I was asked to be featured in an international blog, ‘Woman Wednesday‘ whose focus is to inspire women around the world, talk about an honor.
It was published today; here’s what I wrote.
1. What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about living my best life, which includes helping others overcome life challenges, find hope and purpose, and doing all I can to support the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Whether I’m speaking to a specific group or at a national conference, my passion and determination is to inspire audiences to step beyond their limitations and guide them to discover the power within and redefine what personal success truly means in this adventure called: LIFE.
The harder question is how I got to this point.
Like most people, I have had some tragically sad challenges. The worst was in 2006 when my daughter Jena lost her battle with cystic fibrosis. It was then that my whole world changed. For a long time following that terrible day, it was hard to call up the strength to take action, to move forward, to take a chance at life. I had been taught to look for and find gratitude in each moment, but when my little girl “moved up” to heaven at the age of thirteen, there was nothing I could see or find other than my grief and pain. I felt I had no choice. But in time, I learned that every day, I get to choose how to live.
I believe in hope, in embracing the beauty in the broken. Life always presents us gifts, yet sometimes those gifts are brutally disguised as pain and suffering. My daughter once told me that pain is not a valid reason for stopping, so I continued on. I’ve taken many steps to get to a place where I can take charge of my life to become an award-winning author Beyond Breathing and See You at Sunset, a professional speaker, and a national advocate for The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. I’ve taken steps to stay happily married for twenty-eight years to my handsome husband Marc, and I’ve been blessed to watch my son marry the love of his life, which was the best day of mine.
Crisis, fear, and the anxiety of crumbling under life’s challenges have crossed my path so many times, I’ve learned that if I could change my attitude, my health, and my mental wellbeing, my life would ultimately change as well. Each challenge I faced in life taught me something more about myself and the world around me. Every decision I made, whether I was presented with a multitude of options, or no choices at all, changed who I am today.
Here’s the thing, somewhere deep in my soul, every journey and every obstacle I faced helped bring me to a place where I can feel calm among the chaos. Every day, I give thanks for a grateful soul, a mind that’s confident, and an open heart that’s compassionate.
That’s what I’m passionate about and want to share that with as many people who want to hear it.
2. What were your younger years like?
My childhood was like most everyone else, complicated with drama, trauma, and not easily summed up as good or bad. I was a chubby middle child, diagnosed with dyslexia in 2nd grade, and my parents divorced while I was in the 8th grade. I lived in Germany with my great aunt when I was fourteen for a ‘cultural experience.’ I graduated from high school a year early and that same year, at age 16, I permanently moved out of my childhood house after an argument with my mother. I was pregnant before I got married and had two children before I was twenty-five. Both my children were born with a fatal genetic disease, cystic fibrosis, which currently has no cure. I’ve dealt with abandonment issues, weight issues, depression, and anxiety. All of which made me who I am today.
All our lives, all our stories, make us who we are, it’s up to us how we decide that value.
3. What is something valuable you’ve learned that you’d like others to know? /What would you like others to learn from your story?
The most valuable thing I’ve learned in life is to never lose the lesson life teaches.
For all of my life, I’ve had a love of learning, and I’m pretty sure that’s why God, with his or her infinite wisdom and sense of humor, decided to fill the first half of my life with one crisis after another. Through all the trials and many errors, I’ve come to see that life’s challenges, including reaching midlife, doesn’t have to be a crisis.
Wouldn’t you agree that sometimes life can come at you fast and a sucker punch can land without any warning? I’ve been there. I get it. In a split second, you’re in the middle of life-changing choices, insurmountable obstacles, and heartbreaking hardships. It’s what you do with the lesson just presented to you that can change the path you’re on. Chances are, someone has been down that path before and can help guide you out, if you let them.
If by me sharing my painful and crazy life journey can reach out and touch your heart in even the smallest way possible, and help you deal with and let go of the crises and pain in your life, then I’ll feel my words and stories have a purpose beyond what they already hold for me.
My advice to you is to share your story, it could make all the difference in someone else’s life.
4. What does feminism mean to you?
Feminism, to me, is an emotionally charged word, placing a person as ‘a feminist’ if they are for feminism or they are ‘a non-feminist’ against feminism. To me, this is divisive, and I’m not about labels, division, or exclusion as much as I am for united, equal, and collective for the common good of all civilization.
It’s was such a powerful and resurfaced word that Feminism was Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year for 2017.
Feminism, by definition, is equality of both sexes, but its common understanding is the passionate responsibility of the equality of women in the workforce, home, and political front. Its wave of enthusiastic ideology and emotion can cause more opposition than necessary.
For me, I’d instead focus on the constructive influence of women helping women. The underlying power that comes from a place of growth, humanity, and the ability to rise together while helping one another achieve each individual’s best possible life. The alliance of women reaching back and helping those who are struggling is where the real strength lies. Women being brave in adversity, sharing their story to help others, and using their voice against injustice is what I support. We, as women, can do so much to change the landscape of our future when we rise up, lean in, and stand tall without having to put down, degrade, or alienate any opposition that confronts the process of growth.