When I first moved into this new chapter I felt like I had to prove I had a successful “business career” by introducing myself as “Hi I’m Ally, I used to be a corporate marketer.” I felt like I needed to prove that I was smart & successful before I said I taught yoga. Luckily I quickly got over that when I realized what I do now has so much more of a positive impact on the world. Now I proudly introduce myself as a yoga teacher & life coach. I have the best job in the world because I get to touch lives everyday.
- Who are three women that you look up to and have inspired you the most in your career/life?
#1 is my grandmother Gee Gee. In 1992 she lost her husband, son, & sister within months of each other. That would have absolutely shattered most people causing them to numb the pain in unhealthy ways. Instead she turned to faith, friends, & fitness. That same year she went on to launch Sr. Women’s Basketball in San Diego. She put an ad in the local newspaper asking for other women interested in playing to meet at the local YMCA. Three weeks in a row she went down to the YMCA and waited for others to show up. Sadly they did not. She gave herself one more try and that day four other women showed up. What started as a small crew has now grown to hundreds of thousands worldwide. Not only has this given older women the opportunity to play a sport that was just for boys when they grew up it has inspired young women across the globe that you’re never too old to do something amazing. Check out the video below which has over 13 million views on FB! Meg Skinner is my awesome grandmother (#2).
#2 is Helen Walton, the wife of Sam Walton founder of Walmart. Growing up in the small town of Bentonville, Arkansas I had the pleasure of knowing the Walton family personally. What I loved about Helen is although she was one of the richest women in the world you would have never known it. She was humble, open to having a chat with anyone, and lived modestly finding her joy through camping and art instead of fancy things and fashion. Although her husband worked crazy hours she was there by his side supporting him so much so that he has been quoted saying she was his best business advisor. They were one strong team who not only ran the world’s largest retailer, they raised a wonderful family, and touched so many communities through their philanthropic efforts. She is the epitome of the statement “behind a strong man is an even stronger woman.”
#3 So this may be a weird way to answer the question but I would have to say #3 is me! I survived an abusive marriage/traumatic divorce, moved across the world solo to reinvent myself in a foreign country where I continued to get knocked down, walked away from a career which eventually lead me to an anxiety disorder, sold everything I owned to travel the world alone, and am now taking a massive leap into a new territory as an entrepreneur. When things get tough these days I look at myself in the mirror and say “you have been through SO MUCH harder…you’ve got this!” Instead of hiding all my bumps and bruises I talk about them in my yoga classes, coaching sessions, and friendships. By showing that vulnerability I’ve found it allows me to connect with others and even more importantly find strength in myself.
- What is one topic you wish more women knew about on a global scale? Why?
Hands down – mental health! There is not a women in the world who hasn’t been affected by it whether it is within or with a loved one. When someone has a broken arm people ask what happened and offer support. However mental health is invisible so people do not really talk about it. Luckily I found the most amazing mental health awareness charity while I was living abroad in Australia called OneWave. Instead of treating mental health as invisible we would dress in the brightest, most ridiculous fluro outfits to raise awareness. This is where I began my yoga career teaching the bright souls every Fluro Friday morning. I was moved by the most incredible people, stories, and support network…one of those is my dear friend Susie:). At OneWave we recognize that it’s “ok to not be ok” and offer a safe space to share openly without judgement. OneWave had such an impact on my own life that I’m in the process of launching a chapter at my local beach in Encinitas, California.
- What advice do you give to women who feel that they are constantly surrounded by drama in their group of friends?
Set boundaries! The best advice I’ve received in this space actually came from a veterinarian. Last year my puppy love’s health began to decline. In asking the vet how to know when to make “the decision” she said “you will know when to let go when the bad days out number the good.” For some reason this advice struck a cord with me and I’ve used it in so many other areas of my life (jobs, friendships, relationships). Ask yourself if this relationship has more bad days than good. If the answer is yes then it’s probably time to let it go. This can be done by stopping putting in effort or in some cases it may take creating boundaries like deleting numbers, blocking on social media, etc. In the last year I’ve taken both approaches and it’s allowed me to decrease the drama in my life significantly and fill it with more things that bring me joy.
- Do you believe being a strong woman with a passion for her career takes away from a woman’s ability to be a loving partner/mother/friend/sister ?
Absolutely not! If she is doing something she enjoys then I think it strengthens her ability to be a loving partner/mother/friend/sister. When a women feels a sense of purpose in her career it gives her confidence in all other areas of her life. The key is finding a balance that also includes taking space for herself.
- What is something you are really excited about currently in your own life?
My new chapter! Crazy, beautiful is how I described my last year. Never in my life have I experienced more change, taken more risks, and embarked on more adventures. From quitting my corporate career of 13 years to launching my own business. From starting the year with an anxiety disorder to ending calm, grounded, and helping others manage to find peace through my yoga classes and coaching sessions. From selling everything I owned and traveling the world in search of the answer to finding it right back in my birthplace. 2017 scarred me and shaped me, pushed me and pulled me, broke me and opened me and forever changed my life. This year I’m most excited to start this chapter embracing my new life as an entrepreneur in San Diego.
- Why is self love an important part of being a modern day woman?
If our own heart is not full how can we fill anyone else’s? That love starts within and once discovered it is unstoppable. It spreads like wildfire and positively influences all that it meets.
- If you could have a lunch date with any woman on the planet, who would it be?
Taylor Swift! I first discovered this amazing female when she was an early teen…big hair, a guitar & a smile playing in a parking lot for a Walmart event. My dad and I both looked at each other like “whoa this girl has got something.” Since then she has been my fav and I’ve enjoyed watching her journey to the top. I love how she takes her trauma into triumph through telling her stories with music. I also love how she gives young girls a celebrity role model to look up to…kind, classy, funny, humble, strong, and fantastic to her fans. I would love to spend an afternoon trading dating stories, laughing, and getting her advice on being a strong successful business woman.
- How can anyone reading this keep up with you and what you’re doing in the future?
Follow my journey on social media The Spirit Bird Life (IG & FB). Also shoot me a note on my website www.thespiritbirdlife.com and I can add you to the mailing list for exciting updates.
- Bonus: What questions do you have for me?
How do you find grounding with all your recent worldly moves and your life being a bit up in the air? Do you constantly feel like you’re starting all over?
What a timely question. As you know, my life has been in “transition” for the last year. First the temporary move to New Zealand, then full time travel in America and Europe this summer and then choosing to stay in England for my 6 month tourist visa. Right now I write this at my brother’s home in Atlanta, Georgia where I will be for the next few weeks/months until my partner visa for England is approved. Up in the air is an understatement.
But oddly enough, I feel the most joyful I have for a long time. I find grounding in my healthy habits. Now more than ever. I started a workout program six weeks ago in England and I’ve carried through with it in 4 differents cities. Although some people think it’s harder to maintain a healthy lifestyle while moving around a lot–these healthy habits are my safe place. I love that I can sweat anywhere. I can bust out my mat. I can meditate & write in my gratitude journal. I can grocery shop, meal prep, and fuel my body with good fuel pretty much anywhere I go.
I do feel like I am starting over but these routines and rituals I bring with me everywhere keep me grounded and I honestly think it’s fun to start again. There are bad days. There are lots of tears. Lonely moments. Frustration. Anxiety. You name it. But I don’t dwell on those. I just keep it moving forward and focus on the good bits. It doesn’t mean the bad stuff doesn’t exist… I just choose to pour my energy in the things that make me feel safe, grounded and joyful and the rest will figure itself out.
Thanks Ally, for sharing a piece of your journey with me and my readers. Thank you for your friendship and all the advice you have shared with me in the short time we’ve known each other. Women like you are without a doubt worth crushing over. I love watching you soar, you Spirit Bird. Never stop soaring.