Lucky is not a strong enough word right now. The people that I have in my life are truly amazing and I am grateful; lucky; blessed beyond words.
One of my best friends was also my sixth grade teacher. Since then, Kelly has become an unbelievable light and confidant in my life. While visiting my parents at home where I grew up, I was lucky enough to catch up with Kelly too.
Tonight I visited with Kelly and her family and said good-bye before my trek back hOMe to Charleston. We began reminiscing about the good old days of the sixth grade. A moment that I will never forget to this day came up in conversation.
Grade school was tough. I was made fun of and struggled here and there with self esteem issues. Typically hidden, every once in a while my emotions surfaced as a result of kids’ harsh words or actions. On one particularly difficult day, Kelly asked me to stay in from recess. At first I thought I was in detention. (Yiiikes!) But after all the kids filed outside to play, we went back to the classroom and sat down to have a little talk.
Looking into my eyes Kelly told me to NEVER give up on my dreams. People weren’t always going to be nice but I was perfect just as I was and I could do anything that I put my mind to. She was a huge supporter of my decision to go through with the limb lengthening surgery and that day, she changed my life. I will never forget it. She was no longer just a teacher. She was a friend. Someone who understood and who wanted to listen.
In recalling such a pivotal moment, the conversation took a turn to kids in school today. The bullying, judgements, social media etc. My heart hurts to know that kids still have to deal with being made fun of on a daily basis. Mid conversation, my eyes welled up with tears. In that moment, I knew that all the talk I have been doing about motivational speaking – my dream – it is time to cultivate it.
Every girl and boy, guy and girl, I don’t care how old or young, they deserve to know that they are loved. No matter what their story is. So it will happen – Little legs. BIG Heart. will materialize and make it known to people all over that anything is possible and life is beautiful.
After saying my good-byes to everyone and getting the biggest, most amazing hug from Kelly, her oldest daughter who just entered her freshman year of high school, came over to me. As one of the little sisters that I never had, we have a wonderful relationship. I looked her right in the eyes and told her, ‘Be a friend. High school can be cruel to some kids, you’re a role model so please set the example.’ She game me a hug and replied, ‘I will Kristen.’ And I believe her.
Driving away with tears streaming down my face, my heart felt light. Just knowing that my words were heard and feeling the love from friends I consider family – it was overwhelming.
My goal is to be heard. To send a message. It will happen. Mark my word.
Love and gratitude.