Strength is ...

Strength. The word rumbles around in my brain.

Immediately I think of a red tie being a symbol in the corporate world. Red blood running through our veins providing life. Strength is solid, tough, force, influence, intensity, power and confidence. But I am none of those things, I can’t represent strength.

The times I have sat in my closet sobbing as I raised my boys, tired, overwhelmed and fatigued, thinking I am not strong, I am weak. The decision to break a cycle, creating love from trauma, wasn’t strength — it was simply survival. Solitary 3 a.m. runs are just necessity. Completing mundane daily tasks — meals, grocery lists, gifts, bills, practice schedules, birthdays, holidays, school functions, work, deadlines — are simply life, not strength. Right? Wrong. Strength is those things and much more.

Strength is sobbing in the closet and making the decision to go through one more day. Strength is fighting back the tears when your heart is broken, not succumbing to the darkness in the darkest hour, searching for help when you are at your lowest.

Strength is looking in the mirror and, despite the voices in your head, affirming the beautiful person other people see. Strength is believing in and encouraging other women, finding the beauty and inner warrior that sometimes lies dormant. Strength is discipline, waking up and choosing differently, choosing to create what you want. Strength is stepping out in boldness, realizing you may fail, but that failure gives you power and knowledge. Strength is knowing you tried, regardless of the outcome.

Strength to me is knowing I love with reckless abandon; I step out against societal views to follow my passion and my dream. Strength was choosing not to reciprocate lies and hate when I endured trauma and heartbreak. Strength is the ability to be humble and quiet, sharing when there is something to say and listening with an open heart. Strength is loving my boys completely and creating a safe place for them to grow in and return to. Strength is not holding on to them too tightly and giving them wings to soar to heights I can’t even imagine. Strength is being married to my best friend for 30 years, navigating the highs and lows of life. Strength is not always having to be right, even when I am right. Strength is taking the high road when I want to scream and yell, admitting I am wrong and asking for forgiveness. Strength is giving up the pursuit of perfection and learning to trust myself and others. Strength is getting up every damn day and choosing to take the next step. 

As women, we are warriors and stronger than we realize. Every day we strap on armor as we balance the thousands of daily things entrusted to us. Every woman, every single day, is the picture and epitome of strength. You are strong. You are beautiful. You are a warrior. 

– Shanna Dahl

Born and raised in Wyoming, Shanna is a true mountain girl. She loves the outdoors and is an avid runner. Deciding to run distance at the age of 42, she has spent the last 10 years training and racing everything from one-mile races to a 64.2 mile ultra. Her 3 a.m. training runs are her favorite time to ground herself and prepare for the day. 

A few years ago, after completing a multi-year research project that left her mentally and physically exhausted, Shanna chose to step away from the socially acceptable traditional job to pursue her passion in writing. She has completed two manuscripts — a thriller and a women’s fiction — and is currently looking for representation. Several more manuscripts are in process. Her soul is happy every time she sits at the computer, closes her eyes and lets the stories flow.

Family is Shanna’s top priority. She and her husband Jim have raised two incredible sons, Tyler and Austin.

Shanna believes in passion, being purposeful and creating the life you want. Her best advice is to live out loud and to seize every opportunity to be the fierce, badass woman you were meant to be. 

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