Photography by Melissa Delgadillo
By Melissa Delgadillo | April 2019
We live in an age where the world is at our fingertips, opportunity abounds and the search for living a meaningful life seems to be at the cusp of every conversation and digital connection. The aspirations that we all carry within us and the vision to do something grand seems to have so many of us paralyzed, and at the end of the day left with feelings of inadequacy when our vision and dreams seem so out of touch in comparison to the daily life we lead.
Over-stimulated with digital visions of a grander life bouncing around in our minds, the beautiful world we live in can feel like we are in a wasteland, stuck in a void where we are aimlessly wandering in our ever-robotic, day-to-day hustle of survival.
However, if we put down our devices and look to the community around us, we can always find relief. We can find connection. We can find support. We can find people who have been cheering us on throughout our journey every-step of the way, and come one step closer to realizing our dreams.
Our Guest Editor this month, Cody Shown, lives this firsthand because she cultivates community as her profession. This month she is stepping into a larger leadership role with a new company, in a job that is focused on curating events and experiences in San Antonio, Texas for locals to enjoy, contributing to the growing metroplex’s cultural capital.
To illustrate the importance of and power in community, Cody invited women in her professional network to be a part of her feature shoot. They all share candidly about the people in their lives who have lifted them up, and how we can strive to always do the same for others around us.
As you have ventured into the unknown, pursuing your passions and working to create a life you love, how have the people who make up your community positively impacted your journey?
I will never come up with the perfect words to express how much I owe to my parents for their support my entire life. They created a platform for me and my brother to do whatever we wanted to do and be whatever we wanted to be, providing the tools to get there. I give them a hard time on a daily basis, because that’s just my way of interacting with people I love, but my brother Will and I are two of the luckiest kids to have parents that unconditionally support us. Their generosity is very rare, and has allowed me and my brother to create lives that we love.
Secondly, enough can’t be said about the value of women in executive positions that are willing to be effective mentors. The first thing I did upon realizing I was ready to make a career change was reach out to the women in leadership positions that I respected most. They listened and helped me understand why I needed to expand and pivot from my former position. Ultimately, my now new superior Janet Holliday and I found out through our conversations that we shared many the same professional passions and much of the same personal purpose, so she created a position in her company for me to pursue them. Through community and strong personal relationships, opportunities have been presented to me that have guided me on my path.
I am reminded every day when I come to work about the power of community, and I feel so lucky. I am located in the middle of Broadway News (in San Antonio, TX), filled with unique shops and retailers of all kinds, all with a similar story to mine who love and have passion for what they do. They are all a huge influence on me; I absorb their creativity, their drive, their advice, and their passion and we embrace each other’s support. It is something truly special.
My friends and family are everything. They are the reason why I gained the confidence to eventually pursue my passion as my career. My personal community believed in me from the beginning, and it made all the difference.
As you are pushing yourself forward in your career and are taking bigger risks, having a strong community of people that you love and trust is invaluable. The people around you who inspire you and with whom you can have open, honest conversations about business struggles is inspiration and motivation that we all need. I cherish every single person in my circle and know that I am stronger because of them.
Tell us about a woman in your life who has lifted you up. What was the impact she made on you?
I owe this new career chapter to Tracy Goss. Tracy led a week-long program for 20-30 year-olds based on the concepts of her Executive Re-Invention program and her book. Friends and family just want to support and encourage, but Tracy dug very deep to challenge me with “what do you really want” and “what’s keeping you from getting it”. She lifted me up by showing me what could be accomplished if I got rid of all the “shoulds” in life that were dragging me down. I’m now in a place that scares me a little, but no great leaders got where they are today by taking the easy route.
I can’t say that only one woman has lifted me up, because I feel like all of the women I work with and my close friends and family have touched my life in some way to fuel me with their kind words and continued trust.
My Grandmother along with my mother have the strongest work ethic and discipline I know and at the same time they never put their work before their loved ones. I want to take their example and do the same in efforts to make them proud and know that because of them, I am the woman I am today.
I have been fortunate to be blessed with many strong women in my life whose paths and stories push me forward and remind me that we truly are stronger than we realize. I had a great grandmother who loved the saying ‘bloom where you are planted’ and I love to roll that around in my head as a reminder that however life is flowing you can’t just shrivel up, you need to look for a light and do you. Sometimes life knocks you down and you need to build stronger roots before you can bloom, but you’ll bloom.
Edited from an interview by Melissa Delgadillo.
Creative Director | Art Director + Photographer
Melissa Delgadillo is the Creative Director | Art Director + Photographer of ELEANORA. A storytelling enthusiast with over a decade of work in shaping brand narratives, she thrives curating experiences and producing uplifting and highly conceptualized content that inspires the imagination. Follow her journey as she curates and shares out-of-the-ordinary adventures in her monthly column Atypical Avenue, and connect with her on social media @melissa__delgadillo.