ELLA Inspires feature by Sheila Steinmark

Boys, I’ll Take Charge Here.

March Feature by Sheila Steinmark 

When I look back on my life…

I can see that it has been one constant journey, with a series of curious excursions. I was born in High Point North Carolina. By age 10, I had resided in 9 different locations in 3 different states. Being on the move made me hope that my next stop would be a place called home. That next stop in my journey was St. Louis Missouri; the place I ended up calling home. St. Louis is a town built on down-to-earth Midwest sensibilities. Growing up I was a pom-pom girl, in drama club, a member of the student council. From the outside looking in, it appeared that I had everything, the All-American girl. Beneath the façade of happiness and everyday routine hid a dark secret that I still carry with me today. A secret of abuse by my father. A secret of a home that was void of trust and security. As a young girl, living and negotiating with that secret fueled my independence, grit, and desire to take charge of my life. It took many years to cultivate the courage and confidence to trust myself and make my life my own. I learned that I had a personal choice to make. I could look back in anger and frustration or to look forward with hope and love. I choose a life of love, kindness and lots of laughter.

I choose to have a positive attitude that impacts my family, friends, and everyone who surround me. No child or adult goes through this type of pain, fear and confusion alone; it affects everyone. I could not have made the life-changing choices I made alone, because it’s impossible to handle alone. It really does take a village.

 

THE MIRACLE NEXT DOOR

My first lessons in silent empathy, spirituality, and having a true sense of belonging came from next door. Mrs. Commuso, an elderly widow, saw through my façade. With simple gestures of kindness and friendship, she reached me to my core. While we never discussed what was happening in my home, I always felt she knew. She knew that words would get in the way and that a heavy dose of kind gestures would bring me the peace of mind I needed.

 

Sunday afternoons after church, she would light a fire in her fireplace and prepare lunch for us.

 

Most of the time, before she came back with our sandwiches, I would be asleep in front of the fire. A relaxing sleep in my own bed in my own home no longer existed. This beautiful ritual with Mrs. Commuso went on for many years until I left home in pursuit of myself. Mrs. Commuso inspired me, gave me a safe space to find myself. A more powerful me was in there hiding all along. And now that the more 'empowered me' had been liberated, I knew I was not alone.

 

I can’t say enough kind words about the influence of my Mother, Joyce.

 

My Mother hadn’t been aware of my abuse, thinking back, she was a victim as much as I was. I know she carries that burden with her. But don’t feel sorry for us, my mom is a “scrapper” and refused to let me fail or herself fail. She has the kindest heart, many of her friends call her St. Joyce. I just call her Mom. As a child she didn’t shower me with 'I Love You' out loud but I knew every day how much she loved me. My brother and I often blame her German heritage for being tight lipped. Her actions of love in my case spoke much louder than words. Over time I began to understand the complexity of my Mother’s life, her hopes, dreams, and fears. Through it all my Mother showed me what 'unconditional love' looked and felt like.

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About ELLA Inspires Magazine

ELLA Inspires is an independent lifestyle magazine for professional women published by ELLA CREATIVE MEDIA, LLC. In each issue, one featured woman shares her personal story of growth, progress, determination, and professional success. The online blog features high quality photography and features articles on fashion, business, and lifestyle by noted bloggers, influencers, and other industry experts.

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On the March Cover

Sheila Steinmark, the Founder and Managing Partner of MOGXP, has been helping marketers, executives and business owners define, develop and fine-tune their marketing strategies for more than 20 years. She’s a retired Army First Sergeant and the mother of a college student.

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