Maintaining 43 in the Single Lane

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Interview With Yvonne L. Williams

TWHS: How long have you been an inspirational speaker?

Williams: 17 years.

TWHS: In your speaking engagements, are there times when you don't feel positive, having to pull energy from others?

Williams: 18 years ago, when I was diagnosed with cancer in four areas, no one believed I was going to survive. This included me having stage 3 ovarian cancer, which no one survives! But I did, through prayer, faith and surgery.

It's through this experience that I have an innate energy when speaking. Now cancer-free and no remission, I found my purpose.

TWHS: Women and shoes; it's a universal connection. In the book, I loved how you summed up each shoe story with a moral. What is your personal shoe story?

Williams: I spotted a fabulous pair of designer shoes in London one year. Before buying, I tried on the pair of sale-priced shoes which had a pencil-thin heel (about 2 1/2 inches) and another version with a fatter heel. I decided to buy the pair with the pencil-thin heel.

I pranced and showed off my new shoes two or three times upon returning home. Until the day my daughter brought to my attention that my "new shoes" were mismatched- one had the pencil-thin heel, and the other had the fatter heel! I was mortified!

I brewed over this situation for six months, until I decided to to take a stand and do something about it. When I announced to my family that I would go back to return the shoes, they laughed, saying not only would the store not accept the return after six months, but they wouldn't even think about a return on worn shoes that had no box or receipt!

Undaunted, I flew back to London, greeting the staff with warmth. After pulling the shoes from the bag, I asked them to turn the heels around. They were embarrassed! I received a store credit for the FULL cost of the shoes instead of the sale price! The moral of my personal shoe story?

Never give up.

TWHS: What has been the reaction to the book?

Williams: You know, I've actually had women walk up to me at book signings and say that the concept of the book is 'superficial'. Mind you, this is coming from people who haven't read it; literally judging my book by the cover. It's not until they reluctantly open it up to read, do they realize the power and significance. I didn't write a book on styles; my book explains how shoes are metaphors of life. House shoes, flat shoes, stilettos- they all represent stages we go through. That's why at speaking engagements, I address my audience as shoe lovers AND shoe wearers; that includes everyone.

Even men have had opinions; do you know what their favorite styles are?

TWHS: Stilettos!

Williams: Stilettos and boots! (Laughing)

TWHS: Being a cancer survivor thrice over, what advice do you give to Elizabeth Edwards, as she battles cancer the second time during her husband's presidential campaign?

Williams: She needs to take care of herself and her healing. We [women] love sacrificially. Going through a presidential campaign takes a lot of energy, and that environment is not positive. I think it's a selfish gesture on his part.

TWHS: What advice do you give other cancer patients?

Williams: You have to break the cancer/death connection. Just because you've been diagnosed with cancer doesn't mean you will die from it! Get rid of the fear; heart disease is more deadly than cancer, yet people fear a cancer diagnosis more.

I personally do not look at cancer fatality statistics; but I do know there are five million people living with cancer.

TWHS: I never knew that.

Williams: And that's the point; we need to focus on the positive. As my journey proves, challenges are pathways to growth, and cancer patients will go through many changes. Shoes and life experiences are both necessities. And the mountains we will encounter aren't smooth, so we must make sure to wear the proper shoes for the journey.