Women Like Us: Where inner & outer beauty meet – Meet Linda Wilson

Meet our Fighter, Linda Wilson –
Aortic Dissection Survivor

Linda Wilson
About Linda:

Linda Wilson has a powerful story which has helped her find a greater purpose in life. Anyone who knows Linda feels her love and care for others immediately. She has a soft gaze and is eager to listen when others are in need.

In the last 10-plus years, Linda’s had open heart surgery three times, had to give up her profession that she thought completed her, and fell into depression. In the last five years, Linda lost her brother, her husband, her sister-in-law, her father-in-law, and her father. She’d become numb to the sledgehammer that had become her life however, she has found that she can use her kindness to help others.

Linda is now a coach, mentor, speaker, and an expert in emotional intelligence and emotional support. Her super-power is showing others they are loved, valued and appreciated. For more about Linda’s business, you can view her site here.

The Interview

1. Tell us about yourself

Oooo. Wow. Ok!

Describe myself.

Um. I’m a fighter. I’m very resilient. Been through an awful lot but not as much as other people have been through. And probably not as much as I continue to go through. I’m 61 so I’ve got time ahead of me for more.

I  would say I’m fairly confident in most things except for myself. I can promote the dickens of everybody else but when it comes to me I hesitate. I think it’s the Catholic upbringing. We don’t promote ourself because it’s considered bragging. I think as women, I was taught to stay behind the scenes a bit. It’s been a lifetime of something I have to work on but I have a long way to go.

For fun, I do just about anything. We went axe throwing for the first time this summer and it was a blast. We’ve done it twice and we’re going to go again. Me and my roommate and some friends of ours. 

For work I’m a coach, a mentor, and a speaker. My super power is showing people that they are value, appreciated, and loved. 

That’s just what I do.

And one of the ways I get to do that, I get to read to the kids. I get to read to the pre-kindergarden kids and that is just so much fun. They are so stinking cute. 

When I was younger, I wanted to be a model. Make up and hair were very important to me. I learned how to put it on when I took a modeling class. I wore it in high school. In my age group, if you had dark hair and dark eyes you wore green eyeshadow but I wanted to wear blue eye shadow and I was told it didn’t go well with my eyes. 

I’m old. So we had royal blue eyeshadow. We had big hair, very big hair. The photos from the 70s and 80s are a bit scarry now. So I spent my money on hair. I used to hate the fact that my hair wasn’t straight. I spent money on perms and color and that was my treat to myself. Luckily my husband allowed that, he didn’t complain that I was spending the money on my hair. I wear it natural now. 

I’ve gotten very comfortable being who I am now. Every gray hair I have now is mine and I earned it. I don’t do anything with my hair now. I sometimes curl it but that’s it.

2. What tactics have you found to be the most useful for building your self-confidence?

The modeling class actually was really helpful. That helped a bit. And then,

I did some theatre which terrified me. A friend of mine drove me to an audition to help support her. And she pushed me to audition and I got a small part. So that was confidence boosting.

Learning to be comfortable in public was real helpful. I don’t have problems being in front of an audience. I don’t sing so if someone were to ask me to do karaoke that’s a definite no. As I’ve gotten older, the fact that I’ve survived this long.. It’s hard to find things that stir me because I’ve gone through so much. When you get to your later 40’s and beyond, for the most part, you’ve seen so much already, I know I did, that I just learned how to take it day by day and not worry too much about what happened yesterday.

Just doing it. That’s what made me get more comfortable in public.

Just doing it. That’s what made me get more comfortable in public. And I think, somebody early on had given me the trick of “think of the audience as sitting in their underwear and then you’ll feel more confident because you’re presentable.” And the theatre thing helped me quite a bit because you’re practicing in front of people, in front of other actors, and getting to know them as regular people. Taking them off the pedestal. It was community theatre, nothing big and huge but knowing that they’re all regular people. They have jobs, families, and regular stuff that they do. That helped quite a bit. 

3. When you’re having a bad day, what helps you get out of the funk?

Well, one, I take a step outside, especially if it’s sunny. I take a few minutes to bask in the sunshine. That helps a lot. Living in Denver we have over 300 days of sunshine a year so that’s a pretty easy thing to do. 

Sometimes I’ll change what I’m working on. If I work on something and I’m not getting what I want, even if I go change the laundry or the dishes for 5 minutes. Doing something really mindless helps me shake out the funk and go back and focus again.

Beauty, Makeup, Self-Care

4. What are the key areas you focus on for your broader beauty routine (cleanse, haircuts, eyebrow styling, massage, etc)?

I’m so low maintenance. I try to at least use a moisturizer cause it’s so dry where I live. Makesure I use hand lotion although i put it on once in the morning and then I have to remember to do it again during the day.

And just make sure that I. I’m not a bath person I’m a shower person. I can’t wake up until I get in the shower. It’s a cleansing routine, it’s a mindset routine, it kind of all goes together.

5. Do you wear makeup? If so, what does your makeup routine consist of? 

I do wear makeup. I’m pretty low on that. I use a moisturizer, firming eye cream because I’ve got bags under my eyes, concealer, mineral powder is my foundation, blush, eyeliner, eyeshadow, mascara. Lip balm, lip liner, and lipstick. And that would be the full regiment.

Eileen asks: What’s your favorite part of wearing makeup?

Well, I feel more pulled together when I do it. On my down days it’s a real struggle to do it so I make myself do it. It’s kind of like a completion process. Even though I hadn’t done it for a long time, it’s still routine. SO I can be thinking of a lot of thing while doing that. Planning my day, thinking about what needs to get done, what I need to do. And it’s pretty quick. It takes me 10 minutes if that. If it takes too long,  I won’t do it.

If I have to plan my day, or plan it into my day, it’s too long. 

6. What is your favorite self-care activity before bedtime?

Reading. I love to crawl into bed with a good book. And I journal too.

Eileen says: “Me too!”

7. If you feel comfortable with this, what is your favorite feature about yourself (can be inner or outer) and what is maybe something you’re most insecure about?

My favorite feature about myself is my resiliency.
And. my least favorite feature about myself.

[long pause]
Seeing pictures of me. In my mind I look one way, but when I see photos, it’s not a big difference but it’s a big shock. I’m not used to looking at my whole self. Like, when I get ready, I see individual parts. Like my eyes or lips or whatever. But when I see a whole photo, it’s always sort of a shock to me. I don’t know why but it’s a shock and I don’t like that part.

Eileen asks: Do you feel disappointed or something or does it just not feel normal?

It doesn’t match my expectation I guess. It’s always a shock, it’s always different than what I’m expecting to see. I go about my daily life and I forget that I”m hunched over and then the photos are just a reminder that I have a hunch. So it’s just a reminder that I see myself differently than others see me. Sometimes the photos are good and sometimes they’re really awful, I was a photography and so I used to like to stay behind the camera.

Eileen: I feel like a lot of women can relate, at least I can. You see yourself and think you look one way and then all of a sudden you somehow are in shock when you see the photo of you.

I think I just see myself differently than what I really look like. Kind of like hearing your voice first the first time. It sounds different in your head than it does in the air.

8. How have you learned to love yourself over time?

These are good questions.

Ooo. That’s a tough one.

I think with all the struggles and hell struggles I’ve been through, the fact that I’m still here, I finally learned to accept myself because I figured G-d put me here and put me through all of this for a reason. So I need to embrace it and go with it. Because he could have taken me several times and he put me back. So I’m not done. There’s some value here and I need to embrace it and use it.

They’re part of my story. I had 3 open heart surgeries. I had aortic dissection – I don’t know if you’re old enough to remember John Ritter an actor who died on one of his shows from an aortic dissection. When I had mine 11 years ago it was still kind of an unknown quantity. It was rare to have one and survive. I happened to be very close to a hospital, I happened to be by people, they called an ambulance and I got assistance right away. It took 15 hours for them to diagnose it after getting a specialist. And the specialist is still who takes care of me. But after the second heart surgery, the restrictions put on me were so severe that I had to give up my photography business. I couldn’t carry my equipment anymore and I couldn’t do it the way I wanted to. My husband offered to make it a studio but that wasn’t the sort of work i do.

I also lost my voice. I got a paralyze vocal cord, it took me 18 months to realize it was paralyzed and not damaged. It took 18 months for it to come back and it didn’t. I had a vocal implementation and that’s how I can talk now. I aspirated and got pneumonia. Then I was in ICU and then I got a superbug and I was in isolation for about 6 months and I only remember about 6 weeks of that.

Came out of that and I had a hard time being around people. Love my husband, he was so wonderful. People had to be gowned up because they could get sick from me. My husband wanted to see me and he still came in gowned up. He’d hold my hand and kiss my cheek every day in a gown. I had a hard time being around people. I went into depression, isolated myself for about 2 years. And then my brother had aortic dissection. Then 3 months later he died from that. I felt really guilty that my rock, my older brother died and I felt guilty. A year after that my husband died. A year after that his sister died. Six months after that his sister died. A year after that my dad died. I hit depression. I sat on my couch and didn’t know what to do.

And then my best fiend was getting divorced and needed a place to stay. She moved in 3 years ago. She makes gift baskets. And it’s almost like having a party. There’s confetti. It makes it festive. Her moving in brought me out of my depression. We’re like sisters. We’re best friends. She’s known me through all of that. She’s known me for 25 years. And now she’s my roommate.

In the last year, my life has opened back up. I feel like my old self, like I did before I got sick. It’s g-d telling me it’s time and the world is ready for what I’ve got to bring.

Linda Wilson


9. If you had one piece of advice for women our there that are building their confidence, what is that advice?

Find your circle of women that will support you and not tear you down. We can’t do any of what we do alone and a woman’s immediate circle is life affirming or it can life destroying. And so, I would say, make sure that the people that you surround yourself with you love you and want the best for you and will support you in whatever it is you’re doing and not try to talk you out of stuff. They’ll be there for you for support, guidance if you ask for it. And be that person for other women. When you can do that for others, you can start to accept it for yourself. 

I would say, make sure that the people that you surround yourself with, love you and want the best for you and will support you in whatever it is you’re doing

Linda Wilson

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