Like so many Roaring Fork Valley transplants, Ashley Mauldin moved here without friends already living in the area. Fresh from the front range about seven years ago, she was the new mom of a six-month-old daughter, and the new owner of her private counseling practice; life was changing dramatically. Although her husband’s family was close by to provide foundational support, Mauldin still felt a void without a few kindred spirits to call up for so much as a Saturday coffee date.
“At that time I knew nobody,” the New Castle resident recalls. “There were plenty of mom groups out there, and I joined the Chamber and was out trying to meet people. But at the same time, I didn’t always feel like I fit anywhere. I was wondering, ‘Where are my people at?’”
Fast forward a few years, and Mauldin also began to feel disheartened by the brewing social divisions she saw between otherwise good and well-meaning people after the country’s most recent presidential election. Around this time she often reflected on the wisdom of author Brené Brown, whose book “Braving the Wilderness” included the quote: People are hard to hate close-up.
“That really felt powerful to me,” Mauldin says. “So I thought about how people can make true connections and acknowledge their differences, but still respect who they each are as a person.”
Drawing upon her work as a therapist, her experiences as a valley newcomer, and the inspiration she drew from many of Brown’s writings on belonging and living with intention, Mauldin formulated a plan: She would start her own local women’s group. By July 2018, she did. Daring Women held its first official meeting that month in Glenwood Springs.
“We meet monthly in different locations, and each meeting has been centered around a different concept that encourages connection, acceptance, and personal growth,” Mauldin notes. “It’s an open group for any woman who is seeking that in life. We always have an activity, but it’s more than that—there is always a deeper discussion going on.”
Mauldin plans each event around activities that appeal to a variety of interests, and helps facilitate themed discussions among attendees. Last month, for “Daring Women on the Rocks” at the Monkey House climbing facility in Carbondale, Mauldin steered the gathering to focus on breaking out of comfort zones and shedding expectations of perfection. This month, “Daring Women and Plants” focuses on reconnecting with nature and practicing mindfulness. In June, “Daring Women and Peace” will feature a self-development workshop to inspire women to discover the power within themselves.
“I’ve met so many incredible women already, and also seen them share such meaningful conversations and experiences with each other,” Mauldin says, adding that in the future she envisions the possibility of local Daring Women chapters for each town in the valley.
“This is my passion,” she adds. “The group is becoming exactly what I hoped it would be, for myself and for other women here who want to support each other.”
For more about Daring Women, find the group on:
Facebook and Instagram (@DaringWomenLLC)
FROM ASHLEY: FIVE DARES THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE
1. Dare to say no.
“We often say yes to things we don’t have time or energy for because we worry what other people will think. When we say yes for this reason, we betray ourselves in an attempt to fit in. Saying no requires developing a better relationship with ourselves by creating clarity around what’s truly important.”
2. Dare to embrace your imperfections.
“True connection requires a willingness to be vulnerable, to show up as our authentic selves. Instead many of us wear a mask of perfection, hiding our struggles, flaws and fears. I dare you to show up more fully yourself with those who have earned the right to see you.”
3. Dare to get uncomfortable.
“Nothing changes if nothing changes. Many people have become complacent because it is comfortable. It’s comfortable to go home, have some wine and watch Netflix. It’s important to relax and be comfortable at times but you will never grow into your best self unless you are getting uncomfortable.”
4. Dare to dream big.
“We all have something we’ve dreamed of that feels scary. We often look up the mountain we want to climb and feel so overwhelmed that we decide to not even take the first step. I dare you to take that first step by telling at least one person your dream.”
5. Dare to be vulnerable.
“Vulnerability will always give us the answer we need, not necessarily the one we want. Someone may reject us for who we really are, which is extremely hurtful but also good information. This allows us to start surrounding ourselves with people who truly love us, shortcomings and all.”