I am so impressed with Brenda Armstrong! A Pleasant Grove mother, she is a successful business woman and a devoted family woman. Armstrong shares her heart in this column and those with “eyes to see and ears to hear” can learn life lessons from her.
Paula Fellingham: What was your life like growing up?
Brenda Armstrong: From the time I entered kindergarten until I graduated from college, I lived in Sandy. I was the second child of six. Being the oldest daughter, I took it upon myself from an early age to make sure I was in charge and my opinion was heard. My mom often said she would have to remind herself that she was the mother when I would give her directions and she would comply.
I grew up in a very traditional home. My mom spent her life serving her children. She would make sure that she was always home, that we were taking piano lessons and engaged in at least one other extracurricular activity. Looking back, she always found a way to make sure I could participate in dance lessons, voice lessons, sports, etc. She taught piano lessons all through my youth and saved the money to take our family on an annual summer vacation, which were some of the most memorable experiences for my siblings and me. We were able to visit places like Washington D.C., Disneyland, and even Hawaii; not a simple financial feat when traveling with a family of eight.
My father was and continues to be a hard worker. He worked for the state of Utah in legislative and General Council. He taught me how to be careful with money and how I needed to work hard and save in order to get things most desired by teenagers. I remember that when I headed off to college, I needed a car. My dad wanted to review my bank statements, financial commitments, and my plan for making payments before he decided to co-sign on the loan. I truly appreciate his lessons on frugality and saving.
My brothers taught me a love for sports. I was one of only a few girls you could find playing baseball in our makeshift baseball field in our cul-de-sac or challenging the boy next door to a game of basketball. I always knew that they had my back. And while they taught me to be tough, I also appreciated how they treated women. Opening doors, waiting to eat until I had my food, and raising the bar on conversations when I was in the room made a lasting impact.
PF: What is your life like now?
BA: If you walk into my home on the weekends, you would typically find and hear several teenagers playing games and watching movies in my basement. I try to balance the life of being a mom of two teenage boys and also working as a public relations director for a local financial tech firm. Even though I have reached what is labeled “middle age,” I continue to be driven and feel I have as much to offer now as I did 20 years ago.
However, my personal and employment goals have changed over the years. Initially, for me, it was all about titles and a hefty paycheck. That is what I felt my value was measured by. Now, I continue to be driven, but with a new goal. I seek opportunities that not only help me improve myself, but at the end of the day I want to feel that my efforts, talents and abilities have truly made a difference.
PF: What is your biggest challenge?
BA: Like others, I have certainly experienced my fair share of challenges, both big and small. Personally, my biggest challenge is that I am very hard on myself. Notice that I didn’t use the words “have been.” It is still something I am working daily to overcome.
Most times I expect nothing but perfection. But I have learned, over time, that life isn’t perfect. I have experienced personal heartache from addiction and physical ailments.
However, I have learned that mistakes, trials, and challenges can truly help you become stronger. As a personal example, my youngest son was diagnosed with a rare form of eye cancer when he was just 8 months old. We suffered through almost three years of chemotherapy. In the end, my son’s body wasn’t able to get rid of the cancer and so doctors needed to remove his eye. After his surgery, we relocated and spent months learning Brail, meeting with counselors, attending therapy sessions to compensate for physical setbacks, and I spent significant time crying over his situation and loss.
That son of mine is now 13 years old and has been such an example to me. Is he physically “perfect?” No. Could he easily let his imperfections get him down each day? Yes. And yet, my son is a fighter. However, he has to make the decision each day that he has worth. He has to decide that despite his challenges he can be happy and accomplish great things. In fact, he recently put himself out there for student council elections and is now serving as seventh grade president at his junior high school.
PF: What are your biggest successes?
BA: My first reaction when listing my biggest successes would be to refer to my LinkedIn account or resume, things that I have worked hard to accomplish over the years. However, as mentioned previously, my biggest success is measured a bit differently now.
No matter what the job offers, teaching opportunities, or speaking engagements I have been blessed with, I have always set a firm goal in my mind that my family comes first. There have been times when I have given up a promotion or postponed a personal goal because it has required sacrifice and puts my family second. In my mind, I am and have been determined to always put them ahead of everything. My mom taught me this at a young age, and I have realized that my children won’t be around forever.
I know that I have been successful when my children (16- and 13-year-old boys) come home and give me big hugs. And that the first thing they want to do when they come home is talk about the good and the bad with their mom. That when they are sick, they know they can find a cuddle buddy in their mom. That they choose to be honest with me even when it is hard to admit their mistakes. That they share with others that their mom is a tender mercy in their lives.
As easy as it sounds, it hasn’t always been. However, I know that my biggest success has been making sure that my family, especially my children, have always been my No. 1 priority.
PF: What is your advice to women?
BA: Although I consider myself to be a successful, hardworking and powerful woman, there are times when I doubt myself.
I recently had a dear friend remind me that I am more. That the garbage I was shoveling about not being enough and the story I was telling myself in my mind needed to go away, and that I have the power and know-how to do that. You do too!
Glen Frey of the Eagles said, “So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains, and we never even know we hold the key.”
To learn more about Utah Valley Women, visit www.UtahValleyWomen.com. To contact Paula Fellingham, email Paula@UtahValleyWomen.com.
Original Article Location: http://www.heraldextra.com/news/community/utah-valley-women-spotlight-pleasant-grove-businesswoman-redefines-success/article_dcad21e8-0b5c-5246-85ad-2019b17e0461.html