I could say that this endeavor took a year and a half to get off the ground and logistically speaking, that would be correct. But the truth is it was a lifetime in the making.
Perhaps the first seeds were planted when I was 9 years old and wrote a book called “The Crocodile Who Couldn’t Cry.” It would win the Young Author’s contest and send this awkward, painfully shy kid to Interlochen College of Creative Arts to accept my award and spend the day with other writers of varying ages. From then on, Mom would always work into a conversation with strangers and friends alike that her daughter was a published writer and her book could be found on the shelves of every public library in the state of Michigan. I would hide behind her.
I didn’t walk away from that experience convinced I would be a writer; I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up at all. And I never really wrote much after that, save for a brief stint as an aspiring songwriter, encouraged as I was by my high school music teacher. I wrote sappy, predictable songs about teenage love and performed them at talent shows. One was called “Come Back To Me.” Need I say more? [And it should be mentioned here that the songs that left me speechless and in awe were written and performed by one Michael DeMay and his then songwriting partner, Gail Deeter. Even being in the presence of people with actual talent and real gifts didn’t dissuade me.]
There were other, more significant events that were shaping what would one day manifest; a big one being our ten year struggle to have a child. Back then I was desperate to read the story of someone who had gone through the same thing and come out on the other side happy and sane. At the time I couldn’t find one good example to read and I vowed to share my story one day.
Fast forward another decade when I walked into a women’s retreat and, sharing our intentions for the work ahead, I announced: “I want to be a writer. I want to lose the title ‘marketer’ and replace it with ‘writer.’” That was my plan when I signed up for the nine-month program, but the week of our first retreat my father was diagnosed with a rare, incurable skin cancer. As it turned out my journey with Thelma Kidd and the magnificent women of our Women’s Learning Community was not about the birth of a writer, but the death of a father. That first big loss sent me into a year-long grief and a deep spiritual quest, both of which changed me forever.
Other influences affected and directed me too: a book called The Artist’s Way; a skill test that showed one of my biggest attributes is being a “feeler.” The adopted child who changed my life forever and the blog I started ten years ago (before we called them “blogs”) about it all that people read. Tiny drops of courage were germinating deep within as a result of the feedback I received from that blog. I saved every single comment to read and reread them as needed and posted many here because they meant that much to me. This played an enormous role in my thinking I might actually be capable of writing things that people were interested in reading.
But life wasn’t done preparing me yet. I had to endure more than just my personal trials, so I was rendered helpless in the face of tragedies as they unfolded one right after the other - a friend who couldn’t find a bone marrow match to treat his Leukemia, another friend who’s suicide shattered his young family - I wanted to scream from the rooftops and shed light on all of the injustices of their situations. Instead I tucked it all away in my heart and vowed to write about them one day.
Eventually the plan for the business began to take shape: create a theme for an anthology, publish short and easily consumed eBooks, develop a gift box once all eight books were released, along with a line of merchandise that supports each theme.
I came up with a long list of other anthology titles, wrote up a proposal about the plan, introduced the idea to a few trusted professionals in the publishing world who encouraged me to shop it around a bit; and left it all in a file in my office and got busy with my marketing practice again.
More lessons were presented to me: a project that would both consume and eat away at me. Consume me because it was so demanding of my time and eat away at me because it had been years - probably since my days in the music business - since I had witnessed such an example of greed and abuse of power. It took an explosion on a matter of principal and ethics to find the freedom, courage and conviction to make this happen. The experience provided utter clarity of what I wanted to create, and it was the antithesis of where I had been. l now knew that intertwined in my brand would be a substantial demonstration of giving back. I wanted to help anyone who is going through life’s challenges in a meaningful way; to directly affect and improve their situation - if even just a little bit.
Looking back from today’s vantage point I can see clearly that everything happened exactly as it should. There was a reason for each success and failure, every met and unmet goal in my career and life. I had to experience enough to feel empathy for those events that throw you off your course and stop you in your tracks - when life as you know it ceases to exist and a new one must be made. I had to feel it or I couldn’t write about it authentically. I had to be made to feel helpless in the face of someone else suffering beyond my grasp so that I could figure out the ways in which I could make a difference going forward. It was all purposeful and intentional. It was all designed to put me here, today.
This has been the most fulfilling year of my life from a work perspective. I will always be grateful to my husband who graciously gave me the time and space and freedom to create kindred. I have never been happier nor have I ever had such a depth of understanding about who I am and what I am here on this earth to do.
It makes me feel an overwhelming mix of pure joy and utter terror to share it with you now. It is the single thing that forced me to face every fear I’ve known while unearthing fears I didn’t realize I had. It drove me to rely heavily on inspirational quotes that I posted in front of my desk and refreshed as I outgrew them. It had me bouncing out of bed at 4AM (most days) and found me so lost in my work that I would be surprised at how much time had elapsed (every day). It put to use all I had learned about brand marketing and when I came to a standstill, I was able to turn to brilliant friends who willingly shared their talents and skills with me to take me where I needed to go. (A proper tribute to you all - and you know who you are - is in the works.) Most importantly, it introduced me to amazingly like-minded artisans and artists who took a leap of faith with me and gave me the ability to create a giving fund with 40% of the profits of their beautiful work. So here it is, this little plan I have had in my head all of these years:
kindred is based on the simple premise that no matter what you are going through in life, someone has gone there before you. They have a story to share that can help you along the way. Our first anthology is titled Perseverance, and over the course of the series you will be introduced to eight individuals who personify that word. If you have a story, we hope that you will share it; either in person at one of our events or on our blog. Most importantly, we are all going to help others in a meaningful and direct way. When you purchase a gift from our site, you are contributing to a giving fund that will be used to make a difference in someone’s life. When you buy, you give. As our tagline says, we are all in this together.
In December of 2014 my mom celebrated what was to be her last Christmas with us. She dramatically handed me a card with her familiar handwriting across the envelope; the same deeply slanted right loopy scrawl that I have seen on every birthday and special occasion card she had given me throughout my life, always addressed to Kerrie Lynn. This time she had written on the envelope: To Kerrie, The Writer. I was speechless. I had not told her about my new endeavor, nor my struggles to reinvent myself as just that - a writer. Perhaps she was flashing back to that childhood memory; perhaps she was trying to be inspirational. I couldn’t really form the question because my throat was tight. Then the moment passed. I kept the envelope and have it here on my desk. I’d like to think that, in a mother’s way, she knew something about me that took me a lifetime to discover. I guess I’ve always been a late bloomer, haven’t I Mom?
I held onto my secrets for years. Decades, actually. And there are many reasons why. Reasons that anyone who has endured it — lived it — will understand. But only those who have endured it — lived it — will.
I’m writing this for everyone else.
I love you, but I’ve got to let you go.
Each time our paths cross I open my heart with renewed hope that it will be different somehow. And each time I walk away feeling empty.
My dear (____________), I realize now that at some point, I gave away my power to you. I was rebuilding my life, creating it piece by piece, and in all of its uncertainty and tender roots, I shyly let a chosen few in to tread softly and take a peek. I wanted to share my trepidation and fear and doubt and exhilaration and sheer anticipation with you. So I gave you permission to validate me. In no small way I longed for it. But it never came.