Today we raise our fists high and put our hands together in celebration of our Feature Girl Warrior, international best selling author and transformational speaker, Aime Hutton, founder of Inch by Inch Empowerment. Aime is on a mission to empower one million girls to live their real brave selves full of confidence, courage, and happiness. As a 5-time international best-selling author/compiler Aime shares hope, healing, and inspiration through her writing. One of the highlights of her writing career was in 2014 when she compiled an anthology of 30 stories written by adults telling their personal stories of childhood trauma under the age of twelve. This anthology was also a fundraiser for the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) in Ottawa, Ontario. In 2015 Aime was on the CTV Ottawa CHEO Telethon, where she presented a cheque for $3,216 to the Neonate Intensive Care Unit. Aime spreads inspiration and motivation through her talks for women and youth. Her talks are powerful, moving, and have the audiences really thinking about their own lives and how they can overcome challenges. She writes a column called Youth Booth for the Canadian Center for Abuse Awareness quarterly and has spoken via Zoom to Kenya, and South Africa to girls’ organizations teaching about dreams and goals. Aime has also spoken in Ohio for the eWomenNetwork Cincinnati Ohio Chapter about bravery and success, as well as, local talks for Women Talk in Calgary, Cochrane, Canmore, Medicine Hat, and Red Deer. She was a finalist for eWomenNetwork International Femtor Awards in the category of Business Matchmaker of the Year, being one of six in North America and the only Canadian. In 2017 she was awarded the Peace and Friendship Award by Diversity Magazine in Alberta for one who celebrates and learns from the Indigenous Peoples of Canada. And to all of these accomplishments and this extraordinary woman, we say a loud and proud, YES!
What makes you a Girl Warrior?
Being a Girl Warrior to me is living my real brave self. Being an advocate for those who do not have a voice. A Girl Warrior is one who never gives up, who continues to be herself regardless of what society may say about her.
You were bullied growing up. How did that experience affect your adult life?
Yes, I was. The experience of being bullied affected my adult life because it took many years to stop the tapes being played in my head of thinking and believing that I am a loser, stupid, ugly, retarded, and dumb. It also took me a long time to trust my peers because of name-calling and enduring physical violence from them between grades 3 and 8. At times, even today, I am hesitant getting to know others and being vulnerable around them.
What was the most powerful thing you learned about yourself as a result?
I learned three things about myself that seem to weave throughout my life always. First, I learned to keep going no matter what the situation I am in, be it good, or not so good. I learned that I am strong and powerful. Second, I learned that it’s okay to let others help me, and to ask for help. If I hadn’t asked my teachers in grade eight for help in my classes I may not have passed grade eight and received the Most Improved Student Award. I had to repeat grade 3 as the teachers and administration felt that I had boarder-line learning disabilities, would never write well, and always be the “C” student, never the “A” student. Third, I learned to believe in myself. I need to make a choice and stop the mental negative tapes that play in my mind that I am not good enough, or that I look ugly, or that I am stupid. And switch them to the positive such as I am good enough, that I am beautiful, and smart.
Why did you start your business Inch by Inch? What’s the meaning behind the name?
I started Inch by Inch Empowerment because of my passion and mission to have one million girls live their real brave selves, full of confidence, courage, and happiness. The meaning behind the name is because I had to grow big enough when I was born to go home. I was born at 26 weeks gestation in 1976 and was 1 pound 12 ounces. I had to grow to 5 pounds to be able to go home from the hospital. I am about taking small steps forward for those small steps put together create one heck of a marathon that I have won.
You’re an international bestselling author on Amazon. Congratulations! What has been the highlight of your writing career so far?
Thank you! Yes! One highlight of my writing career that sticks out to me is with my book that I compiled in 2014. Inch by Inch Growing in Life is a collaboration of 30 authors from around the world who shared their stories about overcoming adversity under the age of 12. They shared their own challenges, or a family member’s challenges, or challenges that kids they work with have overcome. Some of the stories are about bullying, child abuse, witnessing a murder of a parent as a child, finding out a father is a child molester, living with a physical disability, living with a developmental disability, or being transgender. In this book I share my birth story. When I first started doing this anthology, I chose to give back to the hospital that saved my life back in 1976. One-third of the proceeds from Amazon went to the hospital along with my own fundraising efforts. On June 6, 2015 I was home in Ontario, traveled up to Ottawa to the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. My parents and I were a part of their large telethon they have every year on CTV Ottawa. I presented to them a cheque of $3,216 to go directly to the Dr. Brock MacMurrary Neonate Intensive Care Unit.
How did you feel when you received the Peace and Friendship Award by Diversity Magazine in Alberta Canada?
I felt very honored. The Peace and Friendship Award is given to one nonindigenous woman or man from the province who learns from, advocates, and celebrates the indigenous peoples of Canada. I had worked with the Metis Calgary Family Services for a year and a half. My peers were all from Treaty 7, and the Metis Region III, they were fascinated that me a ‘white woman’ wanted to learn from them, and their way of life.
The awards were open to self-nomination; I had put myself in a different category for the award nomination process. The organizers wrote me saying that I had been put into a different category the night of the awards. When I found out the new category, I was humbled. I remember saying when I won that we all, as good citizens of our amazing country, should learn about different cultures including the indigenous peoples, as they were here first. And I still feel this way today years later.
What’s the biggest decision you ever made?
There are many decisions I have made. The biggest one though I would say is choosing to move to Calgary, Alberta from Pickering, Ontario. I knew one person – the woman I was coming to Alberta with. We had met in university and she said she was going back to work for the YMCA Camp Chief Hector; she suggested I apply to work there. When I did, I was accepted to work for the spring/summer sessions of 2000. In August of that year I phoned home and said that I am not coming home, and asked my parents to send me my things. It took my parents a few years to be comfortable with me living in Alberta. This is home now though. I have a whole circle of friends and co-workers in Calgary and surrounding area.
What have been the biggest challenges or obstacles that you’ve overcome – personally and/or professionally?
One of the biggest challenges I have overcome recently was coming out as bisexual to my family and friends. In June 2018, I had come to the realization of who I am attracted to. A co-worker, who is a Shaman, asked if had I ever considered that I was attracted to women? I was shocked and said no, not at all. It cannot be. I went for a walk to the river and sat down under my favourite tree. I looked up to the heavens and said, “Okay Goddess, who was I attracted to growing up?” I stopped, sat still, listened to my heart and waited. Then one by one girls’ names from elementary school, high school, university, and even some women’s names from Calgary fell onto the paper. I put the pen down and cried. It was a journey to accept who I am to myself first. I then began to tell close friends in person offline. This year, March 2019, I was working with a coach who supports women moving through fear. I came out to the group four weeks into our six-week program. My coach asked me when was I going to tell my parents. Talk about fear and challenge to overcome. With her support I did via e-mail. After I hit the send button on my laptop e-mail program, I felt like I was going to puke, and I was crying big tears. However, after calming down I said to myself I didn’t die, I’m still here in Calgary sitting at my computer desk. I am grateful for my parent’s response. They said they still love and accept me.
What do we need to know “for sure” about finding our real brave selves?
What we need to know for sure about finding our real brave selves are these three things: Be brave, be bold, and be yourself. This means do that thing that you really want to do that is scary to you. Decide on how you are going to do that thing and celebrate who you are fully.
What would you say to your younger Girl Warrior?
You are not alone. Your family loves you, and always will. You are going to experience some things that will be scary, yet you will overcome those situations each time. Just keep going, one foot in front of the other.
What would you say to future Girl Warriors looking for inspiration?
Never give up. Keep going inch by inch and you can win your own marathon. Remember to ask for help, and let others help you. It takes teamwork to make the dream work. When we lift others, we lift ourselves. Give more to others than you take. Come from a place of love and serve others. Celebrate who you are fully. You are a warrior always, remember that.
Who is/are your Girl Warrior hero(s) and why?
I have a few Girl Warriors in my world. Both my Gramma and Nanny. Growing up they showed my sister and I that working hard and playing hard is key in having balance. They both were ‘on the home front’ during World War II and kept their houses in working order while my Grampa and Grampy were overseas doing their jobs as mechanics keeping the trucks and planes in good working order for the Canadian troops.
My Mum Wendy Hutton, who shows my sister and I that we can overcome any situation. She is blind in one eye and does a few things differently than someone who has two good seeing eyes. She backs up a car differently, for example. Mum teaches us about being unique, how volunteering is important, and not to be afraid of wearing color, at any age! My Mum is getting closer to 70 and still wears bright colors, today!
More recently a Girl Warrior of mine is my coach Marlo Ellis from The Uncommon Woman. She has helped me in the first half of 2019 to embrace my own power and live my real brave self. She has assisted me to lead and live with confidence, and courage. She’s helped me to speak and share my stories of strength from struggle with composure, and clarity. Marlo has, with love, sat with me in the valley of despair and she pushed me up the mountains so I can ascend and stand on the shoulders of my stories. It was Marlo, who assisted me to rise above the crippling fear I had to tell my parents I am bisexual.
Blue Sky it. No boundaries here, just limitless opportunities. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In 5 years, I see myself training organizations of women leaders of future leaders. Traveling through the world meeting amazing women, hearing their wishes for the girls they support, and the stories of the girls they support. In 5 years, I will be a master trainer’s trainer facilitator, a worldwide girls empowerment leader, and a catalyst for change.
I have in return the ability to receive the financial and social abundance I know I am worthy of. This enables me to travel, and to have the time to serve and give back to organizations that hold a special place in my heart.
What makes you laugh uncontrollably? Cry out all the tears?
Many things make me laugh. Thinking of memories of being in Girl Guides and the crazy things we did at summer camp(s). I also like standup comedy, and going to hear a comic up on stage live is always a fun night.
I cry easily. What really gets me going is when something is triggered in me with what I am seeing on TV. For example, I may see a contestant on a reality competition talent show and hear the contestant telling their story. Something in their story triggers a memory in me about my Gramma or Nanny. I miss them a lot. I know they are my angels in heaven watching over me, which brings me some comfort.
What has been your biggest disappointment/triumph?
A big disappointment I faced was when I was turned down to be the closing keynote speaker for an international conference for a neonate intensive care nurse’s organization happening in British Columbia. The program organizer pulled me along for over a year, saying she wanted me as the closing keynote speaker. I had been suggested to her by someone who had seen me speak and knew my story. When she told me, they had chosen another speaker I was upset, and a little angry. However, I responded professionally and asked what I could do to be considered again. Her response was that she and her team thought it would be a stretch for me to speak to the delegates of nurses in the room (there was going to be approximately 800 or more nurses). And they also wanted someone not from Canada, as Canada was the host country for this conference. I took it as a learning opportunity, agreed quietly afterwards to myself, that yes it would have been a stretch, yet I knew I could do it.
A big triumph was in 2015 when I was named a finalist for the Business Matchmaker of the Year for eWomenNetwork International Femtor Awards in Dallas Texas. The Business Matchmaker of the year category is for women entrepreneurs who are great at connecting other women in business with each other. It is something I do very well, and it comes easily to me. In 2015 there were six finalists from North America. I was the only Canadian in the mix. I had a friend who was a finalist with me. She thought I would win, and said if she did not win, she wanted me to win. I said the same thing back to her, that if I did not win, I wanted her to be the one up on the stage. When the day came, I did not win, yet she did. I was one of the loudest to cheer for her when she won!
If a novel were written about your life, what would it be called?
The interesting thing about this question is that I am working on my own solo self-help memoir. Sharing my stories of strength from struggle and how the reader can do the same. The working title of the book is “Opening My Door ~ Living My Real Brave Self”
To learn more about Aime head over to her website: www.aimehutton.ca
To learn more about Inch by Inch check out the website: www.inchbyinchempowerment.com
Follow Aime on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aimehuttonwriterspeaker/
Connect on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aimehutton/