Year Attended: 2016
Location: Lisle, IL
Job Title: Writer & Entrepreneur
Education: Magdalen College
Degree: Liberal Arts, Concentration in Philosophy
“[W]hen I uncovered my original action plan from 2016, while moving boxes as I once again moved out of my parent’s home, I laughed and cried. I had not realized how completely Christ had satisfied my desire to connect with women and teach them His love.”
Please share a little about yourself – feel free to include a fun fact!
My name is Elizabeth Russell. I am a published author, woman’s life coach, and entrepreneur. I am in-waiting for my future husband, devoting myself in the meantime to living for Christ, under His beautiful spousal protection. I live with my brother in the suburbs of Chicago, IL, where I coach women who are pursuing creative careers, play CatholicSports, host a Woman’s Bible Study, build a community and course to support Catholic creators, and intentionally build beautiful and enriching friendships. Quarantine can’t keep us down!
I am the oldest child of ten: 2 sisters and 6 brothers, one of whom is our angel in Heaven. My parents have been happily married for 29 years. My mom stayed home and homeschooled all of us, classically and with a lot of literature, and my dad taught us what it meant to run your own business, provide for a family, and still find time to lead Rosary every night, and watch Star Wars together.
Fun Fact: I published my first book of poetry this past year, in December, called A Song of 2020. It’s a celebratory song to God of thanksgiving for the growth and joy I found in 2020.
Describe your professional work. How were you led to this? What are you passionate about?
I have undertaken several endeavors, all of which flow naturally in and out of each other. I consider myself, first and foremost, an artist. And in the word’s of JPII, “as Genesis has it, all men and women are entrusted with the task of crafting their own life: in a certain sense, they are to make of it a work of art, a masterpiece.” I am fundamentally an artist over my own life, and I bring this into every sphere. My particular gift of artistry is words, in which I rejoice! I have two fantasy novels, Halfbreeds and Trinian, and many more in the works, plus my aforementioned poetry book, A Song of 2020. All are available on Amazon.
I am also a creative career coach for women. I help artistic and out-of-the-box women through the process of discerning their dreams, applying their skills, and embracing their God-given talents. I challenge each woman to see beyond the economy and structures of this world to live in God’s economy, and to ask where, specifically, He is asking her to live in the world, but not of it.
” I challenge each woman to see beyond the economy and structures of this world to live in God’s economy, and to ask where, specifically, He is asking her to live in the world, but not of it.”
I am a podcaster. Along with my friend Ina Castillo, who lives in Denver, I co-host the podcast Womanhood Redeemed. Ina and I discuss topics around what it means to be a woman, to suffer, to live joy, to deal with imposter syndrome, etc. Our tagline is “living the practical aspects of authentic femininity in our everyday lives.”
I am an entrepreneur. Along with my brother, I am taking my love of nurturing artists into building a course to direct those who have a desire to follow their dreams, but don’t know where to begin. This course inspires, and teaches the tools for creating consistently, promoting, and profiting, all from the ‘pursuit of beauty’ perspective, which is uniquely Catholic.
Finally, I am the Conference Coordinator for the organization Freedom After the Trauma Conference. This conference is the fulfillment of a dream for Courtney Leong, my dear friend and a spiritual mother to me, who strongly desires to transform the world’s narrative around trauma. So many people in our world believe that the traumatized are broken beyond repair, but we not only refuse to believe that, we have seen evidence that it is not true! In Christ, healing is not only possible, it’s transformative. We are building a conference that will teach the world how to show up for the broken, bring them healing and understanding, and help them venture forth into the light. Right now, we are in the stage of talking to investors so we can further our reach, and you can check out our work at Freedomafterthetrauma.com, where you can find our current content around transforming the world’s narrative.
“So many people in our world believe that the traumatized are broken beyond repair, but we not only refuse to believe that, we have seen evidence that it is not true! In Christ, healing is not only possible, it’s transformative.”
What are the personal strengths that you’ve been given and how do you utilize them?
My strengths, as I have been told by others, are warmth of presence, a good ear to listen to the heart of others, dedication to my passion, and my words, especially in writing.
What women inspire you, and why?
Courtney Leong is at the top of this list, for sure! She has come out of such darkness, and has, in turn, led me out of mine. This probably belongs in the mentor section, since she is my personal strategist, but she also greatly inspires me! January Donovan is another mentor who inspires me. I have spent the last year going through her Art of Being a Woman Masterclass, and to say that it changed my life feels like an understatement. I learned truths about living I never even imagined before, and the tools to make those truths a reality in my own life.
Both these women, who are so radically working to transform culture right now, make me think of the female saints of old: St. Catherine of Siena, Hildegard of Bingen, Mother Teresa, Elizabeth: the cousin of Mary, and Mary herself. These shining examples of womanhood inspire me to be a saint, and to continually give Christ my own Fiat.
Finally, all the women I coach are huge inspirations to me. The openness of their hearts, their willingness to dedicate their lives and dreams to Christ, and their ease of coachability inspire me so much! It’s beautiful to watch them bloom in our sessions, and outside them!
Are there friends and mentors that you depend upon? How do they support you?
January and Courtney, as I mentioned above, for sure! Also, Amanda Ditchik, who has patiently walked with me as my health coach on a journey of physical healing this year; and Emily Blasdell, another alum from GIVEN, who has been my business planner since February of 2020. My business had not yet begun at the time. I had a vague idea that I wanted to coach women, but didn’t know yet where that would take me. That was when we met. In spite of never meeting in person (which is actually true of all the people I’ve mentioned so far, except January, who I met once while visiting Ave Maria, FL), she has been a bulwark as I continually plan and replan my life mission.
My long-time friends, Carolyn and Sophia, although we mostly only connect over the phone, have me as a jewel in their heavenly crowns. Both provide such needed and unique support, and I value their friendships beyond words, for it is grounded in Christ, and the desire to be saints.
Finally, I have recently been forming beautiful friendships with Catholic women in my area. This gift of in-person friendship is new to me since college, and fills me with joy for the present and hope for the future. Doing things in community, going on errands for one another, watching movies in the evening, and playing loads of card games, has been a blessing beyond my wildest dreams!
What is the best advice/encouragement you’ve received about vocational discernment?
“Don’t be afraid of what you want.”
I was told this by both my strategist and spiritual director in the same day, so I took it strongly to heart! Our desires are guideposts to our dreams. Let’s say you want children, but are afraid you’re called to be a religious sister: don’t be afraid of that dream. Step into it. Imagine yourself as a mother, and then ask Christ what He is seeing. It’s a dialogue of the imagination; an immersive conversation, wherein Christ will lead you gently to His plan for you, and reveal how He is satisfying all of your desires.
Prayer is essential for everyone, but especially for women who are active in the life and mission of the Church. Do you have any favorite devotions or prayers?
St. Joseph has been my go-to this year. My brother and I named our home and business after him: The Flight House, after the Flight Into Egypt. I often pray to him, asking him to give me the tools for building my business, surrendering my life, and transitioning in this time of building a new life. My favorite book is The Soul of the Apostolate, by Dom Baptiste Chautard, and my favorite form of prayer is envisioning my soul as a garden, and conversing with Christ in that inner world, usually while washing dishes at the end of the night.
Do you have a favorite inspirational quote?
It changes everyday, but right now, it’s the one I quoted above by JPII, or really anything from his Letter to Artists:
“[A]s Genesis has it, all men and women are entrusted with the task of crafting their own life: in a certain sense, they are to make of it a work of art, a masterpiece.”
What were your key takeaways from the 2016 GIVEN Forum?
Inspiration. I had no idea so many amazing women could exist in the world at one time, let alone be changing the world like they were. They opened my eyes to what it means to be both compassionate and inflexible.
I also connected far more deeply with the belief that Christ was calling me to a vocation that was unique. I had yet to learn how to hear His voice, but I felt His call strongly while in adoration that weekend.
What was your GIVEN action plan? Describe its mission, audience, and impact.
My GIVEN action plan came out of a desire to build an intentional female community, and teach all women that they are beautiful, unique, unrepeatable: that they are the Beloved of Christ. I laid out a plan for forming women in discipleship, living out inner beauty, and entrusting everything to God.
I began that mission, after 2016, by hosting young women’s tea meet-ups at my apartment. However, my health deteriorated and I moved back with my parents. For 3 years, I worked part-time from home, and seldom saw others. It wasn’t until February of 2020 that I regained my purpose and joy, and reconnected with my GIVEN action plan, though that was unconscious. Without realizing it, I began to live my action plan.
I was coaching women on self-worth, and taking the Art of the Being a Woman Masterclass, wherein I was learning how to value myself and others, and heal from wounds that had been distancing me from Christ. All this to say that, when I uncovered my original action plan from 2016, while moving boxes as I once again moved out of my parent’s home, I laughed and cried. I had not realized how completely Christ had satisfied my desire to connect with women and teach them His love.
“I had not realized how completely Christ had satisfied my desire to connect with women and teach them His love.”
The impact has been enormous, and I am so grateful to GIVEN for helping me shape those desires in my heart all that time ago. It confirms for me that this is not a passing desire in my heart. I am on fire for women’s transformation! It is my mission to help women heal and use their talents to the glory of God the father!