It is our absolute honor as founders of Awakened Feminine to get the chance to interview and connect with powerful, creative, exciting women with totally beautiful souls. Erin Stutland is one of those women, someone who caught our eye a while back because of the work she offers women through her SHRINK SESSION workout program, a mix of yoga, cardio dance, kick boxing, meditation, life coaching and affirmations (yes, seriously ALL those things….it’s clearly our kinda thing!)and because of the place she holds for all of us to truly SHINE and step into our power and manifest our dreams. Her energy and dedication is contagious and inspiring, so we are exceptionally excited to offer you this totally AWESOME interview with our AF soul sister!!
Before we start the interview though, we want to invite ALL of you to join Erin’s AMAZING and FUN and super EFFECTIVE “Say, Sweat it, Get it” Challenge kicking off December 1st! It’s free, and it’s awesome. She’ll be giving you short, easy-to-follow workouts using mantras, music and movement to show you how to create a shift in your body and mind in just 5 minutes a day! We all have 5 minutes, right? Give it a try! These workouts will lift your heart rate AND your spirit.
You can sign up here, we know we will!! http://shrinksessionworkout.com
And now…..AFing Erin Stutland…..GO!
AF: We remember when we first saw you and your work, and we were like “fuck yeah! I want that!” It wasn’t a body envy thing ( although congratulations on that! like, seriously….), it was more of an inner radiance and fearlessness that we were attracted to. You reminded us of a part of ourselves that were itching to be seen.
It still blows us away to have this natural reaction to another woman’s success and beauty. It used to be a comparison or a jealousy and now it’s pure enthusiasm. We find ourselves blown away by how we experience other women now… all of our work with AF has showed us this.
How have other women played a role in your expansion on an inner level and also on a professional level?
I love you guys. You ask great questions:)
I think like most girls growing up, I felt a lot of female competition amongst peers. I am not sure if it was the school I went to or just what it is like to be a teenage girl.
So I don’t think I understood true female bonding and role models until I got to college and spent hours upon hours with the girls in my conservatory like college dance program. We were all there for the same reason, to dance, but we were all so differently, physically. I think that was a good thing.
Since then, my relationship with other women has only blossomed and grown. I learned years ago, that if you can celebrate your friends’ or mentors’ successes as if they were your own, you will start to feel like a champion every day.
Because as individuals, we don’t win every day in our lives. We don’t always score the goal in every game. BUT, someone does! Imagine if you can shift from feeling a sense of competition when your friend scores to a feeling of elation, because it feels like she scored for the whole team.
A rising tide lifts all boats. I believe this whole heartedly. I think this shift of celebrating the women in my life has expanded my capacity to both give and receive love. I see women struggling with this, holding on to a sense of competition and my sense is that there is a lot of pain there. I know it used to feel that way for me.
AF: Seeing women like you kicking ass also reveals to us the parts of ourselves that are resistant to success and even resistant to believing in ourselves. We imagine that you must have pushed through some inner barriers around all of this to be empowered and lead women in the way that you do. Would you share what some of those battles looked like, and how you moved through them?
ES: I think in some ways, I have always sort of liked leading or speaking up for my ideas or for those who are too shy to do so. I was always stepping up if something wasn’t right or if someone wasn’t being treated fairly as a kid. So in some ways, leading has always been fairly natural.
BUT, and this is the important part, I think there was a certain level at which I was comfortable leading. You know, like only SO many people at a time or I was only able to step out SO far.
I think we all have our upper limits and there came a time in my business where I started to notice mine.
A few years ago, I began to see that my beliefs around leading large amounts of people were incongruent to what I wanted my business to look like. I wanted to make a wonderful living doing what I loved and believed in. I wanted to have a huge community of people who were inspired by like concepts.
However, some where deep down, I believed that in order for my work, my message, my art to be effective or understood, I had to take care of every person in the room. I believed that in order for people to ‘get it’, they would need to have the chance to speak up, share THEIR thoughts and really be seen in whatever workshop setting I had been creating.
And while I believe that is a really good value to have, the desire to take care of people and truly see them, it also a) put a lot of pressure on me and b) made the assumption that I truly knew what everyone needs. I realized that not everyone wants to share. Some people just really need to be in the space with others and listen quietly without the pressure to have to say a single thing.
When I started to let go of the need to please everyone or attempt to control everyones experience with my work, I started to allow myself to just share and trust that whatever people are meant to get from it, they will get.
This created a tremendous amount of freedom. I had less anxiety about growing my business, because I decided that the numbers of people weren’t about me. My only job was to show up. listen and be generous with what it is I believe to be true. I have to say, it’s a lot more fun as well.
AF: You have also set a really high standard for how women perceive themselves. And although you mainly focus on fitness, you take a real holistic approach to address the woman’s self image on a deeper level as well. What do you do to feed yourself on that deeper level?
ES: Truthfully, I am more passionate about the mind, our thoughts, our focus, our attention and the stories we tell ourselves and others, than I am about any calories, muscles or anything fitness related.
It’s just that I happen to be a mover and lover of dance. I just can’t help myself
I have always found that expressing, sharing, clearing, changing and rearranging our minds can happen so beautifully through our bodies. It’s really sort of magical.
So I always come back to my body when I need to feed myself. I love teachers and artists that know how to bring you quickly and beautifully into your body through anything from movement, to music, to stories, to sense or emotional memory.
That’s why when I say come back to my body, sometimes it’s something like a yoga class or a massage, but sometimes for me it’s seeing an amazing movie, going to hear live music, or going to the theater. Because good storytelling can bring you back into your body just as wholly as moving it around.
AF: AF focuses a lot on connecting with our inner beauty. We call it soul beauty. It is an inner energy that, through our practice, we have woken up to, and it has been a driving force in our lives. What does soul beauty mean to you?
ES: Soul Beauty to me means listening on many levels to your own inner workings, dialogues and longings and honoring them, whatever they may be. It means being conscious of these things and telling the truth about them through your work, your choices and your relationships. It also means being aware of the energy you bring into all these things and always doing your best to be kind to yourself and others. Kindness is the most beautiful thing in the world.AF: Can you give us one sparkle quote or mantra that immediately reminds you of your power?
ES: “You don’t need to see the whole staircase. You just need to take the first step.” – MLK
This reminds me of my power, because we almost ALWAYS, if not 100% of the time, have enough information to take one teeny tiny step forward. And usually that one step will lead us to the next one and the next. It reminds me I don’t need all the information, today. I don’t need to know all the pieces to the puzzle. I just need to MOVE one foot in front of the other. I can do that. We all can do that.
Erin Stutland, we love you! Thank you for taking the time to share these insights with us, for inspiring us both personally, and for dedicating yourself to lifting up other women! We will definitely be participating in the Say it, Sweat, Get it Challenge…Get it all you amazing AF Beauties!!!Love,