Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC – WOMAN of ACTION™

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A Celebration of Women™

is elated to Celebrate the Life of this powerful woman, one that has risen above her own challenges, hardships; and like the phoenix has soared into the stratosphere out of the ashes transformed, stronger than ever before. Today, sharing her life experience, she devotes her time to bettering the lives of all Women in her community, offering them a ‘hand up‘ and not a ‘hand out‘.

Domestic and sexual abuse is a dark passage to go through, and 7 – 10 women will have experienced some form of abuse before they reach adulthood. Celebrate with us this day that we now have this vibrant survivor, who is now here to help the Women of our World, saying about herself and hoping to say about you: “You’ve Come a Long Way Baby

 
 
 
 

WOMAN of ACTION™

 

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Cindy Stradling, CSP, CPC

 

 

 

The Girl

The eldest of three daughters, I grew up in the town of Orillia, Ontario.  My Mom left the home when I was four years old. We lived with our Grandmother for the next five years. My Dad re-married when I was nine years old to a woman I never connected with or felt any warmth from or for. Most of my life, I felt that I simply did not fit in anywhere.  Often I would experience an ache to be loved that never seemed to be filled.  

self esteem lowI experienced sexual abuse at three different intervals in my life starting at the age of seven. 
 

This shaped how I saw myself.

 

It is no wonder I married a man who would ultimately physically, emotionally and verbally abuse me.

At age fifteen I quit school, left home and at age sixteen I met my biological Mother.

I moved to Toronto to live with her. This living arrangement only worked for a short time. 

There was a lot of tension and what I had realized later that I had a lot of pent up anger towards my Mother.

 
The Wife

At sixteen I met my first husband who treated me poorly right from day one. The first year life seemed pretty good until my husband threatened to kill my oldest son.  He was wanted for an armed robbery and abduction charge (this was done years before I met him) and the only way I could get my son away from him safely was to call the police and turn him in.  I did this.  The very next day I went to the jail, and after he pleaded with me that things would be different, I agreed to stay with him.  In hindsight, I can now see it wasn’t so much I wanted to stay with him, rather I didn’t know where else to go. By the time I was nineteen I had two beautiful sons.

I stayed in that marriage for eight years until I could no longer take the abuse.  Between his drinking, slapping me around, accusations and all the demeaning this he said to me, I had had enough.  I took $2,000.00 out of the bank, rented an apartment moved out with my boys.

That period of my life was so stressful, I felt sick, guilty and scared to death. 

esteemcycleI constantly asked myself;

What if he is right that I am too stupid to make it on my own?” or

What man would want to be with a woman like me?
 

I truly was lost.

My boys cried they wanted to go home and my husband begged me to come back and promised to be different. I caved and said yes. I can remember feeling like I was having an out of body experience when I moved back.  Almost numb and at the same time petrified.  Needless to say, it wasn’t cordial for very long, in fact it was worse. 

His drinking got so bad I used to have to get a neighbour to help me put him to bed. 

I was more afraid than ever to leave, knowing what I would put my boys through and not sure I could make it on my own.  For a short time I started to drink too.  At least it helped numb the pain.  One day I was so sick from drinking I could barely make it up the stairs. I knew that I had to stop and I did.

domestic_violenceOne evening while doing the dishes, something shifted in my mind.  After I finished the dishes, I went for a drive.  It was all a bit of blur, until I found myself sitting at the edge of a lake.  I knew I had to leave and never come back.  That night I went home and announced that I was leaving for good this time. 

He screamed at me that I would never make it on my own;

and slapped me across the face.
 
The sting of that slap helped propel me forward.  The difference this time when I left was that I got a lawyer involved and moved into a friend’s house so my boys could stay at the same school. 

I went back to school to become a florist and graduated a year later. My first job was making $5.00 an hour at a local nursery.

 
The Mother

My ex-husband paid support only for the first two years after we separated, then ‘he simply disappeared‘.  My sons were eight and ten at the time. 

We were on our own, the boys and I.

The biggest challenge for me while I was raising my boys was not being able to spend much time with them since I always worked two and sometimes three jobs.  I worked very hard to give my boys the best lifestyle I could afford.  They were pretty typical boys and I really did not have too many problems until my youngest at age sixteen decided to become a skin head and quit school.

toughlove (1)One of my house rules was ‘no drugs‘. I came home early from a night school class and found him smoking a joint in his room. 

It was then that I told him this was unacceptable, and I moved him to a shelter downtown the next morning. I was petrified and at the same time I knew it was the right thing to do.  I told him he could come back home to live if he was drug free, went back to school and got a part time job. 

It was eight months later that he came home to live again and today his is a successful computer engineer and happily married with two beautiful children.  It could have gone either way back then, as he had got himself into the wrong group of friends, yet I always held onto my belief that he had a good head on his shoulders.

After working in the florist industry for seven years my sister and I opened our own flower shop.  I worked days in the flower shop and nights and weekends as a waitress, and my sister worked days at her government job and ran the flower shop in the evenings and weekends.  When my sister got pregnant we decided to sell the shop.  I worked as a manager at another flower shop for a year and decided it was time for a change.  I went back to school first for upgrading and then an office administrator course.  During the two years in school I also worked part time as a waitress to help cover the costs.  I was able to obtain a small OSAP loan, but it wasn’t enough to live on.

GraduationHatAfter I graduated I got a job in a production office at a manufacturing company – this was the first time in my working life I was only working one job and didn’t have to work weekends.  I worked in the manufacturing industry for the next nine years.  I was the customer service manager for a manufacturing company when I first felt the urge to move into a sales position. 

I started to take night school courses in sales and one year later started my first sales job.  It was during this time that I met my second husband.  I had not dated much since I divorced my previous husband. My boys where getting older and getting ready to move out on their own.  I put an ad in the paper and met my second husband.  We were engaged and bought a house within two months. 

I can remember my goal at the time was: “Get married and buy a house.” 

A big lesson learned here: ‘Be very specific about what you think you want’.

In hindsight, I should have included a ‘supportive loving husband‘.  In the beginning, our marriage seemed okay, yet after three years I started to see signs that we were not a fit.  I ignored them thinking things would work themselves out.  They didn’t.  My second husband was very withdrawn at times and would often put me down.  One night, I realized how far apart we were and asked for a divorce; he agreed immediately.  Our divorce was amicable and we stayed friends until he remarried.

I am now clear on what I want in a partner and what will work or not work for me. 

I have been on my own now for the past eleven years; for the most part, happily single.

 
The Entrepreneur

athena Cindys Logo smaller (1)Currently I run two businesses, one a corporate training and development www.athenatrainingandconsulting.com and one a coaching business for women www.awomansjourney.ca.

A Woman's Journey (1)I have achieved my CSP (Certified Sales Professional) designation through the Canadian Professional Sales Association, graduated with high honours from the Adult Education program at Seneca College, achieved my Distinguish Toastmasters designation through Toastmasters International and earned my CPC (Certified Professional Coach) though Erickson College.

I am a perpetual student, always wanting to learn and will continue to take courses for the rest of my life.

I love what I do and am excited and grateful for what each new day brings. 

WMFlogoWhen I heard recently that seven in ten women returned to abusive situations because they couldn’t see alternatives, I wanted to do something

All of the emotions I had experienced when I returned to my abusive situation came flooding back.  That is how the Women Moving Forward Conference came into existence. 

I know from my own experience and the experience of others, attending a conference that is focused on self development can go a long way to help women see something new for their future.

Hands new croppedI sent out an email to my family, friends and colleagues and in no time we had a committee, volunteers speakers and coaches ready to step in and help.  It has be absolutely one of my most exciting journeys as I am seeing things for the future that were not visible to me before. 

We are creating a day to “Celebrate the Courage of Women” who have left abusive or unhealthy situations and providing them with the opportunity to create new possibilities for the future. 

What is particularly amazing is the connections and wonderful relationships that are forming as a result.
 

‘My vision is to make this an annual event and within the next five years, start a non-profit organization that will hold regular conferences, set up a structure so the attendees will have ongoing access to coaching; and also start programs for the children that have come from abusive homes’.

make a differenceI have volunteered most of my adult life.  When the boys were young I volunteered at their school, I was a cub leader.  I have been a Big Sister to two young ladies.

I have volunteered at the Thornhill Hospice, Leisureworld and recently conducted a workshop for Scarborough Women’s Centre. 

I have conducted several fundraisers for Children’s Wish.

 
My Life Lessons Learned

trust (1)

I have learned many lessons on my personal journey and they are part of who I am today:

“You’ve Come a Long Way Baby” by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

  • Be yourself – live life on your own path (each one of us is unique) – we are not our jobs, our positions or any label we give ourselves.  Ask yourself: Who am I?  Who will I be in the world?  What can others count on me for?
  • Be kind to yourself – listen to what you are telling yourself about yourself and if it is anything less than supportive – STOP – CHANGE YOUR THOUGHTS.  Most of us would never put up from others what we say to ourselves.  Build healthy self-esteem by honour ourselves.
  • Get quiet – meditation, yoga, walk in nature. Whatever it is for you take time everyday to quiet the mental chatter.  This will go a long way to help you deal more effectively with life’s ups and downs.
  • Follow your intuition – when your “gut” speaks… listen.
  • We choose by our thoughts and actions our results – we can only have one of two things at the end of the day “Reasons or Results.”
  • Sometimes love is tough – set boundaries for yourself, what you will or will not accept and be prepared to honour yourself by enforcing these boundaries.
  • Be a friend to have a friend – said another way give what you want to get. (e.g. if you are lonely, give to others who are lonely)
  • Volunteer – find a cause your are passionate about and volunteer.
  • We teach others how to treat us – accept only respect for yourself and others.
  • Live, love and give with no expectations – freely give of yourself with no expectations of anything in return will allow you to experience the true joy in giving.  Having an expectation that things will go a certain way or expecting people to respond or act in a certain way, can often lead to upset and disappointment.  Wanting things that have already happened to be different will certainly lead to suffering – you cannot change the past.
  • Laugh often – it can add years to your life!

 
 
 
 

A Celebration of Women™

is elated to welcome this woman of strength into our Alumni with open arms, looking forward to many collaborations bettering the lives of women, the creation of positive change, through changing ourselves first.

 
carnations
 

Brava Cindy!

 

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