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Crystal Gornto, Author at HeartStories

Why HeartStories Gives Back and How YOU Can Help

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A few years ago, I was living a “dream” life.  I had a wonderful husband, two beautiful kids, a successful job, the nice car, the nice house.

On the outside, I knew what I wanted and I had a plan to get there.  Everything was going great.

Then one day, I saw a video about a little girl behind a mirrored glass, in a red dress with a number pinned on it.  She was being sold as a sex slave in a room full of little girls in red dresses.  The video was made by an organization that’s out to end this horrific tragedy. They talked about how this one little girl still had light and life left in her eyes.  She still had hope.

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In that moment, sobbing at my computer, I knew my life was going to change.  I didn’t know how or when, but I knew it was going to be different.  It was like a switch was flipped and a part of me woke up.

In the following months, I did some deep soul searching and realized this:

I was living this fast paced life, balancing A LOT of priorities while constantly pushing myself to do more and do it better.  I loved the challenge and I could usually push through to make it happen.

I believed that as a woman, I could do it all – be great wife, a caring, nurturing, present mom, and successful in my career.

But when I got honest with myself, there was a problem…

On the inside, I was really tough on myself, questioning if I was doing any of it right.

I felt pretty alone and stuck.

Instead of believing that I really had it all,  I was thinking things like:

My kids are having some struggles, is it because I’m not doing enough?

I’m a terrible wife.  We’ve been fighting a lot and it’s probably my fault.

I’m a terrible friend, my friends must think I don’t need them in my life, if they only knew!

I’m not as good at this sales thing as I used to be, I’ve really let it slack a little lately.

Maybe my life is just a front.   

And I was actually believing these lies that were playing in my mind.

But why?

Through all of my busyness, I inadvertently disengaged from my closest relationships.

Since becoming a mother, I’d been spending my time in relationships of the closest proximity.  I wasn’t consistently connecting with the women closest to my heart.

I thought that was okay because we had the kind of friendship that picks up right where we left off.  I let myself believe it was just the normal way of life in our fast paced world. We have Facebook to keep up with the masses (and even find out when our friends are pregnant), we tweet each little moment, we Instagram our picture perfect moments, we email, we text… and we’re good, right? We’re connected.

But then I realized, I’m not good.  I’m not connected and it’s affecting more than my social life.

It’s affecting what I believe about myself and the choices I’m making.  My lack of true connection to the women who give me roots – way down past the business meetings, birthday parties and soccer games – is changing me.

It’s allowing me to stay stuck on autopilot in my life and rehearse false stories in my mind, rather than living a life of love and belonging… And It isn’t just affecting me.  It’s affecting my husband, my kids and everyone around me.  I knew I couldn’t be the only one and that there had to be a better way.

This is why HeartStories was born.   

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Women are designed to live in connection.  We need consistent community with those few others we feel safe enough to be completely ourselves with.  The ones we belly laugh with, who love us exactly as we are and where it’s safe to be happy, brave, sad, scared, uncertain, and sometimes all at the same time.  We need consistent connection to a place where we know we belong.

I still believe as women, we CAN do it all – we can be great at whatever we set out to do, whether it’s being the best PTA mom, running a fortune 500 company or anything in between.  We just need each other to get there.  We can heal, empower, support and ground each other to the truth about who we really are, which enables us to approach our lives from a place of worthiness.

Wondering how that little girl in the red dress has anything to do with my situation?  She gave me a new perspective.  She gave me an unquenchable thirst to share the value and worth that every girl and every woman should get a chance to live from.

As a result, HeartStories is committed to funding the fight for freedom.

We have plans for exciting opportunities for brands to get involved, enabling us to give back to non-profits through your use of the app.  This freedom fight is so much a part of the fabric of who we are as an organization, we sought companies that would partner with us at the launch event, The HeartStories Summit, to begin living out that commitment.

Logo Technology partners        Marsha Clark logo

Technology Partners and Marsha Clark and Associates were the first to raise their hands with us. With their help, we raised over $2600 to donate to two organizations.

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MRH logo                               T911 Logo

Those organizations are My Refuge House and Traffick911 as our non-profit partners for the event.  Kim Jones of My Refuge House and Lindsey Speed of Traffick911 each shared with the attendees about the amazing work they are doing to rescue and restore the girls that come to their safe homes.  The girls from My Refuge House even made red wire heart shaped bracelets for the attendees.  We raised awareness and funds to support these incredible organizations, and we’re honored to be able to do it!

MRH Bracelets

And that was just the beginning.

HeartStories is now so much bigger than just me pursuing my passion.  We are a tribe of women, passionate about staying connected to ourselves and each other in this fast paced digital age of relating.  We have some new ring leaders are we’re ready to do this…big time!

If you haven’t already, SIGN UP for the beta app by visiting beta.heartstories.com.  Then tell your 9 closest friends that if they’re ready to commit to sharing life with you, there’s now an app for doing just that.

I’m so glad you’re here and part of this story.  Join the conversation in the comments below to let us know if we’re on the right track and if you’re coming with us! ;-)

Love!

Crystal

HeartStories End It

 

2014 HeartStories Summit Highlights

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Wow. It’s hard to believe The HeartStories Summit is over and The HeartStories App is in beta! After almost 2 years of brainstorming, planning and organizing, it’s finally here.

Today, I’d love to share some of the highlights of The HeartStories Summit experience with you mostly in pictures and direct quotes from the women in the room.

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I opened the day sharing my own HeartStory about how the company, the app and the summit all got started. Of course I got a little teary, but made it through. I closed by sharing the HeartStories Pledge and we said it out loud together as a group.

The atmosphere was exactly as we hoped. It didn’t really feel like a conference, it was warm and inviting, more like hanging out in your girlfriend’s living room.

atmosphere hug

“I loved the atmosphere in the room, it was beautiful, and the energy in the room from all of the ladies, was equally beautiful.”

Shasta

“Not only is Shasta Nelson an amazing speaker who can easily capture an audience, she also challenged us to be introspective in our friendships and to figure out who our closest friends really are and whether or not these relationships are as full, strong, and meaningful as we want and need them to be. “

I can’t tell you how many times I heard the phrase “I want more Shasta!”. Shasta blew the doors off of a personal myth I’ve been believing by asking us to name the friends that belong in each of the 5 circles of connectedness. She explained the progression from contact friends to committed friends and the intentional steps we have to take to go from one to the next. For the first time, I could see that the friends I’ve known the longest aren’t necessarily my closest “committed” friends. Just because we pick up where we left off, doesn’t make them friends I am committed (and able) to spending my life and my time with. When Shasta asked, I had to raise my hand admitting that there are some circles on that continuum I feel lonely in. Honestly, it felt good to admit it and when I looked around the room, almost every woman was holding her hand up. It helped me realize that I need to make some changes and it was comforting to know that ironically, I wasn’t alone in that.

It was also confirmation that the HeartStories app is truly needed to help keep friends in the “Committed Friends” circle in the midst of our busy lives. The app gives us a way to further our commitment to one another by opening up and sharing how we are really doing on a daily basis in a way that fits into our hectic schedules.

Dr. Firestone

“The most meaningful thing I learned at the Summit was when Dr. Firestone suggested that we should treat ourselves like we treat our good friends. In other words, my attitude toward myself should be as kind as I am to a dear friend.”

During Dr. Firestone’s facilitation of “Conquering Your Inner Critic” many women were surprised and encouraged by how similar the critical thoughts of the others seated in their groups were to their own. One attendee shared, “Dr. Firestone helped me reframe the ‘I’m such a terrible mother’ statement into ‘You’re such a terrible mother’. Until then, I never really knew that was a false accusatory attack and not the real truth about me. I felt an immediate and overwhelming relief as I began to see for the first time how I’ve been sabotaging myself with my own beliefs. This one new way of seeing things will be life-changing for me.”

Leisa Hart

Leisa Hart got us on our feet centering the WiFi in our bodies. We examined the ways we hold ourselves back and she inspired us by sharing simple steps we can take on a daily basis to rise above those things.

Lunch

It was a beautiful sunny day in Dallas as we moved to the tented poolside to enjoy a gourmet lunch and hear a touching HeartStory from Anne Murray, of Southwest Airlines. Vicki Adkins chatted with Anne as she opened up about the unexpected twists in her story that would have knocked many of us to the floor. She shared candidly how she struggled and why we should listen closely to the call in our hearts when we feel like we are being led to make a change in our personal lives. I’m quite sure there wasn’t a dry eye in the place.

“Anne Murray was truly inspirational in sharing how she overcame incredible obstacles and found strength in her journey.”

Angela

Angela Joyner inspired us to be comfortable in our own skin, exactly as we are. She even showed throw back pictures of herself and of me from high school with our big giant bangs!

Zumba

Then, she jumped off the stage and led us to get our groove on with a high energy Zumba break!

Crystal and Shasta Zumba

Even Shasta and I shook a leg.

Mendhi

It took Mendhi Audlin no time at all to help us realize how we all sometimes let that dreadful question “What if…” keep us from doing things we really want in our lives. By leading us to share aloud with each other, she quickly showed us the power of changing the framework of the question to be focused on “What if it all goes right?!”.

Massage break

Everyone relaxed a little more with tension reliving massages provided by Massage Green throughout the afternoon.

Libba

We got to know the gorgeous Libba Tullos as she cheerfully kept us prompt and informed throughout the day.

“I was reminded all day long of the importance of connections, and how surface level conversations don’t do nearly enough to feed the soul. I immediately went home and made time that week to connect with my soul sisters, and plan on continuing to do so on a regularly basis by phone and daily through the HeartStories app.”

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We had our very own HeartStories photo lounge during The Summit presented by Patton International Realty and Ashley Lowrance.

“Hearing the touching stories about the girls here locally and overseas who are being rescued from human trafficking by Traffick911 and My Refuge House opened my heart to want to become a part of that fight.”

lindsey and kim

The beginning of my personal journey to create HeartStories was the day I first came to understand the reality of human trafficking and since day one it’s been part of the vision of the company to raise awareness and funds to put an end to this modern day slavery. So we invited two organizations that are fighting for freedom and restoration to join us at the Summit.

Lindsey Speed shared with us about the wonderful work that Traffick911 is doing in Dallas to restore local girls who have been victims of human trafficking. Kim Jones shared about her recent visit to My Refuge House in Cebu, Philippines and a personal story of one of the girls whose life is forever changed by the work they do.

Bracelets

The girls at My Refuge House in the Philippines hand made these wonderful red wire heart shaped bracelets for the attendees of The HeartStories Summit.

With donations for the bracelets and the support of Technology Partners and Marsha Clark and Associates, who sponsored the give-back component of the event, we raised almost $2,700 to bolster the efforts of My Refuge House and Traffick911.

Shopping

Door Prizes, Door Prizes…..

Door prize giveaways

….and more door prizes!!

We gave away over 50 door prizes from our sponsors, including headphones from ChicBuds, SkinnyGirl tank tops, SkinnyGirl wine, Massages from Massage Green, a healthy yoga package from Hart Yoga and Pilates, a gift bag of full size products from TONI&GUY, full size gift bags from Medicine Mama’s Apothecary, a gift basket from Dorey Aromatherapy, mobile spray tanning sessions from Beachy Tan , a full month supply of Plexus Slim, a full set of eyelash extensions from Lashes by Lisa, an overnight stay at Stanley Fisher House B & B, a gift certificate to 5th Street Patio Cafe, a beautiful gift basket with products and a service gift card from Hotel ZaZa’s ZaSpa, books from each of the presenters, HeartStories necklaces, HeartStories t-shirts, and we ended the evening by drawing for two roundtrip tickets courtesy of Southwest Airlines!

prize table

The swag bags were full of Medicine Mama’s products, sunglasses, wine charms, make-up mirrors, coupons and more.

“It was fun for me to have straight hair for the day!”

make-up

TONI&GUY spoiled us rotten with hair and make-up styling for anyone and everyone who wanted to be treated like a princess for the day. They also provided full size products for each attendee.

Hair

“For the first time in months I was pampered throughout the day.”

Table laughtable talk

“I loved hanging out with the girls all day, getting our hair and make-up done, and growing deeper in our relationships at the same time.”

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Finally, in an exciting moment, we launched the HeartStories App live from the stage and walked everyone through how we can use it to share life together.

App photo

We all got a chance to hear a little more love in our headphones.

Hearing love

“The summit was so much fun. I loved seeing a group of women come together as strangers and by the end of the day, so many of those ladies were new friends. I came to appreciate my close friends even more and I learned about the importance of nurturing those relationships. It was certainly a great day of reflection and fun.”

Haley wine

We got the after-party started with prosecco and wine from SkinnyGirl, gourmet appetizers and chocolate hearts.

Chocolates

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There were lots of fun times with good friends in the photo lounge!

Book signing

We chatted it up with the speakers and got our books signed.

Catie 1

We ended the evening with the soulful sound of Catie Waters.

“Catie Waters and her awesome band is truly one of the most soulful and talented bands that I have ever seen live and I mean even in comparison to some BIG NAMED artists. Just Crazy good!!! Catie’s voice is better than chocolate!”

Catie 2

“If you didn’t stay for the after party with Catie, you missed it!!!”

It was so wonderful for the HeartStories team and me to be able to hug your necks and hear your stories. Thank you to those of you who made it out and if you missed it, we hope you’ll plan to join us at the next one!

Now, go to beta.heartstories.com and start sharing life with your closest (committed) girlfriends and let us know what you think!

To hearing more love!

Crystal

HeartStories Chief Love Amplifier

P.S. You can check out ALL the photos from the event here on our Facebook page.

Crystal and Shasta

“The HeartStories Summit exceeded any and all expectations I had for the day. Each presenter had a message that found it’s place in my heart. Every message was applicable in some way to what women encounter on a daily basis. Friendships were made, bonds were formed, and vulnerability was a display of beauty throughout the day. I can’t wait to see what HeartStories has in store for us next!” – Rhonda Barr

 

Let’s be impossible to ignore

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I couldn’t believe it when I heard it, and you will probably react the same way.

Today, in 2013 over 27 million people are enslaved.

That’s more than in any other time in history and it’s a problem that knows no borders. How could I not know? Here we are with the privilege of building an amazingly free life for ourselves and almost 30 million people are trapped.

My passion around this issue has only intensified as I’ve realized I can do something to change that. You, me…WE are the keys to freedom.  And HeartStories is committed to being a part of that change in a big way.

I’m excited to share that my friend Erin Giles, created “End Sex Trafficking Day” so that we could do more together than as individuals to stand up for freedom.

I’m proud to be a part of that movement, and I hope you’ll join me. 

There is no better time than right now, to protect something we take for granted yet are so proud to have…our freedom. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter,” and THIS matters.

I’m inviting you to join me in supporting Erin.  Head here to watch the powerful video and learn more about the change she is creating, share the movement and give to her campaign.

I’m standing up for freedom, will you?

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Would you skydive to support a friend?

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Being Brave Heartstories

 

What if it was in celebration of your friend’s 70th birthday?  If you asked me a week ago, I surely would have said no.  As it turns out, my sweet friend Carol was planning to go skydiving with her son to celebrate her 70th birthday.  When he had to cancel at the last minute, Carol reached out to me on Friday, in search of a buddy for her adventure taking place on Saturday morning.

To give you a little insight into her story, Carol is married to the love of her life.  They have led an extremely active life with their four children, until recently.  Six years ago, her husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.  He is now in the advanced stages of the illness.  Carol sits by his bed with him, prays with him, and watches a video reel of their life with him on the television in his room.  Her husband can’t speak.  He can’t communicate at all, but she sits with him nonetheless.  Most often you can find her there, loving him, alone.

Carol has been very strong and very brave.  She is also determined to continue living her life, just as her husband would want her to, as a grand adventure.  When she reached out to ask for a skydiving buddy, how could I say no?  In my own mind, I had fear.  I told myself when I became a mother, that I wouldn’t take crazy risks like I did when I was younger.  It scared me to think of taking this risk with two precious little boys watching from below on the field, but in my heart I felt it was the right thing to do.  It was what I wanted to do!

I don’t think it’s coincidence that I am smack dab in the middle of building the HeartStories community, including an app that is asking women to take risks, to be vulnerable and to support one another.  That’s what it’s all about.  Well, maybe not facing the fears of skydiving together, but facing other fears together.

Maybe you need a buddy to face doubt and uncertainty about things in your everyday life.   Chances are, you probably already have her in your life somewhere, you may not have the daily connection to her that you need to enable you to comfortably reach out and say, “I need your support today.  Will you be brave with me?”

These are all the kinds of things we are making possible for you through HeartStories.  We are creating a way for you to stay connected to the women (10 or less) that you know would jump out of a plane for you, if you called them up on a random Friday and told them you needed them there.

All the details of the app we are developing can be found on our crowdfunding campaign page: http://www.moola-hoop.com/project/heartstories-an-app-to-replace-the-noise

If you value this app as a new tool and way to experience and enrich the most treasured friendships in your life, please support our campaign and help us spread the word.

Happy Birthday Carol!

Love,

Crystal

Skydive HeartStories

P.S.  I couldn’t be happier that I was brave with Carol!  That jump was the experience of a lifetime…for both of us.

Being Brave HeartStories 2

 

 

Welcome to HeartStories!

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Hi there!

I’d like to welcome you to our new “home” in the world.  I’m so glad you’re here!

I’ve been anticipating this and thinking about you for quite some time, wondering who you are, how to meet you where you are, and how to give you resources you will want to use.

 I’ve thought about your life, your hurts and your joys.

- Do you have a place to be yourself, your real self?

- Do you invest in your fall-back friends and make them a priority in your life?

- Do they with you?

- Who do you call when you’re at your lowest low and your highest high?

- Are you content with the soundtrack that plays in your mind, or deep down, do you wish it was different?

- Do you want to have fun or be deep and reflective? (Don’t worry, we’re going to do both.)

- Will you believe us when we tell you there’s hope for something better or will you just stand back to wait and see? Or do you even care?

The entire HeartStories team cares deeply about you and creating something that will connect you to a truer, better story.   We’ve been considering all your possible answers to the above questions and we can’t wait to finally find out the answers!

Join the Conversation

Will you join the conversation and share an answer to one of my above questions in the comments below?

 I’d love to hear!

 This is about you.  It’s about me.  It’s about our mothers, sisters, daughters, friends.  It’s about all of us.  And it’s time for a new story!

 Let’s create one together,

 Crystal

Crystal w Headphones new

HeartStories’ Chief Love Amplifier

P. S.  I’ll share a couple of answers first to get us started…

My closest friends and I don’t invest in each other the way we should.  Most often, we let the busyness of our lives steal away the time that should be given to each other.

I am a fun seeker!  But, I have learned the value of the reflective side of me and I’m trying to get more comfortable there.

P. P. S.  Your turn! I’m looking forward to learning more about you in the comments.