So last week I ditched my Kids Boost t-shirt and jeans and dusted off (literally) a suit and pair of heels. But just for a day (okay, just for a meeting). It was a big meeting, one that could potentially change my world and fulfill my dreams. As I drove to my meeting, I practiced what I might say and said a prayer for strength, courage and the means to continue Kids Boost. As dorky as it sounds, I “interviewed” myself in my head and tried to answer the questions in a professional, concise and confident manner. I arrived to the office building 45 minutes early, because the thought of being late to anything in life causes me to break out in hives and have chest palpitations. Fast forward 45 minutes of being a strange mixture of excited, nervous, confident and scared, I walked in the building and headed to the board room.
After handshakes and introductions, I knew it was the time I prepared for, the time to share my vision and dreams for Kids Boost. I was ready for it. I had stats and stories. I had a ten year plan and for the love of God, I even had on heels! The woman to my right started the conversation by saying “So Kristen, what’s your story? Tell us about yourself.”
Ha! What?!? Myself? Remember those chest palpitations… well, they came in full force. I hadn’t practiced this. Didn’t they want to hear about Kids Boost and all those stats and stories?
I took a deep breath and said “I’m a mom.”
It’s funny, while this is perhaps my greatest accomplishment in life, being a mom doesn’t completely define me – however it’s always the first thing I say. And then I always have the crazy desire to talk endlessly about my son and how wonderful he is. Don’t worry. I controlled myself.
I went on to say that “I am a big dreamer and a committed doer.” This is something I take great pride in. When I say “I dream big,” I don’t mean big, I mean HUGE! When I say “committed,” I don’t mean committed, I mean that I am a perfectionist and hold myself to unreasonable standards. So while I take great pride in these things, they are often the exact things that hold me back.
I shared my passion for working with kids and my firm belief that kids have the innate desire to give back and to help others. I talked about my work history – dating back to my babysitting days and child development labs at UGA and then my 15 years as a Child Life Specialist. I described kids I met and how they were capable of so much more than anyone imagined. This led me to talk about my experience as a mom and wanting so badly to raise a child who is thoughtful, generous and kind but also recognizing how tough this can be. We discussed the lack of opportunity for children to volunteer and give back in a meaningful way. We also talked about the need for kids to learn that their interests and talents can be used for good in the world.
I never know if it’s too much to share but well, it’s a huge part of my life. My mom died, suddenly and tragically about 4 years ago. I briefly talked about how the tragedy changed my life in ways that I will never be able to put in words. Reality slapped me across the face. Life is short and wonderful and sad and scary and beautiful and well… you only have one life so what are you going to do with it? I guess my mom’s death forced me to be strong, brave and kinda crazy all at the some time. I quit my job, became a room mom and continued to dream about this idea to help kids give back. As I picked up shifts at the hospital to make ends meet, I silently made plans to start a non-profit to encourage kids to change the world. I was ridiculously scared and had every excuse in the world not to move forward. I was a single mom with little money in the bank. I didn’t speak the non-profit/business language. I didn’t know where to start. I wasn’t the entrepreneur in the family – that was my brother’s role. Excuse. Excuse. Excuse.
Then I attempted to verbalize the overwhelming and constant nagging that occurred over the course of a year. This crazy idea wouldn’t leave my thoughts – it was like a gravitational pull. Also, during this time, many doors opened for me while even more doors shut (and shut hard!). Side note: now looking back, it’s amazing to see that every time a door shut, it was really more like God was nudging me to walk through a different (and better) door. So after years of excuses, I decided to walk through the door. I did it. Kids Boost was born.
I explained the Kids Boost cycle of giving and our mission and vision. A full hour had passed and I realized that I was just getting to the “meat” of Kids Boost. When this realization hit, I apologized to the group, explaining that I was sorry to take up all their time talking about myself. One of the men at the end of the table looked at me and said something that I will always remember. He said “In order to get people to join your journey, you must share your story. People want to know the “why” behind the “what.” Share the why.”
So today I am sharing my “why” with you. I recognize that I often share the stories, even the stats, of Kids Boost but I’m not sure that I’ve taken the time to share my story and the why of Kids Boost. I hope you will join my journey of Kids Boost, especially as we are in the early stages and continue to grow and change the world (that’s the big dreamer, committed doer in me!).