Scars Fade. Embracing Faith and Friendship

Charli hold a heart with open heart surgery scar shown faded

This year has been all about inspiration and envisioning the future. Like an actor getting into character, I believe the words from our event themes have played a crucial role in restoring my soul. We often forget how vital it is to be challenged and inspired by our community and faith. Through faith, we understand our purpose: to be the light for others. I hope to always remember the profound impact my faith has had on my healing journey and all the people who have embraced me along the way.

July 8, 2021. This is the day my heart valve was repaired. It was the day I woke up knowing that the Almighty God made time for me. He was there when I prayed and asked Him specifically to repair my valve instead of replacing it. He was there, reminding me through my mother’s voice to breathe on my own, and He was there when I asked what had happened. He knew I needed confirmation that He was with me before I faced one of the most difficult recoveries of my life. He filled my lungs with deeper breaths each day and helped me take more steps to restore my strength. He was there in the challenge with me—the voice that I hear, my encourager, my comforter, my strength. I believe the Holy Spirit is always there, guiding me in the right direction.

It’s amazing to think of all the things I have done in three years. From producing conferences that connect industry leaders to embarking on a European trip that rekindled my love for adventure and different cultures, I have embraced life fully. The work has just begun, and I am encouraged about the future. There is so much opportunity at home and abroad to share our stories and help each other feel more connected in community.

However, the biggest challenge I faced was internal. I needed to heal from all the scars, both physical and emotional. By February, I chose to give to myself. It was my birthday and a perfect excuse to be surrounded by those who love me. I knew my life was about to change because I was praying for just that. I was stepping into faith, making many changes, and resting in the Lord and His plan for my life. This was a gift I didn’t know I needed.

I filed for divorce. This is a much longer story, one I am willing to discuss with anyone who might find my experience helpful. Figuring out how to share this is still a work in progress. I’ll share a few things that were healing activities for me. I moved into a townhome that I could decorate however I liked. I left dishes in the sink just because I could. I went on walks, slept in, stayed up late, danced, twirled my baton, had meaningful conversations, traveled to see friends internationally, joined a small group, bought art, praised and worshiped like never before at Soma church where I was baptized. I scheduled doctor visits, bought insurance, traveled, ate pasta, visited family long overdue for a visit, and asked for help.

Let me tell you a story about what asking for help can do…

For three years, I felt my repaired heart valve constantly. It was there when I tried to sleep, exercise, talk, and breathe. It caused fear and restricted me, even when doctors assured me I could exercise. Despite hiking mountains and keeping up with my children, I couldn’t believe I was healed. There was still work to be done—choosing to take care of myself, replacing toxic patterns with laughter and joy.

June 12, 2024.  This is the day my heart was healed. The best example of my healing happened just a few weeks ago. In physical therapy, we were working on stretching. During a stretch called “open book,” I felt my valve. I paused, feeling my blood pressure rise and tears well up. I called a staff member over to talk to me. For me, asking for help in such a vulnerable situation was huge. As she talked to me and I explained what was happening, my tension eased. I noticed my arm hitting the wall—I was fully stretched out, in full open book. She said she was proud of me, and as she walked away, I realized the tension and pull that had been there for three years were gone. I cried tears of relief and gratitude.

The pull was gone because I needed someone to validate my pain, to believe in me, to encourage me, and to really see me. When you aren’t loving yourself, your creator knows. He uses events, people, and any tool He wants to bring you back to Him. You were created to shine, to share your joy with the world, and to love one another. Thank you to those who have loved me and those who are still working on it. I am going to continue working on it as well.

To my fellow zipper club members, have someone touch your scar. Massage it, embrace it as your strength, and let it help you grow deeper relationships. Use your struggle to help others. The fight to recover physically and mentally from surgeries is unparalleled. Do the work—it will help you with all the other hard things in life. God is always with us. Let Him show His goodness to you and praise Him even more for it. He has great plans for you. This I know, because the Bible tells me so.

Until next time, be empowering.

Finding Inspiration: A Journey Through Europe and Industry Connections

Charli in Matera

I recently embarked on my own version of an “Eat, Pray, Love” journey across Europe. While the famous movie with Julia Roberts might conjure images of Italy, my adventure spanned several countries and was deeply intertwined with professional growth and personal discovery.

Munich, Germany: A Hub of Innovation and Team Spirit

My journey began in Munich, Germany, where my company sponsored two teams—one for Empowering Pumps & Equipment and another for Empowering Women In Industry. Witnessing our team members proudly donning our brand was a moving experience, reinforcing our collective mission to make a global impact.

The World Water Skills competition at IFAT and the Operations Challenge at WEFTEC are events that push boundaries and inspire participants to strive for excellence. These competitions are more than just challenges; they bring together competitors, judges, and audiences in a shared celebration of skill and dedication. Forming teams from diverse backgrounds fosters collaboration and enriches the experience, underscoring the importance of connection in our industry.

WEF USA team at IFAT 2024

Global Connections: The Heart of Our Business

Reflecting on my business journey, our initial tagline, “Connecting the Global Pump Industry,” still holds true. This European trip reaffirmed our global presence as our sponsored teams competed against international peers and won awards. The camaraderie and celebration, including swapping jerseys and dancing, highlighted the power of global connections and the joy of shared achievements.

World Water Skills competitors

Cultural Exploration and Culinary Delights

Munich offered a delightful mix of traditional German cuisine and international flavors. I enjoyed sausages, kraut, and discovered a new favorite—Radlers. Experiencing the local beer culture in Munich’s beer gardens was a treat, even for a non-beer drinker like me. Strolling through the Englischer Garten and watching surfers ride the waves on the Eisbach river was a unique highlight, showcasing Munich’s vibrant and diverse culture.

Personal Pilgrimage to Sicily

Next, I journeyed to Catania, Sicily, fulfilling a long-held desire to visit the place where my father was stationed during his Navy days. Exploring the city’s rich history, from ancient architecture to bustling markets, was a deeply personal and fulfilling experience. Visiting Mount Etna and bringing back volcanic rock for my daughter, a geology enthusiast, was a special moment that connected family history with present-day adventures.

Charli on the sea leaving Sicily

The Italian Countryside and Amalfi Coast

Meeting up with my colleague Vince in Galdo, Italy, led to a picturesque drive along the Amalfi Coast. The stunning scenery, with houses built into the mountainside and the serene ocean views, was breathtaking. We indulged in local cuisine, including fresh calamari and zucchini pasta, and reveled in the simple joy of good food and great company.

Matera: A Journey Back in Time

Our visit to Matera, with its ancient rock-cut dwellings, felt like stepping back in time. The Sassi, Matera’s historic cave dwellings, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a testament to human ingenuity and resilience. Exploring the ancient monasteries and witnessing the blend of history and culture was profoundly inspiring, reminding me of the “Pray” part of my journey.

Vince and Charli in Italy

Industrial Innovation in Bari and Padua

In Bari, we toured the Baker Hughes facility, marveling at the integration of advanced technology like 3D printing in pump manufacturing. The visit to Varisco Pumps in Padua further showcased the cutting-edge innovations in our industry. Seeing Lean Manufacturing, Six Sigma, and continuous improvement practices in action was a powerful reminder of the progress and potential within our field.

Vince and Charli with Enrico of Baker Hughes in Bari

Charli with Varisco team

A Serendipitous Drive to Switzerland

After wrapping up business in Italy, a spontaneous drive to Switzerland provided a refreshing change of pace. The majestic Alps and the serene Swiss landscape offered a perfect backdrop for reflection and relaxation before heading to my final destination—Paris.


Paris: A Reunion and Reflection

In Paris, I reunited with a dear friend from Belgium for a whirlwind 24-hour tour. We visited iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, but the true highlight was our heartfelt conversations and shared meals. Catching up with another high school friend, Kara, who is an accomplished engineer and athlete, added another layer of inspiration to my journey.

IMG_2912Kasey and Karli in Paris

Igniting Inspiration for the Future

This European adventure reignited my passion and commitment to our mission at Empowering Brands. From Munich to Sicily, from the Amalfi Coast to Paris, the common thread was the importance of connection and collaboration. These experiences have reinforced my belief in supporting the next generation of industry professionals and fostering a global community.

We are committed to providing opportunities for connection through our online communities, in-person events like the Empowering Women in Industry Conference, and the Empowering Pumps & Industry Conference. I look forward to hearing what inspires you and how we can continue to empower each other.

Until next time, stay empowered and keep connecting. This is the “Love” part!

Be Empowering

This journey has taught me that inspiration can be found in every corner of the world, and it’s through our connections and collaborations that we truly make a difference. Let’s continue to support and uplift each other, creating a global network of empowered professionals.

Leading with Purpose: My Journey from Marketing to Empowering the Pump Industry

Charli being expressive on a podcast

Hey there, Charli here… and I’m thrilled to share with you some reflections on my journey from marketing professional to founder in the pump industry. Recently, I had the opportunity to chat about it on a podcast, and I’m excited to dive deeper into some key takeaways.

Embracing Change and Entrepreneurship

Transitioning from marketing to founding my own business wasn’t exactly a walk in the park. It required a lot of guts, determination, and a willingness to embrace change. But you know what? It was also one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Sure, there were challenges along the way—securing funding, building a team, and gaining credibility in a male-dominated industry—but each obstacle taught me something valuable. As leaders, it’s essential to encourage ourselves and others to step out of our comfort zones and pursue our passions, no matter how daunting it may seem.

Navigating Gender Perception in the Workplace

Being a woman in a traditionally male-dominated industry comes with its fair share of stereotypes and challenges. I’ve faced my fair share of skepticism and underestimation, but I’ve never let it hold me back. Instead, I’ve learned to embrace my authenticity and leverage my unique perspective as a strength. As leaders, it’s crucial to create inclusive environments where everyone feels valued and empowered to contribute. Let’s challenge stereotypes, champion diversity, and foster a culture of respect and equality.

Making a Global Impact

Beyond my professional endeavors, I’m deeply passionate about making a difference on a global scale. Volunteering in Uganda was a life-changing experience that opened my eyes to the power of community and the importance of giving back. It reminded me that leadership isn’t just about achieving success for ourselves—it’s about using our platform to uplift others and create positive change in the world. Whether through philanthropy, sustainability initiatives, or volunteer efforts, we all have the power to make a difference.

In conclusion, my journey from marketing to empowering the pump industry has taught me invaluable lessons about resilience, authenticity, and social responsibility in leadership. I hope my story inspires you to embrace change, challenge stereotypes, and make a positive impact in your own leadership journey. Together, let’s lead with purpose, passion, and a commitment to creating a better world for all.

Read more of my blogs to learn more 🙂

Empowering Lives in Uganda: A Journey of Hope and Transformation

Brian with the Children of Uganda


I am back from Uganda, and I am thrilled to share the incredible progress we’ve made since my first trip to Uganda in May 2022. The warmth and kindness of the community have truly been a blessing, and together, we are making a significant impact on the lives of the women and children we serve. If you haven’t already, you can catch up on my initial experience here.

Transforming Lives: From Fields to Salons

During my first visit, I was approached with a heartfelt request – to help the women of this community kickstart a business. After careful consideration, we decided to focus on empowering the women through hairstyling. The goal was to not only enhance their skills but also encourage them to expand their clientele beyond their immediate circles.Charli with Women of Uganda

I am elated to share that more than 100 women have been trained and have ventured into areas where they can support themselves and their families. The salon not only provided them with a safer and more fulfilling work environment but also helped them rediscover their inner beauty and friendships, often lost in the toils of working in the fields.

The Impact on Women and Their Families

The testimonials from these women were nothing short of inspiring. They spoke of newfound confidence, financial independence, and the ability to provide for their children. It’s heartwarming to witness the ripple effect of empowerment as these women, armed with new skills, uplift others within their community.

The Chance Project is committed to biannual visits, in May and November, to nurture hope and foster growth. By supporting these women, we aim to offer children a chance for a better life through education and, most importantly, love.

Changing Lives, One Child at a Time

Lucky and Charli together smilingSpeaking of love, let me introduce you to Lucky, the first child I encountered on my journey. His infectious smile stole my heart, and I am dedicated to ensuring he receives the education and care he deserves. The Chance Project children, having benefited from our support, are now paying it forward by assisting others in their studies. Brian has cared for many children in Uganda through the Chance Project and he also supports several personally. They are part of “the family.” It was so wonderful to see the children I met on my first trip looking out for each other. It is great to have a relationship with these children as they let us know what they really need.

Next Steps: Tailoring Skills for a Brighter Future

While the salon initiative has flourished, we recognize that not every woman has the same interests. Therefore, our next step is to introduce tailoring and sewing skills. We plan to provide education on tailoring and supply sewing machines for the women to learn and eventually create clothing for sale in local markets. This additional avenue will further contribute to funding children’s school fees and, in the long run, empower these women to give back to others in need.

Charli with Women in Business in Uganda

The Story of Ruth and Naomi: A Guiding Light

Since May 2022, we’ve been studying the inspirational story of Ruth and Naomi from the Old Testament. This narrative beautifully underscores the power of women supporting one another, fostering empowerment, success, and joy. I firmly believe that blessings flow when our women are cared for and supported, as evidenced by the positive changes we’ve witnessed in Uganda.

Join Us This Giving Tuesday: Give the Gift of Empowerment

As we approach Giving Tuesday, I invite you to join me in supporting the Chance Project’s mission. Your donation will directly contribute to empowering these women with knowledge and skills, enabling them to better care for their families. Every contribution, no matter the size, makes a significant impact on the lives of those we serve.

The Chance Project is a non-profit 501c(3)

Support by mailing check or via Venmo Brian Winters @TheChanceProject 
Checks should be made out to:
The Chance Project
97 Arcadia Dr.
Tuscaloosa, AL 35404

Together, let’s continue this incredible journey of hope, transformation, and empowerment. Thank you for being a part of the Chance Project family and for making a difference in the lives of those who need it most.

With gratitude,


Embracing Your Inner Weird Barbie

weird barbie screenshot

Last weekend, my daughter and I had a fun trip to the theaters to watch the latest Barbie movie. The film not only brought smiles to our faces but also left us with valuable insights. Among the colorful characters in Barbie land, one, in particular, stood out to both of us – Weird Barbie. Her unique traits and role in the story resonated deeply with us, sparking a discussion about the diverse facets within ourselves and the importance of embracing them. In this blog, I’ll share our key takeaways from the movie, and how it beautifully conveyed messages of empowerment, gender equality, and self-acceptance.

Celebrating Uniqueness: Weird Barbie and Stereotypical Barbie

  • The film portrayed two distinct versions of Barbie – Weird Barbie and Stereotypical Barbie. Both characters embodied different qualities, and we appreciated them for different reasons. My daughter loved Weird Barbie because she celebrated her individuality along with her friends. This reminded us that it’s essential to embrace our quirks and unique traits, as they make us who we are.

On the other hand, Stereotypical Barbie was depicted as polished and put together, but she faced her own struggles. We admired her strength but also recognized the need to be there for her when she needed support. This taught us that even seemingly perfect individuals can have their vulnerabilities, and lending a helping hand is crucial.

The Power of Support and Empathy

  • Weird Barbie’s role as a supportive friend was truly heartwarming. She was someone that other Barbies could rely on for guidance, especially during times of uncertainty and self-doubt. This highlighted the importance of being there for one another and offering a listening ear when needed. It also emphasized the significance of mental health support, as Weird Barbie jumped into action to help when Stereotypical Barbie faced a depressive state.

Empowerment and Respect for Differences

  • The movie effectively conveyed the message of gender equality, showing that men and women think differently, and it’s vital to respect and celebrate these differences. It encouraged breaking free from traditional roles and societal norms, emphasizing that everyone has unique hopes and dreams that may not conform to standard expectations.

Embracing Self-Discovery and Love

  • One of the most powerful messages the movie delivered was the importance of self-discovery and self-love. Each person should find their true selves and embrace their uniqueness wholeheartedly. The film inspired us to carry this message into the real world, encouraging everyone to apply it in their daily lives.

Cherishing the Bond between Mothers and Daughters

  • The movie portrayed a heartwarming mother-daughter relationship, reminding us to cherish and nurture the special bond we share with our children. As my daughter turns 13 and begins her journey towards independence, I’ll always remember to find adventures we can share together, ensuring she never forgets that I will forever be her biggest fan, no matter who she chooses to become.

“Barbie” served as a powerful medium to convey important life lessons. From embracing individuality and supporting one another to promoting gender equality and self-discovery, the movie left a lasting impact on both my daughter and me. It reminded us that our quirks and experiences, just like Weird Barbie’s, make us unique and valuable. As we walk away from the theaters with smiles on our faces, we carry with us the empowering message that it’s essential to be true to ourselves, love ourselves, and respect the differences in others. Let’s all strive to be a little more like Weird Barbie and spread kindness, understanding, and support wherever we go.

#KarliandCharli Approved