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Feb 15, 2023

Self-Love is the Best Love: A Conversation with Ambassador Lisa Wells, Part I

February is considered the month of love, for obvious reasons. We give tokens—both big and small—as expressions of our faith in and affection for others. However, for some of us, our faith in and love for self may be elusive, but not for Houston Ambassador Lisa Wells.

Lisa is a native Los Angeleno with roots in the Midwest—as both of her parents were from St. Louis, MO. She married at aged 21 and became a housewife, a mother of two sons and a victim of domestic violence. Having ignored the initial red flags, she says her husband’s temper revealed itself soon after they married, and she found herself conjuring up excuses for his behavior. Although she knew this was not a good situation for her or her boys, one of the guiding principles that kept her there was wanting to keep the family together and her boys in a two-parent household. The thought of having to navigate life as a single mom was daunting for her.

As she matured and with the influences of the perspectives of a few trusted friends, she got to the point where she looked inward and decided to choose herself, the well-being of her sons and began to craft the life she wanted.

When Lisa finally left, it occurred in the middle of the night. She loaded her car with the kids and took off, only looking back to see her ex-husband running after the car. At first, life was challenging. Her car got repossessed and rent had to be paid. But showing up for herself and her boys was the driving force that motivated her will and fueled her wins. Needing a job, Lisa leveraged professional relationships to help land a one-day temporary assignment at a major Wall Street firm as the receptionist.

She manifested that temporary assignment into a permanent position and eventually, an executive post. When she showed up for the assignment that day, she arrived with intention and immediately envisioned how her life could and would be different. Over the next years, she focused on raising her sons, teaching herself about the stock market and gaining multiple industry licenses.

Out of all her accomplishments, her boys and the job she did raising them are what she is most proud of in life. Ultimately, opting to bring them up in Orange County, CA, outside of the stresses of LA, both Jonathan and Jordan were standout student-athletes and received a district-wide award—given only to one student from each school every year—for demonstrating outstanding character. Both went on to attend HBCUs, financed with scholarships, 529 investment accounts and withdrawals from her 401k plan. But these investment plans would not exist had she not bet on Lisa and actively changed the trajectory of her life.

I first became privy to Lisa’s story of being a survivor of domestic violence in December when we were having breakfast at a Houston-area restaurant following her pavement party in honor of her 56th trip around the sun. There, she was emboldening a fellow sole sister who was in the process of moving past a difficult season in her own life. One of the things I love about Black Girls RUN! is that it is a safe space—albeit accompanied by tough love at times—when you need a push, a pull or a pick me up.

Fast forward to last month when the city of Houston was gearing up for the numerous events and programs leading up to the Chevron Marathon weekend, I saw Lisa being interviewed on ABC Channel 13 as part of the highly anticipated media spotlights featuring runners of the marathon and Aramco Half Marathon regarding the why behind their run, and discovered she has Multiple Sclerosis (MS). As I listened to Lisa’s story, I knew I wanted to hear more.

Click here for part two of our conversation where we continue to peel back the layers of Lisa and talk about how her MS diagnosis eventually led her to another love—running.

By: Joy Harrell @joyrunsrealestate

Joy Harrell is a licensed real estate agent and co-owner of The Sift Sisters bakery based in Houston, Texas. She is a native Houstonian and graduate of the University of Houston—go Coogs! When she is not helping people buy, sell or invest in real estate, she can be found hanging or traveling with her hubby, running or biking the streets and trails in and around Houston, mentoring girls or testing new food and cocktail recipes.