Kelly is a Canadian Registered Massage Therapist, educator, storyteller, lover of life, people, animals, and the planet, duchess of nurturing touch, hugger of peeps and talking trees, dweller in the realm of sunbeams, wisdom seeker, soul doula, cuddler of babies, hand holder of the olders, resounder of respite, proud mama of amazing humans, plant and fur babies, compassionate extraordinaire. Founder of One Caring Human Initiative.
Q What advice would you give to your past self?
A Listen for your soul, follow your inner guidance, and forget what society wants you to be.
Q When you first started your career, how did you know you were ready and what made you start?
A I had wanted to become a massage since I was 20 years old, but at the time the tuition deterred me. So, I waited for the perfect timing, which happened to be when I was freshly divorced, a single mum to 2 young children, and my dad had just passed away from pancreatic cancer. Perfect timing looks different to everyone, I guess!
My circumstances bolstered my determination, and my family and friends gave me the continuous support to get through the difficult program and start my new career. For more than a decade, I have heard and seen heartbreaking stories of people being mistreated in our healthcare systems. My practice includes patients with chronic disease and pain, pre and post mastectomy care, infant massage classes, pediatric treatment, the elderly and the dying. As a teacher of Massage Therapy for many years, I ran weekly outreach with students at care homes. This created safety, connection, and community for both the residents and the students.Running this program for several years, these seniors quickly found their way into my heart.When covid19 shut down resident access to visitors, interaction, and human touch, it was heartbreaking to be considered non-essential in the care of these beautiful people.After an excruciating 18 months of not being able to enter the building, we were finally allowed to return. My friend and resident of the home, Marion, saw me and cried. She recounted the horror of being isolated for so long, forced to eat 3 meals a day in their room, behind closed hallway fire doors. Extremely limited socializing and activities, boredom and agonizing loneliness. Some passed away during this time, some that Marion believed died from being lonely and depressed. She admitted that she would rather die than suffer that kind of isolation again.In fact, of the 14,000+ Canadians who succumbed to covid19 in the first 3 months of lockdown, more than 11,000 were residents in care homes. That’s 80% of covid deaths, and most probably died alone. It seems that if just one Caring Human or loved one were allowed to visit consistently and offer compassionate presence and nurturing touch, quality of life would have been higher, and possibly lives could have been saved.This is when the One Caring Human Initiative was born. We aim to increase visibility and exceptional care in the form of quality time and safe touch to the elderly and the dying in care homes, hospice, and palliative hospitals. More information can be found at www.Onecaringhuman.org
Q Who or what has been your greatest influence in business?
A. I have several mentors from whom I have learned a great deal, that it’s difficult to name just one. They include teachers in the massage therapy industry, authors such as Gabor Maté, Brené Brown, Martha Beck, Elizabeth Gilbert, Luvvie Ajayi Jones, and Glennon Doyle. My world would not be the same without these folks and their courage to share their knowledge and truth.Last year, I had the privilege of being part of two amazing professional development programs. One was Simon Fraser University’s, “Community Leaders Igniting Change” program, which dynamically help me expand my skillset in facing diverse and adaptive challenges and recognizing the kind of leader I wanted to be.The other was an incredible women’s mentoring circle lead by Female Strong founder, Callan Rush, during which I discovered insight into my truest expression as a business owner and community leader.4. What is your #1 business goal this year?
I have been gathering a team in order to plan and begin a pilot project at both a hospice and a care home to increase compassionate presence and nurturing touch. This will be an important step to discover measurable outcomes and improve quality of life for the elderly and the dying. We need to gain valuable information through research, to then apply for funding on a more permanent basis.
Q What do you have going on right now?
A Along with my work as an RMT, and as the founder of a non-profit start up, I am growing a coaching practice to support folks in finding their truest selves and in following their joy.
I’m learning more about individual and group coaching with Martha Beck in her Wayfinder Life Coach Training through the end of 2023. It’s an incredibly supportive community and is helping me heighten my intuitive listening, self-trust, and creativity. I believe this program will benefit my life and those I love and work with.
I’m also writing my first book, called One Caring Human: Giving and Receiving Exceptional Care in a Disconnected World. I hope to send the first draft to my editor shortly, which I’m super excited about! I also have a second book in mind.
Q How do you envision your future and the future of your business?
A For many years, I’ve been cultivating a life and a community that I’m in love with. I can happily say that I love everything I do in my daily life. All my work is fulfilling, the amount of time I spend working leaves me time to write and follow my creative ideas, and I’m surrounded by the most loving friends and intentional family. I imagine continuing to cultivate and expand the joy in my life and the lives of others.
I see the One Caring Human Initiative expanding into a national program, including building a family Caregiver fund, to provide funding for those struggling to care for aging and dying parents or loved ones, when they need to take time away from work or business. My siblings and I had a tough time financially while our Mum was sick last year, as well as after she passed away last December. My sister and I were the ones who cared for her physically the most, and spent time with her during her palliative stage, which meant a lot of time away from work. As both of us are self-employed, there was no funding available to help us pay expenses, hers nor ours, adding frustration and worry during the most difficult of times. We were blessed to have some support from friends who cared deeply for her. This made a huge difference for us; however, this is a gap in our society that needs attention.
The eventual big vision is to create a community wellness village that provides primary and allied healthcare, personal development courses, healthy living learning and support, a place to grow food, to teach, and to learn. A village where neighbours become family. My research for this has been in the works for several years now.
Q What is your favorite thing about what you do in your career?
A. My favorite thing about what I do is get to hold someone’s hand, hold someone’s gaze, hold space for whoever they are in the moment. I adore being able to give love to another by offering compassionate presence and nurturing touch. It is an honour to see the profound effects of sharing something fundamental and health-giving as human dignity, even if that someone is dying. When I give love and touch, I am also receiving it. The connection benefits us both.
Q Do you have a mantra?
A Yes, two! Everyone Deserves Exceptional Care. Love is Everything.
Q What is your #1 priority in your career and daily work?
A Magic is my priority. What magic means to me is a combination of Love, Integrity, and Balance. As long as I can remember, love has been the driver of my inner life, which translates into emotion, beliefs, and actions. I didn’t realize this until reflections of experiences in my youth led me to see the trend. As a teenager and young adult, I earned nicknames such as ‘Señorita Amor’ on a trip through Central America, or ‘Velcro’ as a camp counselor because my campers would constantly be stuck to me. I’ve been dubbed a ‘Soul Doula’, and ‘Human Ativan’ in my work as an RMT.
Integrity of self and in relationship with others is priority because I’ve spent previous decades ignoring my inner desires and intuition, to my detriment, and finally discovered that I feel aligned with my soul when I follow my joy. Integrity of spirit when working with others feels the most true to who I am.
Balance is important to me and is related to integrity when it comes to listening to my body and honouring what it needs in terms of what I put it through each day. Spending time with loved ones everyday is crucial. Creative pursuits like writing, performing in musicals, giving myself the space to dream and be silent, are nurturing practices that maintain my wholeness. Without all of it, my work would feel less meaningful, and my heart wouldn’t be filled with the closeness and depth that helps me thrive. Fulfillment comes from my insides and flows outward. This is my magic.
Q What keeps you motivated on a daily basis?
A Love love love! I feel a deep connection to my soul and the unity of all things. I feel so much love for the people in my life, and my deepest values are nurturing, human dignity, and continuous learning. Knowing what I value most makes everyday an adventure that brings opportunity for more love and connection. The idea of contributing to a caring community feels profound and joyful to me.
Q Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
A I see myself enjoying life, family, living creatively and authentically everyday. I hope to be following my curiosity and continuing to learn all the things, breath in nature, being part of musicals, relaxing, cuddling with kitties and other soft animals, growing food in my garden, and helping the world become more compassionate.
Marcel Proust Character Questionnaire
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
What is your current state of mind?
-Calm, ready, empowered
What is your favorite occupation?
What is your most treasured possession?
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
-My partner and children
What is your favorite journey?
What is your most marked characteristic?
When and where were you the happiest?
What is it that you most dislike?
-Violation of human dignity
What is your greatest fear?
What is your greatest extravagance?
-My truck (I love her)
Which living person do you most despise?
What is your greatest regret?
-Not knowing more about child development and how to foster healthy attachment when my children
Which talent would you most like to have?
-To heal all ailments with a touch OR to speak every language in the universe OR to know how to play
every instrument on earth beautifully
Where would you like to live?
-Right where I am
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
-Disconnection from myself
What is the quality you most like in a man? What is the quality you most like in a woman?
-Loving kindness in all genders/connection
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
-I accept all my traits
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
What do you most value in your friends?
-Love and connection
Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Who are your heroes in real life?
-Glennon Doyle, Abby Wambach, Brene Brown
Which living person do you most admire?
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
On what occasions do you lie?
-When I embellish or exaggerate a story
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
-I love you (though I don’t believe overuse is possible with this one!)
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
-I’d love to be 2 or 3 inches taller!
What are your favorite names?
Gavin and Shane (my children)
How would you like to die?
-While flying on a dragon
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
-A cat in my household!
What is your motto?
-Everybody deserves exceptional care