Sunday 22nd May 2022

Women Of Courage Series. #5. Kirsty Russell. 70/2019.

Women of Courage Series. #5. Kirsty Russell. 70/2019.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid May 2019: Wednesdays: each week.

Here is the introduction to the series.

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda

Welcome to Kirsty Russell who is 43. I am delighted to share her story as we have been blogging friends since 2012! 

What have you faced in your life where you have had to be courageous?

There have been many times in my life when I’ve had to be courageous and, to be honest, it takes courage every day to keep going. There have been three main challenges I’ve faced in my life where I’ve needed to draw on every ounce of courage I possess:

  • My kids’ diagnoses (albinism, autism, anxiety, sensory processing disorder) and my ongoing fight to support them in every possible way
  • A stress induced health scare five years ago (I thought I was having a stroke) which made me question everything in my life
  • The death of my parents (my Dad in 2015 and my Mum in 2018)

Each challenge forced me to rebuild my life, reevaluate my priorities and face my fears.


How did this change you in any way? Please outline further if this has been the case.

Following my kids’ diagnoses, I had to change the way I think and adapt how I live to meet their needs. I had to learn to advocate for them, which was hard for someone who avoids confrontation. I had to learn to think differently, to try to understand their behaviours, their anxieties and their challenges. I had to cultivate more patience (still working on that one!) and I had to open my mind to new ideas. Since my eldest son was born 15 years ago, I’ve been undergoing a transformation. It’s challenged my beliefs and hasn’t always been easy but I know I’m a better version of myself now, having gone through everything in that time.

Following my health scare, I had to re-evaluate my life, my priorities and my career in order to put my health first. I was working in a job I loved but could no longer juggle the stress of managing contracts and leading staff in part time hours while also being there for my kids. I’d drop the kids off at school, drive 30 minutes to the office, work for 5 hours with no break, then drive 30 minutes back to pick up the kids and take them to therapies and appointments. There was no time for me, let alone to breathe or think. While I left with sadness, 5 years on I know it was the best decision I could have made. Although I wish it hadn’t taken a near death experience to urge me to take some action…

Most recently, I had to dig deep to support both my parents through their separate cancer diagnoses and help them find peace, while trying to adjust to a new normal without them. Having to take the reins of their lives, while watching them fade away is something that has forever changed me. There’s nothing that can prepare you for that. You just have to be strong because there’s no alternative. Also, I never expected to be parent-less so young – there’s a burden of responsibility which sits on top of the weight of loneliness. I’m the eldest and I know I’m not alone but it feels like I am. Not having them here to celebrate the highs and to support me with the lows will never be okay but I have to find the strength to be at peace with it. To be honest, I’m still working on that.


Is there something you learned from this that you could recommend to help others who need courage?

You need to believe in yourself and in your ability to adapt and meet each challenge. Most things in life are thrust upon us but in rising to these challenges, it proves that we can rise to others of our own making. Life is too short to live in fear – that’s something that each of these experiences have taught me. Choose to look for the positives and make the best of each situation because none of us know what’s around the corner.


Do you think you are able to be more courageous now if the life situation calls for it? Why is that?

I’m about to take a huge leap of courage and launch a new business to help fellow parents and educators to find connection and work together to achieve better outcomes for students. I would never have considered taking this leap a few years back – I’ve been ruled by fear for most of my life. But the challenges I’ve been forced to face in the last few years have shown me I’m strong enough and brave enough – I just need to take a chance and start.


Is there any message you would give to others facing a situation where courage could be needed?

Lean into the situation. Don’t run from it. Face things head on. If you make the decision to face your fears and make the best of the situation you have a better chance of overcoming whatever life throws at you. That’s the only way I’ve been able to deal with all the challenges of my life and I hope it’s enough to see me through whatever comes next!

Thank you Kirsty for sharing your words. I am impressed with how much you do to advocate for many. I always enjoy our catch-ups too!


Follow Kirsty here on social media:



Facebook Page (not personal account):


Kirsty just added this…at my insistence!
I’m about to embark on the biggest opportunity of my life, presenting 2 sessions and being part of a parent discussion panel at the Asia Pacific Autism Conference in Singapore from June 20-22. I’ll be sharing what we’ve learned advocating for our son at school and providing information for professionals on how to more positively engage with parents of kids with autism. I’m equal parts proud, nervous, terrified and excited but I’m grateful to have the chance to hopefully make a difference.
Here is the link and I am sending her my congratulations and best wishes for this event! I do not believe this will be her ‘last’ appearance!

Next week’s Woman of Courage is Annette.

Annette is a blogger too but we have only met ‘virtually’.

Joining each Wednesday with Sue and Leanne here for Mid Life Share the Love Linky.

On Thursdays I link here for Lovin Life with Leanne and friends and on Fridays, it’s Open Slather here with Alicia.

Copyright © 2019 – All rights reserved.



  1. Kirsty is amazing. I have so much respect for what she does and the courage she has. Here I was thinking her and Nathan were off for a Singapore holiday, but yet again she’s off conquering the world and helping others!

    • I totally agree with you. I had hoped for some time that Kirsty would be out there sharing her wisdom, knowledge and downright practical experience of being a mum to kids with special needs. Now look at this! But she sure has had some major life events happening in relatively short periods of time with the death of her parents.

      I am glad to know I live near enough to her now so we catch up when we can!

      Denyse x

  2. I find Kirsty so inspiring so thanks for bringing us her story.

  3. Oh wow! Congrats on the Singapore gig! Have a great time. I love it there. If you don’t ahve a good time in Singpaore, you’re doing it wrong….and sorry about your mum. I missed that.

    • It’s great to see Kirsty being invited to the world stage as she has much to offer from her experience as a parent. Added bonus is she and her hub get a much needed break. It has been a hellish past couple of years.

      Denyse x

  4. Hi Kirsty what a wonderful role model for your children and others. Congratulations on overcoming the hardships you have faced and now working towards helping others. A wonderful and uplifting story and thanks Denyse for sharing with us at #MLSTL. xx

    • Kirsty is a hard worker within the areas of advocacy and negotiation for families with kids of special needs and schooling in particular. I first started reading Kirsty’s blog when her now mid HS years son was negotiating the world from a special needs school to a mainstream primary school.

      She talks the talk for sure…and walks the walk in the area of parenting children with special needs in the way she and her husband do.

      Thanks for your kind words.

      Denyse x

  5. Wow, Kirsty’s story is inspiring and she is very brave indeed! I take my hat off to her for offering guidance to others in sharing her experiences with others through her speaking engagement in Singapore. That takes a courageous heart too. Thanks so much Denyse for sharing Kirsty’s story and your encouragement and support must be much appreciated.

    • I agree that she is both inspiring and brave. So much has happened in the recent years and she is quite the trouper but did have some significant life challenges as you read.

      I am liking Kirsty’s updates from Singapore and glad that she and her husband are able to take this as a mini-break for the two of them as well.

      I think Kirsty will love reading through the comments too!

      Thank you
      Denyse x

  6. Kirsty, as women we seem to put our own needs last and then suffer the consequences. It’s a shame that it took a huge health scare for you to be able tomake the final decision to leave work, but I’d think that parenting those kids would be more than a full-time job if you’re going to be able to give them all they deserve (and it sounds like you’re a Mum who goes above and beyond that). Pulling the pin on the job was definitely a good decision and I’m so glad that other opportunities are presenting themselves so that you have balance and variety in life + being an inspiration to so many others in the process. xx
    Denyse, thanks for linking this post up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

    • That sums up Kirsty! She is amazing but when her health let her down…so many things in her life, it sure was a message. I have been friends with her via blogging since 2012 and we met at the second of the Australian Blogging Conferences.

      Since then so much has happened in her life and whilst her day to day blogging life was great, she needed to put her focus into the consultancy and more so her original blogging and a link up each Monday stopped in Sept 2016…I then started #lifethisweek with her blessing!

      I see many opportunities for her skills, knowledge and expertise to be used by schools, community groups and more.


  7. Kristy, I am impressed by the way you have been able to step and meet the challenges. Parenting children with special needs is an ongoing challenge. having lost both of my parents, I know what that is like as well. Good luck with your new business.

    Denyse, thanks for another inspiring interview.

    • Thanks Michele, I know Kirsty will be delighted to read what everyone has written here once she is back from her speaking engagement, and I hope her little holiday with her husband.

      Denyse x

  8. I’ve known Kirsty (online & met briefly once) since 2012 too and I can relate to so much of what she writes here. I have one son with Aspergers Syndrome (its barely an issue now he is an adult and happy thankfully) and had to learn to be an advocate for him and my other children. I too had a health scare which lead to me leaving my workplace and I lost my Dad just 19 months ago. Kirsty is incredibly inspirational. Not only is she a wonderful mother for her own children but she puts so much time and effort into helping other parents, educators and service providers for children with special needs. All the best to you Kirsty at the Asia Pacific Autism Conference in Singapore. I’m sure the 2 sessions you’re presenting on will go brilliantly! You’re amazing! 🙂 xo

    • We are fans of Kirsty’s aren’t we?

      It is a bonus when we get to meet.

      My Monday link up #lifethisweek commenced once Kirsty had chosen to stop personal blogging and her #Imustconfess link up. Nearly 3 years ago now!!

      Denyse x

  9. Thank you Denyse and Kirsty for this inspiring post. I love the advice to lean into your fears, rather than running from them. I have found the same to be true in my life’s challenges. Congratulations and good luck Kirsty on your new opportunity. #MLSTL

    • Yes those words about leaning ring true for me now as well. Still takes me a bit to remember after all those years of avoidance!

      Thanks Christie.

      Denyse x

  10. I really loved Kirsty’s tips of facing your fears, reevaluating your priorities and rebuilding your life. Thank you so much for this Women of Courage in Series.

    • Thank you so much. I am sure Kirsty will enjoy reading and responding to comments when she is fully ‘back from the jetlag’ after her amazing Singapore trip and speaking engagement.

      Denyse x

  11. There is often much grief and loss to be experienced when you are a carer and advocate for family members – on both sides of the coin. Mourning the loss of a job you loved must have been a deeply sad time for you. But, as you say, the transitions and transformations continue and you are such a shining light of what can happen when vulnerability, adversity, courage and resilience collide. Much love and light to you Kirsty. Xx

    • Oh wow, I loved reading this…to Kirsty…but I am going to learn from what you wrote too Sandra. I find transitions the hardest of life’s challenges.

      Thank you

      Denyse x

  12. Very inspiring, Kirsty. Especially your advice to, “Lean into the situation. Don’t run from it. Face things head on.” I hope the new adventures opens more doors for you.

    • I agree that Kirsty is indeed someone who is not only doing great things to help others now but will continue into the future.

      Thank you V.

      Denyse x