Starting a business or new venture is tough. But can be even more challenging when you are a homeless single mother that is overcoming an abusive relationship.
Tiffany Huff-Strothers, AKA Your Bounce Back Guide is a wife, Mother, Award-Winning Author, and Coach passionate about helping women get back up when life knocks them down, and share their stories to make an impact + income. She is the Host of The Bounce Back Blueprint Podcast + Founder of When She Thrives, a nonprofit dedicated to helping single mothers move their families from poverty to prosperity.
- Website: https://www.tiffanyhuffexperience.com
- Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/thetiffanyhuff
- Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/296113488395244
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thetiffanyhuff
- Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/tiffanythuff
- Freebie: bit.ly/reclaimyour2020
- Tiffany’s book – 30 Day Stay: One Woman’s Story of Escaping Death, Healing from Heartbreak and Finding Hope in Homelessness
Episodes in the Mompreneur Series
Episode 131 with Tiffany Huff-Strothers – The Way a Broken Single Mom Became Successful Mompreneur
Episode 132 with Kate Doster – Guaranteed Email Marketing Tips for the Win Without Feeling Sleazy
Episode 133 with Chloe McKenzie – The Secret to Showing Up Better at Home and In Your Business
Episode 134 with Cait Scudder – Here’s How to Ditch the Annoying Guilt and Get Support Now
Episode 135 with Katie Kahvo – This is How to Have Success Without the Exhausting Hustle
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Transcript of this episode
Real Happy Mom 0:02
Hey there, I’m Tony and I have an overwhelming passion to help moms navigate motherhood without the overwhelm. I went from struggling with motherhood and losing my identity, to be productive and living out my version of being a happy mom. On the Real Happy Mom podcast, I interview real moms and experts to help you navigate raising children self care, time management, and so much more. So if you’re ready to get rid of the overwhelm, and start being a Real Happy Mom, join me inside the Real Happy Mom podcast. Hey there, and welcome back to another episode of the Real Happy Mom Podcast. I am so happy that you have decided to tune in today, because I have my friend Tiffany on today. And let me tell you something, Tiffany is going to definitely motivate you to do better with your life because Tiffany has a really awesome story. She only shares a part of it here in this podcast today. But I tell you what, the part that she did share will get you motivated, because you’re like, Okay, Tiffany can do it, I can do it, too. And that’s what I want to share with you today is how Tiffany was able to go from homelessness, being a single mom to thriving and having this awesome nonprofit organization, as well as doing some other amazing things. So in this episode, we talk about several different things. One, in particular her story of how she went through going from rock bottom to actually getting to that place where she was able to start to rebuild her life. Then she talks about her organization that she has started and share the how it is so important for us to make sure that we are supporting single moms in ways that her nonprofit is supporting single moms. And then lastly, she gives us some encouragement. And lets us know that we can do something right now even if we are frustrated, overwhelmed, just feeling like we can’t do all the things but there is something that we can do. Right right now. So I’m not gonna hold you up. This episode is so so good. And I know I say that about all my episodes, but no, for this one is really, really good. So let’s go ahead and jump on into this episode with Tiffany.
Real Happy Mom 2:10
All right, Tiffany, welcome to the podcast.
Thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited to be here.
Real Happy Mom 2:17
Yes, I am excited to have you and you have so much to share. And before we jump into our topic, I really just want you to share a little bit about you and what you’re currently up to
avoid this could take a while. I am a coach and an author. And I work specifically with women who have had a big challenge or setback in their lives and help them to rebuild from the ground up with a strong foundation of faith, and then help them to use their stories and their experiences to impact others, whether it be through writing a book, starting a business, shifting their career, just really living their best life. And in addition to that I run a nonprofit organization that I founded called when she thrives. It’s dedicated to empowering single moms to move their families from poverty, to prosperity. And we do that through advocacy, education, personal and professional development. So I’m pretty busy. I also have a husband and two teenage son.
Real Happy Mom 3:26
Yes, yes, you are very busy, actually. And the thing that I love most about you is your story because you have a really amazing story about how you rebuild your life, after several setbacks, in particular with homelessness, and also being a single mom. So I wanted to go back to that part of your life and hear more about that part of your story and how you’re able to rebuild and enjoy the life that you have now.
That’s a loaded question. Let’s see if I can handle it. Okay, so I’ll give you way back and then bring it forward. So when I was little, I’m the youngest of three children. And my family is the family that experienced every epidemic in the black community. So we had the quote, unquote, American dream like my parents were married. There were three of us. I have an older brother and sister. My dad was a plumber, and also an entrepreneur, and my mom had the luxury of being home with us. And while they were married, and then my dad got addicted to drugs, my mom started having mental health challenges. My sister became a teenage mom, my brother got caught up in the gangs and getting, you know, in and out of trouble with the law. And then there was just me reading books all of the time. And my parents will always tell me when I was young, you know, if you work hard and you keep making those good grades, there’s nothing you can do anything you put your mind to you can do it and you can do it well. And that was true for me. through most of my life. I got scholarships. I got the quote unquote, good job, but there was one area I could not make this magic with, you know, I had this experience where everything I touched turned to gold, even though all of the other things were going on around me until I got into this relationship. And in the beginning, it was innocent enough, you know, he was my escape, because everything in my life was so serious, I was so focused on my grades and getting into college and getting the scholarships. He was like my relief. But very early on, excuse me, sorry about that, that relief, talk a little bit of a turn. And even though I’d watched plenty of my share of lifetime movies, I allowed the red flags to I ignored the red flags. And so before I knew it, we were in this long term relationship that was emotionally and mentally and at times, physically abusive. And by the time we were on the end of the relationship, I had one child and was pregnant. And, I mean, I couldn’t even go into all of the details. But ultimately, I had experiences where once when my younger son or my older son was having his first Christmas, and moved while his dad was at work, like I literally had movers come, they moved my Christmas tree with the ornaments on it, because I was so afraid that he will come back in the middle, like I literally like ran away from him. And unfortunately, I did that more than once. So it was a very tumultuous relationship. But after I had my younger son, and things didn’t improve, and my children are very close together, they’re not even two years apart. So this was like a rapid period in our relationship that just got consistently and progressively worse. And I had to get a PFA and all of the things and I was finally just tired, you know, for a long time, I would pacify him, you know, kind of do what he wanted me to do to kind of limit the fuss or any confrontation because I just wanted to move on. But I got to the point where I was just tired. I was tired of living in fear. I was tired of being a prisoner. I was tired of suffocating who I really was to appease him. And he didn’t like the fact that I was tired. And one summer night, he, excuse me, he actually climbed in my window because I wouldn’t let him in. And he didn’t do anything. This time he actually wanted to talk. But about two weeks later, he attempted to climb in the window again. And I had a slum landlord at the time. So he hadn’t come to fix the window. But I jimmied it with a two by four. So he couldn’t open the window. And this time he shot he broke into my house. And he did that by shooting through one of the glass pillars on my back door and then putting his hand into the back door and unlocking it. And he came in I had not only my our two children at the time, I had my niece and nephew. And it was very hot. It was summer. So I thought when I heard I heard the noise, but it was muffled by the air conditioner. And so I thought one of these children had fallen out of the bed to open the door. And I see all of the children are still in bed, everything’s intact. And I heard footsteps downstairs. And I didn’t even question like Did someone break in or anything I knew it was him. or her it was that. And by the time I realized I was hearing footsteps, he was coming up the steps and he had a gun in his hand. And
he pushed me into my bedroom and he was like hollering and screaming and pretty belligerent. And the entire time he was like holding this gun, right between my eyes, like on the bridge of my nose. And when people tell you their life flashes before their eyes in the movie, they don’t make that up. I literally can remember seeing images of like, myself and my mom, my high school graduation, me breastfeeding my older son in the hospital like he and I on a day like I can remember these flashes of images and just praying God, please don’t take me away from my babies, like who’s gonna take care of my babies. And I got really nervous and I was like, I have to go to the bathroom like I’m gonna have an accident. And so he was letting me get up off the bed to go to the bathroom. And in route he got upset again and kind of like shoved me against the wall, back to hollering and screaming back to this gun in my face. And I looked into his eyes and I was like he’s drunk or he’s high or something. And if I don’t do something, I’m going to lose my life tonight. And in an instant, you know thought, you know what Tiffany, you could apologize to him, you could say, let’s just lay down, let’s talk about it. And I decided in that moment that I wasn’t going to do that anymore, like I was going to stand up for myself. And whatever happened as a result was going to happen because I was just tired. So at some point, something in my head told me like, if you don’t do something, you’re dead. So I grabbed this gun, and I grabbed it by the barrel, obviously, because he was holding it on the other end. And we got into this tug of war. And I got the gun off him actually. And then just like the women on lifetime, I stood there looking stupid. Like, Oh, my gosh, I have the gun. And I in and this was all happening very quickly. Probably, after about three seconds of having the gun, I realized, like, if I turn this gun around and shoot, he’s going to be dead because he was, I’m a tall one, I’m big woman, but he was bigger and taller than me. So I was probably at about chest level, I wouldn’t shy him right in his heart. And while I’m processing all of this in my head, he realizes that he no longer has the gun, I have it. So he pulls it back. And when he grabs it back, he grabs it from the trigger, and it goes off. And I end up shot and on the floor. So that’s kind of how I got to my rock bottom. So at this point, I am shot, I ended up having to have several surgeries because the bullet shattered my femur. So I was in the hospital for a pretty extended period of time. My landlord did not evict me, but he did not want me to come back. So I ended up homeless. I was I was pretty far overweight at this point, because I had two children in a very short period of time, and I already wasn’t skinny before having them. I also tell Not long after this happened, ended up filing bankruptcy. I was just like, in the most desolate place of my life, when this happened, and I had two children to care for as a result. And not to mention, you know, like this man was my first and only love. We started dating, we were 1617. And, you know, by the time we had our children, we were almost 10 years into this relation. So this was like, you know what I knew. So a lot was just once that going off, everything in my life changed, everything for my children changed. And it was really, really challenging for me because like I said, there was nothing I had done in the past, from academics to professionally, that was an awesome and this really blew up in my face. And even though I had for a long time been pretending everything was okay. Once you make the 11 O’Clock News, everybody knows like your cover is blown. So I was dealing with a lot of esteem issues, I was dealing with a lot of, you know, coping with my my own internal ideas of failure. I was dealing with this desire to, you know, beat the odds and not be the statistic, if you will. And so I felt like everything I worked so hard not to be I ended up being.
But I knew that I knew that guy had more for me. So my children, I actually ended up in an emergency domestic violence shelter, because he didn’t go to jail right away. And we have been together so long, there was really nowhere I could go, that he didn’t know, you know, he knew all my friends, all my family. And that also was a turning point. For me. It was just, yeah, it was just unthinkable that I would ever be there and in fact, be there with my children. My younger son and I learned to walk together because he was crawling. This happened about a month and a half before he turned one. So like he would be crawling around or scooting around, he would go up and down the steps on his bomb. And now we’ll go up and down the steps on my phone because I couldn’t do the steps with my crutches or my Walker. So it was a very humbling experience. And it also was the force for me to, you know, rebuild my life and re align with who I knew God had created me to be and really commit to doing the work to getting there. So not long after I started to recover, I tried getting jobs here in Pittsburgh where we’re from where all this happened and I could not get a job. And I was almost I’m not even almost I was suffering with PTSD a lot for like every I felt like everywhere I went people were staring at me. I felt like everybody saw me on the news. And I had convinced myself like I’m not getting a job because of this. It’s happened to me and people know. So my dad talked me into a change of scenery. He’s like, why don’t you, you know, get away and just take some time for yourself. And for the boys and I have family in North Carolina, and also have family in Atlanta. And I decided that North Carolina would be a better place for me to go a little slower paced where I could kind of catch my breath, get my bearings, and for lack of a better way to say it recover. So I packed up my minivan and my boys, and what we could fit in that van, and we moved to North Carolina for two years. And that’s kind of where that rebuilding process
Unknown Speaker 15:42
started for me.
Real Happy Mom 15:45
Wow, Tiffany, that was, yeah, I was sitting there like, this is really you should really have your own Lifetime movie. This is really, really like, this is stuff you just can’t make this up.
No, you can’t. You can’t. There isn’t a Lifetime movie yet. But there is a book called 30 days day,
Unknown Speaker 16:03
Daddy day stay a
bit more of the
Real Happy Mom 16:06
Yeah. Alright, so yes, 30 days, they definitely got to read that one. Now. I’m just curious. So when you moved to North Carolina, and that’s when the rebuilding started, was there anything in particular that you remember doing or experiences that you had, that were able to get you from that point where you were then to where you’re at now?
Well, let me first be honest, and tell you that like there was a lot of crying, a lot of crying. I mean, even if you haven’t just experienced something traumatic, loading two toddlers into a minivan and all of like your life into a minivan and moving to a new state. It’s a lot. Like it’s overwhelming. And I was staying with an uncle. And I did have two cousins, his children, but they all had their own lives, he basically was like, here’s where you can live, here’s a bathroom. This is how the stove works Have a nice life, like there wasn’t a lot of guidance or anything. So it was a lot of exploring. And one of the very first things that I did was trying to connect to a church. Because I knew that there was no way I was going to get through what I had to grow through without God. So I was very intentional about that. And then also, again, giving myself that space to just get still and quiet. And ask like, who is Tiffany really, you know, I had gone from being the smart one in the family, to being the girlfriend of him to being the mother of my children, there was very little time to be Tiffany. And so I spent a lot of time really getting to know myself, and learning the things that I really liked and didn’t like and the things that I was doing, because they’d always been done, versus the things I just did not want to do anymore. And so it was a lot of time of dating myself and being intentional about learning to be more self aware, and reestablishing my relationship with God. So that’s kind of where it started. And then from there, you know, getting connected to people, most of the people I got connected to were either through my church or through my children. They had to go to daycare because I had to go to work. So I met people there, I joined a gym because like I said, I was overweight, overweight, I met people there. And so really just it wasn’t I was very heavy on focusing on myself and my children, and creating an environment where I can begin to build the life that I thought I wanted for us to have. So it’s a lot of self reflection, it’s a lot of downtime, if you will. And just really being committed to the process of not only what dealing with what someone else has done, but also really looking in the mirror and being able to evaluate the decisions that I made, or the actions that I had taken that weren’t the best. And, you know, beginning to build out systems or plans to prevent that from happening in the future.
Real Happy Mom 19:21
Yes, definitely. And I will say Tiffany, one thing just as you’re talking, I was just thinking because you were talking about you know, having that space and accent yourself those questions in dating yourself and things like that, like, I’ll be honest, like sometimes for us, like that’s uncomfortable, like being alone because I think we’re so used to being every thing for everyone and being everywhere like being still and you know, actually being with ourselves like, I’m sure that was kind of uncomfortable as I was just wondering how you felt during that process.
So I’ll be honest, Tony and I feel very free. You know when you’re in an abusive relation ship. And you’re you find yourself constantly tiptoeing around or you feel like you always have to, you know, pretend to be happy. You’re always trying to please someone else, all of your decisions or your actions are made through the lens of what is he going to say? How is he going to respond? Once you know what I mean? I was very free. Because I had complete control at that point. It Again, I’m not saying it was easy by any stretch, but I felt so just free and like open and, and just exploring the world on post for the first time again. And I don’t want to sound like so, you know, like, cookie cutter. But that’s the reality of it. Like I was literally learning to live again.
Real Happy Mom 20:55
terms. Yeah. Now, one thing that I love about you too, is your passion and what you got going on with your nonprofit when she when she thrives? So I was just wondering, what got you started with that? And why is it so important that we help single mothers.
So interestingly enough, Tony, and when I was in North Carolina, one evening, I was sitting in my little office space, and I don’t even know what I was doing on the computer late at night. But I remember sitting there and literally getting this divine, this divine download of this program, or this organization, and all of the things that needed to happen to support single moms to be able to be their best. And it was inclusive of a lot of things that we have not been able to bring to fruition yet. But the reason why programs like when she drives are important is because nationally, and Metropolitan most metropolitan areas in the African American community, single moms are leading most of the households. And in addition to that, single moms are leading most of the poor households in our communities. And so what that means is that a large number of the children who are being raised are being raised in poverty. And there are many implications to that, right, like, education is not the same food disparities, health disparities, all of those things. And what I know to be true because of these numbers, and these disparities is that, you know, a lot of organizations are serving youth and building the Youth Club, which I think is great. However, when you’re building youth up, and they’re going home to a parent that is mentally ill or not healthy, or not operating at her best mentally, physically, spiritually, then even that child is still going to have some challenges, even with all of the inputs that are going into said, child, I’m a prime example of that. Right? Once my parents got divorced, all of those disparities became overwhelming in our family. Now, I was able to still thrive and go to college. But there were some things that I chose to engage in and I dealt with in my life that I probably wouldn’t have, if the circumstances were different. And so the reason why these organized this organization is important. And the work we do is important is because what I know to be true is when single moms recognize their power to shift our communities, then our children are going to be better. And the men are going to be better because the women will raise their standards. And if the men don’t get better than they will be alone. And so I believe that when she she being the single mom thrives, children are going to thrive, families are going to thrive and communities are ultimately going to thrive.
Real Happy Mom 24:00
Yes, yes, I am loving all that. And I am just curious about the nonprofit now, like what is your role in the nonprofit? And what do you or what are you planning for the future? As far as developing the nonprofit?
What is my role, all things everything. Um, so I do a lot with the nonprofit this year, we do have two fellows, which are like interns on steroids. And they are both college graduates and they are helping develop our slps and get some of our systems in place so that I’m not having to be everywhere and do everything all of the time. We right now we’re running three programs. One is growing through grants where we provide rapid response crisis prevention grants for moms to prevent or reduce unemployment, hunger, homelessness or the interruption of any basic needs. We also have the same From a single mom book project, which is a program where we work with small cohorts of moms between 10 and 15, moms to develop, right and self publish their stories, and we also teach them about entrepreneurship through that process. And that progress that project, we’re going to be launching a podcast for this year. So that’s one of the things that’s to come. And then our other program is called soar. It’s an acronym for successfully overcoming adversity with resilience. And soar is a program that meets at the intersection of self care and social justice. And so we’re really working with the moms to learn to care for themselves, and also to understand the power of their voices and how they have the power to not only be advocates in their homes, but in their communities and for the world at large. And so we’re preparing to launch a new cohort of moms in the SOAR program. And then, the next big thing that I would hope to be able to do at the start of our fiscal year, which is in July, is to hire our programs director, because right now I am the CEO, I’m the development director, which means I’m raising all of the money. I’m also the program director, which means I’m creating, facilitating, recruiting, and doing all of the communication and fundraising for all of the programs, in addition to like the strategic planning the board, development and being accountable there. So I’m doing pretty much everything at this point. And so we’ve experienced rapid growth, specifically in 2020, because we were already doing those crisis prevention grants. And a lot of funders wanted to be able to get funds into the community, and they weren’t sure how to do it. So we were a conduit for that, through COVID, and being able to really impact families. So we’ve experienced a lot of growth, which is good, but it’s also a challenge, because it’s just me. So this year, I’m hoping to expand our team, at least by one other full time staff person, which will allow us to have greater impact and expand our programming. Awesome, awesome. Now,
Real Happy Mom 27:17
I’m just wondering for some of the mompreneurs, who may be listening, like what is one thing that you would say, to them who have these big dreams, just like you have to do something really impactful, but are just kind of feeling overwhelmed with everything that’s going on? What would you say to that mom? And as far as giving her some encouragement there?
I would say first and foremost, that it’s possible. But that is not going to happen overnight. And if I can, Tony, and I would like to share this little tidbit. Because I get that way myself, like God gives me these big visions. And I’m like, Okay, how in the world am I going to do all of this. The other night, I was in the bathroom, having some quality time with myself, because you know, that’s where people take the longest to find you usually is in the bathroom. So I’m in the bathroom, and I’m just sitting there, and I was feeling kinda heavy. And I’m just like, I feel like a lot of things are just kind of all over the place. And there are some things I want to do. And I feel like I’ve been given the green light to do these things. But I keep feeling like the timing is off. And so God was like, you know, Tiffany, you have to embrace the right now. And he gave me this vision of being in an airport, having been waiting for a delayed flight for an extended period of time. And he was saying to me, Tiffany, you keep going up to the desk every time they say another flight is going to take off and you want to be at the top of the list and you want to go now and you’re so focused on the destination that you think you’re going to but right now in that airport, there are people for you to serve. Right now in that airport, you can put your bag down and take out your computer and get on the Wi Fi and do the work that you can do now, right now in that airport, there’s a bookstore, you can be developing yourself for where I’m taking you now. So my encouragement is the very same for the mom who is overwhelmed and struggling is like what can you do where you are right now. To get you closer to where you’re going, who’s around you where you are right now that needs to be served in the capacity that you want to serve. When you get to the place that you think you’re going. What do you have in your hands right now that you can use that can potentially be multiplied or can overflow on someone else or something else right now that you can work on that not get complacent in that space, but be content where you are doing what you need to do to lay the foundation or strengthen the foundation so that when your flight is ready to take off. You’re not like oh my gosh, where’s my bag? Where’s my I’m not ready, you are already preparing for what’s to come. Hopefully that made sense. And hopefully that helps somebody. Yes, it
Real Happy Mom 30:07
did. And the church said, Amen. That was awesome. Yes, yes, Tiffany? No, I want to know, if there is someone listening that’s like, I want to get in touch with this lady. She is awesome. Or I want to connect. Where can we find you online,
you can find me on just about every social media platform. My handle is at the Tiffany Huff. If you’re interested in learning more about when she thrives on Facebook, on and on Instagram, it’s at when she thrives. My podcast is called the bounce back blueprint podcast, and it’s on just about every podcasting platform you can think of, and I won’t spell it out. But you can put the link in the show notes for my website, or if anybody is interested, or looking for a coach. I’m willing to help or talk to you about that as well.
Real Happy Mom 31:03
Awesome. And yes, I will definitely make sure all of those links are in the show notes. Tiffany, thank you so much. This has been awesome. You have truly been a treat. I really appreciate you.
Thank you so much for having me. I feel like I’ve made it now. I’m finally Real Happy Mom, Sam.
Unknown Speaker 31:19
Yes, you are. Thank you. Thank you.
Real Happy Mom 31:24
Now that does it for this episode of the Real Happy Mom podcast to find all the links that have been mentioned, as well as the book that she was talking about. Make sure you head over to Real Happy Mom comm slash podcast and you’ll find the show notes there. And if you have enjoyed this episode and enjoying the mompreneur series that we have going on this week, please let me know you can send me a message on Instagram at Real Happy Mom or leave me a five star rating and review here in Apple podcast. And let me know that you are enjoying this because honestly, those Apple reviews helped me out more than you know. So do that me and I would greatly greatly appreciate it. Now that’s it for this episode. Make sure you tune in next week to another cool episode. Take care and with that, so love