Every Woman Has a Story. Every Woman Has Power. The Power is in Her Story.
By Tobi Schwartz-Cassell
As I’ve mentioned in past blog posts, one of my philosophies is, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.”
Well, that’s exactly what three local women business owners have done. Here are their stories.
By the age of 33, Bridget Papagno had been sick for two years. “I had a fever every day. The lab work and testing were constant, and every time I’d go to the doctor, he’d just order more tests and tell me to come back in three months.”
New medications came with debilitating side effects that were worse than her symptoms. She was at the end of her rope, when she decided to seek help from a holistic practitioner. She began to feel better, but there was one other person she was destined to meet who would help her turn her life around.
The woman, a fellow hockey mom, was Judy Dingler, a psychic medium who teaches Reiki, psychic development, and so much more. She became Bridget’s mentor, as well as her best friend. This immersion into holistic healing made Bridget feel human again, and that’s when she became the Essential Lightworker.
She is now a Reiki Master who both practices and teaches. She even does Reiki on pets. She is also an Integrated Energy Therapy practitioner and a certified Aromatherapist, and as of this month, has taken over the reigns as president of the Holistic Chamber of Commerce, currently Moorestown-Cherry hill Chapter, soon to be Mt. Laurel-Cherry Hill Chapter.
“I now have a new passion for life because of my commitment to helping others. And I now understand that I had to get sick, so I could help others get well.”
Shaheerah Fardan-Ali also found her salvation by starting her own business. “I started out baking for family and friends who loved what I did and encouraged me to start a business. Once I made the decision to do it, I needed a name. So, I went through what some would call ‘The Dark Night of the Soul.’
“In evaluating where I was in my life and where I wanted to be, through a period of growth, transition, and unknowing, my business became my ‘diary,’ and my cupcakes became my ‘entries.’ And Diary of a Cupcake was born. I put inspirational messages on some of my cupcakes, because they are my diary entries, too.”
Shaheerah found herself at a spoken word event where she shared her story with the audience. “And I felt this glow come over me and a sense of empowerment and accomplishment.
“If I had not had the shift in mindset that I’d had in the past 3 months, I wouldn’t have had the faith and courage to speak at that event. If I didn’t make the resolution at the beginning of the year to be committed to my work, I wouldn’t have even been there.
“If I had not begun to surrender my day to the opportunities that God sends me every day, I wouldn’t have even booked that event two days before. If I hadn’t been preparing for moments like this, and hadn’t made “the choice two years ago to surrender, to fight, to grow, and no longer allow my fear to overshadow my desire to thrive…
“If I had been so consumed by my fear and self-doubt instead of recognizing the ways that I have been blessed lately, recognizing the messages and opportunities that I have been given…
“If I wasn’t in the rooms that I had been in, meeting the people that I have met recently who, instead of only taking from my cup, would refill mine so we could refill each other’s…Anyway, I am grateful. And I celebrate these sweet moments that remind me that I am exactly where I am supposed to be at any given moment.”
Though Elise Mac-Bello’s business was not born of an illness as Bridget’s was, or a spiritual awakening as Shaheerah’s was, it was born right along with the birth of her second child.
Elise is a chocolatier who owns Saejar Sweets in Willingboro. Her company name is a commingling of her children’s names, Sadie and Jared.
“I’ve always had a love for creativity and trying new things. Making chocolates was one of my favorite ways to de-stress from my demanding career in the nonprofit world. I always wished I could make it my career, but enjoyed doing meaningful work within my community. Then Jared was born, and nothing gave me more joy than being his mom.
“I could no longer imagine the 1.5 hour commute to work, the 24 hour on-call life where I would often leave to deal with a crisis at any given moment, and spent a glorious 7 months with my little guy, wishing it could be forever but needing to bring in an income for our family.”
What was also coming in Elise’s way was fear. “I toyed with the idea of opening my own business, but fear was not something I had yet learned to conquer, so back to work I went.” Until—surprise!—she and husband Thomas discovered that they’d soon be a family of four.
“But that nasty fear kept telling me there was no way I would ever be able to pursue my dreams with two mouths to feed, so I pressed on for 5 more years.
“Then finally, in November of 2018, a door opened that would allow me to get the training I needed to make my passion a reality. So, I said a whole lot of prayers and ran as fast as I could through that open door, thanking God for the peace and passion to know that this would be my next chapter.
“My heart is so unbelievably full! I am surrounded by faith, family and community, which is Saejar Sweets’ Top 3 values, and values we try our hardest to infuse in all we do! Values (along with several others) we are raising our kids to embrace.”
You can meet these three inspiring women at our June 19th “It’s EVERYBODY’S Birthday” Birthday Party! Elise and Shaheerah are our Dessert Sponsors, and you know what that means! Chocolate and cupcakes for everyone! Click here for more info on that event.
So, what’s YOUR story of power? What are YOU striving for? We ALL deserve to have our own story, and when we use our power, it WILL have a happy ending.
Tell us in the comments below what your dream is and how you have, or will, make it a reality using your power.
April 11, 2020 @ 1:58 pm
Toby, I just wanted to say how much your article resonated with me. In fact, I went as far as sharing this quote “Every Woman Has a Story. Every Woman Has Power. The Power is in Her Story” in the introduction to my book “Wild Wise Women: 10 Stories of Fearless Females Relentless in Pursuit of Their Dreams, Success and Happiness”. I am not posting any links in here but you can check it out on Amazon if you feel called to. I just wanted to show my love and appreciation as your article has had a tremendous impact on me. I strongly believe that every woman has a story and that our stories have the power to heal. My desire is to heal the world one soul, one story at a time. Much love, Sandra Stachowicz P.S. Interestingly enough I shared my motto“When life hands you lemons, make lemonade” in another book of mine but that’s a topic for another discussion lol
July 6, 2020 @ 11:52 pm
Sandra, I don’t know how I missed your comment! But I am so happy I came across it now. Thank you for such a lovely note. I am honored that you used my quote in your book! I will check it out. Best of luck with it and I hope it becomes a bestseller!
May 3, 2019 @ 7:53 am
Love hearing the God inspirations!
May 3, 2019 @ 9:55 am
Yes, the underlying theme of this piece.
May 2, 2019 @ 10:47 pm
Thank you very much for sharing my story. I really enjoyed reading about the 2 other AMAZING Women featured here too. I’m looking forward to meeting everyone at My Birthday Party
May 2, 2019 @ 10:50 pm
You are very welcome. And yes, we will all be at your birthday party! 😀
May 2, 2019 @ 10:25 pm
I love reading these inspiring stories. My story is not as dynamic as these but it’s MY story so here goes. All I ever wanted in life was to be a Mom. I struggled with infertiltiy but God did bless me with two beautiful daughters. So for the next 20 years I did just that…I was a Mom. My life was school, soccer, cheerleading and my life was happily revolved around my kids. Before I knew it they were grown! I realized my friends where their friends Mom’s and my life was in transition. What do I do with free time…I was bored!
My cousin had been a Scentsy consultant for a few years and I was a happy customer loving the way my house smelled. She talked to me about an incentive to Disney that Scentsy was offering. There is one thing my family really loves and that’s Disney World. I was in. I signed up and started my journey. Wow what a ride the past 4 years have been.
Direct sales is not really about the product your selling, although a good product sure does help and I have great stuff to offer. DS is about personal growth and self discovery. I’ve learned more about myself than all my years on this planet. I suffer from a period of depression and was terrified to live after a cancer diagnosis. This business gave me back my zest for life and showed me this is what I should have been doing my whole life. Turns out I’m really good at this!
Stepping outside my comfort zone has allowed me to grow as an individual and trust the process. DS is about challenging youself to belive you CAN and I did. I’ve earned the incentive trip every year sold almost $80k in products and built a team of 40 to date. But what I’m most proud of is my impact on others. I love seeing others succeed and find joy in their journey. I enjoy meeting people and serving my customers and teammates. It give me great joy and has blessed my family in so many ways. I try to be honest, positive, upbeat and geniune. One of the best compliments I received was from you Tobi when you said that I had integrity! Isn’t that what we all strive for? I want to operate with integrity and when people say my name I want them to smile. I’m the crazy Scentsy lady and Positive Peg! So that’s my story and I’m sticking with it!
May 2, 2019 @ 10:32 pm
What a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing, Peg. I am sure you are an amazing mentor for your team. That is why it’s grown so big! And I don’t say things that I don’t mean, so yes, you are absolutely a woman of integrity.