There’s a popular gospel tune that says, “I don’t look like what I’ve been through.” A message of hope cloaked with resilience, the popularity of the phrase breathes strength. It’s safe to say, that along with her many other mantras for living, this is one phrase truly definitive of Ursula Myles.
The epitome of true light, my first encounter with Ursula was brief but affecting. I was ushered to meet and speak with her in preparation for Model Behavior’s Ladies Night Out with a Purpose event. As I traversed from the far side of Toyota Stadium, I could already feel the warmth from Ursula, making a first introduction less awkward and more synonymous to a re-acquaintance. By the time we were face-to-face, small talk seemed par for the course, and we embraced as though we were longtime friends. This is just a glimpse into who Ursula Myles truly is.
Without me knowing the depth and degree of this woman, her light shines bright—and as I dug deeper and deeper into the woman she once was, then flourishing into the woman she is today, I am completely in awe. Not only is she still shining brighter than any superior cut diamond, she’s still standing.
If I were to pinpoint a personification of the gospel tune, Ursula Myles would be it. From dark trials and tribulations to loss to multiple cancer diagnosis overwhelming her family, Ursula Myles doesn’t look like what she’s been through. And with that, I invite you to truly bask in the glow of our September Woman of the Month—one who I am coining as “the overcomer,” Ursula Myles.
MB: Start off with telling me a little bit about yourself.
UM: I’m originally from Detroit, Michigan. I’ve been living in Texas now for a little over ten years. I graduated from undergrad and decided to get out of the city, move here for more opportunity—just a fresh start. I moved here with my husband at the time—ex-husband now. I’m the youngest out of five, so my family followed me.
MB: Wow, that must have been comforting to have those you love follow you here.
UM: They wouldn’t admit to it, but they followed me! They followed me down here, so it’s my mom and my dad, one of my sisters, one of my brothers, and their children and a couple of cousins.
My undergrad is in Criminal Justice. You know, you just kind of go to school for whatever sounds fancy enough… I just figured it sounded fancy enough. I’m obsessed with crime TV, “The First 48,” the ID channel… I feel fascinated by it.
MB: I totally understand because I’m a Criminal Justice major as well. It was what all the cool kids were majoring in at the time.
UM: I’ve always enjoyed event management and event planning. I was the kid watching the Grammys but with more interest in what was going on behind the scenes. That was always something that was always interesting to me, so I decided to go back to grad school.
I had been working in a law firm in Uptown for about three years and was just pretty much bored and was like, “You know what? If I’m going to do this—have to get up and punch a clock—I might as well do exactly what I want,” so I ended up going back to graduate school for my Master’s in Hospitality Management out at the University of North Texas.
While I was there, one of my coworkers was really big into soccer. He was like, “You should do an internship. You should check out FC Dallas.” I had no idea we even had major league soccer in the United States. It was really exciting for me to learn about it. So I followed his advice, put in an application for the internship program with FC Dallas, and… of course, I chose the Hospitality Department with Legends.
Long story short, my internship with Legends here at FC Dallas was September 2013 through January of 2014, and in April 2014 my general manager offered me a management position. So I have been here now for more than four years and pretty much carved out my position here, so to speak.
MB: So how was the move from Michigan to Texas? Do you prefer one to the other? You better say Texas!
UM: Detroit will always be home. No one can take that away from me, and I fight for that city, even when we get a bad rep, sometimes, with everything that we go through. But I definitely love Texas. Yes, it was absolutely a culture shock.
The first shock was the weather! We moved here June 1st of 2010, and we were like, “Oh, okay. It’s 105 degrees out. Well, we’ll wait and not go shopping until ten o’clock at night at Walmart or whatever, because surely, it’ll cool down by then.” Yeah, no. So we walked out at ten at night, and it was still a hundred. So that was definitely the first shocker.
MB: Yes, the Texas heat is not a myth. It’s real—very real.
UM: And I have never had so much Tex-Mex in my life! The only Mexican food that I’ve ever had was Taco Bell.
MB: Mexican food is not Taco Bell, but I’ll give you a pass since you’re from Detroit. *laughs*
UM: Oh, yeah. So I was like, “What’s a breakfast taco? You guys eat tacos for breakfast? Really?” I’m definitely a big fan of Tex-Mex.
MB: We eat tacos for every occasion, every day, and for every meal, but I’m sure you’ve figured that out by now. So you mentioned you moved down here with a husband, but now you are single. How did that all pan out?
UM: I actually married—I guess you could say—my high school sweetheart, but we didn’t go to high school together. We grew up together in our church, so we had known each other since we were eight years old, started dating at sixteen, got married at twenty-four. So we were together fourteen and a half years, total. Unfortunately, it came unraveled in 2015, which—anybody that talks to me would know—2015 was the hardest year of my life because I lost my marriage, and I lost my father to cancer.
MB: Wow. Those are two devastating blows. I can’t even imagine how much hurt and pain evolved from just those two circumstances.
UM: What’s crazy about it… My sister was diagnosed with Stage 0 breast cancer in January of 2013 and then my mom, almost a year later, was diagnosed with Stage 2A breast cancer in February 2014, and then my dad was lined up with Stage 4 kidney cancer in June of 2015.
So three family members in a row, diagnosed with cancer, and I don’t think we really grasped the magnitude of how severe it was, even with Stage 4 for my father, because in our minds, nobody had been taken out by cancer in our family.
Everybody that had it—my mom’s sisters and mother, and my dad’s mom—they all beat breast cancer. So, of course, when my dad got diagnosed, we definitely weren’t expecting it. He was diagnosed in June, and he passed away in August of that year.
MB: That’s definitely a lot to take in emotionally all at one time.
UM: My sister survived breast cancer. She did the early detection and noticed her own spot, and her doctors tried to send her home thinking it wasn’t anything. She had to say, “No, no, no. Breast cancer runs in the family.” Because she did her due diligence, it prompted them to do further testing and find that cancer early, like they did.
It was the same with my mom. She was doing the self-examination in the shower, and she found that lump, and she immediately went into the doctor. And the thing about it, when she found her lump, she had her mammogram a couple of months prior to that, and they didn’t find anything. So you can see how quickly cancer develops.
MB: Yes, it’s scary how even with a mammogram or with early detection, the signs can go unnoticed. How did you power through all of these trials with cancer mentally? How did you stop from spiraling downward?
UM: Well, going through a divorce and losing my father around the same time just showed me that nothing is greater than somebody’s existence.
Mentally, stand close and rooted in your foundation, whether that foundation is a spiritual foundation—your church home, reading your word of God, your family. For me, I just had to pull strength from wherever I could. So it was my family, my work family, my friends, my music, encouraging books. I wasn’t ashamed to go to Barnes & Noble and find books about how to deal with grief, because people don’t really prepare you for losing a parent. And for me, I think it was particularly difficult because I am the youngest, and I don’t have children yet, and my children don’t have the luxury of knowing my father. So all of that definitely took a toll on me, being there in the room with him while he took his last breath. That is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
MB: I can’t even imagine how that must have felt. How did you manage to move forward?
UM: It was definitely tough. At the end of last year, I started counseling. You don’t know different habits that you pick up. I didn’t know how much my drinking had picked up, me just not getting sleep—I lost a lot of weight, and at some point, I said, ‘This is not healthy,” and obviously, it’s something I recognize, that I’m now starting to understand where this behavior is coming from. That’s when I started to pull back and reevaluate everything.
MB: When cancer was striking your family back-to-back, did you start to reevaluate your lifestyle as a result?
UM: Girl, yes. It makes you a hypochondriac. It makes you nervous with every little ailment and ache that you have. But you can’t live life in fear, so I’ve definitely started to cut back a lot. I’ve tried changing my diet. I did vegan for a minute, vegetarian, and even now, I still struggle with it, just trying to alter my eating habits.
MB: Did you end up getting involved with any cancer organizations due to what has happened with your family?
UM: After my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer, I did the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure every year. I did that for the last two years.
MB: With everything going on in the world right now, I feel like there is a season of loss hovering over all of us. People need to hear from someone like you to see that they can make it through. Is there a motto that you live by?
UM: Nothing is greater than someone’s existence. When you lose somebody so close, it’s the closest you’ll come to death until your own. At the end of the day, I’m looking at my father’s life, and I know things that he accomplished, but I also know a lot of things that he wanted to do that he didn’t get to accomplish. I live every day like somebody told me that tomorrow is not promised, because it’s not. If it means going against the grain to go after what it is I want to go after in life, then so be it. And if people don’t like me at the end of the day, that’s not really my problem. I mean, I’m not for everybody. Take it or leave it.
MB: So not living life just to exist, but with a purpose and on purpose. How would you define your purpose?
UM: When I think of me right now, the word that comes to my mind is “tenacious.” Tenacity. I feel like I’ve had on these boxing gloves for the last two and a half years, but with every blow that I have received, I’ve gotten back up a more beautiful person than I was before.
My purpose is to show others that life happens, and we have to learn to roll with the punches and allow those blows to make us beautiful and not tear us down. We are greater than the enemy, no matter how he makes us feel like we’re defeated. I, to this day, don’t feel that cancer defeated my dad, because when we prayed and asked God to heal my father, we didn’t realize that God gave him the ultimate healing. The ultimate healing was to die and go to Heaven.
MB: Now that you’re working through your grief and moving forward with living, have you started dating again? What’s the scoop?
UM: I do have somebody that I’m dating. It’s not exclusive yet, but it’s definitely moving in that direction, but I have learned that my heart has slippery hands. I can pull them, but keeping them is another thing!
MB: You are definitely preaching to the choir! With social media and so many digital platforms, dating now in these times just makes the process so exhausting.
UM: I’m putting a lot of energy into work and into my career and just letting the chips fall where they may. Obviously, I want to remarry. I want to have a family. I want to have children, and my biological clock is not slowing down at all. I’ll be thirty-three in December. My mom constantly reminds me that I don’t have kids yet.
MB: Our mothers must be related! Story of my life! You’re so talented and so driven—do you find that this intimidates most men?
UM: Oh girl, yes. I’m very sassy. With me, you definitely have to break down some walls, especially since my previous marriage ended in infidelity from my ex-husband. You know, he had an affair. I’m definitely fragile, and I think my tough exterior is more of a defense mechanism, just like a lot of us women.
MB: Of course, that’s totally understandable.
UM: But when you get me, and I like you, I’m begging to be vulnerable. And the guy I’m dating, he’s allowing me that space to be vulnerable, and that’s one thing that I do really admire about him.
Going through what I went through with my dad, a lot of my family depended on me for strength, and so I would not cry in front of them. I was the one who had to make the decision to take him off the medication that was keeping him alive because he was suffering. He was on the strongest medication for blood pressure, and even on that medication, his blood pressure was severely low. His body was begging to be laid to rest. I didn’t ever expect to have that responsibility placed on my shoulders. You do walk away… and I questioned, “Did I give up on my dad? Should I have fought?” Literally fifteen minutes of us taking him off the medication, he passed away. So I’m at that time in my life where, yeah, I’m strong, I’ve been through a lot, but I just need to be vulnerable. I need to be taken care of, too.
MB: So you’re flourishing in your career, dating, and living life with and on purpose. Eventually you will remarry and have those children you so desire. If you could say anything to your future children today, what would that be?
UM: I felt I was always courageous, I just didn’t know it because I had never went through an experience that required courage and strength. So somebody telling you that you’re less of or not enough, or that you can’t get through something—it’s a lie. You have everything in you already to get through everything that you’re going to go through in life. It’s just learning to look in the right direction to find it. You don’t have to go to drugs. You don’t have to go to alcohol.
This world is so big, and it’s so much to explore and to find out, and you have everything you need from the moment you take your first breath. I really believe that. You have everything that you need.