When I first met Shirin, I was in awe of her strength and fortitude. I did not know her story at the time however the energy I felt at the time was unmistakable. Fast forward a few months, and we became friends and I learned more and bore witness to her transformation over the last few years.
Shirin was born and raised in India. She married and had a daughter. The marriage did not last, and Shirin found herself in a predicament. She was a young mother now divorced with a young child, working as a teacher and had moved back in with her parents.
During her upbringing, she had learned most of her beliefs and values from her grandmother. She was taught that to be a good wife, you must be obedient, submissive, and earn the respect of the family. Shirin came from the understanding that she did not deserve anything else more than what she was given or had. These beliefs were then taken into her next marriage.
Her new husband, also from India and a Canadian citizen, sponsored her and her daughter to come to Canada in 2005. Shirin was excited to begin a new life in a new country. Like many relationships, the “honeymoon phase” of the marriage did not last long. Shirin gave birth to three children – twin boys and a girl. Her husband was verbally abusive and controlling, not allowing Shirin any freedom or financial independence. Instead of being able to experience what life was like in Canada, she felt like a prisoner in her own home and lived in fear. She did not interact with others and often wondered if other Canadian women had the same experience.
When her husband did not come home at night, Shirin felt isolated and alone but was afraid to confront him. She did not feel she had the right to ask him what was going on. Caring for four children and suppressing her emotions caused a great deal of stress for Shirin and her health began to deteriorate. One day, she lost feeling in the right side of her face. With stress levels rising and the paralysis in her face, her self esteem diminished and she felt ugly and not worthy of love. She felt completely disempowered, as though she failed him as a wife.
After consulting a doctor, Shirin received a devastating diagnosis. She had cancer and would need to have surgery. She felt like she had hit rock bottom and worried about who would be there for her children if something happened to her. This was the wake up call Shirin needed. She examined her life up to that point and as she prepared for surgery, she began to gain clarity about the future. She did not want to continue living the way she had been living. And, she knew that she would not waste this second chance. Her life and happiness mattered, as did her children’s.
She decided to separate from her husband two weeks before the surgery. She started meditating, writing and reading books. After she recovered, she started taking courses and following thought leaders and changemakers. She attended events at The Hay House and participated in the Archangel Summit. She discovered The Landmark Forum and completed all of the courses that they offered. This became the training ground and basis for her new life.
Shirin stated matter of factly “An everyday hero is a way of being. You take on the responsibility of showing up for all of those who are watching, especially your children.”
Shirin has a huge love for people, and she shares her story to help others. She now does one on one coaching, and has spoken at many events including Speaker Slam, Flip the Script, and Spoken Lives. Her life experiences and sharing empowers and guides others to embrace their own power. Shirin helps others in a similar situation to her own find their power and change their future.
Throughout the journey, Shirin has found a love for writing and has since published two books. The first, a book of poetry that she wrote filled with utopian ideals. The second book is biographical and includes tips and exercises to help the reader. She has been invited to write chapters in other anthologies while sharing her story. Shirin speaks about the verbal and emotional abuse she experienced, about her health issues related to stress and cancer, the impact of these problems on her children, and the clarity that allowed her to make a positive and meaningful change.
Her words and coaching have been impactful and she is a heroine to many. When approached by people who have been touched, moved or inspired by her story, Shirin states that these acknowledgements are the ‘medals’ on the invisible cape she proudly wears.
Shirin left me with this message to the world:
“Be your own North Star. Be steadfast and consistent. Don’t give up, stand your ground. A star shines its own light. Go deep within, find your own guidance. You are an expert in your own life. Acknowledge that and when you do, you take charge of our own life. You are powerful. You shine, you dazzle, and you light up everything around you.”
Thank you Shirin! Your light is shining bright in our hearts.
If you’d like to contact Shirin, please visit her website at www.shirinariff.com.