WCW: Melinda Bell

For November’s Woman Crush Wednesday and in honor of her birthday next week–  I am so excited to bring to you an interview with “My #1 Lady” as she is called in my iPhone contacts. This woman has raised me into the person I am today and I couldn’t be more proud of her and how far she has come. The Women Crush Wednesday hashtag and social media trend is nothing new. But I am trying to reclaim that title not just for half naked celebrities or women you actually know nothing about. The women I crush over are using their womenhood, their voice and their passions to make our world brighter. I have some incredible women in my life so I am honored to share them with you. I hope you find them as inspiring as I do.

Meet Melinda.

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My momma. I usually explain how I met the person I’m interviewing but she’s been stuck with me since birth. This photo is my absolute favorite and how I could depict her spirit.  My mother is an extremely impressive example of resilience, kindness and intellect. Growing up– every single person I met was so jealous that she was my mom. Her students worshiped the ground she walked on and she knew how to make everyone feel special. But as a teenager I was moody, my mom was exhausted, and we both struggled with mental health issues and normal mother-daughter growing pains. It was a rocky road at one point. And then I grew up and realized what incredible sacrifices this woman made for us. I saw her as a human being– not just my mother. I realized I needed to be there for her in her times of struggle and remind her all the good in her she lost sight of from time to time. It’s impossible to paint our story without the pain because my mother worked so hard to come back from a hard place. And to me that’s what makes her even more of a superhero. 

But this story has a very happy ending. She is now a retired teacher and her mental health (and physical health) is on a steady incline. She is the happiest I’ve ever seen her! Not to mention she has recently gotten very serious about changing her diet and nutrition and with the help of her coach daughter’s suggestions has lost 31 pounds!!! I am over the moon excited to see her thriving in her retired life after going through such a tough period. She is a prime example of never giving up! 

This woman has taught me how to be a cheerleader. She is the kindest, most supportive person I’ve ever met. She feels every up and down I have and listens to me without judgement. She has read more books than anyone I know and I’m still waiting for her to apply for Who Wants to be a Millionaire? She is the queen of random knowledge. She’s a great cook, loves to go out to eat  at new restaurants and talk about food while eating food(like only the best kind of people do.) She is a pure genius (not kidding), eloquent, funny and  always willing to help. I could gush for days but I’ll let her do the rest.

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Your Story Matters

Understanding people is one of my top priorities in growing my relationships and perspective on life. I always want to know why they are the way they are and what matters to them. In friends, students, family members and quite honestly strangers I meet traveling or out at the bar, I am insatiably curious to know their story. Storytellers also love hearing great stories. In my coaching business, we are often asked what our “why” is for being a part of this business. The question is asked when we begin the journey as coaches and then it is asked many times as our personal business evolves, naturally the “why” evolves. My mission not only in my new career but as a human being is to use my story, my struggles and my triumphs to lift others up and inspire them. I am surrounded by a team full of incredible people who share their deepest struggles with their body image, mental health, financial trouble, self-confidence issues, relationship problems, (the list goes on) with their followers, friends, family and anyone on the internet to see. As I evolve as a person, a writer, a business woman and a human being I realize that the story that I know so well, my own story, is not something I have put in the spotlight lately.

Now I am living on the other side of the planet with people who haven’t known me longer than 6 months at most. The funny thing about constantly meeting new people is they can only meet you where you are. We can share stories about our past but people tend to judge us by our present. I notice this when I walk down the crowded streets in Sydney. If I’m on my way to work in my “teacher dresses” I give off a much different persona then if I’m in my activewear going to the gym or my casual beach clothes. People deal with me in a much different manner as well. We subconsciously put strangers in boxes and molds and sharing our stories about the inside are the best way to break those. Sometimes I would like a sign on my forehead at the bar, “More than just a pretty face”. Not because I am looking to meet anyone, I am currently the happiest I’ve ever been in a relationship. I just want people to stop judging the shell of me and start being interested in what is underneath. Due to the overwhelming response from my friends, old and new, of how happy I look and seem, I want to go a bit deeper than that shell. Right now, I am happy. But the struggle it took to get here can not be forgotten.

Social media is terrifying when it is used to magnify the good and stifle the bad. I will always be an optimistic individual but I refuse to discount or discredit the struggle and the pain that have been such a real catalyst in shaping me into the woman I am today. I accidently became involved with an Australian organization called One Wave, which raises awareness for mental health. I found out about a free Sunrise Bender yoga class on Bondi Beach when I first moved to Sydney and decided I had to try it out. The first time I went I was sold and have been going back nearly every Friday since. One Wave is a surfing community raising awareness for mental health and every Friday they celebrate Fluro Friday, where everyone dresses in bright, neon, wacky, rave-esque outfits and comes together to surf (or do free yoga for those of us who don’t surf). They kick off the morning with someone sharing their story about mental health and how it has affected their life, either their own battle with a mental illness or someone close to them. It is incredible to hear their stories and see the courage and refuge they have found in having a positive community to support them. We all deeply crave to feel love and acceptance. Why not help eachother get that satisfaction? I decided one early morning on the beach that I wanted to share my story. Not that morning. But some morning in the future. I will keep that promise to myself. For now, I am choosing to share it with you. My family, friends, and followers. Many of you know parts of this story, some of you know most of it, none of you know it all. I often exhaust all my energy on helping others because right now I am strong enough to do so. But it has not always been that way. It is pretty terrifying to be so vulnerable but at this point in my life and my journey, I know that I am ready.

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