This month, Kallie Blog features an incredible woman with an incredible journey. Shannon is our Woman of Strength from April. Now, Shannon narrates her story… *********************************************************************** "I was born in Princeton, NJ and raised in Cranbury, NJ. I began school in 2003 at Rider University and transferred out to UNC Wilmington where I finished my degree in 2008 in Elementary Ed. I moved back to New Jersey in 2009 and began school at Drexel University and I graduated with a MS in Teaching, Learning and Curriculum in 2012. I was first married in 2006 and I had two children during that marriage. Caden was born in 2007 and is 8 years old today and Faith was born in 2011 and is 5 years old today. My first marriage dissolved in 2011 when my husband left. A year later, I met my current husband, Travis, who also has an 8-year-old daughter named Lainie. We will be married now a year this June." "I have always wanted to teach. I left NC when my ex-husband, who was active duty, received recruiting duty orders and had planned on finding a teaching job and obtaining my MS in teaching. I didn’t realize that finding a teaching job would be so difficult and found myself without a job when my ex-husband left. I was fortunate to find a temp position working at Hess Corporation and ended up working my way through the corporate world in an unforeseen change of plans. I am currently a Production Planner at a production facility close to my home in Lumberton, NJ." #1. At some point you were a single mother. How would you define that stage of your life? What would you say was the most challenging part of being a single mother?
When I think back on this time now, I often do so with pride because of the obstacles my kids and I overcame. However, there is still a lot of pain and sadness attached to this time because we struggled so much. I was working full-time and continuing with my Master’s degree because I refused to allow my ex-husband to ruin that for me. I think balancing everything on my own was a big challenge. I had to balance my time and my finances because everything was tight. My biggest challenge was the emotional side of everything that was happening. I had my own emotions to deal with on top of being the emotional support that my children needed during this time. My son took it the hardest and would cry himself to sleep every night. He was also lashing out during the day in angry explosions. When I look back, it is heart wrenching to think about how much pain my son was in over what had happened to us. I can deal with not having money and suffering myself, but I cannot deal when my child is in pain. I just want my kids to be kids and be worry free. #2. Name a defining moment in your life.
The most defining moment in my life was a moment when I felt like I had nothing left in me. My world was caving in and it was the first time in a long time that I didn’t have my kids for the weekend. It was the first time I was alone and I had to deal with everything I had been holding back from my kids in order to be strong in front of them. I decided to go to church and the priest was talking and it really hit me. The church was packed yet I felt like it was just God and myself standing there. I had tears rolling down my cheeks because I was just letting go and giving it all to God. It was that moment that I decided that I would make this transition about me. I wouldn’t let it kill me, but I would allow it to make me stronger and shape me into a better person. A person who gave to others. I know that I was not a perfect person before my marriage dissolved and I would take this opportunity to be a better person. I told myself that I would work on being better and not bitter. I told myself that I would allow myself one cry and then I would get back up and move on from the issue and I would invest in myself and grow. This was so I could be a better mother, a strong single mother and a better person in this world. [caption id="attachment_471" align="alignnone" width="321"]
Shannon & her Prince Charming[/caption] #3. Who do you look up to the most? Why?
I have been fortunate to meet many women of strength on my journey especially other single mothers. I look up to them because it takes a lot of strength to endure the things they have and to raise kids on your own is so tough. There is a single mother and her family who I look up to. They have literally taken my children and I in when we had nowhere to go. She allowed me to sleep in her daughters bed for weeks with my children on her couch. They showed me complete compassion and selflessness when they didn’t have to. We had nothing to give them in return and I look up to them and I have in turn welcomed another single mother and her child into my home when she needed a place to go because I was once in her shoes and someone was nice enough to take me in. There is also a family that I don’t know very well, but I still look up to them. They have been through much more than anyone I know yet positivity radiates from them. They have the strongest faith in God through all of the storm and praise him every step of the way regardless of how rough things are. I look up to this family and they inspire me often to remain positive and maintain my own faith through tough times. #4. You are now happily married and are raising a beautiful family. Do you have any encouraging words for women going through a separation or divorce?
I feel very blessed to have found love again. This love is a much deeper love. My experiences changed me and allowed me to really know what I was looking for in a partner the second time. My advice to others would be to remain positive and take this time, as hard as it might be, to work on you. Take it a day at a time because some days will be really good while others will make you feel like you’ve taken ten steps backwards. However, working on you is a very complicated process with a lot of ups and downs. It is something that you will always have to work at. I am still investing in myself today. It is hard work, but it makes me a better mother and member of my community. I am also much stronger in my faith today than I was before my divorce. God has been my anchor in all of this and he has guided me onto the path I walk today. [caption id="attachment_470" align="alignnone" width="307"]
Shannon & her family <3[/caption] #5. As a woman, what do you want your legacy to be
? I want my legacy to be one of strength. I want people to know that they can overcome any obstacle and they can take that obstacle and actually come out of it a better person. I want my kids to see a positive example of what a parent should be. I want to leave a legacy of selflessness so my children will learn how to give and be a positive member of their community. Do you know a Woman of Strength? Tell us about her, e-mail us her story at firstname.lastname@example.org. xx -N