Today’s Day in Her Life feature is incredibly inspiring. After suffering a spinal cord injury 17 years ago, Molly Farrell was paralyzed from the neck down. Doctors gave her a less than 1% chance of walking. But here she is today, walking! Molly has dedicated her life to helping others as a speech-language pathologist – reading her journey (and her typical day) was amazing. I love everything about her feature; but especially her career + life advice. Thank you Molly for sharing a bit of your life with us!!!
Name: Molly Farrell
Job Title + Company: Speech- Language Pathologist at an elementary school
Educational Background: I majored in Communicative Sciences and Disorders at Saint Mary’s College for undergraduate and then, I received a Master’s in Speech- Language Pathology from Northern Illinois University.
Tell us a little bit about you and what you do.
Seventeen years ago, I suffered a spinal cord injury during a swimming accident, which left me paralyzed from my neck down.
The doctors told my family that I had less than a 1% chance of ever walking again. However, today I am walking! I am an almost 30-year-old woman (scary!) walking with crutches just trying to live the best life possible!
I am a speech-language pathologist in an elementary school during the day and at night; I am either working out at the gym, participating in physical therapy and/or working on my new passion project – an adaptive fashion Instagram account that I started in the fall – @all.fashion.able.
How did you get started? Briefly walk us through from college to now?
After my accident, I knew I wanted to do something with my life to help others. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason and I know that my accident didn’t happen by chance, but happened for a bigger purpose.
Through my recovery journey, I have spent several hours participating in different types of physical and occupational therapies. I have traveled all over the country to different facilities to try new therapies. Over time, I realized the impact that all of my therapists have had on my life and I realized that I wanted to help others like each of them helped me. So, I began my journey as a Communicative Sciences and Disorders major at Saint Mary’s College.
During my first class, the professor read a quote to us that immediately struck me and has stayed with me all of these years later. She read, “To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.” Right then and there, I knew I was in the right place. I continued on with my studies, and applied for graduate programs. After I finished grad school, I applied for a job as a Speech- Language Pathologist in an elementary school and have been working there for the past five years!
Best part of your job?
The best part of my job is hands down, the kiddos I get to work with every day. Their smiles and bright eyes welcome me each day as I teach them and help them improve their communication. They make all the paperwork and long hours worth it!
I work in a lower socioeconomic area and the struggles and hardships that the students go through each day are heart breaking. It makes me realize how lucky I am to have what I do and it inspires me to be the best version of myself for them every day so that they have something positive in their lives.
A Day in Her Life.
When do you get up?
I set my alarm for 6 AM every morning, but lets be honest, I hit ‘snooze’ until 6:15 and then, I’m up and at ‘em!
Tell us about your morning routine.
First thing first, I hop in the shower. I have to shower in the morning- it wakes me up and helps me feel ready to tackle the day. After showering, I comb my hair out and let it air dry. I like to do this during the week to try and reduce the amount of heat I use on it. I use the Davines products for my hair every day and absolutely love them! Davines is a great company that is all about sustainability and the beauty of diversity.
Next, I get dressed. I always lay my outfit out the night before because I am definitely not a morning person! I actually set out my breakfast and pack my lunch the night before as well. I mean the less you have to do in the morning the better, right?! Once I’m dressed, I do my make-up and then I’m out the door!! I have a thirty-minute commute to my school so I always like to leave my place with enough time.
Walk us through your full day and what that looks like.
6:00- 6:15: Wake up!
6:15- 7:20: Shower, dress, eat breakfast and leave for work.
7:50- 3:30: I arrive at work and get organized for the day. I power up my laptop and answer any emails I may have. Next, I make sure all of the materials I’m using for therapy that day are ready to go. My day consists of seeing 9- 11 groups of students for a half hour each. I typically work with groups of 3-4 kiddos at a time and we work on different skills depending on the needs of the students. I mostly work on different grammar concepts, listening comprehension tasks, articulation strategies, and social skills! I love being a Speech-Language Pathologist and feel so lucky to have found this career.
4:15- 6:00: Work out at the gym or participate in physical therapy.
6:00- 9:00: Depending on the day, I will either make dinner at home and relax or head out to meet friends for dinner and drinks! Lately, I have been spending a lot of time researching adaptive fashion and working on developing my new Instagram account. It is something I have always wanted to do and I have really enjoyed being able to share my story and resources with others who are living with spinal cord injuries or similar disabilities.
9:00- 10:30: Start getting ready for bed and snuggle up to watch old re-runs of Friends!
What’s your bedtime routine like?
During the week, I start getting ready for bed around 9 o’clock, which is pretty early, but I want to make sure I get enough sleep. After I’ve brushed my teeth and washed my face, I write in my 5-Minute Journal. I’ve always tried to keep a journal, but fail every time.
What I love about this journal is that it’s all set up for you and all you have to do is fill it in. My favorite part of the journal is the section called “3 Amazing things that happened today.” I love this because it reminds me of something I used to do with my mom right after my accident. After I was injured, my mom and I would write in a notebook each night.
We would write down 3 things that we were grateful for that day. It could be big moments like taking my first steps after being told that I would never walk again or little moments like having a good hair day. I loved doing this with my mom every night because it helped me stay positive during such a trying time and I still love to do it because it reminds me of all the wonderful things in my life!
When you have a big meeting or moment, what is your go to uniform?
I definitely have a preppy style, but with a twist! I love to keep it classic, but fun! I would say my go to uniform is a nice pair of black pants and a fun shirt with an unexpected detail – who doesn’t love a bow or a few ruffles!?
Quick & Random:
Favorite social media channel?
Instagram…I recently started an adaptive fashion Instagram account to share ideas and life hacks for others who are going through similar things I have and who are living with similar injuries. Give me a follow @all.fashion.able
What are your favorite blogs and Instagram follows (besides The Stripe, of course!)?
Carly the Prepster – This was one of the first blogs I ever started following and I feel like Carly and I could be besties- we just don’t know each other!
Hello Adams Family – Liz is another Chicagoan and has the cutest little family!!
Atlantic-Pacific – Obsessed with everything Blair Eadie.
How I Built This – I love listening to how different entrepreneurs get started- it’s so inspiring.
Arm Chair Expert with Dax Shepard – Ever since Parenthood, I have loved Dax Shepard and his podcast is such a fun and interesting listen!
Favorite Show to Binge?
Best Career Advice You’ve Received?
My advice applies to one’s career and life. The best advice I’ve received was to NEVER give up! No matter what challenge you are facing, keep fighting and do not give up. People will doubt, but you need to believe in yourself and prove them wrong!
Where do you get your inspiration?
My parents…since my accident, my parents have been by my side through everything. They have given up so much of their lives to help me get to where I am today. My parents push me every day to do my best and they have never given up hope. They inspire me to live each day to the fullest and to never stop believing in myself.
Your all time, desert island favorite beauty product.
Lanolips 101 ointment! I love this stuff!! It’s true what they say; there really are “101 Usages!” You can use it on chapped lips, dry skin, elbows, anything!! Love it!
photography by Jessica Schroeder.