I am beyond excited to attend REI Outessa again this year, this time at Mt. Hood. Last year I attended the Kirkwood event and had the most incredible experience. I have new lifelong friends from last years REI Outessa and I hope to meet and play in the outdoors with every single one of you.
I am attending as an REI ambassador so please shoot me any questions you may have and I will do my best to help you answer them. I will be posting more in the future as well to cover common questions and topics like: what to pack, what to expect, how to plan your weekend, what i’m looking forward to, what I am expecting to get out of the weekend… and more!
I attended last year completely solo, and as an introvert and a very shy person, the event seemed daunting. I was worried I was going to have a hard time making friends and having a good time. REI Outessa came at a perfect time in my life which was also a very hard time of my life. Five days before the event, my boyfriend dumped me and took our puppy. I was completely blindsided, wrecked and devastated. I loved both very much and thought I had finally everything right in my life. Life works in interesting ways: it's easy to look back now and see that it wasn't right, but at the time I wanted to just hide in a closet, far from from the world I knew. I was strongly considering not attending the weekend. I was beat down and heartbroken. The last thing (or so I thought) I wanted to do was to put myself out there with a bunch of strangers, in an unfamiliar environment. A friend told me that this was exactly what I needed and encouraged me to attend still, so I did. On day 1 of the event, shortly after arriving and settling in, I received a phone call from my sister, who was crying so hard I could hardly make out any of her words. She told me that our very close family friend, a man I would consider a second father, Dave, had passed away. I sat there at that curb, crying into my lap for at least an hour. I had a day of activities planned I (again) wanted to just run away from it all. Dave would tell me to toughen up and get my butt out there. So I did that. I got up, wiped the tears off my face and went straight to the lake. It was in this moment when I decided that this was no longer the time to be shy. I was now the time to speak out and reach out. I didn't want to hide my feelings and what I was going through. The women I shared my story with graciously did the same in return. Some women had lost their husband, were recently divorced, and some felt that they had just lost themselves over the years of raising their children. Some women brought their daughters to the event as a mother-daughter bonding experience. I loved that so much. It turned my mind calm and speaking and listening with these women made light of my situation.
The next two days flew by. From the rock wall, to the trails to the water. I talked with so many wonderful women from all walks of life. I was so grateful for everyone's support of each other and sharing their stories with me from complete strangers. It made me realize that although we all may live in different areas, look different, act different, and have a wildly different past from each other, we all have more in common than I may have realized. We all can hurt. We all can heal. We all need support and we all need love. Sometimes that is as easy as being an ear for someone, sometimes that is the opposite, you need to talk something out. What we may need may be what someone else can offer. The Outessa event gave me all I needed and more in a very trying time in my life. Outessa can be a very emotional and personal experience, and I am today a stronger, more independent woman and I credit that to the power of the love I felt from the women at REI Outessa.
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