Whitney Houston’s hit song “Greatest Love of All” has timeless lyrics regarding children – lyrics that touch your soul and inspire you to nurture the children of the world. My EXTRAordinary Woman of the week, Shelley Seale has been involved in non profit work and social activism almost all of her life – particularly around child advocacy. Through her book , and her work – she has contributed to bringing attention – to the plight of some of India’s children.
Meet Shelley Seale, writer, dreamer, child advocate and EXTRAordinary woman of the week.
1. Shamelessly plug yourself and your business /services
I’m a professional freelance writer, editor and graphic designer based out of cool and creative Austin, Texas. When not there, I am usually off vagabonding in any part of the world whenever possible. My mantra is “travel with a purpose.”
I recently completed a nonfiction book, The Weight of Silence: Invisible Children of India which was published Dogs Eye View Media in June, 2009. This nonfiction book is a story straight from today’s headlines – the true, written version that Slumdog Millionaire portrayed on film. It follows my journeys through India and tells the stories of some of the 25 million children living without parents in India, on the streets or in orphanages; and the inspiring people who are helping to uphold their rights, one child at a time.
2. How long have you been a writer?
I have been writing for as long as I can remember! Freelancing full time for about five years now.
3. What motivated you to become an entrepreneur?
I think I have some sort of entrepreneurial bug in me. Maybe it stems from just being really independent and liking to do my own thing, I don’t know. I’ve always been an entrepreneur; even in my previous career incarnation, before I started writing full time, I was in real estate for 15 years and I started two different firms. I have started and owned several ventures during my lifetime.
4. What has been a defining moment in your life or an AHA moment?
Oprah Winfrey shares a defining moment in her life when she was in the third grade – the day her book report earned her teacher’s praise- it made her classmates whisper, “She thinks she is so smart.” She says for too many years after that, her biggest fear was that others would see her as arrogant. “The last thing I wanted was for my actions to make me appear conceited. Full of myself,: she remembers.
I don’t remember the exact incident, but I know it was the first time that anyone ever read something that I wrote and said, “That is good!” With writing, you really put yourself out there personally – often your thoughts, your feelings, your human experience, your soul. It’s a very vulnerable place to be sometimes, and to know that other people can relate to it, that something you wrote really resonates with someone else – that is a real a-ha moment, and something that makes it all worthwhile and keeps you going.
5. What has been your biggest challenge?
How hard it is to get work and get published sometimes, and how easy it is to constantly keep working to do so. Writing is all-consuming. Although I would be miserable in a regular 9-to-5 job, I sometimes envy those who can go home and leave their work behind at the end of the day.
6. What has been your greatest reward?
Doing what I love to do – what doesn’t feel like work to me.
From a very early age, my grandparents and parents always inspired me. I have the most wonderful, close, loving family who have always supported me unconditionally. It’s an amazing gift, which is why it breaks my heart to see other children go through life without that. While writing the book, there were so many people along the way who inspired me and have become my heroes. Caroline Boudreaux was the first one – this woman gave up a very successful television advertising career after meeting a group of orphans, chance, on one evening – and dedicated the rest of her life to supporting them and ensuring their fundamental rights. Dr. Manjeet Pardesi, her Director of Operations in India, has a similar story – he left behind a successful accounting business in Delhi to open and run an orphanage and home for unwed mothers hundreds of miles away.
7. What limiting belief about money did you let go of- on your entrepreneurial journey.
That money (or material things) were intrinsically entwined with happiness. Yes, money can make your life easier and reduces stress that comes from not having it, and struggling. But once you have the basics, the idea that more is always better is hugely limiting. In fact, it can have the opposite effect on happiness. I could make a lot more money if I had a corporate job – but I wouldn’t be nearly as happy. Doing what I love, day in and day out, being able to truly follow my passion and integrate who I am with what I do, is the most important aspect of happiness to me. If I can get paid enough doing that to live a simple lifestyle, to pay my bills and have a few little comforts, I am so much happier than doing something I hate, but getting paid a lot more. Often times, when we are in that vicious cycle, we NEED that extra money in order to buy things to try and make ourselves feel better about the fact that we’re miserable.
8. What do you do on a regular basis for a healthy/strong mind,body and spirit connection?
I do a lot of yoga, about 3 or 4 times a week, as well as a few dance and pilates classes as well. I also try to eat very healthy, organic and locally grown food as much as possible. It really makes a difference in how I feel.
8. Is there something you want to share that was not asked?
I would like people to know that even though the topic is serious and the stories often heartbreaking, it is not a depressing book or subject! These kids, and their stories, are incredible and awe-inspiring, hopeful and inspirational. In my journeys over the last three years into the orphanages, slums, clinics and streets of India I have become immersed in dozens of children’s lives. Their hope and resilience amazed me time and time again; the ability of their spirits to overcome crippling challenges inspired me. Even in the most deprived circumstances they are still kids – they laugh and play, they develop strong bonds and relationships to create family where none exists; and most of all they have an enormous amount of love to give. The issues are tough, what has happened to a lot of these kids makes you want to cry – but the bottom line of their stories is a very strong, hopeful voice.
You can connect with Shelley at the links below.
Purchase her book
Shelley, I want to thank you for sharing your heart felt information with my readers. I hope someone will be inspired to take action for their own cause.
I wish you success with your cause – bettering the lives of our children.
As always, I appreciate your visit. What do you think of Shelley and her cause? Do you have a cause that you are passionate about? Please share – my readers and I would like to get to know you. Like what you’ve read? Please subscribe in the RSS feed (upper right) and each new post will be delivered to your in box.