By Gloria Ward
What is something that unites us as women? I believe that it’s our inner strength, our common ground, and our ability to thrive and shine. Women are faced with so many obstacles, but we keep pushing forward. We overcome our adversities, our insecurities, our inner and outer battles until we become living, breathing heroines. We’re mothers, advocates, business owners, wives, writers, artists, and creatives, and we’re all caretakers.
Nurturing by nature, we give so much of ourselves that sometimes we’re left in pieces. But every day, we get up and put ourselves back together and stand. Women are such strong individuals, and I want to walk hand-in-hand with each woman I meet and teach my group that self-love determines our success, personally and professionally. When I started The I’m Loving Me Project, I had no idea that it would grow so rapidly. Since launching, the goal to inspire 1 million women worldwide is happening day by day.
I wanted women who have faced true hardship to unite and understand that at any time we have the power to change our lives. Over the course of a year, our community has ended stigmas and heard stories of women all over the world. We’ve cried as we listened to the trials of cyber harassment advocates, rape victims, mental health advocates, abuse survivors, kidnapping survivors, heart attack survivors, and cancer survivors. We’ve found joy in the hope that the greatest stories are from those who have found strength and prospered.
Of all the empowering stories we’ve shared this year, three exceptionally strong women stand out. I’ve had the privilege to talk with Marie Charles, Danielle Cutter, and Sharita Humphrey about their own personal challenges and how they’ve turned it all around.
Marie grew up in public housing, fatherless, a victim of sexual abuse from the ages of 7 to 13 by 8 different people, all of whom were family or friends. The birth of her daughter at 19 inspired her to return to school, continue her education over the years and finally earn her bachelor’s degree.
She says, “I’ve always been one who can see the brighter side of things. I’ve managed to smile even when I felt like breaking down. With all that I went through in my childhood, I’ve made my peace with it because I know it’s made me the kind of mother I am to my daughter and any other young person who needs a mother figure in their life. I realize now that my story wasn’t meant to tear me down, nor was it meant for me to carry in secret the way that I did, but it was meant to help others. I know there are bigger and better things out there for me and for anyone else who’s willing to put in the work to make it happen. The first part is letting go of what was, accept what is, and make the necessary changes to make it better! ”
Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, a neuroendocrine tumor, at just 21 years old, Danielle Cutter spent 6 weeks in the hospital waiting for surgery and a clean prognosis. Post-surgery, she was in remission. Her doctors bet that her remission would last approximately 10–15 years. In 2016, almost ten years later, her symptoms started again. Just starting her career in finance, she was placed on the liver recipient list and went through a year of trial treatments, failed surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation.
She was apprehensive of a pregnancy in September 2017, though she wanted to be ecstatic. The chemotherapy drug was notorious for causing major birth defects, so she was faced with the decision to stop treatment and keep her child, or terminate the pregnancy. Nature took its toll, and she miscarried in advance of the decision. After a few massive miracle treatments were approved by the FDA during the ten years she was in remission, her cancer is currently in remission and undetectable! She says, “These experiences have taught me to focus on TODAY. Whether getting through today’s pain, nausea, or miscarriage, I can only climb the mountain in front of me. There’s no use dwelling on life before cancer or miscarriage, or any of the trials that led to the woman I am now.
Sharita Humphrey (sharitamhumphrey.com) spent many nights sleeping on an air mattress on a floor in an empty apartment with her two children. Overcoming so many hardships, including homelessness, Humphrey hit a rock bottom in her life and was since determined to succeed. She found an apartment by luck alone and told the leasing agent that thirty days was all she needed to be in a better financial position. She was right. She tells us, “Losing everything that I owned allowed me to see that those things didn’t define me or my outcome. I learned to lean more on my faith, begin to truly love the woman staring back in the mirror, and wrote out my vision. You have to write the vision, have a plan of action, and then execute it.” She obtained a government job 30 days later just like she told the leasing agent she would. Her government position was a stepping stone because she now runs her own financial education and consulting business to help others change their personal and business financial futures. She went from sleeping on the floor with her children to being featured in Forbes as one of the fastest growing businesses in 2018.
This movement was created to remind us, as women, that not one of us has lived a fairytale life. We’re full of past hurts, trauma, and mistakes, but we’re also full of hope, potential, and resilience. I’ve loved that we’ve become such a community, and we’ve built bonds that will last a lifetime. The I’m Loving Me Project is here for you. Pour your heart out. No judgment ever. Visit imlovingme.net to check us out!