Her name is
Her power is
“It’s what I bring to the world, and it’s what I think the world needs more of,”
…she says, her red hair burning in the sunlight – a fiery visual that I make a mental note to implement when it comes time to photograph her. With Sally, who she is… is who you see. She notices that when she shows up as herself, not playing games, other people become more comfortable being themselves around her. More trusting. “I bring me to everything I do, and that does seem to make a difference.”
Sally grew up in a very conservative part of Idaho. A Generation X-er, Sally leans forward in her chair and remarks on how her upbringing shaped her fight to be authentic.
“There were a whole lot of mixed messages. I was told: women are equal, we have all the abilities to do what men do, we are totally able to stand on our own and be strong… and make sure we’re pretty enough so that we can catch a man and have his babies.
Even now, though I’ve made choices that have moved me further away from that background, there’s still a voice in me that goes, Oh! You’re not pretty enough! Oh! You’re too old to have babies! What use are you to anybody now?”
Though echoes of those words affected how she approached the world, as a woman over the age of 50, Sally now recognizes her worth and value as a human, despite others who may not. “That’s where my authenticity comes in,” she confirms, sitting up straighter in her chair. “There are a lot of us women in our 50s who have to deal with that bullshit, so I think it’s important to struggle with these things publicly. I know I’m not the only woman with these kinds of issues and questions.”
How did Sally grow into her superpower? Her face darkens slightly in concentration as she describes feeling like she wasn’t enough and layering false personas on top of that feeling to at least appear to be enough:
“Taking off those layers one at a time and choosing to greet the world as me, not someone who I thought would make someone else happy – that was a process.”
Sally thanks the field of acting as a big part of helping her peel off those layers, first on stage, “and then in my life, and realizing that it felt really good to be me in the world.”
I ask if there was a certain point when she felt a shift happened. Without hesitation, she offers, “My divorce. That changed everything. It changed what I was willing to put up with, and what hoops I was willing to jump through.” A similar realization happened a few years later. “I was desperate for a job after my business failed. I had to rebuild and recover, thinking, Who am I if not the small business owner I thought I was? Who am I if coaching isn’t going to be my thing? As it turned out, I wasn’t interested in bending over backwards and pretending to be somebody I’m not… not even for a paycheck.”
The mention of desperation and her hard-fought battles triggers a revelation for Sally as she continues, “That’s actually where the phoenix imagery originally began for me. I felt like I had been burned down to nothing but bones and ashes. Rebuilding meant needing to know who I was, and that was such a difficult and painful journey. That’s why she’s here! (Sally enthusiastically gestures to the large, fiercely-colored mythical bird tattooed on her upper back.) The phoenix doesn’t just reappear, it becomes an egg that hatches from flames – it actually bursts forth from its previous incarnation. That’s why she appealed to me so much – you can’t be a phoenix without the ashes that come before.
In line with the “before”, Sally says to her younger self:
“Keep going. There is always another side to the ordeal. Say ‘yes’ when risks come up – because that’s how you discover your own edges. You don’t know where your edges are until you reach for them.”
She grins lovingly and finishes with, “I would also tell her that being tough and being strong and being a badass is the best… cuz it is.”
written by SpiderMeka