Week 5 - The Importance of Courage and Vulnerability in Storytelling (Denisa Lambert's Story)
Speaker 1: (singing)
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Hello. This is Rebecca Fleetwood Hession, host of the Baddass Women's Council podcast. Also, the CEO and founder of a company called wethrive. live. And you are joining us in week four of an eight week series called Stand Tall in Your Story. And you can actually watch the videos from each of our speakers, see some behind the scenes from our March 5th Stand Tall in Your Story event. It was a magical night at the beautiful Cabaret Theater. There were food and drinks and celebration of our stories. I miss that. You can capture that magic in our storybook site that was created by Cantaloupe TV, one of our partners, not just because it's a video, but because Cantaloupe knows the equation to create great stories. Each element is carefully chosen. It's bomb. So go to standtallinyourstory. live and see all the video and all the stuff. And if you need help sharing your story from your business, message me. I'd love to chat with you about it, rebecca @ wethrive. live. Okay, here's my question to kick off our next speaker in this Stand Tall in Your Story series, how much time have you spent today comparing yourself to somebody else? Go ahead. Think about it. I'll wait. Maybe you didn't need more than three seconds. Maybe it just happened. Maybe it was a scroll through Instagram or a colleague that's crushing their goals. What if I told you it's your unique essence in this world that's your true superpower? Your essence is your unique skills, talents, abilities, experiences, even your struggles. It's your divorce. It's your tattoo. It's your sales awards. It's your haircut. It's your empathy. It's your ability to just know the right candidate in an interview. It's your personality, your style. All those things make you, you. This is what encompasses your story. And we're each writing our story each day chapter by chapter. The question is, are you intentionally writing the story that you want to live? Because no two of us are the same. I mean, look at your hands. Down to our fingerprints, each of us is unique. Each of us is different. And yet, sometimes, it's our differences that threaten our sense of belonging. Today, Denisa Lambert, Vice President of Regulatory and Compliance with TRIMEDX, tells her story, one of differences, struggles, love, and ultimately, empathy and unity. Denisa received a standing ovation for her authenticity and vulnerability in telling her story, and I can't wait for you to hear it. Here we go. Would you absolutely welcome Denisa to the stage?
Denisa Lambert: So I will share about seven months ago, actually, I contemplated what is normal. And I know that seems normal to most people, but not to me. Normal in the dictionary is conforming to a standard. In my book, it's just a boring setting on the dryer. I, over the last decade and a half, found myself as a divorced single mom with three beautiful daughters, Lauren, Katie and Erin. And I spent a lot of time just focusing on being a mom. And my career was important too, never mixed business and personal, was really striving not to do that. And that was really important to me, although, I can tell you, I was ridiculed for being a very rigid person, all work, no play. I would never get anywhere without someone bringing me along. And that was a hard nut to crack and hard to hear. Didn't let that stop me. I, in my job, unbeknownst to me, found my best friend and the love of my life unexpectedly. And we were very different. It caused a lot of challenges and a lot of questions, questions in my own mind," How am I going to tell my kids? What am I going to tell my employer? How am I going to show up at work?" It was hard. And I will tell you, Susan and I were very different. The company didn't embrace us as two individuals in a relationship. There was no policy against our relationship, but it was not welcome. And as a result of that, within a year of each other, we both lost our job, found ourself unemployed. And it's hard. It was really hard, but we're too strong women. It wasn't about to stop us. The blessing in all that after I had to reflect for quite some time was she was given one heck of a severance package, thank you, and she stayed home and help raise our daughters for three years. And it was amazing. I was blessed to get another position and move right into my next role. So as a family, we had lived two states apart for three years, and did that, and were relentless that we were going to make it work. But again, losing our job, we lived under one roof and became a family that we were trying to be for such a long time. I will tell you that I brought my own judgment and baggage with me to my new employer. I tried really not hard not to, but I did. I dressed the part, my hair, my clothes, did everything I needed to be to be that strong person in the workplace. We had family work functions. I avoided it. I wasn't going to go there because I wasn't going to allow somebody to judge me again. And the sad thing is, is I didn't really need to. All that adversity aside, I will tell you we have a lot of love in our heart and decided that the three girls that we had weren't enough, not that we were getting any younger, but we said," Hey, let's go adopt a child." And so we sought an attorney. And the attorney told us," Obviously you know this might be a challenge and it might take you a while, but we'll work with you and we'll go on this journey together." That long time was really three months. We were matched and went through a home study, matched with birth parents, and found ourselves getting that phone call in that three short months saying," It's time," and we welcomed our fourth daughter, McKenna, into the world. And what a blessing. Thank you. I will tell you, it was an amazing moment, but it lasted a moment. McKenna had a stroke at birth and she was born with a complex congenital heart condition, complex scoliosis, and you can't imagine standing by a bedside for 14 days wondering what's next, but we did. Our attorney looked us in the face and said," You might want to reconsider this. She's not the normal situation," There's that word, normal," and this is an issue that you may not know how to maneuver through." But guess what? We're not normal and I wasn't about to let that stop us. We showed up on the Hamilton County courthouse steps, first same sex couple to adopt a child, and we made it final. Yes, we did. I will also tell you that wasn't enough. It's never enough. We decided," Let's get married." Well, y'all know what state we lived in, right? Indiana wasn't going to have that. So we decided," Let's load the car up. We're going to drive to Iowa." So we did. We loaded up the car, parents in tow, we went to Iowa and we got married. So two big things, and you think it ends there. It doesn't end there. As we continued on our journey, we had a family situation at the same time all this was going on. And we were at another courthouse steps getting emergency custody and adopting our great- niece who was two and a half at the time needed a loving stable home. So we now have four daughters, five daughters, and adopted her. Fast forward a couple of years, she has a half- brother. And we're like," Wow, don't have a big house, but we're going to make this work." And honestly, it wasn't a question in our mind. We've been so blessed. We now have a son. So he is six. He was one at the time. So we have a house of six children. I couldn't imagine it any other way, if I'm honest. And I will tell you, where it sounds complicated along the way, it's always going to be complicated, but we're not the ordinary family. And I think that's what keeps us going. This ordinary family is extraordinary together. And I couldn't imagine doing it not together. We have to fight health issues, not just a scraped knee from falling off your bike. We're going to have heart surgeries. We're a Riley family. We also have to go to therapists. We have a son that suffers with ODD and ADHD. Our daughter has ADHD and dyslexia. But you know what? It's just a thing. And labels are labels. And that's how we look at life in general. And I will tell you that this journey, these women, I came into this and said, "I am not telling this story to any these people. No. I'm not saying it." And guess what? They brought out the most vulnerable moments in me. And I sure wasn't going to stand up here today and look at me now. I wasn't going to share this with you either. But I have hidden behind this for 14 years and I have decided that I'm going to stand here and be courageous because if I'm not courageous, then I can't expect my team to be courageous. I can't expect anybody that hears my story to be courageous. So I hope that I empower at least one of you in this room to not try to be normal. And if you don't feel like you're normal, that's okay, it's a setting on the dryer. Thank you.
Talk about resilience. I love Denisa. I can say with complete truth that she is not the same person she was when she walked into our first meeting in September of 2019. She came to us with her guard up, wondering if we were a safe place. And she quickly learned there was no place full of more openness, love, and belonging than the group of Rise and Thrive Women. In fact, at the end of this talk, you can see in the video if you go to the standtallinyourstory. live storybook, she hugged me afterwards. She said," I feel like I left 50 pounds out on that stage," and she hasn't looked back. Each week in our time together, Denise showed more of Denisa. She has the biggest heart, is the most caring individual you'll ever meet. And as the VP of regulatory and compliance for a large company, TRIMEDX, she's also leading a companywide ISO initiative with badass grit and determination. It's this unique combination of gifts and talents that makes Denisa so special. Maybe you're in need of a supportive group of men and women to help you be more of you. Maybe you're on the edge of burnout needing a boost, or maybe your business is thriving and going great, but you're just wondering what's next in your life. Let's take a look at your story, how to write your story with more meaning and purpose. Because I'm a fan in living life in rhythm that honors the best of your life in business, to put more meaning into each day of our lives, not just at the end of our lives. So in our nine month session, Business is Human, which launches in October, we'll talk about all of these things. Because the stats on burnout from the World Health Organization says that burnout is actually hurting our mental and emotional health. The report states that a large number of people are cynical about their jobs or exhausted, or just declining in their personal effectiveness. But I believe that business has the power to heal, not hurt. So our nine month session is divided into three sections, story, money, rhythm, and I would love to chat with you about it. If you need a speaker for an upcoming event about diversity, differences or regulatory compliance and healthcare, ISO, that kind of stuff, Denisa's the one. Message me. We'll get you all hooked up. I have lots of speakers that I can refer and help you with. We'd love to hear from you, whether it's executive coaching, an upcoming event from our wethrive. live page, or our next Business is Human experience launching in October. Contact me. I'd love to hear more of your story. Thanks so much, make it a great day. We'll be back next week with another speaker and another story.
Speaker 1: (singing)
Our unique essence in this world is our true superpower. Our unique skills, talents, abilities, experiences, and even struggles all encompass our story. We are writing our story each day chapter by chapter. We need to intentionally write the story that we want to live because no two of us are the same. Each of us is unique. Each of us is different.
In this week’s episode, we will listen to Denisa Lambert — Vice President of Regulatory and Compliance with TRIMEDX — as she tells us a story of differences, struggles, love, and ultimately, empathy and unity. In her talk, Denisa was vulnerable and courageous. She decided to share a story that she has been hiding behind for 14 years.
Throughout her adult life, Denisa has contemplated what is normal. Her life and family has been anything but normal for the past 14 years. Unexpectedly, Denisa met her best friend and the love of her life at work — Susan. Unfortunately, their company did not embrace them as a couple and within a year they both lost their job. Susan decided to stay home and take care of their three daughters and Denisa went on to her next job. As a family, they lived two states apart for three years and were relentless in making it work. After some time, the two decided to adopt another daughter — McKenna. Right after the birth, McKenna had multiple medical issues, but Denisa and Susan didn’t let that stop them. They showed up on the Hamilton County courthouse steps and made the adoption final becoming the first same-sex couple to adopt a child. However, that wasn’t enough for them, so they decided to drive to Iowa and get married as well. But even after these joyful moments, Denisa’s life continued to get complicated. There was a family situation that resulted in Denisa and Susan getting emergency custody of their great-niece who was two years old at the time. Fast forward a couple of years, and that niece also has a half-brother. It is not what they expected, but they figured out how to make it work, and couldn’t imagine it any other way. They now have a house of six children. In Denisa’s words, “it’s always going to be complicated, but we're not the ordinary family. And I think that's what keeps us going. This ordinary family is extraordinary together.”
When Denisa came to Rise and Thrive, she never thought she would tell the women — let alone the crowd — about her story. But they brought out the most vulnerable moments in her and inspired her to share her journey. After 14 years, Denisa decided to stand up and be courageous, so that she can empower others to not try to be normal.
Listen in to learn more about how she found the courage to tell her unique, authentic story and how Rise and Thrive brought out her most vulnerable moments.
And tune in each week to hear from another speaker about how to stand tall in your story and rise and thrive during these difficult times.
This year, Rebecca has built a similar experience called, “Business is Human,” which is open to both men and women. Right now, she is looking for 4-5 men and 4-5 women join the group for a 9-month experience in Indianapolis. If you are interested in that opportunity, go to standtallinyourstory.live and tell Rebecca a little bit about yourself.
To check out the Stand Tall in Your Story 8-week series, go to standtallinyourstory.live