Originally from Detroit, Candace Carswell has lived in the Tampa Bay area for 26 years. The single mother of two teenagers, Caleb, 15, and Alexandria, 13, has more than 26 years’ experience in the banking industry. She currently serves as a sales specialist for Tampa Bay Federal Credit Union.
What do you think is the secret to your family’s success?
My family shares a tremendous faith in God. As a Family we believe whatever joy or difficulties we may face in life that God will help see us through those moments. Another very important aspect of our relationship as a Family is we Love BIG and we laugh hard as often as we can. We live in a very positive household where laughter is very important. We are genuinely fond of each other and that closeness makes everyday something to look forward to.
What is your biggest fear?
I am very afraid of holding on to past fears, failures and personal hurts. I believe that fear can negatively affect any good experiences I will have in my future. Fear also has the ability to affect those around me. So I try to think of fear another way. I look at fear as a powerful motivator. Fear motivates me to turn to God and my family for strength. I am grateful to fear for that response.
What advice would you give to other women?
Always love yourself. It’s hard to ask others to love us if we first don’t love ourselves. I would imagine a lot of single mothers struggle with self image issues because we are constantly holding ourselves to standards of other households that actually have the benefit of two parents in them. We are our own species. Single mothers have a strength and courage that is forged out of the ability to take care of a household as an individual.
What is your proudest moment?
I am proud to be a survivor and that moment happens for me every day. A few years ago I suffered the loss of my marriage of 15 years, a dramatic change in career directions, a bout with cervical cancer, and an accident that left me in a coma for two days. I remember waking up in the hospital thinking I better get on with the business of living immediately. I have tried to be a positive person ever since.
What is your biggest achievement?
My children are my greatest achievement. Everyday they teach me more about life just by letting me share their experiences. My son Caleb is bright, charming and extremely witty. It makes me proud to see him growing into the person he will become, and I just love spending time with him. He is just awesome. My daughter Alexandria is loving and resilient. Alexandria is living with severe autism. Her understanding of life could easily be determined by this disability, but she makes strides every day toward achieving her own miracle. I am honored to be a part of her life. Alexandria’s spirit and joy are absolutely contagious. She is simply amazing. Caleb and Alexandria teach me how to love a little bit better everyday.
What makes you happy?
There is a saying, “The happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they simply make the best of everything.” I work very hard on trying to make the best of everything. I want to be a happy person, and I allow myself to believe I deserve happiness. My greatest moments of joy come from making my family and friends laugh. It’s good for the soul.
How do you relax and take time for yourself?
Down time with the kids is the best form of relaxation for me. We watch movies together and spend time at the pool. It’s nice to sit still and just be in the moment with the kids.
What kind of message would you like to give women in the area or in this community?
My message is that there are resources in our community to assist you in everyday life. I am blessed with a community of people that support me and assist me. My community consists of my family, a wonderful group of empowering friends, and the tremendous support of my bosses and my co-workers. These are the people who know my story and are there to support me and help me stay focused and positive.
What else would you like to share with our readers? About being a mom? About your work?
Try to love what you do. It only amplifies who you are! For example, I love being a mom, and I love working at Tampa Bay Federal Credit Union! The credit union is very supportive of me as an individual, my family, and the Tampa Bay community. It has been an amazing blessing to be a part of this organization.
How do you enjoy or draw information from the magazine?
Tampa Bay Parenting gives great guidance and informational articles that assist me in the parenting process. Everything from fostering my children’s mental and physical health to everyday tips on how to help my children in their lives at school and at home. The magazine is a great resource for parents who live in this community.
What is your favorite thing to do with your kids in the Tampa Bay area?
Tampa Bay has so much to offer — Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, Busch Garden, the Glazer Children’s Museum and beautiful parks. We start each day together talking about how we would like to spend our time together.
Who is your biggest inspiration or role model?
My role models are the people who help me shape my world. One such person is my mother Patrice Carswell. She is the other half of the woman I am. She is very encouraging and a wonderful moral anchor. I often review important decisions regarding work and home with her because every decision I make as a parent affects her as well. She is beautiful, honest and exceedingly kind. There will never be enough wonderful things to say about her. I thank God for her presence in my life every day.