Mom of 7 overcomes chlldhood trauma to reach goals

16 Min Read

The podcast Guiding Growth: Conversations with Community Leaders from the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce, event and meeting venue Modern Moments and the Gilbert Independent/ explores the human journey of leaders. There are stories of humility, triumph, roadblocks, and lessons learned. This partial transcript of the most recent podcast with Ellen Marrs  has been edited for brevity and clarity.       

Ellen Marrs, a three-time Boston Marathon finisher and mother of seven, is a seasoned entrepreneur, renowned author, record-breaking fundraiser, and sought-after speaker. Her journey reflects a life dedicated to setting and achieving audacious goals, a commitment exemplified by accomplishments such as running the Boston Marathon thrice, balancing life with a family of nine while traveling the United States full-time and publishing inspiring works that motivate and compel others to pursue a life filled with dreams come true. Now, her favorite accomplishment is having a small role in the success of her clients and fellow goal getters.

Talk about where you started home life when you grew up and what that was like?

I had a pretty difficult childhood. I learned after the death of my biological mother that the person I thought was my dad was not my dad, and he decided he didn’t want to raise children that weren’t his. So I was literally taken to someone’s doorstep and told, “No one wants to take care of you or raise you so you can either stay here or you can go to a school for wayward girls.” And of course, I decided I would rather stay where I was dropped off, and I was eventually adopted, and it led to what I believe God was preparing me to be a foster and now adopted mom. It doesn’t mean it’s any easier, but there are a lot of similarities between my story and my children that I’ve adopted.

If you look back on that moment or that time period in your life, what is it that you were tapping into intrinsically? How do you get through moments like that?

Well, I didn’t. I had a lot of thoughts of why me should I even care? No one wanted me. I’ve been told later in life as I share my story that there were people who said they would take me if no one else would. And that was actually more of a wound than just thinking no one wanted to take me. But originally I was still reeling from the grief. My mother died on Thanksgiving day and then just in February, the following February was when I was left on someone’s doorstep. So I had not fully grieved my mom, my own mother, but the worst part for me was I had a younger sister that I had basically been caring for because my mother was sick for quite a while, and the separation from her was the hardest. Being away from my little sister not knowing what was going to happen to her was difficult.

And so all I was doing was just trying to keep my head up and move forward. And I do have to say my parents, the ones who adopted me, really had to work through a lot of child trauma and things that they had never experienced or dealt with. So all I was trying to do was just get up every morning and get through the day.

You think back to the high school area of your life, was there anybody that stood out as a mentor or a guide or anybody that kind of helped you?

I will say the most influential teacher that I had is the one who told me I would never amount to anything. I’m one of those people, if you tell me I can’t do it, I will do it or I will die trying. And he told me in 11th grade that he didn’t see my future as bright, and I didn’t really have what it took to succeed. So I made sure I did.

I know you now are at a place where you have seven children. And that journey includes adoption. Share with us a little bit of what that journey looks like, raising your family and keeping all of these balls in the air.

We actually decided to become foster parents in around 2010. And in the foster care system, obviously Arizona has a huge crisis still today of just needing more families. And so my husband and I decided we wanted to be a part of that because of my own experience, but we really wanted to adopt. We didn’t consider fostering. And then through time and just a lot of consultations with people in the adoption arena here, we realized that they needed people to consider not just adoption, but fostering short term. So we eventually did that for a while.

We were placed with two girls, and over a very short time after we got them, we found out there were actually four children, and it’s very hard to place a sibling group of four. And we had two of them that at that time were considered special needs. So we had to make a big decision. And in the midst of that, we found out we were pregnant, and we had dealt with miscarriages. And so we were really going back and forth. Do we foster? Do we adopt? What is happening?

And so eventually, when I was four and a half months pregnant with our now third biological child, the state asked us, “Would you seriously consider adopting them?” And I remember that day I was driving in the car with my husband, and I had the phone in my ear, and I said, “They want us to adopt all four.” And he said, “Tell her, we’ll call her back. We got to pray.” And so I said, “We need to pray about this. We’ll call you back.” And there was never any discussion. We knew that this was what was meant for us. So we adopted all four. We actually went from two to seven children in nine months. In 2014, we started the year with our two biological children, and by Halloween of that year, we had seven children in our house. And we tell people, “We survived 2014, we can do anything.” I woke up on my 45th birthday with a newborn in my arms and four other children that were ready to bond with me. And that was probably the toughest time of my life.

When you look back on that time, if you could tell yourself something then, from your point of view now, what would you tell yourself?

We’re going to be OK. My husband had to tell me that a lot because that morning that I said, I woke up on my birthday, I said, “I don’t want to do this. I actually said, I’ll be 100% honest, I said, “We can’t do this. Please take them back.” I had a newborn literally in my hands, and I said, “We can’t. How are we going to do this?” We literally now have seven children, and he said, “There is enough of us to go around. God is always going to protect us.”

What were the age of the kids plus the newborn?

Five, 4, 3, 18 months and a newborn. I had five under 5, which if you know anything about the adoption process in Arizona, it’s actually they don’t allow you to have five under 5. So my husband and I, even in the midst of us waiting on our child to be born, we were having to deal with state regulatory issues and literally had to offer up our licensing just to get them to allow us to have all the children. Our big goal was not to have these four children split apart. I did not have the relationship with my biological siblings, and I was going to do everything I could not to have these four children be split up like that. We had a lot of people that said, “I’ll take one, I’ll take two, I’ll take this one and that one.” No one wanted to keep them together. And so I had vowed that we would never split siblings if we could help it, and so we didn’t.

I want to hear about this “12 in 12” thing going on. Tell me about that.

Yeah, so a big pivot in my life, and especially with the whole goal thing was in 2012 where I went to this business event and they sat us down and there was this personal development aspect, which I had never even heard the term. And I just thought, “I came here to learn how to build a business. I don’t know what all this hootenanny is,” and they want you to write down your goals as if they’ve happened in the present tense. And I was like, “This is so weird. What are we doing here, people?”

But they tell you, “Oh, make a card.” And it’s like a vision board except something you carry around. One of them was, “I am soaring through 12 races in 12 months,” but if you see me run, you would not say, “Oh, she’s soaring.” It’s more like I’m just making it to the finish line. But I said I would run 12 in 12, and I decided to either run a full marathon or a half marathon every month consecutively for 12 months.

After the (10th) race, I found out I was pregnant. And at the (11th) race I thought I had lost the baby. So I thought I’d had a miscarriage. And we were in San Diego. We actually called my doctor and said, “We’ve lost our child. I’m here in San Diego, and it’s obvious that I’ve had a miscarriage.” And when we came home, I went for my checkup. And when I got back, we found out the baby was still alive, and that’s my 10-year-old now. With my doctor’s advice, I was able to finish that challenge.

What do you do today? How do you work within the community and what does that look like for you?

We found that every time I achieved a big goal, there were always these very consistent things that I did that was almost like a cycle. I would dream big. And then I would have this plan of action, and then I would move forward on these different things. So I just started teaching individuals.

In April of 2022, right after I’d had foot surgery, someone convinced me to start this training program and teach people step by step how to set the goal. And the big missing component for a lot of companies that do this, they don’t stay with the person. They show ’em how to do a vision board, they show ’em how to set a goal, but then when the person’s in what I would call the “mile 19 season,” when it gets hard and you hit the roadblocks, they’re all alone. And so our company, literally, we will stay with the person until they’re finished. They set the goal, and then we help them get to the finish line of their goals.

There’s probably similar threads that stand in the way of individuals as obstacles. What are those?

It took me six years just to get to Boston for the first time. And so the lack of an action plan, people will say they’re going to do something on January 1st, but they have it written nowhere how they’re going to do it. So action plan, fear failure, and the lack of a community that will support them. That’s our three primary focuses of what we work on intentionally.

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" when:7d" – Vivrr Local , 2024-03-20 01:00:39
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