Hello! I’m Shelly Roder (she/her). I am a Professional Certified Coach with the International Coach Federation, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin Certified Professional Coach Program and my life’s work has been figuring out how my spirituality and my work for justice intersect.
In my 20+ years of nonprofit leadership, I’ve been taught by some remarkable people who showed me how to move toward discomfort while also finding ways to care for myself. Spirituality was always key to this and has been the mainstay of my professional life – realizing that we are more than just minds and bodies.
Professionally, I’ve been certified in Trauma Healing and Transformation through Capacitar International, as well as Certified Massage Therapy training specifically for people who are homeless at the Care through Touch Institute. I am a certified Empowerment Workshop trainer from the Empowerment Institute (NY), have been a student of the Enneagram and I have practiced contemplative prayer with the support of a spiritual director for more than half of my life.
I have four kids and a partner of 15 plus years, who challenge me to be a better person more often than I care to admit. I have been known to play 80s pop songs on the accordion, love a good Scrabble match up and am proud to say I can still beat my children in a footrace (though I know my time will soon be up).
Through my life of work and play, this is what I’ve come to believe:
- Self-compassion is the superpower we didn’t even know existed – and we can access it right now.
- I feel strongest when I’m connected to my community – giving and receiving, in struggle and in celebration.
- Most sticky situations just need a dose of creativity, good humor or silence.
- When we can engage our discomfort we are on our spiritual path.
- Courage and kindness are contagious, and good Lord, do we need both right now.
And since all the best teachers in my life were storytellers, let me tell you a story about how I got here:
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a curiosity about God. And I might blame my brother/Godfather a bit for putting me on my path – he took his job seriously and required me to write an essay about The Lives of the Saints in order to get my birthday presents. I became pretty church-focused. Rarely did our family miss church, but if we did, I found a missalette and read through the Mass readings just to be sure I had my checkbox marked off for that week.
This fascination continued through college at Creighton University, where I couldn’t quite land on an “employable” major and ended up just embracing Theology as that what I was most interested in (and hoping a career path would emerge).
In studying the history of the Church, I began to see some contradictions: people hurting each other in the name of God, the church perpetuating slavery and war, the church excluding people from leadership based on gender or shunning loving relationships based on sexuality.
It didn’t make sense to me – what good is the practice of faith if it isn’t helping you to be more loving, more compassionate?
So I gravitated toward the people of faith who were making their faith visible through service – the social justice people. My theological focus shifted from looking to the Church for inspiration and instead, looking at the lives of people of faith who resisted war, people of faith who dedicated lives of service to people who were poor, people of faith who led movements to protect human rights, people of faith who practiced nonviolence and outrageous compassion. I strived to follow this “path of most resistance” as my college mentor called it so that I, too, could be a person of faith whose practice of faith was actually making the world a better place.
The places I have found myself frequently take me out of my comfort zone – being of service to slum-dwellers in the Dominican Republic with minimal Spanish skills, scrubbing toilets in shelters for men who are homeless, inside patriarchal institutions as a strong-willed and opinionated woman, in the middle of awkward and difficult conversations about power and privilege. I have had to learn new languages and see through new lenses.
And truly, I had no idea how hard it would be to be in those places and not contribute to more harm. To not take on the archetype of the white savior, to truly see people as whole – not to see them for their deficiencies or short-comings. To truly challenge the “bootstrapping” myth and to have eyes to see all of my privilege. To truly own my voice and agency by seeing oppressive structures and ways of being and not just going along with them.
Showing up in these places, attempting to be humble and to not contribute to more harm has required some serious self-awareness.
Living an examined life requires self-compassion and self-care: hard work, but very unlike the hard work handed down to me through my Luxembourger-American farmer genes. This is the hard work of emotional intelligence. The hard work of examining biases and changing reflexive action, the hard work of spiritual growth. The hard work of creating boundaries and asking for what is needed, the hard work of finding your voice and the hard work of developing the agency to use that voice.
And often – this path felt lonely:
- Who do I turn to when I need to work out some confusing race-related issue when I cannot trust white people to just soothe me and I don’t want to rely on my people of color to educate me?
- Who can I talk about my misgivings about the Church with who will truly challenge me to create a deeper relationship with mystery and not just “throw out the champagne with the cork” (so much better than the baby-bathwater idiom, don’t you think?)
- What resources were available to me in small nonprofits to get the professional development or support I needed to grow or to work out new ideas for programs or services?
- And as a woman working in the church, how to retain a sense of personal agency in a structure that doesn’t nurture women’s voices – and even trickier for this Enneagram 8, how to do that without becoming bitter?
Why do this hard work? Because this is where joy resides: when the energy of your output replenishes naturally because you are working in service to love. As theologian Frederick Buechner puts it: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Franciscan scholar John Duns Scotus had a name for it – “the harmony of goodness” – that place where love of self and love of other are in right relationship.
And that’s who I seek to coach – seekers who are truly in this place of struggle between love of other and love of the self.
Through coaching, I have found a way to invite other people into a process of self-reflection and challenge. Coaching can help us show up for the world in a brave way – with compassion for ourselves and others who challenge us, with sustained commitment to the values we profess – not just in words, but in action.
Where are you stuck? Are you losing your spark because you can’t find the support you need to nurture the flame? Or are you feeling totally inspired but spinning your wheels? Maybe you are facing a big decision or in the middle of a transition – a change in job or a relationship or entering a new stage in life?
Or maybe you find yourself in that place I have been – trying to figure out how you fit into work for justice with all your privilege? Or trying to maintain a spiritual practice in an institutional church whose teachings feel outdated or contradictory? Or really trying to get some kind of program launched but not finding the support at work to get it on the right path?
All of these are great reasons to land in coaching – where I’ll create time focused solely on you – engaging you in a conversation that will support, nurture and challenge you as needed.
Schedule a complimentary consultation call with me so we can dig in together – knowing that the work we do together will have a ripple effect on the rest of the world. The world needs us to do this work. Let’s see where this takes us!