Amy Cullen talks to us about starting Ladies Who Shred and her love of adventure..Enjoy!
Ladies Who Shred was born from an instagram account I started after competing in the Women's Section of the 2017 Midwest Freestyle Championships for whitewater kayaking. Funny thing is I had NEVER freestyle whitewater kayaked before! Hahaha. I definitely was not planning on competing. However, with the support and encouragement of the few women (there are not many in whitewater kayaking but it's growing all the time) who were there and who were also competing I gained the confidence (albeit very nervous) to give it a shot. A classic moment of "Why not? What's the worst that could happen?" Frankly I've not competed in athletic sports much if at all. I played on a couple sports teams in high school but nothing like this with an audience and an announcer talking specifically about me.
There are two amazing things I took away from this event. One, having a group of women come together who support and encourage each other is so powerful it can change the way a person sees themselves and what they're capable of. Two, it didn't matter that I couldn't do the tricks, the fact that I got on that water in front of everyone with the other women cheering me on was incredible and made me realize I'm capable of so much more than I thought.
The realization that so many women (myself included) think they could never do adventure and outdoor things sparked a passion in my to help other women realize they are so much more capable that even they may be able to image. All the excuses of I'm not skinny enough, I'm not strong enough, I'm not young enough, I'm not brave enough, I'm not *whatever* enough slip away as I prove to myself I can do these even when when I'm not a peak performance athlete. I've learned none of those "I'm not enough's" are true and I want other women to feel how incredibly amazing it is to dig down and find out how much stronger they are–inside and out–than they ever imagined whether it's getting outside and going for a walk in a forest or shredding up some whitewater in a kayak, we are all capable of being shredders.
Being outdoors continues to be proven scientifically to increase happiness, health and confidence. I know it's helped me with all of those things and what's not to love about that? However, beyond the science of it is the relationship I have to nature through my heritage of being Ojibwa and Cree. I grew up knowing that nature was a place to honor and respect. Being an adult and finding a new way to connect has been really powerful for me. I still hold a very special regard for nature but it’s so cool to connect on a new level that is all play and fun.