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The Journey of the Skirt: Bringing Out My Inner Badass

You never know where or when you’re going to discover your inner badass. Some don’t believe they have one, but trust me, we all do and she is waiting for you to find her. Sometimes it happens in the middle of the race when you’re in so much pain your eyeballs hurt, but you find a force you didn’t know you had and cross that finish line. That’s your inner bad ass. Or maybe your friends invited you mountain biking and by the end of the day, you were the one breaking the trail. Well, in this case our girl Amy found her inner badass ala a Title Nine skirt. Read on, be inspired and then go out and find your own inner badass. She’s waiting for you. 
Hiking one of the side canyons (photo credit: Jenna Boisvert, Backcountry Babes)

Hiking one of the side canyons (photo credit: Jenna Boisvert, Backcountry Babes)

I didn’t know the skirt was magic when I bought it. I was simply looking for something practical and cute to wear while rafting the Grand Canyon this summer and thought that a skirt would be a fun alternative to my board shorts. I found it (at Title Nine, of course) only a week before I left, and with its fun flip at the bottom, pockets for my iPhone/camera, and quick-dry material perfect for wearing around the water, I fell immediately in love.     Entering the Water I arrived in Flagstaff nervous and excited to meet my fellow adventurers. We had all signed up to spend 14 days on the Colorado River together, without any kind of outside connection (no Internet! no phone!), as we rafted and paddled 200 miles through the Grand Canyon. It was an all-women’s adventure put on by the amazing women of Backcountry Babes and guided by five incredibly strong women (both in physicality and character) from Arizona Raft Adventures (AzRA). Prior to this trip, I’d only gone rafting once—ten years ago on a short excursion through Brown’s Canyon on the Arkansas, and we might have hit one Class IV rapid, but the water levels were low so there wasn’t anything too serious. I had no idea what to expect from the Grand. I did know I was looking forward to experiencing my first all-women’s trip, witnessing the immensity and awe of the canyon from the water’s perspective and traveling back through time as we floated deep into layers and layers of really (really) old rock.

Amy GC3

As a life coach, I actively challenge my clients to push through their comfort zones, take more risks and cheer them on as they begin to understand that they’re so much more capable than they thought, and find great satisfaction as I watch their confidence grow and expand. I realized it was time for me to do that for myself. I made a commitment to try new things, to test my limits, and push my comfort zone. What were my limits? What was I going to be capable of? Would I be scared? Would I love it? I vowed to say, “Yes!” with enthusiasm and curiosity. Amy GCThe Beginnings of Magic That morning as I agonized over what I should wear, I tried on my (very limited) options. The purple board shorts (it matches my top, but feels a little tight)? The blue board shorts (comfortable, definitely an option)? The skirt? When I put the skirt on, there was an immediate feeling of “Yes!” You know when you just know that an outfit is right? There aren’t words to explain why, but you just know. The skirt it was. And the skirt actually became the go-to outfit for just about every day after that. I’ve been trying to put into words exactly what it was about the skirt that felt so right and what I realized was that it created this beautiful combination of feelings—femininity, strength, courage, confidence, sassy-ness—that I thrived on. And when I felt anxious or fearful, especially on the days we headed into the increasingly large rapids, I would put my skirt on in the morning and know that I was ready for anything. The morning of our first really big rapid, I was set to be in the front of the paddle boat (where you’re a lot more susceptible to getting pitched and going for a rough swim). You could tell it was serious business as the guides got quiet that morning while making preparations to get us through the day safely. I felt the shortening of my breath as my hands started shaking. As I sipped my coffee before heading out, I thought about everything that could go wrong. Then accepted that there was only so much I had control over and I’d do my best. As the day wore on and we approached the rapids, a sense of calm came over me and I was able to focus my energy on my boat mates, encouraging and helping them manage their own fears. As we approached the biggest rapid, I smoothed my skirt over my legs, took a deep breath, looked toward the churning water and focused my senses toward our guide to hear her commands over the roar of the rapids. Suddenly, all my remaining anxiety left, replaced with a giddiness that was decidedly unfamiliar to me in risky situations. My mouth expanded into a huge grin and I giggled. Exhilaration coursed through my body as I whooped and hollered with each onslaught of the rapids splashing toward us, landing in the face (and up the nose). Leaning over the edge of the boat, I dug my paddle deep into the water and pulled back with strength and determination. As a team, we were strong, focused and in concert with one another. We made it through, releasing our relief in laughter and more whooping. I began to joke that the skirt brought out my Inner Badass.
A day hike up Havasu Canyon (photo credit: Jenna Boisvert, Backcountry Babes)

A day hike up Havasu Canyon (photo credit: Jenna Boisvert, Backcountry Babes)

Throughout the rest of the trip, my skirt was a near-constant companion. Despite the dirt and grime that accumulated at the edges, it represented an evolution of spirit and strength that was growing stronger within me. I realized that the skirt hadn’t directly given me the confidence and courage I was experiencing on the river. It wasn’t that kind of magic. What it did was reveal that I’d had all the strength, courage and confidence all along. It exposed my Inner Badass and allowed me to experience it fully and without apology. Every time I wore the skirt, I gave myself permission to be the woman I wanted to be. And to see that that woman was pretty amazing herself.
Me on the boat (photo credit: Jenna Boisvert, Backcountry Babes)

Me on the boat (photo credit: Jenna Boisvert, Backcountry Babes)

Bringing the Magic Home The trick, of course, is to carry that experience off the river and into daily life and to inhabit the magic without wearing the skirt every day. It’s so easy to slip back into old routines and thought patterns after significant experiences or adventures outdoors when we re-enter our “ordinary” world. We often find it difficult to keep the insights and confidence we gained in sight and practice them every day. When I think about the skirt and the adventure of the Grand, I am able to access my natural confidence and strength. I am reminded that I have the choice to say “yes” more often; to take more risks; to tap into my innate courage and power; and to call upon my Inner Badass at anytime. And you know what? She’s a pretty kick ass partner. What about you? How do you tap into your Inner Badass? ------ About Amy Amy Christensen is owner and life coach at Expand Outdoors. Based in Boulder, CO, she is passionate about helping others take the leap outside their comfort zones. To celebrate the new year, she’s launching an 8-week virtual workshop focused on Building Your Foundation for Fitness. Start out your New Year’s goals with a solid foundation for creating sustainable change. And, as a Title Nine adventurer, type in “T9_build2013” (without the quotes) for a 15% discount.
6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Thanks so much for your provocative question :D
    (How do you tap into your Inner Badass?)

    January 8, 2014
  2. Amy – I rafted the canyon last spring, what an amazing experience. My reaction at Lava Rapid was just as you describe for your first rapid. I was in a 7 ft oar rig raft with just my son at the helm. I too had to sit in the bow and can still see all that water coming toward me. Brian was feeling a lot of pressure to protect his mom and could not believe that I laughed the entire way through that powerful rapid.

    My daughter (also on the trip) had taken to referring to me as her bad ass mom when she would tell people about the trip so your reference to bad ass and the Grand Canyon caught my attention.

    One of the people on our trip put together a video which I thought you might enjoy, having explored the canyon yourself. There were 5 “bad ass” women in our group of 10, I was thrilled to have been part of it!

    Here is a link to the video, the tequila spots were just following our run through Lava.
    vimeo.com/69215458 –

    My kids, Brian and Sarah, own a rafting company near Bellingham Washington – http://www.adventurecascades.com. We ran the Grand as a private trip and were there for three weeks.

    Just wanted to share.

    Mary

    August 31, 2013
  3. OK, this article makes me want to find my own Badass Skirt and get out there. Wow! What an inspiring experience and a really fun piece. Thanks, Amy.

    January 10, 2013
    • Hey Lisa.

      So glad you liked it. And hooray for getting out and playing with your own inner badass! :)

      January 11, 2013
  4. You rockit, Amy. It’s funny, I talked about my inner badassness, too, today. :) Same wavelength?

    January 9, 2013
    • Hey Gina! Yes!! Great minds and all that. ;-) Glad you liked the article.

      January 10, 2013

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