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Woman balances roles of counselor, soldier

A Lacey soldier and life coach published an essay in a women's inspirational book. It's just one of many examples of her life's calling to help women overcome personal obstacles.

Quindola Crowley's essay, "Purpose Driven Women Change Their Mind," is part of "Refined By Fire: Secrets of Becoming a Champion of Life Challenges," published in January by Christian publishing company GMA Publishing.

Peceptions of success

In it, she talks about finding faith and overcoming perceptions about success. She said she grew up in "Huxtable" neighborhoods, and shaped her idea of success based on the families around her.

"Everybody had a white picket fence. Everybody had two parents that were together since they were in college," she said in a Lacey coffee shop recently.

In her family, every woman was pregnant by 16. At 20, Crowley, too, found herself pregnant and unmarried.

But she learned not to let it define her.

"So often, we blame our life for our shortfalls when it is self that holds us back from our true potential," she writes in the essay.

A calling

Crowley, a wife and mother of three, found her calling toward helping women while taking calls for a sexual assault hot line. She was a victim of rape at 17, when she trusted someone to walk her to her car after a dance. That experience allowed her to connect with and help women overcoming similar traumas.

She went back to college to earn a master's degree in social work and eventually opened her own counseling practice in Lacey, gearing her work toward victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. She said her method is based on action, rather than on dwelling on a difficult past. A lot of women get stuck in their grief, she said.

"I don't like dredging up stuff, and I don't like processing for too long. I like movement. I can help pull out the best in you ... use that as leverage, as something that propels you to do better," she said.

Insight

Those who know Crowley as a counselor say she has a unique insight that allows her to connect with other women.

"She has a really great way of helping you understand where you are in life and how you got there," said Talia Mazzara of Lacey, a single mother who took a parenting class from Crowley and knows her through church. "Everything that comes through her is a blessing, because it's not so cold and clinical. She sincerely listens to you."

Crowley, who has served in the U.S. Army for 25 years and is a battalion commander at Fort Lewis, was called to active duty in 2003 and had to close her practice. She still works with clients on the side and also serves as a minister at New Life Baptist Church.

In addition, she is writing a book, working toward a doctorate in nonprofit leadership and working to launch a women's wellness center.

Her book will focus on the relationship between mothers and daughters and "repositioning yourself toward healing," she said.

The wellness center she hopes to open in spring 2008 also will focus on healing, she said. Women's emotions tend to be tied up in health problems such as obesity and chronic pain, and women need a place where they can work toward physical, mental and spiritual health, she said. She said she envisions a center with personal trainers, nutritionists, counselors and life coaches.

Diane Huber covers the city of Lacey and its urban growth area for Lacey Today. She can be reached at 360-357-0204 or dhuber@theolympian.com.

Further reading

"Refined By Fire: Secrets of Becoming a Champion of Life Challenges," is available at Borders and the Timberland Regional Library, or order it online at www.refinedbyfire.com. To contact Quindola Crowley about her counseling services or for a speaking engagement, send her an e-mail at qandminc@comcast.net.

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