I AM VIRAGO / BRITTANY DONNELLY

Name: Brittany Donnelly

Nickname: Brit, 'B', Sporty Spice ;)

What is your dream job? 
My dream job would be to impact others the way my pilates instructor Kristie, the owner of Pilates Body in Laguna Beach, has impacted me. She is so positive, her energy is addicting to be around, and she is just as beautiful inside as she is out! Until recently she was a single mom and the flexibility of the pilates schedule allows her to be present for her kids as a strong independent mother, which is a career goal I admire.

Home-town: Corona, CA

Fitness Tip: Running has always been an important part of fitness for me but my new found addiction is Pilates Reformer. You work muscles that long been forgotten!

What are some causes or organizations close to your heart?
"Shelter from the Storm" is a program I admire and hope to work with in the future. The organization provides a temporary "shelter" (up to two years) for women recovering from domestic abuse. This transitional program offers support that includes therapy, substance abuse counseling, parenting classes, support groups, financial assistance and will even go as far to help these women get jobs and set them up with assistance in getting their own place. They work they do is inspiring and I hope to open a Domestic Violence Shelter one day to continue their program and message of hope.

Tell us about a time you turned struggle into strength: 
I began 2013 as a happy, stay-at-home mom to my one year old daughter Ashtyn, and proud wife to my new Husband. Living in beautiful Laguna Beach, there wasn't a day I didn't stop to thank God for the life I had been blessed with, but the night of January 21, 2013 my life was forever changed. That night my "perfect" life crumbled when my husband became physically violent while I held my daughter in my arms.

The chain of events that followed really showed me how strong I could be and expanded the thresh-hold of what I thought I was able to endure as a young 21-year-old mom out on her own.

I learned to accept an apology I thought I would never receive. I learned to be resilient. I learned to forgive, to heal, and continued to be the best mom I could be while rebuilding my life from rock bottom. I had no car, no job, no house, no money, and I did it. I made it out on top.

Looking back now what really saved my life was running. I would get up every morning at 7 am, drop my daughter off at my mom's for an hour and RUN. Those precious runs would take me along the coast of the Pacific Ocean. Sand beneath my toes, headphones in, the world blocked out, I ran. I was soon in the best shape of my life, which is to be expected, but what I was not prepared for was what running did for me mentally. It cleansed me and allowed me to start my day and take on the chaos with a clear mind and I am forever thankful for it. I turned my struggle into strength and I now have a completely different outlook on life. I have grown and learned to love the person I have become, because above all I am proud of myself. GIRL POWER!

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Brittany and her daughter, Ashtyn.

Brittany and her daughter, Ashtyn.