As a former Running On Empty winner, I remember vividly the moment I received the word. It was exciting and crazy , I was a bit in shock, and honored to have been selected all at the same time. Every time Me Ra holds a Running on Empty contest, the stories that come in from all over the country are amazing to read. The truth is that not one woman is more deserving than another. Every single one is just as deserving as the next. That is why a whole team of women vote together on who will win. This is part of what is so beautiful about the Running On Empty contest. The team of women who are voting have all been winners. They are all the past Running on Empty winners. They know the feeling of being nominated by friends and loved ones, or of nominating themselves. They know the feeling of the anticipation, and they know the feeling of getting the word that they are the one who has been selected this time. They know the excitement, the shock, and the honor.
Choosing the winner is no easy task. Ive heard time and time again how they wished everyone could be selected. This time around, I had the amazing honor of delivering the news to the winner. I can’t describe the sheer joy that came with this task. I’ll admit, I was a bit giddy to share the news!
The winner of the Running on Empty contest is Kristy Cox. Kristy was chosen from a group of women nearly twenty strong. Every single nominee was so deserving of being the winner. I can’t give a better statement than Me Ra’s own words…
I see myself in all your stories, and I want you to know I’m pulling for you. No matter how dire the circumstances, I have built my life on one truth: The impossible still happens. For those of you need the impossible to happen in your life, who need a new beginning, a broken heart mended, a financial provision or breakthrough…a road where there seems to be no way to go…I believe it can happen. It will happen. And if nothing else, I hope my own life is an encouragement. Whether you are a winner or not, I’m pulling for you. I hope our paths cross so I can look you in the eye and say “You are worthy. You are worthy of the best. And the impossible can happen, even for you. Just hang in there…just hang in there.”
Kristy was so brave to nominate herself for the contest, here is her story:
“Running on empty…that definitely describes me. I’m not sure I was ever full, come to think about it. I never in a million years thought I would nominate myself for something like this but here I go.
I have been so very blessed with my life. It’s not always been easy, but it rarely is. I turned 40 this year. Such a milestone, one many never get the chance to see. And for that I am blessed. But that didn’t make turning 40 easy. I have spent my entire life in a military community, always moving, never putting down roots. My dad was in the Air Force and then later on I joined the Army after college and met my husband there as well. We decided when we were ready to start a family that one of us needed to get out of the Army. One of us needed to be the stable rock in the household. That ended up being me since my husband still owed the Army time for his education.
We started our family shortly after I left the Army. When my daughter was 6 months old my husband deployed for the first time, for a year. Throughout the 13 years he stayed in the Army there were many deployments, TDY’S (business trips), many weekends worked, many early mornings and very late nights. I learned to raise children by myself in states where we had no family, friends or roots. I was the mom and dad. I maintained the upkeep of the house, mowed lawns, ran snowblowers, maintained vehicles, paid bills all while raising kids, nursing them through illnesses, homework, school conferences, awards ceremonies, etc. It seemed for so long like I would never get out of that trench.
Finally after 13 years of Army life we decided to leave the Army and try to become a “normal” family. We moved to TN where the next job would be. I was so excited at the prospect of roots. Civilian life on one income was a little more of a struggle than Army life was. Normal medical bills add up, normal expenses add up. We had to tighten down where the money would go. My husband took advantage of the GI bill he had and went back to school to earn an advanced degree, hoping it would help put us in a better financial position down the road. One year into his 2 year degree he was laid off…2 weeks before Christmas. I can’t think of many other times in our lives where we have been at such a low point. In the back of my head I was kicking myself for not having ever started up a photography business. If only I wasn’t so scared at failing or overwhelmed by all of it then we might have something to fall back on at this very uncertain time. I am a RN by trade, but since I hadn’t worked in over a decade even I wasn’t able to find a job.
Such a helpless, overwhelming feeling.
My husband was able to find a job several months later. I am so grateful it wasn’t longer. I know many people try much longer. Several months after my husband started his new job we got the surprise we had never expected. We were pregnant. Wow that took a while to wrap my brain around. It definitely wasn’t on my bucket list for turning 40. Now we are blessed with 3 amazing girls. I thought I was done having kids, but God had a greater plan for me. I love this family of mine so much, but I feel like along the way I have lost myself. I have given everything I can to take care of everyone else. I want this for me. I need this for me. I feel like I have been in a mommy time warp for 12 years and now I don’t know how to step out of it. I have always had a mad passion for photography. At one point I had an ok knowledge of my camera. Nowadays I rarely use manual and never shoot in RAW anymore. Most of my pictures are taken with my phone, like so many.
Photographs are your story. The good, bad and ugly. Photographs were our main source of communication during times when my husband missed birthdays, holidays, special events and also just daily life. They told the story of us. I want to be able to tell that story better with my own family and for other families as well. Everyone has a story. Everyone deserves to have their story told.
A while back Oprah had asked a question on her show “what would you be if you knew you would not fail?” I have always wanted to be a photographer. I don’t want to spend the next 40 years wondering why I stood in my own way.”
Thank you so much, Me Ra for your generosity and your heart to give to women. Thank you for pouring into the hearts of women time and time again. Kristy and I and a whole family of Confidence Workshop attendees and Running On Empty winners say a resounding “THANK YOU”!
We have one or two spots left for next weekend’s Dallas Workshop. Grab one of the last spots here! Email me once you register. Me Ra has the attendees do a couple fun exercise to get your creative juices flowing and prepared for the workshop! There is still time for me to get you prepped for this amazing, powerful weekend!