Nearly 10 years ago, Mariah Fenton Gladis, a professional psychotherapist in the state of Pennsylvania in the U.S.A., won the Stevie Award for Lifetime Achievement in the 2006 Stevie Awards for Women in Business. Here we take a look at her life and what she is continuing to achieve.
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In accepting her 2006 Stevie Award, Mariah Fenton Gladis said: "I’m honored to be recognized among a group of such remarkable women. We, as women leaders in the emerging global community, have the responsibility and the privilege of instilling both passion and compassion in the workplace and the world.”
Mariah is herself truly remarkable. She is a 34-year survivor of Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS), and has recently given an inspirational TIM Talk (Together In Mission). This TED-like talk series, sponsored by the Lutheran Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Synod, is an event with multiple speakers about the best ideas they have for the future.
Creating Moments That Matter
Mariah chose the topic “Creating Moments That Matter,” talking about the power that moments large or small, spontaneous or planned, can have in your life. Moments that can transform, connect, elevate, and sometimes heal. Mariah believes that as moment makers and receivers, we all have the opportunity to make positive changes in the lives of others and ourselves. During her talk, Mariah is also self-revealing of some moments that have changed her life. Here is a link to her talk.
Strength of Spirit
In 1981, when Mariah was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), three prominent national neurologists gave her a 10% chance of surviving two years. Yet, three months after the diagnosis, she married Ron Gladis and went on to have two children: Luke, a graduate of James Madison University; and Cole, a graduate of Ithaca College. Today, Mariah continues to be a loving wife, a doting mother, and a licensed professional psychotherapist in the state of Pennsylvania. Her courage to continually go forward with grace and determination demonstrates the very nature of her character and the amazing survival capacity of the human spirit.
After nearly 35 years, ALS has ravaged Mariah’s body. She needs help waking, walking, dressing, eating, and multitudes of other personal chores. Her tongue muscles have atrophied and she speaks with what she calls her “ALS accent.” Wearing a special speech-enhancing microphone to enhance the articulation and projection of her voice, Mariah often tells her audiences, with characteristic humor, that she gives new meaning to the term “high maintenance woman.”
A Privileged Position
None of this, however, diminishes her powerful presence and expert ability to do her work. In fact, Mariah acknowledges that it is her personal healing journey that has expanded and deepened her capacity to heal others.
“People often ask me how I do it, listening to people’s problems all day long for over 35 years, and not get burned out, drained or disheartened. I tell them that I don’t hear problems. I see people reaching for health; wanting to change, wanting to be better human beings, wanting to create happier families. I have been privileged to work with people from every continent and from all levels of life and I hear them wanting to love and be loved more effectively, wanting to remove the barriers in their life and provide more for their loved ones on every level, economically and emotionally. This is a privileged position that I have, sharing so many heartwarming moments of laughter and tears with people working toward healing.”
Mariah Fenton Gladis Foundation
Since it was formed in 2006, the Mariah Fenton Gladis Foundation has funded special workshops: “An Afternoon of Forgiveness” is for anyone who needs to let go (check here for the next workshop); “Embracing Yourself into Wellness,” for cancer patients, offers the opportunity to create the necessary moments needed to move forward in wholeness and health; “Befriending Death/Transforming Life” explores the practical and psycho-spiritual preparations for death; and “Bless the Broken Road” presents an opportunity to experience physical or emotional heartbreak more as a gift, a resource to mine wisdom and compassion, than as an impediment to living a full life.
The Foundation has also supported needy students in life-skills training; provided private counseling for the underserved and financially destitute; given inspirational lectures on the value of hope and personal sustainability; and there is more to come. The Foundation wants to create more special workshops on self care, attract more of the served and underserved, give back more to the community—all with the concept of reaching inward and outward to provide more love, compassion, and forgiveness in the world.
Be An Agent Of Change
The goal of the Foundation is to empower people to master, monitor, accept, and enjoy their inner life as well as their life in the world. According to Mariah: “I believe that each of us is a powerful agent of change. As more people spread love, compassion, and forgiveness, the more we will create peace in our hearts, our families, our community, our country, and ultimately peace in our world.”
A Remarkable and Inspirational Woman“I am extremely proud of Mariah,” says husband, Ron Gladis, “especially considering she’s spent more than two-thirds of her business career with the life-threatening disease of ALS. Mariah is a truly remarkable and inspirational woman.”
Mariah’s son, Coleman, is making a documentary of her life. You can see a 3-minute trailer for the film “Mariah” at http://www.mariahmovie.com.