The Female Factor Project – Cheryl

Cheryls story is the first one told in our Female Factor Project, which is a photographic documentation of women who inspire. The project is mean to honor the women who came before us, to inspire the women who are behind us, and to appreciate the women who are right beside us.  If you would like to know more about the female Factor project please go to http://sknyphotography.co/the-female-factor/ .

Cheryl is an incredible woman who is a shining example of female strength in todays world and I loved hanging out with her family at the beach. Her son is an absolute love, with a cheeky smile and a look in his eye that let me know ………I was on notice ! There was no stopping this kid and his laugh was one of those where you laugh back even if you don’t get whats funny. ( something I was rewarded with after catching quite a few face-fulls of sand)  Her daughter is also irresistible, her smile was huge and non stop. She is a total mommas girl and spent the entire time laughing and giggling with Cheryl. I had an absolute blast with this family and was really touched by what I learned about Cheryl. I know you will be too, so please enjoy the images and scroll down to catch the story of Cheryl .

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WHAT DO YOU DO FOR A LIVING ?

“I am a Geospatial Intelligence Anayst. My degree is in biology, but I am trained in Geospatial Analysis/Cartography. It was a strange twist to my career, but I do enjoy it. I like the combination of science and art coming together. I now work for Centcom, which was my career goal for 10 years. I finally achieved it in 2010, but now with the Sequestration…not really sure how long it will last. I might be looking at a career change, with the Defense budget shrinking.”

WHAT FEMALE INSPIRES YOU NOW? WHY ?

“All moms inspire me. Whether you are a working mom,stay at home mom,a breast feeding mom or a formula feeding mom I think we are all amazing. I have learned something from every mom I talk with. I think these debates that pit groups of women against each other is ridiculous. I am a working mom, but I know that stay at home moms have challenges, too. Not the same as mine, but still difficult to get through. I met a lady just a couple of weeks ago that had a 6 week old and she was already thinking about having to go back to work. She asked me if it gets easier. It gets easier, but your heart will still break as you leave the house each day. Mine still does.”

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WHAT FEMALE INMPACTED/INSPIRED YOU MOST AS A CHILD?

“Of course this is my mom. And I am so excited to have a daughter, too! My mom and I are so similar. Our birthdays are just a week apart and now my daughter is a couple of days away from my mothers. It is nice to have us all in almost the same week. My mom is a total work-aholic, but she loves it. I saw myself going down that path. I backed off…no more 16 hour days for me. It is not worth the sacrifice. It is a real shame that we don’t live closer. We hit a bumpy patch when I moved here to Tampa. I used to live just 45 minutes away and we were very close, we would sneak away for a coffee or just see each other more. I do really miss those times. We are working through it though. It will take a little more time, but we are getting there.”

WHATS YOUR GREATEST DREAM?

“My career came pretty easy for me. It was the family part that I thought would elude me. We tried what seemed like forever for kids. And finally I had my son! And since it took forever to have him, it would be the same for the second… not quite. We were pregnant again in 6 months. So I have 2 little ones that are just the light of my life right now.”
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WHATS YOUR GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT?

“I am not exactly cool under pressure. I can freak out a bit. So now that you know that…my daughter started choking the other day. When my nephew did it, luckily someone was around because I did freak out. But this time…I handled it! I have never done infant CPR (thank god never needed to do it). I have taken adult CPR, so in theory I knew what to do. I wouldn’t say I was cool as a cucumber, but baby steps. So yea, I am a little better under pressure and I saved my daughters life. It doesn’t get greater than that.”

( I cant tell you how much it helped me to read this. I also am not cool under pressure and have tended to beat myself up a lot for it. It was a great sense of relief to know hear a very strong accomplished woman also goes through the same process as me during stressful times. I know ALOT of ladies out there are going ME TOO ME TOO!!!)

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WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST FEAR ?

“Public speaking? Identity Theft? Sex Offenders? I try not to think about this. Especially with everything that is going on in the world these days, with the bombings and shootings there is a lot to fear. But I don’t like to focus on it, I would rather sleep at night.”

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WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR CHILDREN? TELL US ABOUT THEM!

“They are brilliant and gorgeous and I love them to pieces. I think I just love watching them grow and learn new things while spending time with them. When I come home from work, I am all theirs. I try to make the most out of every moment I am with them. They are both so young, so it is tough to pinpoint a certain quality. The unique quality in my son is that he so expressive. He has such a vocabulary for a 22 month old, but it is those eyes that I think get to people. And he is a clown so he is tons of fun. He is always dancing and singing. It is great after a long day at work. My daughter is a little quieter and calmer (thankfully), but I have a feeling that is going to change in the future. She is starting to find her voice much to my son’s surprise.”

WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO DO DIFFERENT FOR THEM COMPARED TO HOW YOU WERE RAISED ?

“I thought this would be the longer paragraph. Now that I think about it…I am not raising them so different at all. The only thing I can think of is hitting. I was spanked as a kid, but I don’t agree with it for my kids. My son already hits…I think it sends mixed messages. Only one other thing, I want to involve them in the community more and teach them to give to people less fortunate than us. I asked my mom about this a few years ago…why they weren’t open about it. At the time she didn’t realize that she wasn’t. She told me they have always given time and finances (which I knew), but didn’t really encourage it for us as children. I would like to instill this at a younger age.”

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO THE SAME?

“There is so much that my parents got right. We are too fast paced these days. My 7 month old already reaches for my IPhone! So we try to be outside playing most of the day, like we used to do. How rare is it to see children outside playing these days?? Almost never. They will not have a TV in their rooms. We will all agree on a show and all watch it together. My mom was very strict about eating…….we didn’t have sweets in the house. Turns out, that is important to me as well.”

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TELL US ABOUT RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS IN YOUR LIFE.

“I was at Target a few weeks ago. And there was a young boy in front of me paying for what looked like some school supplies. He was probably 17-19 yrs old. He goes in one pocket and takes out a handful of ones all crumpled up. Then he goes in the other pocket and proceeds to count some change…..a lot of change. He didn’t have enough. I paid the rest for him. But that wasn’t always my response…

Something similar happened to me a quite a few years ago. A young boy was buying a combo sandwich at Publix, but he didn’t have enough to pay for the soda. I didn’t help him out. I don’t know if it was because it was soda and I don’t want kids drinking soda. Or if I was in shock that Publix didn’t just give it to him. They actually threw it away, because he couldn’t pay for it. But worse I didn’t respond. I never wanted to do that again.”

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WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNG WOMEN ?

” Enjoy every stage in your life and live each stage to the fullest. Maybe it is better these days, but I felt pressure to get married out of college. I thought that is what I was supposed to do. Find a guy in college, get married, have kids. Only one problem, I didn’t want to be married…yet. So guess what, I got divorced. But that divorce, almost freed me. I didn’t have any path anymore. I could decide what I wanted to do. So I did. I moved away from the folks and started my career. Was it hard? Oh yes, but so rewarding. I was on my own…completely. Almost like my own little revolution. When I was ready, I moved back and started a family. And now I enjoy my family to the fullest. So my daughter can find her own way in her own time.”

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WHATS YOUR STATEMENT ?

” Real Life Learning ”

“This means to me teaching our kids more than their ABC’s. My end goal is a well-rounded little person that will be an active member of society. And in that, I hope they find happiness. They need to learn how to cook and clean, how to treat others, how to be part of a family and part of a community of people…with some morals and values thrown in, too. And how important are the arts….music and dance. All of the subjects that our school system is shying away from, we as parents have to pick up those up and teach them. My son is still very young; he will be 2 in June. Ever since he was able to stand comfortably, he “helps me” cook. When I am making dinner, he is up at the counter with me doing whatever…usually ends with spilling water on the floor, but oh well. He can crack an egg and loves to help with breakfast. Sometimes I don’t have the patience and I have to get dinner done, but I try as much as possible to involve him with the day to day stuff. As he gets older, I want to teach him electrical work. How to paint a wall, read a ruler, plant a tree. And same with my daughter, there will be no roles in the housework. They will both learn to do as much as we can teach them and hopefully they will be willing learners.”

Cheryl thank you again for spending the day with me and sharing your thoughts on the female factor. You are a wonderful inspiration for young women and you have certainly inspired me on many levels:)

Please leave Cheryl some blog love, leave your thoughts, or just let her know you stopped by !

 

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