I'd like to present Shelly, an amazing strong woman who I'm proud to know.
Tell me about something that happened to you that you had to overcome. That made you realize you were a strong women.
I was diagnosed with an invasive form of breast cancer last summer. Fighting and beating it over the past 15 months while raising 3 kids and driving growth in my workplace, showed me that anything is possible. My youngest was about to turn 3 when I got the news. How would my baby who cuddled my neck and long hair every night to fall asleep, cope with a bald and nauseated chemo patient of a mom? How would I tell my six and eight year old girls that I would be undergoing double mastectomies without traumatizing them? How would I maintain the place I had worked so hard to achieve at my job and fulfill the additional expectations of the promotion I had been awarded just two weeks before?
These and a few more crises life threw my way over the past year, are now behind me. By breaking the challenges into bite sized chunks, working with an amazing support system of family, friends, and colleagues, and keeping God's grace as the focal point of my energy, I discovered how so many great people have won against impossible odds.
What do you feel is the strongest thing about you? What happened, and how did it effect you?
I used weigh in more on the value of my physical strength. Never getting sick, excelling in sports, being the best at every available competition was the stuff that was important to me in my childhood, youth and early adulthood.
That changed the first time I experienced real physical weakness. First, an illness I barely survived shortly before Mike and I married. Next, recovering from childbirth and finally, throughout months of chemo and following my recent surgeries. There was a weekend I was rushed into ER in septic shock due to my body try to fight acute infections with almost completed depleted white blood cells. It had started as a common cold.
These experiences taught me that my real power is internal and not external. When I’m focused on becoming spiritually, mentally, and emotionally stronger; I find that sufficient physical strength to reach my personal goals is a byproduct of my strong will.
What does success look like to you?
Having a purpose that drives me to get up every morning and give that day the best of me. Living that day as if it may contain the defining moment of my life. Acknowledging that my life will be defined by the combination of thousands of ordinary days. That I never know how long that life will be for me or for those I love, so every moment matters. Deciding that each conversation, friendship, and commitment should be an intentional decision that I make, that these are the choices that chart my life.
What does being a strong woman mean to you and how do you express that strength.
Being strong is not about feeling strong. It is about getting up every time you feel knocked down. About pushing yourself to be greater when you don’t think you can. Most days, it’s just about moving forward no matter how you feel. The more times you do this, the more your mental, emotional, spiritual and physical muscles will remember that action. Eventually no matter how pained those muscles are, you will want to move, and you will therefore move.
What would you consider a defining moment in your life?
Becoming a mother. I have so far to go to where I want and need to be as a parent, yet I believe I was a fraction of the person I am now, before my daughter brought the magic of mothering into my world. I can’t imagine my life without my incredible children and the wisdom, tenacity, inspiration, compassion and humility they have provided me.
Do you have a piece of advice that you would want to impart to other women.
You will get through the very hardest times. Each time you achieve something you didn’t think you could, you have become stronger and more confident that you will beat the next opposition waiting in line to try and stop you.
When every element in your life seems to be fighting against you, break up time into as small a segment as you need to persuade yourself that you can make it just through that segment and no farther. It might be a month or a week. It might be an hour or a minute. Tell yourself you will get through that minute and then the next and the next. You’ll intuitively increase your time spans as you feel your strength increasing. Before you know it, you will be breathing and eventually, smiling.
Do not spend time in self judgement. Do not spend time stressing about things you can't control. Choose the ones you can control and work there. Do not give in to resignation when you fail and then believe your goal is not achievable. Reset. Create a realistic, perhaps reduced goal, and celebrate when you reach it. Then work up from there.
Do analyze the areas you want to improve. Write them down in a prioritized list selecting only the handful that matter most to you. Create measurable goals for each of passions. Tear off and throw away the ones that don’t make the top 5. (Later in life they may make the top 5 and be achieved.) Make a plan to tackle them one at a time.
Finally, the strength of the human spirit is astounding only because we are made in God's image and God's power is unstoppable. Connect yourself to the book the people who can help you connect to Him.