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B: Hello everybody! Welcome to the Kelly and the Encouragers Podcast. My name is Brittany Schank and as you can tell, this is not the voice or the name of Kelly Sisson because today we’re actually going to be interviewing Kelly Sisson to find out a little bit about her and her podcast and how this all came to fruition. So Kelly, can you say hi?

K: Hi guys! I am a little bit nervous, I have to admit. I feel like now I may have a taste for what it’s like for people to come on a podcast and just kind of share about themselves. It’s more nerve wracking than I anticipated to be honest.

B: I gotta tell you, girl. The same on my end because I’ve never been on this end of being a podcast-er so this is pretty cool for both of us.

K: Awesome! Awesome...well this will be fun. Thank you for doing this.

B: Of course! Thanks for having me. Alright sweet lady, so can you give us just a quick synopsis of what makes Kelly Kelly?

K: Oh gosh, that is a loaded question. What makes me me. You know, I’ve really been thinking a lot about how we often identify ourselves. I mean, I do this too, even on the podcast - I’m a wife, a mother, I’m a therapist, I’m a hippy at heart, you know that’s how I often identify myself and those are certainly parts of my life and what I do but really I would say the heart and soul of me as a person is I just want people to be loved, to feel loved and to live the best life they can, however they define that. So, I think even throughout parenting, throughout being married, my family, friends, whoever - I just want to be able to, and I swear I’m not trying to be cheesy here but this is like legit me, I just want people to live a good life and feel loved so that’s just kind of my role in life. I feel like that’s really my calling, no matter what role I’m in.

Random things about me - I moved to North Dakota. My husband and I decided within a month to move to North Dakota. I applied for a few different jobs but I got this one at a hospital where I was working. It was the first offer that I had and I absolutely was thrilled about it because it was something I’d never done and I thought it would be a great learning experience so we loaded up in the car and headed to North Dakota with half of our belongings because a month is no time, right?

We loaded up and we’ve been here every since. I often say that in some ways like I’ll never skydive, I don’t like roller coasters, things like that just freak me out. Even kid roller coasters I don’t love but I’m a risk taker by nature so I definitely take some risks in other ways such as moving. I’ve moved multiple times in my life. I just like new adventures and people and learning and meeting new people. So that’s another part of who I am.

I’ve always lived in the country for most of my life. I went to grad school in the city but other than that I am a country girl accept I don’t really like bugs and I don’t really like getting super dirty. (Laughing) So I’m kind of a country girl but I’m also kind of like “Ick, can I have some cleanliness as well.” So, it’s kind of that combo of things for me so that’s me in a nutshell.

Of course, I do the podcast and I’m a therapist. Like I say, wife, mother, I don’t know what else. It’s hard to summarize yourself, hm?

B: I know! It is super, super hard. I totally agree with you. But you did a fantastic job of it! With that, from literally the day I met you, I knew that you were an encourager and that you were there cheering people on and rooting people on. Now, I didn’t have the word “Encourager” for that until I really met you, but that was something that just exuded from you from the beginning.

Can you tell us a little bit about how you came up with the name for this podcast? And kind of where that inspiration came from?

K: Sure, yes. First of all, that’s very kind of you to say so I appreciate that a lot. You know, Kelly and the Encouragers...if I go back, let’s see, about five years ago, I had a friend who was really encouraging me. Her name is Jess and she’s fantastic and she was really encouraging me to start really reading audio books and pouring into myself really positive information in my life. I kind of took that for a little bit and then I really dove into it and that’s when I started to see a big change in my own life.

One of the books I read was called “The Noticer” by Andy Andrews. Anyone that’s familiar with Andy Andrews, he’s an absolutely fantastic writer. I love his style of writing. It’s relatable, it’s real, it’s also super informative and so I enjoy that portion of it.

In “The Noticer”, I’m not going to do a good summary of it because I’m someone who like reads a book once and am like, “Okay done! Onto the next!” I’ll be honest with you. I keep little nuggets of it but basically he considers himself a professional noticer. He has a podcast, If anyone’s interested in that and what he does is he kind of picks up on things that other people don’t pick up on, essentially. And so I started thinking about myself. Like, what am I? I would try out these different words and I couldn’t honestly tell you what they were now but I tried these different words and I was like, “You know it just doesn’t fit. It doesn’t feel right.”

This was probably a good four years that this question went around in my mind. Like, what am I? How do I identify myself? And then I had a friend who was helping me come up with the podcast idea and I knew what I wanted buy it was hard to summarize it so I said, “I want to offer encouragement” and so we were throwing around ideas and she said, “Kelly and the Encouragers?” And I said” YES! That is it!” It just felt right. It felt like that’s what it should be and it felt a little superhero team, you know what I mean? Kind of like the Marvel team. I don’t know what! (laughing) But it just felt like a good way to summarize what the cause is because it’s not just about me being able to encourage other people. I want to be able to connect listeners with encouraging people who are just living their life and sharing their truths and being vulnerable.

Through that process, as soon as I heard that name I was like, “Yup, that’s absolutely it” and I knew that I needed to move forward.

But I’ll be honest, this has been a process! I know Brittany, you’ve been with me through some of it. It has just been quite a process to really learn and understand the podcast world. You know, I love listening to them prior to having my own podcast but the actual production piece of things and how to make it possible and how to be able to share the message, all of those things were new for me so I had a lot of people that were really encouraging me throughout it and have really helped me to make Kelly and the Encouragers what it is now.

So that’s how we got here!

B: Fantastic! You know, one of the things I heard you talking a lot about in there is having people that are encouraging you that really know you and it sounds like this friend that helped you come up with the name, she was able to do that because of how interested she was in walking alongside you but also how well she knew you and knew how that would resonate with you.

K: Yes, absolutely. You know, my sister a while back said something to me like when I go into friendships, I jump all in. I’m kind of like that with life in general. When I do something, it’s all of me. I’m like, “Yes! Let’s do whatever our plan is, figure out out!”

The same thing with friendships. I really like to invest in other people and have people really invest in me as well so I try to be my authentic self with people and I, for the most part, think people are really authentic with me as well. It’s easier to build those deeper friendships when you’re just being yourself and you don’t have those guards up.

B: Absolutely. And I love that you’re enthusiastic about jumping all in in friendships because I think with society as a whole we kind of get this notion of you’re not supposed to do that. You’re supposed to stay reserved for a period of time and I think it’s actually a really fantastic strength of yours being on the other end of it of receiving that that I really, really, really appreciate about you so I’m glad that you’re able to look at that as such a strength because that really is.

K: Well, thank you. I definitely appreciate that. For people who are more reserved, and that’s totally fine if somebody is but it might just seem like a little different, I guess? I won’t say strange. Maybe it seem strange, I don’t know but I can see how from someone else’s perspective it would be like, “Oh, well that’s just really interesting.”

I don’t, I just want to be really clear, I don’t throw myself at people but I am there to support them, and I am there to lift them and to share. I just value people so much and so I think that’s why it’s important for me to show up in that relationship so well.

B: You are a natural born encourager, my friend.

K: Well, thank you. I appreciate that. You know, it has been a process, I will say. Certain parts of my life maybe I was more comfortable with encouraging others and maybe in other parts based on just what I had going on, not based on anyone else, it’s been a little bit harder but I’m just so happy with where I am right now and I think that it comes even easier now.

B: Yes, absolutely. That is fantastic. So you and I have talked a bit about some of the struggles of being seen on things like podcasting or putting ourselves out there for trainings or whatever that looks like, YouTube videos, anything like that but the struggle of being able to be a professional, real, authentic person but also having your own personal stuff. How do you keep those lines so they don’t get too blurred.

K: Just so I’m clear on this, you mean between being able to share authentically on my podcast but also keeping things professional, is that what you’re thinking?

B: Absolutely. Balancing your personal and professional life.

K: You know, that is challenging. I’ve had clients say to me that they listen to the podcast. I don’t promote it to anybody. I have audio equipment in my office so sometimes somebody will ask me, “Hey, what’s that for?” and I just really reassure people that it’s not on, it’s unplugged but it’s for a podcast that I have and so I do have clients that have found it and I’m totally okay with them listening to it. I don’t have a problem with that. Again, it’s not something I promote but I’m totally fine with that.

I was just sharing with someone who’s wanting to start a podcast the other day about this exact topic. And here’s kind of what I do - I think to myself, “Would I be okay if they brought whatever topic it was or whatever statement I made into their session, not that we’re going to spend our session talking about me but if they made reference to it in their session, would I be comfortable with that? And if I’m not comfortable with that, that is a big cue to me that that’s someplace I just don’t go. But if I am comfortable with that and I’m fine with someone that I’m working with in the mental health perspective knowing that about me, then I’m okay sharing that. And so that just kind of gives me really a balance. People can overshare so that just helps me to not overshare about my life.

There are a few other things I do as well. I don’t share personal family information because it doesn’t just affect me. There are several people that are in my family and they all have their own stories and so that’s for them to share. That is one thing that I do.

I obviously never share client information. I never share something that a client would say to me. I may share things that people throughout life share with me and I really enjoy and appreciate that so that’s kind of how I judge that.

But realistically, anyone that’s worked with me, anyone that’s been a client of mine, they’re going to know this when they hear me say this.

I am myself.

I am myself regardless of if I am a therapist or a podcaster or if I’m speaking with a group. I am myself. And so you’re going to get me regardless. You're just going to get me without as many boundaries if you’re a close friend or family. I mean, not boundaries. That’s not a good way to word that but without as many restrictions on what I’m sharing I guess is what I’m trying to say.

So I just maintain my consistency in who I am but there’s just different levels. There we go! That’s a good way to say it! There’s different levels of sharing.

B: Yes. I love that so much because I think it gives a defined way of really teasing out in our minds as people who maybe do have professional relationships and personal relationships and perhaps people are looking at doing podcasting or things like that to really identify how much they want to share and put it on those different levels and walk themselves through that in their mind. That was a really beautiful description of how you do that.

K: Thank you. I appreciate that. You know I think the other thing too is that in the social work profession, boundaries are obviously extremely important. One thing that I think is hard and each person has their own interpretation of is truly we’re supposed to stay so neutral on so many different topics or not really neutral but understanding and welcoming and being open to so many different perspectives and I think that sometimes throughout that we struggle with how do we share our own perspective and not step on somebody else’s toes because I still value them as a person and I value their perspective but I might not 100% agree and so I think that is also really challenging at times.

B: Yes! Yes, yes and yes. I absolutely agree with that. I wholeheartedly agree with that. I also wonder if a piece of that too is having a personality in a relationship that feels like if somebody does have a different view or opinion than you then that it’s known that just because you’re opinion is different, you still accept that person or you still accept that those were their choices or how they think and feel.

K: Yes, absolutely. That definitely provides some clarity for sure.

B: Okay, so kind of outside of the podcasting role that you have and the therapy role that you have, can you tell us a little bit about passions that are not related to therapy or podcasting?

K: Sure! Passions of mine…You know, I’ve always been someone who when you say, “What are your hobbies?” my whole entire life I’ve been like, “Eeeehhh.” Like literally, that is the noise I make when someone asks. I don’t know what are my hobbies. So that’s been challenging for me.

But what i would say is the other things that I’m passionate about, I’m passionate about being a business owner, I’m passionate about being an entrepreneurship, which is so hard to say, by the way. Can we just call it something else because my goodness, that is a mouthful. Every single time I’m like, “I can barely say that.” But I’m really passionate about that and I’m passionate about supporting businesses that have great causes. That’s something that I’m always interested in.

There’s stuff like the Fair Trade act and different things like that. I’m always really interested in that type of stuff so I really enjoy that.

I love gardening. My husband and I always plant this huge garden and it’s always overgrown, guys. It’s not like we’re out there like manicuring the garden or anything. It’s always overgrown. We typically have way more than we intend to ever plant or sometimes we have things that don’t even grow like our carrots last year. I enjoy that, though. I love to be able to see the work that you put into something grow. Maybe that’s a theme throughout my life. It’s something I’m passionate about - just putting myself in that work and seeing whatever it is grow and so I really enjoy that part of things.

You know, North Dakota is absolutely beautiful and so sometimes I’m just really passionate about being outside when there’s not bugs which is not very often but at least it’s windy so that helps. (Laughing)

But I’m passionate about being outside and I like to fish with my family especially. We all really enjoy that. My father-in-law if he heard this would be like, “Oh, Kelly.” But I don’t even care if we catch fish. I really don’t. It’s being out there and being on the water.

Of course, when you catch fish, it’s so much more fun but it’s still really amazing to be able to be out there so just spending that time with family and friends and brainstorming and dreaming. That’s definitely a passion of mine. And helping other people. I love when someone will say, “Well, I have this idea but I’m not sure that I could do that” or “That’ll never work.”

Why not?

Why wouldn’t it work?

And so I love to hear about other people’s passions as well.

I’m trying to think if there’s anything else. I think that probably covers most of it. I mean, anyone who’s ever listened to this knows that I love iced tea. Anyone who’s ever worked with me knows that I drink like probably way more than I ever should. It’s unsweetened so I feel better about it. (laughing)

That’s something I would say that as funny as that is, I’m really passionate about my iced tea. And water. I’m not going to lie. I’m very particular about water as well.

B: I love that. If I can share, if not then you can just edit it out, right? You had sent me a message. I don’t know how long ago this was, maybe a week or two ago and you were talking about your water in your car and you were just so loving your water and you were like, “I aint sharin’ this with nobody.” (laughing)

K: Oh, my gosh! That is me! (laughing)

B: I just love it. Just loving up on your water. The other thing that, as you were talking I was listening to is how interesting and amazing it is that you’re life outside of therapy and podcasting is so consistent with your life of therapy and podcasting and so this life that you’re living right now truly sounds like the life you were meant to live and you were born this way. Like you were born to encourage, you were born to help people find the best in themselves, you were born to do this work and how cool that you found your way through it and found your way to it and now get to do this every day because I think it is a true gift to be able to work doing the same things that your body and soul actually have a purpose to do and feel that purpose of.

K: Oh my gosh, I could like cry over here. That was the sweetest, kindest thing. Seriously. Thank you so much for saying that. You know, I don’t know, like I say until especially this past year that I’ve really been able to really identify or put together what it looks like for me but I really do feel like I’m living my best life. That’s the simplest way to say it. I feel like I’m living my best life.

Like yes, I’m not going to say I don’t have problems. I mean, Brittany, I know I shared with you we have an ice dam on our roof, water backed up, I mean we have construction we have to do, we need a new roof now. There’s all sorts of things that happened but I do believe that when you are living your passion or going after your passion, then all those things that happen in life, yes, they are unfortunate and yes, they are frustrating. Do not get me wrong, they are absolutely frustrating. But you view it different because you’re happy with the life that you have and honestly, these last couple years especially, I didn’t know that life could be this good. And again, my life is not perfect. I want to make sure to be really clear. I have a lot of ups and downs and like you all know, I just had some family health issues that were going on and so it certainly hasn’t been a breeze but I honestly didn’t know that life could be this good. I wouldn’t have believed it. I really wouldn’t have believed it. So when I hear that somebody wants to go for their goals, I’m like, “You don’t even know how good your life can be!” Like, you have to keep going.

B: Absolutely. I totally agree with you. I totally agree with you. And how cool is it for people who maybe don’t feel in that position at this moment to hear from somebody in that position to know that it is possible.

K: Right. Absolutely. My friend recommended audio books and then I started listening to podcasts and it just trickled down from there. If you want to do something and you don’t feel if like in that moment you’re equipped to do that and you reach out to other people that you can find on the stinkin’ internet because they're there and they are available. Being able to have other people come alongside you makes a world of difference.

I do believe that throughout my life there have been really pivotal moments and really pivotal people that have just kind of been showing me the way. Not to sound all hippie-ish but that really is what’s happened.

B: Absolutely. You know it’s so interesting to me because there’s a group that I’m a part of where people share their temony and their life testimony if you will and someone came to me not that long ago and said that they were selected to be the next person to share their testimony and how nervous they were and so we were talking about where the nerves were coming from and the person said to me, “Well, I just don’t feel equipped to share my testimony because life has just been so good for me.” It was that feeling of the only people that should be sharing their testimony are the only people who are influential with their testimony or people who have struggled and I was like, “Hold on, Sistah! Coming from one struggling sistah to another person who felt like their struggle was less, you inspire me! You inspire me to know that life can be different every day and that if life has been a struggle, it doesn’t always have to be a struggle and things like that so I think it’s so important for us to be able to surround ourselves with people who are also doing well and not out of like, “Hey, they’re bragging to me.” But more like, “Hey, no. Here’s a glimpse of light for you. This is a possibility for all of us so don’t get too lost in the darkness. There’s always light here.

K: Yeah. That is so true. I really do believe that it takes every single one of us. I really believe this, to my core of cores. You can reach literally any dream that you have. It’s just if you’re willing to work for it. Or you can make any change in your life if you’re willing to work for it.

I mean just that saying “Just because it’s simple doesn’t mean that it’s easy” I really believe that that summarizes thing well. And I think, like you said, being able to see people who are you know, there are some really tragic stories. We’ve all had our really hard losses in life. There are some really tragic stories that you hear but it’s also really helpful to hear like you say, just other stories that are good too, not that we’re comparing. You want that. You want to know that there is good.

B: Yes, yes. And of course to reframe that you’re not bragging, right? Like when we’re telling our good stories, we’re also sharing hope and encouragement by telling our good stories.

K: Absolutely. You know there’s someone that I follow online and I thought it was really great. I started noticing a trend and I wasn’t judging, I promise, but I was like, “Oh wow, there’s a lot of really sad and negative.” I was actually getting worried, to be honest with you. I was like, “Should I reach out? Make sure they’re doing okay?” Because I know that. I was truthfully just getting ready to do that, and then they put up a post talking about how they, for some reason, got into this mindset that they could only share the bad things and they couldn't share the good things and then they realized it wasn’t a true reflection of their life because there’s both. So, I was really glad to be able to see that too. People want to know hard, vulnerable things but it’s vulnerable to share that you’re doing really well, too.

B: I totally agree with all of that. So that leads me into my next question which it two in one. Can you, and I think it is perfect with what we were just talking about, can you let us know both one of your greatest qualities and a quality that you struggle with the most in yourself?

K: Sure. Okay, greatest quality. I would truly say my ability to connect with people. And I feel kind of braggy saying that but I’m just going to say it like it is. I do believe, and I think that it’s because it’s been modeled so well in my life. Both of my parents are really great at connecting with people. My dad, we always joke with him, he could talk to someone about like anything. Anybody about anything. If baseball is your favorite topic, he’s talking about baseball. If you would rather talk about the Mall of America, my dad will tell you everything he knows about it and then ask you what you know. He just has this ability to make you feel valued and to really connect and be able to show that he cares about you.

And he does. It’s not a show.

He truly does care about people and so I think that that just generationally as well has been modeled so well for me that it just comes naturally and I don’t really have to...well, I have to be aware of it, of course, but I don’t have to work at it very hard. It’s just such a natural gift truly that my parents and past generations, especially on my dad’s side, just taught so well and so I’m super thankful for that.

Something that I struggle with. Don't’ get me wrong, there are things, I’m just trying to pick which one I want to talk about. You know, one of the things that I struggle with, I’ll be honest with you, is that I have seventy five billion ideas of things that I want to do so I’m never at a shortage for ideas. What I do find is that sometimes when I get into ideas, I may find that I’m not into those ideas or I just get bored with them. And so I hit ruts where I’m just kind of bored with this, I don’t know if I should continue on.

Usually, at some point, I get some kind of idea or some type of sign that I feel like I should continue or not but I think that that would be something that I have struggled with - getting myself into things. I’m so invested in it and then being like, “Eh, maybe I should step back a bit. Am I really this invested in it?”

So that’s something I would say that I struggle with.

Something I used to struggle with a lot more, and I’m not going to lie, it still pops in every now and again, but I feel like I have a better grasp of it was other people’s opinions. I know it’s a hot topic right now but that is something that held me back for so long. Asking what people were going to think if I did this or thinking they’re probably going to say this to me, you know? Or thinking are they still going to think I’m that same person that I was when I went to college with them because I’m not overly thrilled about who I was in that moment. And are they going to judge what I’m saying now and are they going to believe it’s real because this is really who I am and all of those thoughts for so long really kept me pretty stuck and then one day I just realized it doesn’t really matter. Everything changed. It was a slow progression, don’t get me wrong, but it just kind of hit me like it really doesn’t matter. Realistically, they’re probably not even thinking those things. You know, there’s so many people that say this but I love it when people are like, ‘You know, they’re probably not even thinking about you. They’re probably thinking about themselves” and it's so true so I need to remind myself of that and even if somebody is thinking something negative about me, that’s on them. That’s not on me.

When you give yourself that freedom to truly believe that that is their issues or their stuff they have to work through, of course you’re having some self-awareness with how you’re acting but I think that’s freedom. It’s freedom of not caring and that freedom feels good, I’ll be honest. That freedom feels real good.

B: I love how you talked about, and I’m going to rephrase it a little bit because I don’t know your exact words, but I love how you talked about your worry about being seen and what it might look like to other people or how they might judge that versus your desire to fulfill your dreams and be happy.

K: I don’t think I answered fully, now that you mention that. I was like, “Oh no, I never talked about that earlier.” I think we kind of touched on it a little bit but to me the boundary situation of what I share professionally and personally is a little bit different than showing up and being seen so do you mind if I talk about that real quick and answer that question?

B: Absolutely! Go ahead.

K: Okay, so I have struggled with that. I have struggled with that I would say my whole life. I want things to go really well for other people and I want thing sto go well in my own life but i want to do it from behind the scenes.

Even if I were to go back to high school, I’m not someone who’s going to try out for a main role or even a role, probably. But I’ll help out behind the scenes, absolutely! You need me to move some furniture moved or help with some sound? Heck, whatever it is, I would help with that but I always want to be behind the scenes. I mean, i think back to even some things that I did like pretending that I had laryngitis and not singing or pretending to play the clarinet for so long, whatever it is. I really want to be able to just show up, stay behind the scenes and do some good work eventually, make some good scenes and help other people be seen.

And so when I started this, I really struggled with that fact, I’ll just say it like I’m thinking it, that I couldn’t hide anymore. I am me and i couldn’t hide that and if I wanted to be able to help and encourage other people then I had to be fine with myself and had to be okay with sharing myself with other people knowing that it could potentially come with some negative criticism but what are my options? Do I just hide away? Or do I do the work and feel good about myself and be okay with being seen?

I’m not saying it’s always comfortable. There are still these moments where I’m like, “Ooh, this feels too vulnerable! I’m not sure about this!”

But I often just try to remind myself, and I think it was you Brittany that said this to me one time too, that vulnerability when people are looking that often what you see is bravery and so it’s always a positive perspective, typically. People are very rarely super negative about vulnerability and being yourself so I try to remind myself of that as well.

One, those opinions are not on me.They’re on the person who is thinking those.

Two, it’s not a bad thing to be seen. It’s not a bad thing to say, “These are some things that I’m doing.” It doesn’t always feel one hundred percent, I’ll say okay because I think that even as women, we’re taught to not...I don’t want to say “not make waves” but kind of. I mean that’s kind of what I think we’re taught from an early age. Just keep everyone calm and tell them everything’s fine. Don’t look over here. No one needs to see what’s going on over here. And so being able to show up.

The reality is, if i want to be able to encourage other people, if I want to connect listeners with other people, I have to be willing to show up as myself and be seen and be okay with that. And so that’s some work that I’ve done on that.

B: Absolutely. That is fantastic. I don't’ know about everybody else but that is definitely one of my tough places is being seen and what if I fail, Aaaahhhh!! I think it’s just so important to recognize that as we’re encouraging each other and as we’re in this encouragement community of like we don’t need people to make fun of us when we’re down or we don’t need people to be laughing at us when we’re falling. We need to continue to hold hands and encourage each other and I think it’s just so awesome to have this community because when we label ourselves as “Encouragers” we know that not only will we have people cheering for us when we’re up, we’re going to have people cheering for us when we’re down.

And part of being seen gets to be that as well. When you’re seen, yes, people are going to see you when you’re up and people are going to see you when you’re down but lots of people want to cheer each other on during both of those.

K: Absolutely. And I haven’t met that I can think of, met and been able to actually talk to any woman that hasn’t just wanted support. And I’m sure men as well. But I guess that conversation, with how my life has worked out, I haven’t been able to have as many men as I’ve had women but really, women just want to be supported. Whether it’s the good moments the bad moments. And that’s what I think I really believe that encouraging in an encouraging community like this has the ability to significantly change and impact people’s lives and that’s what I’m hopeful for.

B: Okay, so I’m going to switch into a totally different question style and then we’ll come back and do more of the Encourager ones but can you tell all of us a weird, wacky fact about yourself?

K: Weird, wacky fact….hmm...okay, I’m thinking of one and it’s super embarrassing and no I’m not going to do it before you ask, okay? (laughing) So we had this dog, this is so embarrassing but I’m going to share it because who the heck cares! Okay, so we had this dog when I was younger and it was a half dalmation and half cocker spaniel. We thought she was a mix. Her name was Gracie and I loved Gracie. She had this really high pitched bark and one day I got kind of frustrated with her and I barked back at her and I was like, “Oh, my God! I can bark like Gracie!”

And so I always thought it was the coolest thing when I was little that I would bark back at her not really knowing anything I was doing or saying and I’m sure she was looking back at me like, ‘You are ridiculous right now. What are you doing??”

But I thought it was so cool so that’s my completely random fact.

B: I am not going to lie, I’m holding myself back from laughing and i just snorted a little bit. I don’t think anybody heard it but seriously, I am dying about you finding out you could bark really well.

K: I know! I know! I mean, I don’t know what that means about me but apparently that’s a tallent I had.

B: I love it! I straight up thought you were going to go with the easy one that’s out there and so quick to grab - that you don’t like coffee!!

K: Oh yeah, I forgot about that. Yeah, I don’t like coffee. I know, I know. It’s just not my jam and I’ve tried it and my husbands always like, “Try this one, try this one.” It literally gives me an instant headache and I have no idea why but it just makes me feel terrible. And the smell of it. I think it smells awful and people are always saying, “It tastes so good!” and I’m like, “Get that coffee out of here.”

It’s just terrible! But to each their own, you know?

B: I’ll be honest, I’m glad you didn’t think of the coffee one so now I know about your barking abilities.

K: Oh, my god. (laughing) I had to move back from the mic for my very loud laughter. That’s hilarious! You can tell, people, I don’t mind telling the world so it’s all good. We all had weird things we did as a kid and if someone tells me they didn’t, I don’t believe ‘em. That’s crap.

B: Yup, I totally agree with you. I love it. Okay, moving onto the next - give us some ideas of what your Encourager dreams are for your Encourager community moving forward.

K: Oh, good question! So I am really excited about the Encouragers community and we’re just really building some momentum and it’s really great to be able to see that and to see how truly not only the guests are changing lives but even just people commenting on different things that are occuring. It’s just so great to see.

So, my goal - remember, I’m a big dreamer, guys so don’t let this dream scare you but my ultimate goal would be to be able to travel around the United States and teach women especially, but whoever, but especially women and potentially even kids about how to be encouragers and so that’s really my ultimate goal is to be able to spread it as far and as wide as I can so other people can go out into the world and encourage those around them.

That’s really what my goal is. I mean, really, however we can spread that encouragement to because I believe when I say it, I did not know until this year, I swear it, but i really believe that encouragement has the ability to completely shift lives and I think you can do it in some really simple ways.

But i also think it’s not just about encouraging other people. It’s about encouraging ourselves as well and that’s the part I think sometimes is a little bit harder for people to really understand and be able to utilize in their own lives and so that’s really what my ultimate goal is - being able to travel around and just share this information to whomever will allow me to share it.

B: That is so, so fantastic and I think it is so cool of you to have big dreams and by big dreams, by no means do I mean unrealistic in any way because I absolutely think you have the power to do all of that and how cool and how powerful to be able to change people’s lives in that way from even starting from younger ages of encouraging people all the way through adulthood. I think of how many high schools could benefit from having speakers at it or how many communities could benefit from having speakers at it or how many military events could have benefits from somebody speaking encouragement to them so I think that is so amazing and such a huge thing you could bring to our entire communities.

K: Well, thank you. I appreciate that and I also think that it’s really important to start young but I also think it’s never too late. I’ve seen the impact of encouragement even people who are like in their 80’s and 90’s. The power to truly to change somebody's life and change your life. I really think there is no time limit for this. As long as we’re living and breathing, we can change our lives. And so that’s really what the goal lis.

B: Absolutely. Okay, I just have a couple more questions for you, Kelly. Tell us what has been the hardest part about being an encourager?

K: Ooh, the hardest part I would say is probably the days when I really don’t feel like encouraging because of whatever is going on in my own life and because I want to be able to do that and I do that in other moments. At times, I’ll have people reach out to me on some of those really hard days and that’s probably the hardest part is being able to provide them with encouragement but also to be able to acknowledge that I’m having a bad day or I have some really serious issues going on in my own life and as much as I want to be able to be that bright, shinny encourager all the time, the reality is sometimes I need to be able to pull back and encourage myself. And so I think that has been the hardest part is finding that good balance and being able to be available but also acknowledge that when I need to take a step back, I have to do that. It’s not just a need. I have to do that in order to continue to work like this because it’s important to me but it’s also important to me to be able to encourage myself in my own life and give myself that freedom to know when it’s time to step back.

B: And often times I think could the work really be done if you weren’t in good place yourself and how important it is to make sure that you encourage yourself and you’re full yourself before going on to encourage others.

But I also like what you said about if you’re not encouraging others, it’s your reminder to encourage yourself essentially. Super cool. Super cool.

Okay, if you were to stand for one thing in this life and leave that legacy behind, what would that be?

K: Only one thing? Tough. No, just kidding. If I could only do one thing in life, if I was only remembered for one thing...well, I guess it’s two parts so I might be cheating on this but i want to be remembered for loving my family well and by family I mean extended family etc. but especially my husband and son. I want to be remembered loving them in a really healthy, positive way.

Number two would be I want to be remembered for being an Encourager even in the moments that are tough and not shying away from tough situations and to truly continue this...I mean I am hopeful and how I view it now is that I will be literally on my deathbed encouraging somebody else as I’m getting ready to pass away. I mean that is my ultimate goal. If my legacy is just that she was encouraging and loved her family well, good. I’m good with that.

B: That is beautiful. Beautifully said. Okay, my last question is similar to one of the last questions that you technically ask people that are on your podcast but twisted just a little bit differently. So,it is regarding Brene Brown. We know about her braving the wilderness and being in a dark place and finding the light when you’re in that dark place and finding your way through the wilderness.

Can you talk to us about a time that you braved the wilderness and who was your encourager through that?

K: Yes. There’s a few that pop into mind. So can I share both?

B: Of course!

K: The first one that pops into mind is when I went into private practice. Not initially but when I went full time it felt like a really scary step. Now, looking back, I’m like I was fine the whole time. I’m not sure why it felt like that but it did. Just being a business owner in general and then being full time dependent on your income is a little nerve wracking.

Now, having grown up in that lifestyle because my dad has owned a business my entire life and even before that. I mean, I very much grew up with that so I knew what to expect and that probably helped me a little bit with that. I would say that would be one of them.

The other one that I don’t talk about as much that I’m absolutely fine with sharing is that before I met my husband I was in a really dark place in my life. I had been in this really crappy relationship and was trying to move past that and I felt very alone and very isolated. I hadn’t told very many people what was going on because I was trying to cover for it, to be completely honest. And so I had felt really alone but I knew that i needed to make some changes.

Anyone who knows my husband, as cheesy as this sounds and knows our story, literally when I first saw my husband I knew I was going to marry him and that literally kept me going in those moments trying to get out of that. I was like I know who I am supposed to marry and who I’m supposed to be with and I need to get my life right. Essentially, that is how I viewed it. I needed to be able to be okay with who I am and what’s going on in my own life before I can be in a relationship with someone that I know is going to be my life companion.

B: What a beautiful story and pretty cool that it sounds like your encouragers were probably your husband without him knowing it.

K: Oh, absolutely.

B: And also yourself.

K: Absolutely! If you catch the theme through both of those situations, it’s always been my husband. Always. I will say completely random ideas and he’ll be like, “Yeah! Alright! I think we can do that! Alright, go for it!”

Just the other day I was thinking I really wanted to take this spinning class in the mornings so this morning I got back from the gym and he said, “Did you go to spinning??” and I was like, “Oh, no. I just went to the normal gym. I think I need to get back on the bike first before I pop onto spinning class. It’s been like ten years, you know?”

And he was like, “Oh, really? You should totally go!” He just really is encouraging in whatever idea it is, he’s just like, “Go for it!”

I value that so much and I feel very honored to have that in my life and I know that there are a lot of people that don’t truly have that. That breaks my heart because I know it’s been so monumental in my own life.

B: Absolutely. You know, I think another beautiful piece of that is the recognition that sometimes when we encourage other people we know it, but it sounds like many times in life we’re encouraging other people and we have no idea.

K: Absolutely.

B: So, super cool that your husband knows it, that he’s encouraging you now, probably. But at some point he had no idea how much he was actually encouraging you and bringing you through that tough time in life.

K: Oh yes, absolutely. I think you’re one hundred percent right and I often talk with people when they feel like, “Oh, I don’t know. Maybe. I don’t feel like I’m making any changes in life or I don’t feel like I’m impacting a lot of people.”

I shared the story here when I was at Chipoltle, and I think I shared this with you too, Brittany, where a lady said, “I appreciate you” and it literally changed my life.

So I tell people now, “I appreciate you” instead of appreciating what they did for me because it impacted me. Appreciate you is how they, themselves are valued and she’ll never know that. Unless she still works there. I’ll go back there and tell her.

She’ll never know that.

It’s even little things like that.

Or one time, I was in the social security office after I got married changing my name and there was a mom waiting patiently with her daughter and I still, to this day, when I’m out with my son I remember how patient she was and how in awe of her I was and that helps me have patience with him.

And she will never know. I will never see her probably ever again. I won't even know what she looks like, to be honest. But what a profound impact.

It’s very likely that there are hundreds of things that we’re doing throughout our lives that we have no clue is impacting someone significantly. That’s kind of cool.

B: Absolutely. So, so, so cool. Okay, sweet lady! Do you have anything else that you want to add or anything else that you feel would be important for the listeners to hear about you?

K: Not that I can really think of but this was really fun! I feel like now I have a good understanding of how other people feel and I’m someone who, if I’m asking somebody to do something, I want to have an understanding of what that is as well and I want to be able to do that so I just so appreciate this!

I can’t think...yeah, that’s me in a nutshell! If I have anything extra, certainly I’ll add to some other podcast episodes but I think that’s it!

B: That sounds fantastic! And again, thanks for letting me be on here! It’s been cool to get to know things about you that I didn’t know either! Super, super cool to be on this end of it so thank you for letting me do that.

K: Absolutely. Absolutely. I really appreciate you.

B: Thanks! And thanks for all of your encouragement!

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