Her Story: Donna Elle Harrison

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 Sarah Unger



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Donna Elle Harrison, Red Bank


“This has been my best year!” says no one except me. I’ve watched several people post on social media about how 2020 has been the worst year of their lives. There’s a lot of change, the constant use of a mask and sanitizer, and the fear of the unknown. But for me, this has been a wonderful year of self-reflection. Before, my life seemed full. I was a mom, a woman who relished in her career and goals, a motivator who lost 100 pounds and kept it off, and a person with a bright smile who loves to encourage others.

But honestly, last spring I was starting to feel empty and was plagued with the thoughts of “what’s next?” In March when I was told to work remotely for my position with the Chattanooga Tourism Co., I was in shock. I was thinking, “Don’t they know I am an extrovert? I need people.” But I learned that what I was really missing was myself. I normally focus so much on my work, but this time the world shut down and priorities shifted. COVID-19 sat the world down, including me.

During quarantine, I was selfish and focused on what was important to Donna – my family, health, having a job, appreciating my home, genuine relationships, and finally, ME. Before the pandemic, I would just go through the motions of life, not taking the time to truly enjoy it. So, I decided to make a change for myself.

Beginning in April, I woke up every morning in prayer, meditation, and gratitude. That helped me appreciate every moment, big or small, and brought me so much peace. I would call or video chat with family and friends. I sent texts just to check in on those I loved. I read great motivational books. I created  home and outdoor workouts designed just for me. I became more passionate about my career and more grateful for my coworkers. I started baking again, and my mom and I cook together on Sundays. And I spent plenty of time simply dancing and singing in my sweet home by myself.

Those small things helped me mentally and physically. I loved Donna all over again! We as women do so much for everyone else and are constantly trying to please everyone else that sometimes we forget about ourselves. I believe that every year, we need to reset, find time for ourselves, pray, and find peace and joy as life continues to hit us with the unknown. 2020 has set me up to win, and I hope people will continue to see God’s joy in me in every facet of my life.

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