Today we raise our fists high and put our hands together in celebration of our Feature Girl Warrior, author, coach and motivational speaker, Wendy Foster, founder and CEO (Chief Empowerment Officer) of GEM Consulting and the face of transformation for Women’s Mental Health. Wendy’s primary purpose in life is to be the loving force for women to see their own greatness and the beautiful power they have within. She believes that women are the change we want to see – creating the foundation for a loving, compassionate, and peaceful world. Wendy has a dynamic personality, high voltage energy, and an extreme passion for teaching others. She is the intuitive catalyst for leaping out of comfort zones, busting through hidden blocks, and creating big, bold, delicious lives both personally and professionally.
What makes you a Girl Warrior?
I was born a Girl Warrior. At a very young age, I quickly learned how to adapt and to create a little world of safety for myself. Being a “good girl” was my first role as a Girl Warrior. Six weeks before my third birthday, my Dad violently committed suicide in the basement of our family home. That shotgun blast shook our family to the core but very little was discussed with me, so my young brain was left to figure things out. As a result, I grew into the Silent Girl Warrior.
Mom remarried when I was 4, and I got a new Dad. For a while I was the Happy Girl Warrior. Two children followed – a girl, then a boy. There were complications with my brother’s birth and both he and our Mom were in danger. Once again, little was shared with me and I became the Invisible Girl Warrior.
At age five, while on my first solo trip to the store, I was mugged by a couple of teenage boys who took my little black change purse and the money, but more importantly, they took my sense of trust, safety, and self-confidence. I stepped up my courage and took my Girl Warrior status to a whole new level. The boys were caught but I had nightmares for months about the “bad guys” getting out of jail and coming to take revenge on my family and me. My courage was short-lived and I crawled deeper into the shell of the Protective Girl Warrior.
A few years later, a huge move from Ontario to PEI shook my world once again. New home, new school, new friends … rather than be excited, I was filled with self-doubt and fear that I would not fit in. On my first day to school, I was excited about having a fresh start and figured it would be easy to blend into a large classroom with many students. But instead I was ridiculed for my attire. I was a devastated and Deflated Girl Warrior.
My life took a major shift again when, 3 days after I graduated high school (at age 17) I left PEI to live with my older sister and her husband in Alberta. What a transition that was. I saw it as an opportunity to become whoever I wanted to be. And I loved it! People my age noticed me. People at work noticed me. All of a sudden, I had an identity. And I became popular. I was no longer invisible. I had become the Transformational Girl Warrior.
I married my first love and we created a beautiful son. Three years later, my restless gypsy spirit moved on to a second marriage and we created a beautiful daughter. My children, to this day, are the greatest gifts in my life, and always will be. I was, and remain, The Mom/Girl Warrior. So many incidents have unfolded since that time and I have become Counselor Girl Warrior, Coach Girl Warrior, Depression Girl Warrior, Anxiety Girl Warrior, Single Mom Girl Warrior, Suicidal Girl Warrior, and Borderline Personality Disorder Girl Warrior.
Today, I have combined all my Girl Warrior Spirits, Girl Warrior Experiences, and Girl Warrior Challenges to become my True Girl Warrior Self. I now assist other Girl Warriors on their life quest of finding their true selves, seeing and owning their greatness and the beautiful Girl Warrior power they have within. What a fabulous Girl Warrior Journey we are on. Buckle up ladies because this roller coaster is on the move and you have an Elder Girl Warrior on the path beside you!
You’re the CEO (Chief Empowerment Officer) of GEM Consulting and the GEM Project. Tell us about GEM and how it came to be?
Giving Empowering Moments is not what I do. It is who I am. It is my life purpose to mirror, inspire, empower, encourage, and support the greatest in all Girl Warriors (and the Guy Warriors in their lives.) I do this through sharing my gifts of coaching, teaching, facilitating, sharing, speaking, writing, etc. The GEM Project is on hold at the moment, but it is my way of sharing, giving/receiving, and paying it forward, making GEMs (Giving Empowering Moments) a global movement that changes the world – one heart, one GEM, at a time.
You’re a mental health advocate, practitioner and, most importantly, a “thriver.” Was it difficult stepping out of your comfort zone to share your very personal story? Where did you get the courage?
My life has been lived as it has for a purpose. I truly believe that. I have (as we all do) sacred – “God-given” – gifts to share with the world. Had I not lived the exact life I have, I would be unable to take on this huge job of helping to make a difference in our world. It’s as if I have been groomed since before birth to take on this role. I draw my courage from all those lovely souls who need someone to be their voices. This is not about me.
Believing that I had enough experience, training, knowledge, education, etc. – that I was enough – was the challenge to my comfort zone. Sharing my story was easy and is what I am meant to do. I am committed to being the voice for those who can’t or won’t be that for themselves. These Silent Girl Warriors are the source and inspiration for my courage and tenacity.
What is the truth behind mental illness? What do we need to know “for sure”?
First off, I don’t use that term. I talk about mental health and mental wellness, just as we talk about physical and nutritional health and wellness. That nasty label, “Mental Illness”, has a huge stigma attached, and even mental health and well-being get overlooked and judged. The truth about mental well-being is that we’re all in grave danger at this point on our planet. We have become so detached from each other that we’re alone even when in the company of our friends and families. We are so tied to our computers, phones, social media, etc. that we have lost touch with the human connection that is so vital to our well-being. Newborn babies will die without human contact. Why do we think we are so different as adults? Think about that for a moment.
Another truth I believe about mental health and well-being is that we have numbed ourselves to oblivion. We feel pain and we medicate in any way, shape or form to avoid and cover the pain. What is presenting as behavior issues, addictions, depression, anxiety, mood disorders, stress are the symptoms. Very few health practitioners or even specialists are addressing the pain. What is underneath the pain? How can we support this human being with their pain? How can we help? How can we discover/uncover what is truly at issue and not mask it all, pretend it doesn’t exist or matter, and offer some pharmaceuticals to bury it deeper?
I truly believe that early childhood trauma is one of the main sources of all human suffering. Yet, it is very rarely even mentioned or recognized for the importance it plays in our lives.
You just gave the keynote presentation at the Shoppers Drug Mart first annual “Growing Women’s Health Black Tie Gala.” What was that like and what did it mean to you?
Presenting the keynote at this prestigious event was an honor and pleasure. Being able to assist in the fundraising for 7 different women’s charities in BC was indeed very rewarding. I look forward to doing many more presentations with Shoppers Drug Mart and various other companies who are doing great things for women’s health in our country.
In your first book you talk about how you’ve gone from blackouts to black belts. What impact has Shotokan Karate had on your life?
My karate journey has had much more impact than I had initially thought. I started karate because I had put my then 4-year-old daughter into what I found to be the best preschool program there was for kids at the time. Being an Early Childhood Educator and trainer, I was very knowledgeable and very particular. So, of course I wanted to teach the program and felt I needed certification in that area as well. (This theme has played out my entire life and still does to this day. But, I’ve decided I do not have to be certified in everything life has to offer.)
Throughout my Martial Arts journey I have repeatedly reclaimed all my Girl Warrior Selves: Self-Confidence, Self-Observance, Self-Awareness, Self Esteem, Self-Mastery.
What has been your biggest challenge?
I have been, and continue to be, my own biggest challenge! Keeping my inner council of critics at bay can be a daunting task at times. I am consistently learning to recognize that, get out of my own way. That’s when I call in my inner council of elders who encourage my inner Girl Warrior to shine!
What obstacles have you overcome and walls have you broken down?
In reality, I believe the only true obstacles we have are our own negative beliefs. Change them, and there are no obstacles, just challenges and opportunities to be met and successes to be had. Now this is the Success Girl Warrior at her best!
What would you say to your younger Girl Warrior and to future Girl Warriors looking for inspiration?
Look within! Find a Mentor. Be a Mentor. Know that the Universe is the Ultimate Council of Unlimited Girl Warriors who is always by your side ready to help you become the best version of yourself, and to guide you in giving to others. All you need do is ask, then take action on their wisdom.
Who is/are your Girl Warrior hero(s) and why?
My Mom: She has done so much with so little. She has overcome so much. She has given of herself, even at her lowest points. She is persistent, dedicated, and never gives up. She has thrived (though most would not see that at first glance.) She has a very big heart. I’ve learned many life lessons through her.
Oprah Winfrey: She has overcome so many obstacles and used them as opportunities for growth and development – not only for herself, but for the world. She is the world’s greatest mentor.
Ellen DeGeneres: She broke the mold and spoke her truth. She is genuine and authentic and real. She feels like a sister I’d like to have.
My Daughter, Kaleigh Foster: She is an extraordinary being who is thriving in all areas of her life. She has risen above most of the early childhood traumas that she had experienced under my care and is open to communicating and sharing and healing the rest. She is vibrant and powerful and beautiful, caring, and giving and loving. She is authentic and raw and real.
My friend, Jo Dibblee: She continues to inspire me to be the best version of myself. She sees who I truly am and is the mirror for me to see my greatness – something I do well for others, but not for myself.
I will continue to the be loving force for women to see and own their greatness and the beautiful power they have inside. I will continue to share my story on stages across the world to be the voice for those who are unseen and unheard, and truly make a difference on this planet. I will continue to get at what is under the pain that causes all mental health challenges and work towards creating a mentally healthy world.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In 5 years, I see myself taking my purpose and passion globally, supporting and assisting many more women in doing the same – Girl Warriors coming together to create the foundation for a world of love, compassion, understanding, sharing, and peace. I see taking my message to the masses and truly transforming our connectedness as human beings – thus creating a more loving world for generations to come.
If a bioflick were made of your life, what would it be called?
Crazy No More! My Journey from the Psych Ward to the Stage.
You can see Wendy in action in these YouTube videos:
Be the Change Part 1:
Be the Change Part 2:
Be the Change Full Clip (14 minutes):
And follow her on Facebook @: