There's a story prompt I teach called, "Trials to Triumph"... and this month's spotlight feature certainly fits that storyline.
I first met Shannon Rafalowski when she attended our very first Storytelling Symposium in Dallas, Texas.
I could sense immediately her story was raw and fresh. She was at the very beginning stage of healing from a 35+ year battle with an eating disorder and body image issues.
She had just finished up her life coaching certification and was searching for a way to share her story in hopes of helping others.
That was in May of 2019.
Over the past 2 years, I've had a front row seat as Shannon has unraveled and rebuilt her life from the ground up.
This work isn't for the faint of heart, but it's worth it when you are able to look back on your story and see how beneficial it can be to share it with others.
These days, Shannon pours her energy into her Tush Tribe Community, where she is helping women recover from their own perfectionist tendencies and rebuilding their bodies from the inside out.
More now from Shannon, in her own words....
APRIL: When you think of your story now, how do you describe it?
SHANNON: My life seemed picture "perfect" on the outside. But I was dying a slow death mentally and physically, living with perfectionism and hidden traumas causing a lack of self-love and a severe eating disorder from the age of 12. I strived to be "perfect" in a society of unrealistic standards. Very few people knew my inside story since I'd always been an esteemed athlete and appeared bubbly and happy. Wearing a facade exacerbated the shame and kept the vicious cycle alive. I was my enemy and talked to myself and my body in ways that I would never speak to a friend or even a stranger.
When my 21-year-old niece was diagnosed with leukemia, the reality set in that she may not have the choice to live, but I did. I began searching for spirituality, clarity and opened my eyes to embrace life. Awareness of my then-current surroundings revealed beauty but also pain. I'd been numbing emotions from traumas and hiding my true self from everyone, including myself.
In the midst of striving for clarity, I continued to coach swimming and fitness and obtain my life coach certification. I even came up with an idea to save your TUSH (literally). The physical and mental exercises (using tangible and intangible tools) held the key to discovering my Truth, building genuine connections, and freedom from addiction and habitual patterns.
EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I celebrate life and put my best foot forward by being healthy, 100% ME, and I’Mperfect. The best part is that I get to shine my light by educating other incredible women how to break free from the destructive habits they’ve developed over time. We can all live our best lives, loving ourselves, loving our body, and loving our soul!
APRIL: What are you most proud of?
SHANNON: Some of my accolades go without a certificate or actual award.
I am most proud of being a mom to exceptional identical twin girls and their younger sister.
The life I gave myself when I healed from a 36-year eating disorder is my biggest accolade.
My journey riding my bicycle carrying all my gear across America from Oregon to Virginia after ACL surgery still makes me know I can do anything I set my mind to.
I’m a certified US Masters, and Adult Learn to Swim Instructor (ALTS).
I’m a Certified iPEC Life Coach (CPC) with a Master Practitioner License in assessing energy and attitude levels.
I'm very proud of both of these accreditations.
APRIL: What does being a LIGHTbeamer mean to you?
SHANNON: Until LIGHTbeamers, I had really shied away from having close women relationships in my life. After being bullied in my youth by “mean girls,” I had a perpetual wall of steel. This community embraced me, my vulnerability, and sucked me in with love and guidance, tearing the barrier down as if it were the Berlin Wall in November of 1989. My life has been altered personally and professionally by being a piece of this community. It has given me the gift of everlasting friendships and a place to sparkle and absorb others' light, making our world a better place.
APRIL: What have you learned or discovered the most about storytelling and sharing your story?
SHANNON: I’ve mostly learned that my story matters. But also that there is an art to storytelling. There are layers to your story, and it’s impossible to share the entire experience in one fell swoop. There are stories within stories.
APRIL: What's been the hardest part about learning how to share your story?
SHANNON: Part of my journey is embracing going from perfect to I’Mperfect and having the courage to take action, whether it be on video or in words, before it feels just right. Jump in and share yourself. If you have a typo or fumble over your words, it’s OK. It makes you more relatable because we are human.
APRIL: What is one piece of advice you'd give to another woman about using her voice and sharing her story?
SHANNON: Be the example. Be courageous. Step into your power and don’t hold back sharing your journey and experience from the trials and tribulations to the triumphs. There is a little girl out there that’s watching you be brave. It’s contagious. A woman out there can relate and has been waiting for a sign to step into her courage to heal or share her power. Don’t hold back from being fabulous. You were put on this Earth to do great things, not to be selfish by keeping your voice inside. People need you and your story is a gift.
APRIL: What do you love most about your work?
SHANNON: When other women uncover what they have to offer themselves and knowing they are enough makes my heart sing. The client does the “hard stuff.” But when I get to guide them towards sustainable happiness, THAT is pure gold.
APRIL: What are you busy creating now?
SHANNON: I’m so glad you asked! I’m growing TUSH TRIBE, a monthly subscription program helping people To Undo Sh*tty Habits (TUSH). And my TUSH is being manufactured as I write! You read it correctly. It's my patent-pending exercise product consisting of two portable, lightweight mats that also transition into sliders, making them a complete system to work your body and save your TUSH. I’m very excited about it, and I think you will be too! And finally, I’m a master practitioner in assessing energy and attitude levels. To help people live their best life personally and professionally I’ve built a way to weave the individual results into individualized plans.
APRIL: How do you relax after a busy week?
SHANNON: Even though I live in Texas, I love sitting by the fire. My dogs like to walk me (you read that correctly), but I still find it relaxing and humorous. And I love not setting my alarm on a Saturday morning and waking up to meditate and go for a nice swim, bike ride, or leisurely walk.
APRIL: What kind of things do you like doing outside of work?
SHANNON: This is actually a tough question. I used to ask my mom why we have to sleep because there is so much to experience in life. But currently, anything with my kids! I love hiking, swimming, cycling, and it’s even better if someone is joining me. I love to paint, cook, write, read, and watch an occasional romantic comedy.
Shannon is a delight. She's wickedly funny, and a good friend to have in your corner. Shannon is a founding member of our Visibility Accelerator, and she shows up regularly on video sharing her message with her audience. She's a real 'shining star' in our Community.
To connect with her further, be sure to follow her channels:
Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/tushcommunity
Email: [email protected]