When I was in third grade, my parents got a divorce. My mom fell in love with a prison inmate while she was at the institution teaching Adult Basic Education/GED. I was the flower girl in her wedding in the prison chapel.
I thought going to the prison was really cool, because it was something no other kids my age got to experience. But eventually, I began to feel ashamed.
I remember feeling incredible embarrassment at the beginning of every school year when I had to fill out the emergency contact information card. In those days, there was only room for one home address, one phone number and one set of parents.
I remember grocery shopping with my mom and using food stamps.
I remember spending lots of time alone or at the neighbor’s apartment while my mother worked three jobs.
From eighth grade on, I was raised by my father.
I remember him reaching into his wallet with no idea how much money to give me when I told him I needed to buy a bra.
I remember him begging me to come out of my room and at least sit with him for dinner, and me being too sad to do it.
I am so thankful for those experiences, because they made me realize something from a young age. People go through tough times. People want to give their children everything, but sometimes everything isn’t very much. People who need to ask for help are not weak, dirty or broken. They are “power” waiting to happen.
I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in broadcast journalism. In 1997, I spent the year touring the state as Miss Wisconsin, talking to children and adults about overcoming crisis. I’ve worked as a television anchor and reporter in Milwaukee, Madison, and Fargo. I currently write a weekly column for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead newspaper called Kindness is Contagious. We’ve compiled 100 of those stories into a book called, Kindness is Contagious: 100 Stories to Remind You God is Good and So are Most People. I also get to host a fun show each week called The Kindness Podcast.
I’ve gotten to do so many really neat things in my life, but it wasn’t until several years ago that I found my true purpose. One of my best friends, Heather, died of cancer when we were 30. Heather was really special… She LOVED people. She was always so interested in what made people tick, what experiences created them and what they aspired to achieve. And she ALWAYS believed that a person could become anything he or she dreamed. I think she especially believed that about me.
I, too, believe that our dreams can come true. Sometimes we just need a little help along the way.
I am living out my passion now as a writer and speaker, thanks to the many people in my life who have been bold enough to help me birth my purpose, Heather included. I know that God works through me, you and people we haven’t even met yet to create a world full of light, love and kindness.
Oh! I can’t forget to share with you the greatest gifts God has brought into my life… I have three sweet children: Jordan, Charlie and Ben, and one amazingly supportive husband who coaches men’s basketball at Ohio University. Go Bobcats!
Thank you for the taking the time to explore this website. I hope you feel these messages of kindness are meant for you.