“Kindness means putting someone else's well-being above your own comfort or experience. Choosing to show love when no love is promised in return. Kindness feels like doing the right thing! And it is so important, now more than ever.” -Kylee
Back in November, I hosted an event to collect pajama donations for a local safe haven to families who are leaving a situation involving domestic abuse (Women’s Advocates). We incorporated local businesses in a pop-up market, to encourage awareness around our cause, as well as show support for the talented and valuable people in our small business community. One of the businesses who reached out to me was Tamarack Design Group, asking if we had room for them to have a table to display their floral design. I am a “yes” person, through and through. Even though we didn't know about this business, or who this “Melanie” was, we decided “the more the merrier”.
Melanie’s work is beautiful, and we now have one of her gorgeous wreaths hanging up at Steller Hair. (side note: Tamarack Design Group will be a part of MIA’s 2018 Art In Bloom exhibit).
Wondering why I bring this up? This is an example of a ripple effect. I didn't know Melanie, she didn't know me. She put herself out there, and asked to be a part of an event that could be a total flop. I took a chance inviting a business that I have no known connection, to set up for an event that represents my salon. We took a chance on each other.
Through all of this, Melanie started following the Steller Kindness Project, and nominated Kylee.
The interactions I just shared might seem ordinary, and they are. The incredible thing about the “ordinary”, it often grows to “extraordinary” if we allow it.
Life rarely has guarantees, and if we live in the bubble of what is “known”, we miss out on the beautiful rewards of exploring the unknown.
Your Name: Melanie B.
Nominee: Kylee L.
How Do You Know The Nominee?: Friend via Girl Creative and Flock Office
How Has Their Kindness Impacted You?: Kylee has worked very hard to make me a “pretend” introvert. She has promoted my business and photographed me throughout. She is a sounding board for everything. She is there to listen to me questioning myself about charging the numbers I need to to survive. She is there to help me grow. She is the emotional and knowledgeable support that every human needs to own a business as a woman and be confident about doing it.
How Has Their Kindness Inspired You?: She started and maintains Girl Creative. She fund's it entirely out of her own pocket. Kylee is the champion of women in the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul and beyond. She connects women to the other women that they need. It seems like a coworking event but it's so much more. She has created an emotional support group. She is the kindest, sweetest human and she carries so many of us on her shoulders.
(Sent via Steller Kindness Project)
Alright. Before meeting Kylee, I didn't know much about her. AFTER I met her, I learned about what a force of support, connection and kindness she has made possible through Girl.Creative (their tagline is “A collective of rad creative females in Minneapolis/St.Paul”)
A part of me wishes I would have done a little bit more research before meeting her, and another part of me is grateful that I didn’t. So much of how we are defined is by how people see us through social media, our public accomplishments, or the preconceived judgements of how we look on the outside.
Kylee made her entrance flustered, an hour or so after our planned time, and with her sweet 10 year old daughter, Lola (who was going to be picked up shortly by her ex husband). They had been volunteering at a nursing home on behalf of Lola’s girl scout troop (which is the best possible excuse ever to be late…just saying). I was not bothered one bit, because my evening belonged to Kylee, and I was excited for any amount of time I was able to spend getting to know her.
After getting Lola settled (she likes Star Wars, so immediately I wanted to adopt her), I sat Kylee down, and we started to chat.
She shared with me that, in that moment, and in that day, she felt like she was failing on multiple levels. Failing at being kind, frustrated at having to share joint custody of her sweet daughter, and fearing the eminent doom of disappointing others.
The way she portrayed her current state of mind was that she didn't deserve to be recognized for her kindness in that moment. Being kind doesn't equate to being perfect. Impacting others in beautiful ways doesn't only happen when you are the “best” version of yourself.
Kylee’s vulnerability created a cushion of connection that we could sink into together. It created a space where I felt safe to be vulnerable as well.
After Lola’s dad came by and picked her up (not before I gave her a few Star Wars goodies that I had laying around), we started the tough stuff: sharing with Kylee that, no matter how she feels in this exact moment, she has changed lives with her kindness, strength, inclusiveness and vulnerability.
I had asked Melanie to reach out to some people who she believed to have been impacted by Kylee’s kindness, and she sent me some pretty powerful responses. I honestly didn't know what I was going to do with these little notes, but I knew that they would be important for Kylee to have.
That Sunday morning (I met Kylee later that evening), I had an idea: What if I created a reminder jar. A jar that she could go to on days that felt painful, or filled with discouragement. I printed out all of the sweet notes, ran to Target (obviously), purchased a mason jar, and put together a gift that I hoped would feel encouraging.
I started out by sharing my intention with the Steller Kindness Project, which then led into me sharing what Melanie wrote when nominating her (and also prompted me to set the kleenex box on Kylee’s lap).
I then told Kylee,
“I am going to make you even more uncomfortable, and that is ok. I am going to read you notes from people who have been impacted by you. I believe there is something powerful about hearing these, instead of you reading them to yourself”.
Reading to Kylee, note after note, was a beautiful honor. Seeing her face as I read off the names of the people who took the time to share their experiences with her was incredible and created that feeling in your gut where you are so happy it hurts.
After letting ourselves “be” in that moment, we then moved on to her hair, and getting to know each other. We decided on doing a color retouch (to blend out her silver highlights) and a beautiful, melty balayage. She has SUPER long hair, and we wanted to keep it that way! Because of her amount of hair, we had the opportunity to chat for a few hours (which was fine with me, because I could tell immediately that we could talk indefinitely).
Something that Kylee and I have in common is that our brains move faster than our words. We bounced around to every topic imaginable, and it felt natural and genuine.
I loved hearing about her relationship with her daughter, and her authentic desire to see Lola grow and develop into who LOLA is, and not what society/others tell her she should be. Kylee is giving Lola such a gift. She is giving her a space to talk through her experiences, emotions, fears and uncertainties. She is giving her safety to BE.
Not only does Kylee create that safety and encouragement with Lola, it is obvious that she creates that with the people of Girl.Creative, and the other ventures she is a part of.
Even though this was the first time I met Kylee, I felt safe. This is a rare thing for me, and because of that, it was impossible to dismiss.
We talked about divorce, we talked about loneliness, we talked about the fear of people questioning our intentions and integrity. Talking about loneliness with someone who also experiences loneliness creates this feeling of being less alone. This conversation stuck with me.
At the end of our time together I felt cared about. Going into these experiences I have the crazy notion that I am going to be the one “giving”, when, in reality, I leave feeling so much fuller.
This. Is. Kindness.
Not only does Kylee create opportunities for women in our community to connect and support each other, she seeks out ways to spread kindness beyond the people she can meet face-to-face.
She recently ventured out to remind our Minneapolis neighbors that they matter (with the help of the Don’t Give Up Signs Movement).
This brings us back to the “Ripple Effect”. Anything you do with authenticity and kindness creates an opportunity to impact someone in a positive way.