Women Who Inspire | Shelley Steinley


Shelley Steinley, 54, mother of four, author, and self-made faux painter shares a bit about her life with us. She founded the Noah Strong Foundation to provide the support, unconditional love and unrelenting positivity that is so needed at the start and throughout the substance abuse recovery process. You inspire us with your strength Shelley!

You have four children and started having them at a pretty young age. How did that impact your life? 

I have four children, Josiah 30, Anna Rose 27, Noah 25, and Autumn 21. 

Being a mother is the greatest joy of my life, hands down, one hundred percent, no questions asked truth.  How has it impacted my life? Just saw off half your heart, no, all of it, and put yourself last, and be happy doing it. We used to go to dinner at Jason’s Deli when my kids were growing up, I was a single mom, and I’d feign fullness to save money, eating the potato skin from Anna and Autumn’s split “kid potato” (it was huge!). Everything filters through the “Mom” grid before it hits the “Shelley” grid. This is not good. I’m attempting to change that now since I’m an empty nester– well, I was an empty nester for one hot minute until Noah flew home. 

You divorced your husband, took no child support, and went on to build a successful career. Tell us about it. 

I got divorced at 38. I have a BA in art, but I was a stay-at-home mom and had never worked a career in my life. I remember exactly where I was when I decided that I didn’t want some man taking care of me. I needed to take care of myself. I mean at some point I’d have to do it, right? So, it might as well be now. Also, I knew he didn’t have the money to give me, and he needed it. So, I’d make my own.  We split custody 50/50. 

Shortly after, I met a woman who faux-painted and she took me under her wing. I took faux painting classes in San Antonio. Another girlfriend worked for a builder and got me my first solo gig. The rest is history. I’ve been working for myself for 20 years! I’m damn proud of it but I KNOW it’s because of the GREAT SPIRIT. Without God, I’d never be where I am. All of life is SPIRIT. It all starts and ends there. 

You have a son who struggles with substance abuse. You founded a non-profit and you wrote a book about it.

Noah was 16 when he was caught smoking pot at his private tennis school. Over the next four years, he’d experiment with Xanax, cocaine, meth, and his drug of choice, heroin. He’d be in and out of five rehab centers, ten times, with two open-heart surgeries to save his life at 19. 

My book, Hold on For Your Life is the memoir of a 49 ½-year-old mother tormented by her son’s drug addiction. I write about Noah’s childhood and developing drug abuse and parallel it with the way I was brought up and my never-ending quest to believe.

In 2018, I founded the Noah Strong Foundation. I started it with the quest to help other families going through the trauma of substance abuse. NSF raises money to fund scholarships for families who can’t afford (another) round of treatment. 

What helps you through tough times? 

I read a lot of influential self-help books and material. The Secret by Rhonda Bryne was my lift-off. From there I’ve read Bob Proctor, Wallace Wattles, Napoleon Hill, Charles Haanel, Eckart Tolle, and Michael Singer, just to name a few.

I have a powerful belief that everything always works out for me. I have mantras that I say out loud to myself. I write my mantras on my bathroom mirror and I tape pictures of what I want on my ceiling, so I see it first thing every morning. 

I go running. 

I call my amazing friend Alicia, who always answers and always listens. 

What is your go-to food? 

I don’t know if I have one. 

I learned a LONG time ago that I didn’t want to have an obsession with food. I dieted all of high school, limiting my food intake. In college, my roommate only ate air-popped popcorn to stay thin. She confessed to me one day that all she would think about was food, every single second of her life. Must have been hell. 

I made a decision after college to allow myself to eat whatever I wanted and at 54, I still eat whatever I want. Because of this, I don’t have cravings. I listen to my body and I don’t eat when I’m not hungry. I rarely get hungry when I’m not working out, and I hate going to the grocery, so sometimes it’s Triscuits topped with BBQ sauce and a beer. 

Who is your favorite artist? 

Georgia O’Keefe, because she listened to herself. When everyone told her that painting flowers wasn’t in, and no one would buy paintings of flowers, she painted flowers. She wore whatever she wanted. She believed in herself and didn’t care what anyone else thought of her. And because of that, people loved her. She was true to herself and was a confident woman.

Thank you Shelley for your openness and compassion. You can see what Shelley is up to on her website.

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