Wendy Paige Sterling

Research by The National Council for Mental Wellbeing shows that 70% of adults in the United States have experienced trauma at least once in their lives.

After facing a near-death experience in 2022, author and female empowerment leader Erika Rothenberg made the choice to embrace the challenging path of resilience. Instead of staying stuck in a victim mindset, she fought hard and did the work to reclaim her power and open herself up to a thriving life – all with the power of the pause.

How can you fortify your resilience? We all have it in us. It’s up to us to let it out in the world.

Join us in this inspiring discussion: Having Audacity In Resilience with Erika Rothenberger.

✔️ Embrace the power of resilience in the face of adversity. Life’s traumatic experiences present as opportunities to reflect and muster the strength to overcome. Lean into the discomfort, deal with it head-on, and push through.

✔️ The ‘power of pause’ is integral to resilience. Taking time to process traumatic events is about honest self-reflection. This pause allows for a transformation from merely surviving to thriving and becoming a beacon of hope for others.

✔️ Transformative insights can emerge from challenging times. When faced with trauma, growth, and wisdom often come through reflection and support. 

✔️ Triggers may not disappear, but you can learn to navigate them more efficiently. Every emotional response is a chance to build resilience. The first scars take longer to heal, but the next ones recover more quickly.

✔️ Surrounding yourself with resilient people raises your ability to bounce back. Fostering relationships that elevate you can lead to more lasting connections and empower you to overcome adversity and emerge stronger.

Erika Rothenberger manages a full-time career as Director of Performance Systems for a large national utility contractor, Henkels & McCoy—sometimes kicking off her heels and wearing steel-toed boots and a hard hat in a very male-dominated industry. 

She has started two female empowerment networking groups in her community and is a leader in the Greater Philadelphia area as a mentor and believes in lifting other women as she rises. She is a published author in “You’ve Got This, Boss Mama,” podcast host on “Grit, Grace & Glitz” and a keynote speaker captivating audiences on stages all over the United States in both her corporate and wellness roles.

Get Erika Rothenberger’s Top Tips for Time Management for FREE on her website: https://www.erikarothenberger.com

Get Erika Rothenberger’s book “You’ve Got This, Boss Mama” here: https://www.amazon.com/Youve-Got-This-Boss-Mama/dp/1999018893/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/erika.rymsha?mibextid=LQQJ4d 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/erikalearothenberger/ 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/erikarothenberger/ 


There’s something else for you to be aware of as it relates to what happened so instead of looking at it as like this massive setback that it’s really another opportunity for you to you know build the resilience and you know I always say that it’s it’s not that the triggers go away it’s your ability to move through them more quickly is what you’re teaching yourself to [Music]

Do hello everybody and welcome to another episode of the power in the Paw podcast I’m your host Wendy paig Sterling and I’m so happy that you are here today and as a reminder don’t forget to hit subscribe so that you do not miss a single episode that comes out every single week and I would be so honored if you would leave a review or even rate this podcast so that more people can find it and tune in so thank you all for

Being here today and for joining me in today’s episode because I am joined by my friend Erica rothenberger hello Erica how are you hi there Wendy so thrilled to be here I just absolutely love everything you’re putting out to the universe oh thank you the feeling is mutual and you guys Erica and I have been trying to connect since we were just talking about this we were trying to connect since this summer and we both have come to the realization that there

Isn’t always a good time or a good time of year to connected just the universe magically interferes and and I’m blessed to have her here with me today because she and I are going to talk to one another today about one of my favorite RW which is the word resilience and we’re gonna talk specifically about Erica’s audacity to be resilient after a trauma that she experienced in 2022 so before we dive into that conversation I would love to share a

Little bit about ER ER with you all today so Erica manages a full-time career as director of performance systems for a large National utility contractor and so she’s the one who kicks off her heels and puts on those steel toed boots and a hard hat and a very male dominated dominated industry and she does so incredibly well she has started two female Empower empowerment networking groups in her community and is a leader in the Greater Philadelphia

Area as a mentor and she just this message from the bottom of my heart just resonates deeply is she believes in lifting other women as she Rises Erica is a published author in you’ve got this boss Mama she’s also a podcast host on grit Grace and Glitz one of my favorite podcasts that I love to listen to and she’s also an incredible keynote speaker captivating audiences on stages all over the us both in her corporate and wellness roles so

Erica let’s dive in I’ve been so wanting to have this conversation with you today because I you know we all have these pivotal moments these these life altering traumatic experiences that we go through that really create opportunities for us to pause and to reflect and to really gather the strength to be resilient and I would love for you to share specifically what it was that your journey was and how it set you on that path for

Yourself well Wendy like I said earlier I just love this platform I love that you give people a foundation to talk about these things right all the things that are kind of gritty and kind of hard to talk about sometimes yet we’ve all been there we’ve all seen things and you know I always remind people that the stat out there is that 70% of us will experience trauma right yet I believe that numberers far far higher right and everyone’s trauma looks a little

Differently right like and no trauma is worse or better than each others they’re just different and we need to respect that we need to honor that we need to think about people and remind each other that Hey listen we have no idea what’s going on behind closed doors we have no idea how that person’s dealing with whatever he or she is dealing with and we have to remind each other to give ourselves the grace to with our both ourselves and other people and you know

You ask a little bit about like my experience and where I was and you know I will tell you that I’m actually looking back at the actual experience I’ll tell you about that happened in June of 2022 I’ve had a lot of trauma prior to that and it’s really funny how your body works is sometimes you repress it sometimes you push it down sometimes you move it onto another shelf and you forget about it and it comes creeping up so what I want to remind everyone is no

Matter what you’re dealing with is deal with it right lean into it is no no matter how hard it may feel or what that pain may feel like and again my story isn’t to say oh mine o this happened to Erica this is just literally just one example of the many traumas that many people deal with and that could be a really tough divorce that could be a child with autism that could be you know that you lost your best friend in a drowning accident whatever that may be

Right it’s they’re defined so differently it could be the loss of a pet right it’s and I want to make sure that we’re normalizing that because my trauma may sound extreme and why it was it really lasted a very short amount of time in the gra o part of my four decades here on Earth um and it was back in June of 2022 I was just going to work the same way that I always do my husband was in Kansas City my two kids were home from school with a babysitter I pul

Pulled into the parking lot in a very suburban area in Pennsylvania got out got it to the parking lot the same way that I always did did had come from a networking meeting gathered my things gathered my belongings opened my car door and turned around around to grab my things to to depart from my car and as I did that there was someone standing there I quickly asked the person can I help you and there was absolutely no words muttered back but there was a

Giant blow to my face a massive punch a pull of my hair throwing me to the asphalt pavement beating the living out of me just punching me you know so hard I kicked i b I tried to bite I tried to scream I tried to do everything I could just to grasp for help and at that point um the P my perpetrator actually came up from underneath me and um put the large crease of their elbow underneath my my throat and at that moment I really thought it was my last

Breath my last moment here on Earth and all I could think about was I hope my kids will be okay um and proceeded to strangle me and um at that point it completely passed out blood you know blood and all the things no one saw it there was no cameras there was no one there and um unbeknownst to me four women had been insulted the night before one woman had been raped right before this and I was his um I was his uh sixth victim and um fortunately I did pass out

But fortunately I was able to get up on my feet um and run for help I had no idea if he would chase me if he had a gun if he would come after me what would actually happen and I just ran with all of my might um and lo and behold he actually fled by foot it looks like he was trying to take my car he fled by foot and um fortunately um I was able to get help and long story short that it’s continued to unfold over the last 16 months now um you know he’s in a

Correctional facility I you know am trying to serve Justice with this I’m working on my own you know traumatic events mentally right like the physical part yeah I was in the hospital and there were all of those components of it fortunately I’m okay physically mentally it will always be something that I’ll deal with I’ll always have a little bit of something with me but it’s really learning to cut the edge of resilience

With that and um that was really part of the trauma and part of what really happened yeah and my goodness thank goodness you are alive and that you had the I mean really you just had the instinct to just do what you needed to do to keep yourself alive and you know I think that you also put a whole new definition on on really what resiliency looks like and and what how you embody that in in some of these tough moments that we presented with so I would love

For you to you know I love how you frame it as like you have the audacity to be resilient and I’d love for you to talk about like what does having audacity in resilience like what does that look like like explain to us what that means to you well you you know what I love this question Wendy and it so I went on to go do a tedex on it you know and talk on it because I really felt like this conversation just needed to be have what I recognize is it’s not you know yes

This was the audacity of my resilience but so many other people who have been through trials and tribulations and Trauma and everything right so I’m talking to every listener right now I’m not talking to myself I’m talking to Wendy I’m talking to all the other hundreds of thousands of people that are listening to this podcast right now saying I know you’ve been through something I know you’ve come overcome it but it’s deciding on having the audacity

Having the ability having the mindset and being like I am going to use this to lean into the pain it’s gonna happen at some point or another you’re going to have something traumatic happen in your life so I made a choice on day three after this incident that I was going to not become just merely uh a Survivor I was not going to be a victim and I was going to thrive I was going to use this as an opportunity for me to thrive and that this was given to me and not done

To me and I really made the choice to make that mindset shift simultaneously I was always always working through mindset I was always working through how I could be better with mindset how I could be better with just showing up in the world what I was doing each and every day my gratitude statements what I was reading how I was fueling my body Wellness has always been a big part of who I am right and all of that mental and physical fortitude that

I was working on really enabled me to have the foundation to be able to overcome this so really working on your mindset and what that is and it sounds so simple like oh yeah I work on my mindset but really make it a habit make it a non-negotiable in your life and then lastly was really being the light when I recognized okay this happened to me right victim oh poor me right to okay I can get through this Survivor right okay I survived the whatever event

Happened in my life to going to say Hey listen I want to now not only I want to be number three and I want to be that light and I want to be that thriv I want to use this as a pedestal to help other people and I think when you can come full circle that where and have that audacity to say I’m going to I’m going to represent resilience because of these things especially number three that’s when you can really overcome it and that’s when you can really when you see

The impact of something negative that happened to you and now you’re turning it into something positive and helping other people maybe it’s bringing out their stories maybe it’s showing them situational awareness maybe it’s just Hey listen wow I see her on social media and everything looks hunky dory and everything’s great right recognizing Hey listen there’s always something behind the curtain and when I share that story I think there’s just a whole new level

Of um connection with people well and I and I do think like every story is relatable right it’s not the the details of the story per se it’s about the emotions it’s the experience it’s the the deeper um you know the we can always see ourselves or a part of ourselves in somebody else’s story and it’s why I think it’s so important for us to share because yes things happen for us even in the most unexpected and sometimes the ugliest of ways there is a purpose there

Is a reason and obviously you didn’t just get I know you said by day three so there were three days prior to that where clearly there had to have been a moment for you where you just you know the mindset is really about self-reflection I believe and there had to have been a moment for you where you really just kind of went Inward and had this moment of like you know got to get honest with myself but like to me part of that is what I see the power in the

Paw being all about is really you know during these pauses how or during that one pause where you made this shift from victim to you know I call it owner right where you are here to really own and and pay it forward with um how you can support others but how did you use that moment of pause to really step into and like take back your power and to stand fully in your resilience you know and that pause

Although I say it’s three days right felt so long right like in the grand scheme of things cuz I’m one that wants to get it off the shelf get it done right we’re quick and swipe swipe right swipe left like go on to the next thing and what what you have to recognize is when you deal with something like this you really have to take that pause like the crying and the Ugly moments and the being petrified to even like walk downstairs into my kitchen for those

Three days right like you have to live in those moments right we are we are human right we’re not machines we’re not robots and I think the that pause was so critical but I also want to remind everyone who’s listening is that pause wasn’t just three days and I was like okay I’m the you know I’m done good and I’m on and everything’s perfect ra come like there’s a lot of pauses that have happened since then right and then I have to self check myself and recognize

Like it’s okay not to always wear the resilient hat right it’s okay to sometimes put the victim hat back on it’s okay right I made a choice that I was going to try to be conscious about being the owner and the thriv of it however just like anyone else I fall back sometimes and whooe is me poor me like you know but I always try to put the mindset on that when I am in that power of pause I do take that time how am I taking extreme ownership how am I

Taking extreme ownership for this opportunity and am I allowing myself to go back there and if I am staying there for a little bit and understanding where is that coming from and working through that emotion not just trying to pass it on or be like supposed to be powerful I’m supposed to take extreme ownership I’m supposed to be the owner um and recognizing where that shift is coming from and that’s again going to that second pedestal that I talked about

Really working on that mindset look and I feel that way when I’m doing my gratitude statements my I am statements when I feel cra and yucky and in that victim mindset write it down what are what’s bubbling up is it something else is it going back to that moment is it something that you have to go talk to your therapist about like what is that and staying there to figure that out because that ultimately is when you’re really starting to make some

Astronomical like growth in yourself right yeah and and I’m curious to know like in those moments right where you know we can choose to see the growth through through trauma on the other side and you know with that though as you said you know there does come certain insights or wisdom that comes to you whether that’s through somebody that you’re you know speaking with or content you’re engaging with or maybe it’s you know coming from a higher power so what

Would you say like some of that wisdom and insights were that really helped you during that moment of pause to move what sounds like I mean it while I’m sure there may have been some resistance because we’re humans and that does exist but how did that really help you kind of get to that place of of really wanting to heal yourself through that trauma you know I think go goes back to your why right like I knew my kids were

Inside watching Mom like how I was going to react to that situation and that was probably like my biggest driver right like really thinking about like Hey how do I want them to show up and maybe their biggest drama is going to be losing their championship ball game right but do I want them to Suk for three days right like and again I know not directly relatable but to a 10-year-old versus a 40-some year old woman like you know what I mean it’s

Relatable in the sense of how I want what do I want to demonstrate how do I want to show up and but also allowing them to see the emotion too you know as part a part of it like hey this is part of the process of overcoming it um and I think that was that was really the crutz of like knowing Hey listen how do I want them how do I want to reflect upon them as a leader as a mom as a you know what I mean like what did I want them what type of reflection did I want them to

See and I think every time I felt myself kind of slipping back or doing something I kept trying to keep that into perspective of how I could be the best role model yeah and I think that you know when I I hear you say connecting back to your why like what that what I hear that as it’s like it’s connecting to the larger Vision that you have right the example that we want to be the Legacy that we want to leave in this world right like I always have these

Moments where I’m like do I want my kids to remember me as being the mom that was depressed and pointing the finger at their dad during our divorce or do I want them to look at me and go man mom went through some really hard stuff and look at her now she’s you know an entrepreneur she’s got a new she’s in a new relationship with someone that she loves and Dad’s happier and you know and I think that one of the things that’s missing in uh in in really people being

Able to rise above that victim mentality or even just in that mindset is is connecting back to your why connecting back to that bigger Vision so what would you say to some of our listeners who may be or are experiencing like their own challenges their own inab ability to connect with that Vision like what would you say to them in this moment in time of how they could even connect with or create what that why is and and what it has to look like

Right like it’s got to be a big why right it’s got to be a vision that is bigger than the moment right right and I think so many of us it’s kind of like a layer of like an onion or a really thick right you got to keep stripping it back because I think most of us like if you ask someone like well why do you want to work well to make money okay but is that really the why right right okay well why do you wanna why do you want to work well to make money to make money for

What so my family can go on vacation okay well why do you want to go vacation well I want to show my kids the world why do you want to show them the world well because I didn’t get to do that why didn’t you get to do that because my parents were always working they both had three jobs and we barely ever saw them and it m made for a lonely childhood right like now you’re getting to the cruts of it right like and that’s a simple example but like really digging

Back on yourself like keep going until it almost makes you cry right like till you remember that moment when you were in you know second grade or fifth grade or whatever it was and you remember like not having that connection with your family right that it makes you feel lonely and feeling that like in bed that both your parents were were working and you were never able to go on that vacation and that you want to give that to your kids so going back to where that

Where that came from and really being able to reflect upon it and when you feel like you don’t want to work or you don’t want to have that extra hour you don’t want to put the time in or you don’t want to put the effort in go back to hey that deep layer of the onion like real deep inside of like why am I doing this right and that’s going to give you the spirit and the motivation and when you know what that is you have that burning desire here to make a

Significant change in whether it’s your legacy or yourself or something you know something even outside of your own world um it’s really what’s going to get you through those tough moments those moments those wall kicking moments those moments when you’re like this isn’t worth it right it’s and we doing right um and so I think I think that’s like really really important that you’re constantly digging back and it’s not an easy process Wendy it’s not like Hey

Listen sit down tomorrow have a cup of tea you’ll figure it out in five minutes takes work and it takes reflection it takes people you know go to go to your board of directors who are those people that you really can trust right those people that really are going to work with you and be like hey listen I’m really trying to figure out my why right like can you help me right try to do it yourself but if you can’t have someone that’s going to help you really dig dig

Back those layers that you feel that you can be 100% you know authentic with right and really share share that deepness because then when you share it with someone else you’re inevitably so when you go back to it or when you reflect to that person they’re going to remind you do you remember how you felt when you were in fifth grade and you didn’t get to like have your parents around and you always just wanted your family to be able to take that one trip

Right that’s why you’re working so you can do that with your own kids and reminding yourself of that yeah and I mean two words are coming to mind as you’re talking right is you know our vulnerability and c and courage right so being willing to be vulnerable to you know whoever it is as you said if it’s you know your therapist a mentor a coach you know your board of directors who are your BFFs like whoever it is being willing to be vulnerable to them with

Them around what that Vision what that why is and Having the courage to to take the action after the fact right like and to really you know I can’t imagine that you know you woke up you know even three days later and you’re like I’m going to go do a TED talk I’m going to go do this I’m going to do that like you just you just kept allowing yourself to be vulnerable you had the courage to take one day at a time and eventually your path was revealed to you so how like how

Did um vulnerability in Courage play a role for you in building that resiliency and creating that path yeah I think that’s all part of the process and I honestly think wend day when I look back five years from now right I’m G to be like oh my goodness I can’t even believe where I was like where I am now like month 15 like how much I’ve grown or how much it’s helped me and I think it’s reminding each other like this is not a straight road right we’re not like you

Know in the in the you know going down this Flat Road with there’s no bumps and no curves and no ups and downs and no trials or tribulations like this is meant to be a journey and I think going back and being able to recognize that that Hey listen this isn’t going to be like a straight shot Arrow right and this is going to take time and it’s going to take patience and it’s going to take work and sometimes I think we especially

As humans don’t want to do that work because that’s tough work to do so I think taking that cut Cutting Edge using you know resiliency and resiliency doesn’t mean I think when we hear resiliency we think of it like on a pedestal like oh it’s all the great stuff it’s doing the hard stuff that’s yeah part of the resilient factor and I think we sometimes forget that it’s like when you still get frustrated or when I still have everything every once in a

While like a PTSD moment like when I’m like shaking and like you know just this last week I had one and I’m like oh why am I going back to this place I’m like it’s okay like recognizing hey this is part of me building that resiliency up and you know what I mean the those events will be F further and like aart from each other or maybe they won’t be further part of about each other I’ll just learn how to deal with them better right and and I and the way

That I kind of like to frame that and tell me if this resonates for you is it it’s you know so many times like if you are if you have a trigger right you get triggered and all of a sudden our mind defaults into oh my god I’ve done all this work and now look where I’m at I’ve just took 50 million steps backwards instead of it just being like wait a second there’s there’s something else for you to be aware of as it relates to what happened so instead of looking at

It as like this massive setback it’s really another opportunity for you to you know build the resilience and you know I always say that it’s it’s not that the triggers go away it’s your ability to move through them more quickly is what you’re teaching yourself to do yes yes the reaction right yes the situation may be the same yes and I always Rec compare it I mean as simple as it sounds and we’ve probably all been there before right we’ve all had a

Breakup at some point in our life and do you remember the first one I mean like literally would take months to get over in tissues and notes and crying and listening to probably tff Tiffany or Belinda Carlile or whatever it was or Air Supply if you were part of like as old as me and literally and me you’re not alone and literally like being like good sorry I’ve got Air Supply I waste six months being upset about this person right like and again you know like and

That’s such a simplistic example but like we learn to like build that skill right and realize okay the first cut it was the deepest but the second one heals a little bit faster right right yes 100 per. I I want you to sing Belinda Carlile now like circles in the sand that’s you that’s all you I’m a horrible singer it’s you know well we want your listeners to stay on till the end well ex so do I and singing is not going to

Keep people here the only people I sing to were my children like and that that is kind of it or if I’m karaoke you know there’s you know some other factors that go into play there but nonetheless like you know I I think that all in all what I’m what I’m kind of coming full circle on with our conversation today is that really you know the path for all of us to get to that place is going to be different it is going to look different and it is okay whatever that path is

Going to look like but at the end of the day what I think is most important and what I really hope our listeners are hearing you say today is that you really do have the power to move through your trauma in the lens of taking responsibility seeing it as something that is happening for you and you know almost like paying it forward and and teaching others you know being that example to the world um and really showing that courage and showing that

Strength instead of allowing yourself to become a victim of it um and ultimately tying that back to to your why and so I’d love for you to leave um our audience today with just like a final thought um maybe that something you haven’t communicated yet or that’s come up for you that uh you can leave some extra wisdom for everyone today you know at the end of the day how do you want to be remembered right we all have the same 24 hours in

Every day right and how much time do you want to spend being in that victim mindset how many hours of your life or do you want to be remembered for being stuck in a really bad place for a year five years 10 years it’s your choice at the end of the day life here is so limited right and something can happen in a split second that day June 16 2022 I never thought that was going to happen happen it was never going to happen to me but it can and it’s really making the

Decision of saying how long do I how long do I want to get stuck in this period and how much do I want this to impact the rest of my life in both a positive or A negative way and how much wasted energy because a lot of it’s wasted right when we we get into a victim mindset do I want to stay stuck there so just ask yourself if you’re stuck there right now if you’re listening to this right now maybe you’ve been stuck as a victim for the last five

Years because of something that happened to you it’s okay just like Wendy said everyone deals with a differently different time frame I’m not telling you you have to decide on day three that you’re going to go and do a 10x and like all this sort of stuff because I didn’t do that either like I said it’s a journey but what I want to remind you is ask yourself do I want to stay in this place and when my legacy looks back in my life what do I want to leave them

With do I want to leave them with remembering that they were resilient or do I want to really have them remember that I stayed stuck it’s ultimately your choice the power and choice we all have it so oh Erica thank you so much for being here today and for sharing your story and for honestly like doing the work you do I know you do a ton of motivational speaking and you are just such a bright light in this world and thank you for shining it um even through

Some of you know the hardest of times I just I’m so grateful for you being here today and I want to make sure that everybody knows where they can find you so that they can follow you and maybe they live in Pennsylvania and they can come see you speak um so what’s the best way for people to find you okay so I’m on um Instagram I’m on LinkedIn I’m also on Facebook it’s Erica rothenberger r o t h n b r g r and I would love to connect with you any way shape form you

Know whether it’s about speaking or just about maybe your own personal story I love connecting with people it’s one of my favorite things to do um and um yeah would love to love to Foster relation relationships that way yeah and you guys she’s got great content um you know one of the things I admire actually about you Erica is you know following you in different places gets different messages from you in the different places which I also really love um so there’s value in

Following her across all of her social platforms you guys and I know that you also have a special gift to leave with our audience of which the link will be in the show notes but if you want to share about it yes so I work a lot on making better and more meaningful connections and Wendy’s the perfect example right like just making the connection meeting people who really raise your bar and I really believe that’s all part of being resilient when

You surround yourself with other people who are also really resilient um and it’s all about meaningful connection so it’s a freebie on how you can make better more long lasting meaningful Connections in your life I love that thank thank you Erica thank you for being here today I adore you and everybody tuning in I hope that you enjoyed our conversation today as much as Erica and I both did and as you know what my goal is with every single

Episode is to demonstrate how it is that even in the toughest of moments there is power in the pause so thank you guys for tuning in I am sending you all so much love light and joy as always mAh bye [Music] everybody

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