Wine Consultant, Barre Instructor, Survivor, Goldthwaite, Texas
Christy is the woman who throws her head back and laughs right in the face of cancer, adversity, and heartaches. I found myself in Christy’s Barre class, in the middle of a West Texas town. Christy had us giggling within three minutes of the class and her radiance never ceased to amaze and inspire me. It was also a Thirsty Thursday at the Barre Room 76844, which for the regulars meant a post-sweat glass of vino. Why, yes, please!
This woman is a tough mama, a through and through survivor and a fighter, who continues to challenge cancer head on, blogs about it (under an honest and fittingly brilliant title “shittytitty”), mocks it, and uses humour to persevere and move forward. She is my hero. Please enjoy the q/a with the incredible wino/barre/warrior/queen, Ms. Wells!
2. Where is your hometown?
We moved around a lot growing up. I graduated in San Saba, in Texas – so I claim that as “where I’m from”.
3. What is your profession/career/title/self-label/designation?
I’m a wino. I love wine. One of my jobs is being an Independent Wine Consultant for Wine Shop at Home®. I do in-home tastings. They are SO fun. I’m also an office manager for a small business here in town (Goldthwaite, Texas). AND I’m a Barre instructor. I’m busy.
4. What was the journey like to get where you are (in life and career-wise)? What are some accomplishments you’re most proud of, and what was the turning point to set you on a current path in life?
My journey has been crazy. I was a single mom forever (my son is now 23!), so we struggled a lot. I had a degree in English and didn’t know what to do with it. I got a job at a military defense company as a secretary and gradually moved up. I had an amazing mentor: Yuval Ramon, from Israel. Best boss EVER. He taught me so much and let me grow in my job. I ended up as a contract administrator – working on contracts with the government. I worked for some great companies. Then, in 2016 my dad was killed in a farming accident. It rocked my world. I was living in Fort Worth at the time and I came home when it happened and I just never left. I quit my job and packed up my stuff and moved home. I just couldn’t let my mom stay out on the ranch by herself. I couldn’t imagine leaving her there alone.
I had worked at a winery (Brennan Vineyards in Comanche, Texas) on weekends every once in awhile while I was still living in Fort Worth and when I came home they created a full time job for me. That’s when my true love of wine started. I worked with some very knowledgeable wine people and learned so much. While working there – I got the news that my breast cancer (first diagnosed in 2015) was back. It had traveled to my liver. So now I’m living with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. I did chemo for the 2nd time and made it through. I have treatments every 3 weeks to kill the cancer cells that my body produces. I will have to do that for the rest of my life.
I ended up leaving Brennan Vineyards because I desperately needed good insurance. So the job I have now gives me that. And it’s a fun job with great people. I started yoga when I first moved home and the yoga instructor approached me about teaching barre classes. It was a hard no for a few months. Then, one night while we were drinking too much wine, I said yes. LOL. She got me. So I got certified to teach and now I have a great little class of “barre belles”.
So, after many twists and turns in my journey, here I am. But everything happens for a reason and for now, I’m where I’m supposed to be.
5. What did you study in school?
English. I have no idea why. I changed my major 85 times and I think I was just ready to be done, had enough credits for an English degree and there ya go.
6. How is your life different from what you pictured at 20?
I would never in a million years have thought that I would ever have dealt with cancer. No one in my family had a history of it. So when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I could not believe it. At first I was terrified. Then I put my big girl panties on and said “OK – let’s DO THIS”. I had very aggressive chemo and radiation and what seems like a million surgeries. I call myself Frankenstein sometimes because I look like I’ve been sawed in half and put back together. I had a reconstruction surgery called DIEP flap.. you’ll have to google it because it’s too much OR you can go to my blog – www.theshittytitty.com and read about it AND there are pictures.
When you’re 20 you’re fearless. You think you’ve got it all figure out. You know more than anyone. Nothing bad is ever going to happen – your life is going to be exactly how you planned it. HA! Then life happens. And when it does you have two choices: you let it get you down and beat you or you take that bull by the horns and say “I’M in charge here and I choose to be happy and positive and face the hard times head on and do everything I can to live my best life”. I chose the latter. Sure I have days that are hard and I’m tired and I want to quit. But that’s not me. Go big or go home!
7. Was there a time when life knocked you down or out and how did you get back up on your feet?
Oh yes – single motherhood, cancer #1, my dad passing, cancer #2. I’ve been knocked down so many times I can’t even count. But I rise! EVERY TIME. And every time I get back up because I know that it’s temporary. I know that God is in control of my life and that He has a plan and that a hard day doesn’t mean a hard life.
8. Advice for other women?
Don’t base your self worth on what others think. Especially men. LOVE YOURSELF. Tall, short, skinny, chubby, white, black. We are all created in God’s image and that makes us amazingly beautiful.
9. Knowing what we know now in current political climate, can women be "all that we can be" in today's world? What is the way forward, as you see it, for "feminist values"?
To be honest, I’d like for women to DO rather than to talk about it. Does that make sense? We don’t need to make excuses or apologies for who and what we are. We are amazing! We have so much to offer – to the world, to our families, to other women. Let’s focus on what we CAN do and get out there and do it. We have the power and we don’t have to ask permission to use it.
10. Where in the world do you feel “tallest” (i.e. where is your happy place)?
Outdoors. Hiking, kayaking, sitting on the grass under a tree and watching butterflies. There is beauty all around us and sometimes, when I can let go of the stress of life, it can take my breath away. I love the mountains. I’d love to live somewhere surrounded by them.
11. What extra-curricular activities/hobbies are you most proud of? Why?
Being a Barre instructor. I was very reluctant at first to do it. But I have a great group of ladies and we cheer each other on and we’re a family. I feel like I’m making a difference in their lives.
I love it when I see the changes (physical and mental) in someone that starts the classes. They become empowered. I love it.
12. What do you want to be when you grow up? Future goals/challenges?
I want to travel. I want to go and go and go! Life is short and there are so many things I’d love to see. The challenge is funding my dreams; I need a money tree.
13. What fears are you still hoping to overcome?
I truly feel like the only fear I have remaining in my mind/heart is every mother’s fear of something happening to their child. I’ve faced so many challenges and I’ve figured out that FAITH gets you through it. My faith is definitely bigger than my fear. But I do worry about my son; that will never end.
14. Anything you'd do differently, if you had another go at life?
There are so many things I’d change EXCEPT I wouldn’t. Every decision, every fork in the road where I may have gone the wrong way, it made me who I am. I got here the hard way – but it was the path made for me.
15. What inspires you?
Strong women! I have quite a few in my life. My mom, my sister, my BFF, my cousin; these women are something else. Women that overcome adversity and are stronger for it. Women that love their family and friends fiercely. Women that give without expecting anything in return. Women that build up other women.
16. What are you hopeful about?
A cure for cancer. And if not, then I’m hopeful that the rest of my time here on earth is filled with joy and adventure.
17. What are some ingredients to a good life?
God, good friends, travel and wine.
18. What is a quality you most love about yourself and why?
I’m a good friend. I really am. I keep secrets and I listen and I give hugs and I say prayers. When I love - I love hard. When you’re my friend I will be there whenever, wherever you need me. Unconditionally.
19. What advice would you give your 14-year-old self?
Don’t be boy crazy. And that nerdy boy at school, he will be CATCH when you get older.
20. What are you reading now? (what books do you gift most and what are your favourite reads?)
I’ve been trying to read more Christian based books. I want to know God better. Right now I’m reading The Rock, The Road and The Rabbi (by Kathie Lee Gifford). It makes me want to go to Israel SO BAD. The first page of that book made me want to be a better person. If I’m not reading stuff like that – I go for the murder and mayhem books.
21. Who is a WOW Woman in your world who inspires you and why? Can you nominate three (or more) women you know who perfectly fit WOW WOMAN description? What would you tell them if you had an opportunity, of why you admire them?
Goodness – I have so many!
My mom Sheila. She became a widow two and a half years ago. Instead of shutting down and letting the grief and sadness take over she pulled herself up by the bootstraps and carried on. She knew there were things to take care of (we live on 150 acres of land) and family that needed her.
My sister April. She raises three boys, three redheaded, strong willed, crazy boys. She feeds them. Can you imagine? She cooks like there is an army in her home. Those boys are loved, happy and busy.
My cousin Jennifer. She is one of the leading ladies in her field of Behavior Analysis. She’s a professor at Texas Tech University. She beat all the odds of her raising to get where she is. She’s also a single mom to two teenage girls – oy! She’s smart and funny and doesn’t take any crap from anyone!
My BFF Angela. If you want to know anything about me, ask her. (but don’t because she knows too much!). She, together with her hubby, created a successful business. She has two kids. One is about to graduate from Baylor and one is at the University of Texas. She works hard for them. She puts her family first – always.
These women are strong, kind and loving and supportive. I surround myself with women like this. To them I would say thank you for being a role model. Thank you for always supporting me. Thank you for showing me how to love. Thank you for letting me be a part of your lives.
22. Where can others find you/your work (links to websites, blogs, etc.)?
My wine Business: wineshopathome.com/christywells