No Barriers

From Swiss Cheese to Whole: Finding Inner Light with Survivor and Artist, Angie Shireman.

Episode Summary

In the studio, our hosts are joined by Angie Shireman. Angie is a jewelry artisan, small business owner, certified yoga instructor, wife, mom and a lover of adventure. Angie’s business, Good Vibe Tribe Jewelry, is where she focuses her artistic energy and creates jewelry to inspire, elevate and celebrate. No stranger to overcoming obstacles, two years after she underwent a preventative double mastectomy and several reconstructive surgeries, she was diagnosed with a very rare brain disorder. In 2014, she underwent two brain surgeries to correct the disorder. Recovering from years of uncertainty and numerous surgeries threatening her free spirit, depression began to impact Angie’s life. Then, Angie persevered and found a way forward.

Episode Notes

Angie Shireman, a jewelry artisan, small business owner, certified yoga instructor, wife, mom, and artist, Angie seemingly has lived a carefree life. But, her smiling personality belies her real story. During this episode, our hosts have Angie recount these dark moments in her life and how she dug deep to find her way to the light and become the shiny person she is today.

Host, Erik Weihenmayer has a new film that is making the rounds on the film festival circuit: Weight of Water, about his pursuit of kayaking the Grand Canyon. The film was started in 2014 by director, Michael Brown, and now is winning awards left and right. At the time of this episode it had just taken home the Grand Prize at Banff Mountain Film Festival.

Dave points out that the movie highlights the internal struggles of those folks in Erik’s life and how we are all carrying some sort of mental or emotional burden at any given time. Angie has had her fair share of burdens.

She starts with an overview of her childhood, growing up in Buffalo, NY, as one of 5 children in an Irish Catholic family. Her mom raised Angie without her biological dad present and as a young child, Angie was very aware of his absence. As the years went on Angie’s mom dated other men and ultimately her home was unstable and lacking a feeling of safety.

Her rocky childhood and lack of familial support had Angie seeking a means to escape; whether in her mind by creating an alternate reality for herself or physically escaping and running away as a young teen.

After years of rebellion and denial of her feelings, Angie discusses how important it was to seek forgiveness for the people who had harmed her and to forgive herself.

“This is not going to be the thing that gets me down, I am not going to end my life this way...I would not have the depth of character or the ability to love so freely without these experiences.”

“In some strange way I knew I would always land on my feet. And to do that we all have to do these little forgiveness, every single day.”

From Angie’s experience climbing Kilimanjaro (Jeff was a guide on her expedition) and she used her time on the mountain to continue to rid herself of the burdens she carried. Beyond her childhood, Angie faced health barriers as an adult. She got a voluntary double mastectomy after finding a lump. Her decision was to take action and ensure if it was cancer, it wouldn’t spread. But, despite being at peace with her decision, Angie discusses how hard it was post surgery and the unexpected ways she felt.

“I felt invisible, like a fraud - like another thing you don’t know about me is this..”

Once again, Angie reverted to feeling like she was holding on to even more emotional burdens. And even then her struggles weren’t done. After some odd neurological symptoms popped up, Angie was diagnosed with a rare brain disorder that required not one, but two deep brain surgeries. Between the first and second surgeries Angie was in a dark place with fear and uncertainty creeping in.

“I think it was the fear of not having lived the life that I knew that I wanted. If I don’t wake up from this, what was my biggest accomplishment?”

To get past those feelings, Angie discusses how she recovered and overcame these feelings by discovering what she calls her “spirit.” Understanding that her physical self and the experiences that have happened to her are not what ultimately make her.

“It’s a thirst and a knowledge that I can do this. I can make it. Even if I slip or fall, my real life is in my ability to choose to try.”

She believes everyone has this capability but not everyone has learned to access it.

“You gotta lean into the parts that are scary and terrifying to truly see who you are.”

Now, Angie has recovered physically and devotes her time to her art and helping others. Using her art to channel her voice, Angie continues to face her demons and express herself.

No Barriers Website
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