Saturday 25th June 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.

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