For the month of November I’ve decided to post each day about a person or people who have influenced my life for good. There’s no way I could include each and every person in one month or even one year, and for that I hope you’ll forgive me. This year, especially, has brought an acute awareness of the kindness and generosity which surrounds me and my kids, so here’s one attempt at giving thanks.
I have only seen Kelly IRL a couple of times. She lives in Illinois, and I came to know her through blogging (specifically a BlogHer conference, if I’m not mistaken). Still, from a distance, she brightens my days.
She’s an educator with a fierce love for her students and their families. Middle schoolers and teens in general get a bad rap, but Kelly doesn’t buy into that. She sees not only their potential but their present light, and importantly, she lets them know…and she does so without taking their crap. The result, naturally, is they love her.
She’s a mom who celebrates her children, their journeys, their individuality, their relationships, their senses of humor, their joys and successes.
Kelly is a strong, powerful, brilliant woman and activist. She has a voice and she uses it. If I share a worthwhile article it’s likely I first saw it on Kelly’s feed. I’ve reached out to her privately about issues (like gender, race, and education) and her patience, cheer and energy have strengthened me.
She appropriately and respectfully shares the highs and lows of her life’s experiences, authentic and trustworthy. Her personal experience and journey comprise a phenomenal narrative and illustration of hard work and community and love—and she hasn’t put those experiences behind her, she honors the role they play in the existence of her being (and I happen to think her willingness to hold onto and generously share that part of her life is a huge reason she resonates so strongly with youth and adults alike). The woman is the real deal. I think it was just over a year ago she shared a simple image with the text: ‘Do no harm but take no shit.’ I see Kelly do this, and I aspire.
Speaking of aspire…
Kelly got married this year. Now, I’m not saying I’m aspiring to get married (in fact, I’ll say right now: I’m not). What struck me about Kelly’s wedding is the love story behind it. Admittedly I know very little of the details, but what I know is she did things on her own terms. From afar I have watched a strong woman love herself enough to listen to her spirit, to know herself enough to confidently not just recognize but decide the seasons of her life’s path.
The reason I chose the picture at the top of this post is because of the effect it had on me when I saw it earlier this year, as she was preparing for her wedding, with the caption, “In the morning I couldn’t get up because you clasped your hands together around me and I was the most amazing stuck I’ve ever been. I never want to move.” When I saw it, and read that, I burst into tears. I’ve gone back to look at it several times since I saw it in June. I don’t have any expectation or even optimism that I’ll ever have that in my life. But I’m happy for my friends who do have it. And I know it exists because Kelly said so.
Thanks, Kelly. I love you.