I am overjoyed to introduce you to the final #TexasStrong Woman of the Month for 2016, Shelly Spillmann–an amazing daughter, wife, sister, aunt, small town girl and philanthropist.
Meet Shelly Spillmann
I met Shelly last year, just a few months before she married my college roommate’s older brother, who is in some ways like an older brother to me, as well. I was immediately taken with Shelly’s beauty and grace, as well as her South Texas spirit and strength, in the aftermath of losing her mother to cancer.
Originally from the small town of Kenedy, Texas, Shelly now lives in Boerne with her husband Justin. Although she works full time with a major financial services provider in San Antonio, Shelly remains very active in her hometown community, carrying on her late mom’s legacy of service. Her dedication and leadership are an inspiration to all who know her.
#TexasStrong Woman of the Month
Favorite title(s) for yourself
I have many titles, but one common theme is “Helper.” I tend to offer help whenever I can and in whatever job I’m doing, whether it’s business, volunteering or personal. I looked up the definition of help and found some great examples that tend to describe my role of helping:
a. To give assistance to someone; make it easier for (someone) to do something; aid
b. To contribute to the effectiveness or improvement of (something); improve or advance
c. To ease the pain or discomfort of; relieve
d. To be of service; give assistance
e. To be of use or provide relief
These definitions encompass my own definition of the type of help I give. Sometimes helping others can have its disadvantages, because I sometimes take on the role of helper so strongly that I worry about helping everyone else and forget about myself. However, I enjoy helping others, and it brings me great satisfaction.
Your toughest lesson or challenge
My toughest life lesson and challenge was caring for my mom while she was going through cancer.
It was an emotional journey like I’d never experienced. During this time, my life completely changed from what I knew before. Dealing with Mom’s tough fight with cancer ended up being quite the journey for me personally. I realized how quickly life can change, and my perspective on numerous things in life changed.
Mom and I were best friends and had a wonderful mother-daughter relationship. She taught me so many incredible things over the years. I only wish she was still here for me to ask her the questions that arise in life today. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think “What would Mom think or do?”
Grief is never ending; you just learn to adjust the best you can.
It’s a challenge to not have her by my side to lean on when times are rough. I miss asking her questions about big life events or decisions, and I miss sharing my greatest joys and excitements with her, too. It’s just not the same, and it’s extremely hard.
Your proudest accomplishment
One of my best accomplishments that I have achieved was continuing on with my master’s degree after my mom passed away.
Mom knew I stopped taking classes during her illness, and I had to really push myself after she passed away to go back and finish. I knew she would want me to finish though, and I was so happy to complete it both for me and for her!
It’s not really an accomplishment, but something I’m also so happy about was that 9 months after my mom passed away, I met my husband who has brought me so much comfort and joy.
Last year, I married my wonderful husband whom I just know Mom had a helping hand in sending me. Mom and I would talk a lot about praying to God to send me “Mr. Right,” and when she got to Heaven, I’m sure she put in a good word for me. I can’t say enough about how great it is to have a caring husband who has been by my side when I miss Mom or through any rough moments along this journey. That type of support is awesome!
Your role models or mentors
My role models are my parents, both Mom and Dad!
I can’t say enough about how fortunate I was and am to have had the best two parents. They were my supporters, encouragers, disciplinarians, teachers, caregivers and cheerleaders. You name it, and they were there. They instilled in me at a young age that hard work was a necessity in life, and if you wanted something you had to work at it. Nothing just happens over night.
They also were great leaders. They gave back to their community in different volunteer organizations and taught and showed me how important that really was. It’s one thing to lecture someone on what they should do, however, when you can genuinely lead by example, and people can see the passion you have towards something, that’s real learning! My parents were great at leading by example!
Your best advice for newbies
Remain firm in your faith knowing no matter what life throws your way, God will be there to guide you through it. I like to be in control of my life and of my health, and I’ve learned that I can’t control everything. I have to remember that and to rely on God to see me through.
Nothing is too big for my God.
Do what you love, and say what you feel! Life is so short, and after losing a loved one, you realize this more. Take time to visit family (even if it’s a long drive), say “I Love You” more, give hugs, be honest with others about how you feel and don’t keep things bottled up inside.
How you’re building community
No matter where you are planted or what you consider your community to be (subdivision, church, town, friends), I feel it’s important to be involved if you can.
I grew up in a small town in South Texas where everyone knew everyone. I still participate in organizations that are near and dear to me involving cancer fundraisers with Relay for Life, chamber of commerce activities that support my hometown, and United Way fundraisers giving to families in need. Through helping with these activities, I have developed great friendships and enjoyed helping and giving back to my community where I can.
Working together with common goals and passions in mind is wonderful, and this brings communities together!
Quote or verse you live by
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13