Motivating Stories from Local Women
Every woman has a story to tell, and no two stories are alike. Meet the women who have persevered through challenges and tribulations and come out the other side stronger than ever. These unique individuals have seen their fair share of adversity but continue to inspire those around them with the lessons they have learned and their love of life. Read on for a truly motivating story by a woman who experienced them firsthand.
Photography by Emily Pérez Long / Photos taken on location at SideTrack
Candace Litchfield, Downtown Chattanooga
The middle of five kids, I was 4 years old, malnourished, and living in a tiny village in Pakistan when my biological mother found out about a mission near our home. Unable to provide for us, she dropped off her three youngest children in hopes of getting medical care and having us adopted in what I know was the most heart-wrenching decision of her life. We were adopted, but that family was not able to handle that many children. At the age of 15, they sent me to a boarding school across the country with no intention of ever bringing me home.
Through my teenage years, I lived on my own in North Carolina, Utah, Colorado, and Missouri and ended up in Chattanooga, where I attended college. That time was challenging and caused depression and anxiety. In my third year of college, I got pregnant and was left alone to raise my daughter, and weeks later, my home burned down – destroying everything.
Shortly after I moved to Chattanooga, however, I met the Litchfields, and they welcomed me into their family. It was the first time I felt loved since leaving Pakistan, and in 2016, after learning my birth mother had passed away, they legally adopted me and made me an official part of their family.
My daughter, now 22 and an engineering major, has grown into the most loving, smart, beautiful, and inspiring human I know. While this past year was difficult, I am grateful my family stayed healthy, and we got to celebrate the birth of my nephew. I was fortunate to continue in my role at the Chattanooga Tourism Co. and help our industry navigate 2020, and I worked to focus on gratitude and making self-love a priority. I spent more time outdoors and safely took one of my dream solo road trips to summit three Colorado peaks, each exceeding 14,000 feet.
Life is rarely easy, but I believe that we can change our circumstances and behaviors by seeking God’s help, working hard, and being intentional about everything we do. Overcoming obstacles makes our lives better, and by using our experiences, we can impact the lives of those around us. I want to continue to help build a strong community by volunteering with nonprofits and other organizations that focus on the homeless, single mothers, and those who have suffered loss from a fire. I want to encourage people to find their own exhilarating experiences, their “mountain,” and live a fulfilled and blessed life.