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Artist, playwright, instructor, survivor é

Artist, playwright, instructor, survivor é
PASCALLE BIPPERT Artist and playwright Shelley Henderson works on a portrait in her home studio. This multi-talented La Vernia resident is a cancer survivor, yoga instructor, and motivational speaker whose talents have benefited her family, church, and community.

Life has a way of throwing obstacles in our way, along with speed bumps and challenges. Some people deal with them with great difficulty, and some with grace.

Shelley Henderson is the latter. This writer has known Shelley for 18 years and she sets the bar pretty high. She lives a life that inspires, and promotes the gifts that God has given her and others around her.

When I first met her, Shelley was presenting self-esteem classes to young adolescent girls during summer break. She covered topics such as manners, confidence, peer pressure and self-control. I thought that was great to share her insights with these young ladies who, no doubt, were struggling with issues such as “How do I get to be popular?” “What if the boys don’t like me?” “I don’t like my body,” etc.

Shelley was working at the La Vernia United Methodist Church at that time; she served from 1993-99 as the church program coordinator.

Art and life

But her faith contributions are only one facet of this remarkable woman’s story. She is a cancer survivor, yoga instructor, artist, and much more.

Shelley, a breast cancer survivor was one of my models in a style show some years ago, which benefited the Susan G. Komen foundation. Many of the models were breast cancer survivors. The audience was unaware of Shelley’s direct link to the benefit; she carried herself with grace and dignity.

This certified yoga instructor has been teaching for 13 years. She learned yoga in La Vernia at the HiWay Haus when a “Ladies Stretch” class was offered. Shelley quietly asked the instructor after the class if it was really yoga she had just experienced, and the instructor said, “Yes, I just didn’t think I should call it that.”

After several years, Shelley studied to become an instructor and taught for several years at what is now Gold’s Gym in San Antonio.

“Yoga has helped me gain strength and flexibility, but most of all it has helped me learn how to get calm when I need to be calm,” she said. “The reason I teach is because I think the world needs more peaceful people and this is my small way of contributing. Yoga teaches people how to become calm and less stressed.”

She is also an accomplished artist and likes to paint using oils. Her floral images are gorgeous; one might think it’s a photograph until they look closer.

She has the ability to capture the essence of a person’s soul on canvas and some of her paintings make the viewer wonder what the subject is thinking.

A painting Shelley entered in last year’s Chihuahua Trail Art Show had audience members hovering and asking, “I wonder who she is?” Shelley said the young, beautiful woman in the painting was a product of her imagination. She was not copying a photograph.

Her landscapes are also award-winning, and Shelley won “Best In Show” in the 2012 Chihuahua Trail Art Show. She also produces commissioned artwork.

Setting the scene

Theatrical productions are also one of Shelley’s interests. She makes an audience laugh, as in her appearance as “Mary Bell Baloney” in the comedy “Insomnimaniac” this past May at the La Vernia United Methodist Church, and she is also a playwright.

Her play, “Paving Paradise,” about what happens when a big warehouse store threatens to come to a small town, was performed at the La Vernia United Methodist Church a few years ago. Her melodrama, “Maggie Mae’s Blue Plate Special, or Puttin’ On The Grits,” was performed last April by members of the LV Shoestring Stage Productions at La Vernia High School.

Shelley is a founding member of LV Shoestring Stage Productions. She has helped organize and produce the group’s talent shows, including “La Vernia’s Got Talent” in 2010, which featured Austin Mahone’s stage debut, as well as the “Wilson County’s Got Talent” shows in 2011 and 2012.

Currently, she is helping produce the 2013 “Wilson County’s Got Talent” show, set for Saturday, Nov. 9, in the La Vernia Independent School District auditorium.

Not one to sit still, Shelley’s past efforts also included being a weekly volunteer at the La Vernia Library, which was on Chihuahua Street for many years, and service as a PTO president for a year. She and her husband, Jim, also served on the La Vernia EMS in 1990, as state-certified emergency medical technicians for the community.

Shelley and Jim have been married for 36 years. He recently retired from a career in aeronautics. They reside in La Vernia and lead a quiet, relaxed life.

This self-confessed flower child of the 1960s advocates peace and kindness. Her house features several murals she has painted on the walls, and some of her favorite quotes are scrawled on the walls of her painting studio.

“My mother used to whip me for drawing on the walls when I was a kid,” Shelley recalled. “To me, walls were an open canvas and I didn’t have to stay within the lines. Now I draw and paint on any of my walls and I don’t get in trouble!”

Very therapeutic, indeed.

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