One of the most exciting additions to our speaker lineup at Elevate Women is Heather Shellen, a woman who’s on a mission to raise forward-thinking children in a seriously backwards-thinking world. Heather recently took up arms as an amateur activist, and will be sharing her amazing story of spontaneous involvement in the Women’s March on Washington, how it affected her identity as a woman, and how it influenced her parenting. Heather is the bravest woman we know, and we can’t wait for you to see her speak!
What’s your day job?
Former nonprofit case worker turned mother of two, amateur pie baker, forever searching for the perfect shade of nude lipstick.
Why’d you choose to get involved in the Elevate Women’s Event?
I chose to get involved in the Elevate Women’s Event because I decided it was time to be brave. Being involved in a project like this is completely outside of my comfort zone. It’s the kind of thing “other” people do and my role was to swoon quietly and enviously from the sidelines. But thanks to encouragement from Sarah, and my heart giving my brain a huge pep talk, I realized we all have a story to tell. I am humbled and honored to share mine.
What was you biggest ah-ha moment as a woman?
I am almost embarrassed to admit that at nearly 36 years old, my ah-ha moment came on November 9th, 2016 (well, probably around 9pm PST on the 8th if I am being totally honest). That night, as I put my children to bed, my daughter wearing her “Always Be Brave” T-shirt that seemed so fitting for the evening, I wiped a tear from my eyes and thought, “I must do my part to ensure that the world will not be this unfair to her.” And in that moment and the weeks that would follow I looked back on my own life to all the times that I was not good enough, or smart enough, or assertive enough. It was in those moments that I realized, despite how far we have come as women, we still are up against seemingly impossible (albeit sometimes ridiculous) odds. But I also realized we don’t have to accept this. Because as I said before, and as the rainbow letters on my preschooler’s shirt so clearly states, we can decide to “always be brave.”
What do you wish you could tell your younger self?
In 7th grade, it wasn’t your fault. It was that math teacher’s who didn’t think you were worth his time. In college, that good grade you got in the first and last biology class you ever took was not a fluke. And your GPA at your college graduation wasn’t because you “picked an easy major.” It was because you were (and are) smart. Fear of failure does not have to define you and you are not a prisoner to the choices you think you have to make or should make. It is OK to choose a harder path and stumble. Because you are going to stumble a lot in life anyway, despite doing everything “right.” Doing everything the way you were “supposed to.” And somehow, through it all, you find a way to keep getting back up again. I promise. And another thing: save yourself all those endless fights on the phone with him. You’ll grow up and marry that boy and it will be wonderful.
Also, you’ll have a grown-up crush on Justin Timberlake someday. I know, it’s crazy.