At The Curated we want to share women who we feel don’t just resonate with our brand but also represent the exact type of women we champion and hope will inspire future generations of young women out there.
CURATED WOMEN: STEPH CATUDAL
If I told you how I met Steph you’d laugh. It involves an overpriced treadmill, an endurance runner and Costa Rica. Long story short it somehow led me to Steph and connecting with someone who I could relate to as a mother, wife and woman trying to define herself in modern day society.
Steph's way with words can leave you speechless. Her ability to express and convey her life story through both grief, tragedy, love and rejoice are poignant and beautiful. You're left in awe at this beautiful human who is not just a gifted writer but impressive with her academic feats and a loving mother to three young girls.
So when finally meeting her this year in person it felt so familiar, just like dropping in on an old friend.
The warmth, love and energy that radiates from her leaves you impressed and inspired. We left with a warm embrace and me trying to convince her to run a race with me in Europe (She still isn't convinced).
Steph, we are beyond excited that you are releasing your first book and memoir this spring. How has the process been for you to put out something so personal and intimate?
Thank you so much! To be honest, it’s all a bit terrifying. I’m actually quite an introvert and am generally uncomfortable in the spotlight. I wrote this book in order to process what I had been through, both with losing my dad as a teenager and dealing with the trauma of my husband’s illness. I never truly contemplated the fact that other people were actually going to read it. It wasn’t until after I submitted my final draft that I reckoned with the reality of having my entire life on display. While this continued to be an intimidating thought, I think it allowed a sense of honesty and candour in my writing, as brutal as it sometimes was. The writing process has been cathartic and healing - having to confront myself over and over again in order to put both the beauty and the terror down on paper.
You've studied peace and conflict resolution but also a trained marriage mediator. Do you have any key or fundamental learnings you think we can all apply to our lives from this?
That feels like a lifetime ago! I finished my graduate studies in Media, Peace and Conflict when my oldest daughter was a newborn (she’s now 13!) In fact, I had her two months into my master’s degree program in Costa Rica. I have such fond memories of that time, as delirious and sleep-deprived as it was. My husband would come to campus and sit outside my class with baby Harper in his arms, ready to hand her off to me when it was time for a feeding. And I guess that is a microcosmic example of what I'd say is most important to a successful relationship; a sense of symbiosis. Fully “seeing” a partner and supporting them in their dreams and, conversely, allowing them to “see” and support you when the time comes for you to chase your own. It’s less about compromise or surrender, and more about collaboration, where both people are working together to achieve a greater goal.
As a mother of three what do you hope to teach your girls from your life lessons and journey?
While there is probably a laundry list of things they could learn from my early life of recklessness, the most important concept I hope to instil in my girls is the importance of trusting themselves. I’m not a regretful person, but the regrets I do have in life are almost always pitted around a lack of honouring myself and my intuition. As humans, and especially women, we hold so much power. When we listen to ourselves, we can honour that power in the highest manner. I hope my daughters learn this earlier than I did!
Through the pandemic you have been through quite a traumatic and challenging time with your husband's very public battle with cancer. How did you manage to find strength during this challenging time?
I was extremely lucky to have a lot of help throughout the year of my husband’s illness and treatment. Both my mother and Tommy’s mom lived with me for nine months to help with our three daughters. I would not have been able to garner the strength to advocate for Tommy without the comfort of knowing that our girls were being loved and cared-for at home. At the same time, I also had what felt like an army of supporters in the online community that rallied around our family with more love and generosity than I ever knew was possible. In the depths of trauma and loneliness, I was able to feel the goodness of humanity.
How does it feel to now be the one carving out your own passion and career path as a writer?
It feels like such a gift. All I’ve ever wanted to do was write - it’s how I make sense of the world, and my position in it. Writing has always been a cathartic and deeply personal endeavour, but the more I share my words with others, the less lonely I feel in my experiences. That I’m able to turn my passion into a career is something I hope to never take for granted.
What do you hope is the key message people take away from reading your book?
More than anything, I hope that people can learn to accept themselves and others exactly where they are at. We are all connected in love and pain - two universal truths that contribute to our shared humanity. Reflecting on my grief - both in my adolescence in adulthood - I see that it was love carrying me through the darkest times. If we could treat suffering with love, this world would be a much kinder place.
It is such an exciting time for you, can you please tell us what's to come next?
Well, my book comes out May 30th, which is really exciting. I have several book signing events lined-up, along with a few podcasts and interviews. Other than that, I’m looking forward to some down time with my family (and maybe a race in Europe with you…?)
Steph's book "All At Once" is available to preorder here and launches 30th of May this year.