Femme Friday: Courtney Sutton

IMG_5334.jpg

This week, I want to shine a light on a beautiful woman (inside + out) with a beautiful mission: to promote self-love and encourage female friendships. Every woman has experienced that sting of jealousy for another woman's success when you should be feeling happiness instead. We also have all been on the receiving end of this jealousy, which fuels our negativity towards other women instead of a desire to lock arms with one another.

Courtney combats this trend with her own blog series, Gal Pal Society, and by who she is. In this Femme Friday spotlight, I wanted to share who Courtney is so that you can follow her, her writing, and her soul projects. I truly want our True Co. followers to be filled up by the same sources of inspiration and positivity that encourage us... and Courtney is one person that will brighten your day with REAL positivity, cute stories of her daughters (I'm Haddie's Fan Club Leader), and make you want to be a better friend to other women. xo Sarah

Follow Courtney:

Courtney's personal + Gal Pal Society Instagram
Blue Bandana Photo's Instagram
Peeky-Lou Who Website

 Courtney with her daughters, Gemma and Haddie.

Courtney with her daughters, Gemma and Haddie.

 Tell me about yourself.

My name is Courtney, I'm 28, a wife, and mother of two girls, Gemma and Haddie. I am mostly a stay at home Mama who does some photography on the side, and ultimately have more interests than I have time. You'll never find me without coffee in my hand,  food in my belly, and techno music, because aside from being a mother, I am a big fan of the three C's: caffeine, culinary arts, and "computer music".

I am a big fan of the three C’s: caffeine, culinary arts, and “computer music”.
— Courtney
IMG_5386.jpg

What is Peeky-Lou, Who? And why did it start?

My personal blog began for reasons I think most do, feeling as if I had something semi-interesting to share with close family and friends with possibilities of expanding to a broader audience some day. When I began my blog it was basically to allow loved ones to see photos and content that I wasn't necessarily sharing on Facebook or any other social media outlet. I'm a photo gal, so I prefer Instagram and rarely share on anything else, but my blog was a unique space I could share my inner thoughts and hopefully helpful advice on topics I care greatly about, like self-love, marriage, and parenthood.

I can now say at 28, that I have an abundance of confidence and love for myself that wouldn’t have been possible without trusting God to pull me out of a very dark season in my life, and I greatly feel my purpose on this Earth is to help other women of all ages to embrace that same truth.
— Courtney
 Isn't she cute? Also, THOSE GAL PAL SHIRTS THOUGH...

Isn't she cute? Also, THOSE GAL PAL SHIRTS THOUGH...

What drove you to create Gal Pal Society? What impact do you want it to have on your audience?

Gal Pal Society is a complete passion driven project for me and simply came from the many interactions I've had over the years with toxic female dialogue, comparison, and competition. Having a past of struggling with extreme body issues and an eating disorder, it took me many years to discover a genuine confidence in myself, and allow God to take control of an issue I wasn't combating on my own. I can now say at 28, that I have an abundance of confidence and love for myself that wouldn't have been possible without trusting God to pull me out of a very dark season in my life, and I greatly feel my purpose on this Earth is to help other women of all ages to embrace that same truth. It's still new and I'm analyzing daily how I can make it bigger and better, but it's truly a special creation that I've put a lot of thought and love into it. The idea came to me over a short period of time when I was searching for a way to express my desire to spread the message of self-love, and promoting, uplifting and encouraging female friendships, by featuring the very women that surround my own community. Far too often have I had or heard of interactions with other females that are destructive and vile in nature, attacking another's self-esteem and overall character which is something we as females need to abolish among our social circles. My two little girls are my driving force, constantly motivating me to be and do better as a female role model because most importantly I'm their greatest female example and I want them to know that just because something seems "normal" among peers doesn't mean it's acceptable nor valuable. My expectation for Gal Pal Society is truly just to highlight the importance of finding the best in every female I feature, and to create an overwhelming presence of love and appreciation among women of all backgrounds, races, and social circles.

IMG_6075.jpg

You are amazing at photography - how did you develop this skill?

Taking photos is one of those things I've always enjoyed but never thought I could be good enough to pursue in a serious manner. I've owned a camera as long as I can remember, being that annoying sibling running around the house snapping candid moments, or having a video camera glued to my hand on every family outing or vacation. I received my first DSLR in college but it wasn't until a couple years later when my obsession with photography really blossomed. Close friends and family began asking me to take photos here and there, so for a long time it wasn't anything more than a hobby, but earlier this year I decided to take the leap and begin shooting as means to contribute financially and make it "official". Blue Bandana Photo represents me putting aside my fear of failure and diving in headfirst, which has been terrifying but so rewarding thus far. 

Tell me about your daughters...

I have two girls, Gemma (4) and Haddie (2), and they're the greatest gifts. They have conflicting personalities where Gemma seems to favor my attributes with being more quiet, likes to be imaginative and more of the loner, whereas Haddie is a bit more rambunctious, more vocal of her emotions, and enjoys more creative play(building things,problem-solving, etc), like my husband. Both are little comedians that are just as equally sweet as they're silly.

I made a vow early on when Gemma was still an infant that negative body talk would be eliminated from my internal and external dialogue, which I think is vital whether you are a parent to girls OR boys.
— Courtney
IMG_6509.jpg

What lessons do you want to instill in Gemma and Haddie?

 I evaluate and critique myself quite often because it comes with the territory of being a parent, and most of us are just trying to raise decent human beings at the end of the day. Especially now, the topic of empathy and compassion are hot topics in our household, which I try to open discussion about with my oldest as frequent as I can. I made a vow early on when Gemma was still an infant that negative body talk would be eliminated from my internal and external dialogue, which I think is vital whether you are a parent to girls OR boys. It's something I'm a stickler about, even on my worst days when I don't feel like my best self, I am aware my girls are always watching and listening, and I'm thankful I have that physical presence holding me accountable.Training our kids early on that we do not only need to uplift each other but also ourselves is deeply important. Loving yourself is the foundation of being able to love others unconditionally! 

What is your purpose here on Earth? How are you working towards them?

As a Christian your purpose is to be a light in a dark world, which on most days can be an overwhelming task when there is so much wrong, but as I mentioned earlier regarding Gal Pal Society, one specific thing I feel strongly convicted to do is speak to women regarding self-love and eliminating competition among females. I began GPS in hopes of opening dialogue among women that I know and am around personally, but I also feel lead to get involved in my community with something even greater, whether I'm at the forefront leading it or not. I know I am meant to help women somehow, and I may not know what that is now, but I'm having fun discovering what it could be!

In all your interviews for Gal Pal, what commonalities do you see between the women you feature?

The biggest common factor among all the women I have featured thus far, is the overwhelming sense of vulnerability and how universal the fear of being judged is among females. We all have insecurities and although the specifics in nature may vary, the stigmas they present are all the same. It's humbling to interview someone, whom many times I'm just beginning to know, for them to open up on a deep emotional level, and entrust me to know the most delicate parts of themselves. It further proves to me just how important unity in the female community really is, and what force of power it can become if we support one another.

A confident woman is a rarity and needs to become commonly known and embraced.
— Courtney
IMG_5251.jpg

What are your views on women having confidence?

Women having confidence is the most beautiful thing, as long as it's from a place of humility. In all things, we should be humble, and remain modest without gloat. There is power in self-love but destruction in self-obsession and between the two is a very fine line. As women, we are commonly mocked for what we are, that it makes loving ourselves an extremely difficult task, but confidence can be saving grace if it comes from yourself and doesn't depend on another. Gaining complete confidence in myself, has driven me to help others discover that same freedom because when you feel good, you DO good. A confident woman is a rarity and needs to become commonly known and embraced.

What barriers do you see that keep women from connecting with one another?

In my blog this week I'm actually hitting on that very topic, which I felt lead to write because it's a message so heavily needed among women, especially the younger generation. Overall, I think when we lack self-awareness it directly affects our ability to connect and have a healthy outlook on our relationships with others. In order to create a thriving social life we must investigate what it is that makes us tick, the good and the bad, therefore eliminating the blinders we have for ourselves and becoming aware of how others view us. This is just as true in a romantic relationship as it is in a friendship, or even in the workplace among co-workers. Being self-aware makes way for vulnerability, which allows for a genuine and honest connection between two people, because if we only ever show the BEST of ourselves when at times we do show our WORST we force emotional distance in fear of other's disapproval. If we stop viewing vulnerability as a weakness we will find that the most delicate parts of ourselves are what make us the most relatable.

IMG_3656.jpg

Like many women, I have always struggled with being confident in my figure. However, many times my negative thoughts drive positive change in my health routine (well - at least after taking me through a bad headspace). Do you have any advice on finding balance, and moving away from negative self-talk into a positive, self-loving drive?

When it comes to body image as a specific struggle, I made many changes throughout the years following my recovery with an eating disorder to not only make myself accountable but to erase the temptation to be too critical of myself and my body. It's important to eliminate negative body talk, not saying things like "I look fat", or "I NEED to lose weight", words that we often speak without realizing how damaging they really are to ourselves and those around us. 
Another major step I took six years ago was to throw away my bathroom scale because I was far too obsessed with a number, rather than any amount of healthy physical progress I was making. Going from cringing every time I'd step on the scale to going six years without weighing myself has been an enormous step for me personally, and has eliminated the lie that my weight has any correlation with my success.

In terms of balance and developing drive, I pray A LOT which helps me refocus and relinquish my anxiety. Make a list of what you love about yourself and read it often, because self-encouragement has immense power. I also do my best to schedule at least an hour of my day to doing something for myself whether that be yoga, writing, taking a bubble bath, or anything else that's been on the forefront of my mind, I wouldn't normally have the time to accomplish. Setting your alarm for the same time each day will help you make that specific task a priority and help you create a rhythm. Most importantly, confide in someone you respect to hold you accountable or lend an ear. I've always found great comfort in the act of counseling, so depending on the struggle I may reach out to my pastor, a friend, or someone I know that has struggled with the same issue. For a loner like myself, it doesn't come easy, but being vocal about your struggle allows you to be vulnerable, and you know how I feel about how much power there is in being relatable!

IMG_6047.jpg

I dig your style and just about everything you put out there. Share your favorites at the moment:

What's on your favorite playlist? The Techno/Electronic genre is my favorite above all but when it comes to playlists, I tend to create ones that are all over the place. Some of my solid go-to's on any given day are BT, Moby, Arcade Fire, Metric, Crystal Castles, The Shins, The Smiths, Grizzly Bear, all are always stellar and some of my long running favorites.

Clothing brand: I actually hate physically going to a store to try on clothes, granted my top favorite clothing companies aren't available locally, so online shopping is preferred. My top three weaknesses in terms of fashion are Asos, Zara, and Topshop. They all provide amazing minimalistic and monochromatic pieces which is what I search for most for my personal wardrobe.

Kid's Clothing Brand: HM is crazy affordable with all of their cute basics, and constant BOGO deals. Zara offers unique, and durable pieces for children and their shoe department never disappoints! 

Coffee Order: Iced coffee with sugar-free vanilla and either almond or coconut milk depending on how rich I want it that day. I'm not one to venture out often in terms of coffee, although I will try mostly anything that's vegan-friendly. I enjoy my simple coffee drink.

Fall Sweet Treat: I'm a big fan of homemade sweet breads: banana nut, sweet potato, pumpkin, baked apple. Something I can nibble on that meshes well will coffee.

Best store to buy home goods: This could be a never-ending list for me but I'll refrain from naming ALL that come to mind! Mostly, I obsess over things from CB2, Anthropologie, West Elm, and more affordable options like Ikea, HM Home, and T.J. Maxx.

Favorite Dinner Recipe: Homemade vegan Pho is easily my favorite, especially on a chilly day. I like to create my own vegetable based broth with an array of spices, ramen, chopped green onion, sprouts, sauteed tofu, some chili paste and a slice of lime. It's easy, it's cleansing, and doesn't cost much to prepare.

Must Follow IG: @itspeekturetime and @bluebandanaphoto

Workout Routine: Ashtanga yoga flow for 30-45 min per day, 5 days per week (ideally)

Postive Saying: You can't control what you can't control (I'm a control freak, so this is a daily affirmation to myself).

Cincinnati-Based Business: Of course it's coffee related, but Sidewinder Coffee is my favorite coffee in Cincinnati and has the best homemade vegan banana muffins to top it off!

I like what I see everyday when I wake up and I can safely say I never thought I would truthfully be able to say that. 
— Courtney
IMG_3680.jpg

I couldn't end with anything else... What are your favorite things about yourself?

I can appreciate my ability to follow through with an idea and to have the constant desire to "create" something new, even if it fails. I don't give up and continue to try new things or meet new people even if it's uncomfortable. I'm proud of my writing and photography, and overall growth in both of those areas. I like what I see everyday when I wake up and I can safely say I never thought I would truthfully be able to say that.