When I started this project, I told myself I would follow wherever it lead me. Of course, I was hoping to help some folks along the way. But I really had no idea what would happen. Would anyone respond? Or even care? Would the stories of everyday women really lift and connect others? Was revealing my whole life on the web worth any of it? Well, I’m here to tell you, yes. 

Since August, I have heard from strangers and those I know well, from folks I didn’t expect, and from old friends and school mates. I’ve met some truly incredible women who have revealed so much of themselves, in the hopes of helping others. This work may not seem important in the midst of all we’re going through today, but I believe it is. We need to feel connected more today than ever. Comments like, “yes, I’ve felt that way too”, and “thank you for letting me share my story”, and “I struggle with the same thing”, are my fuel. And so, you’ve inspired me to continue. 

It hasn’t been all rainbows and unicorns though, truth be told. Some days are quiet, without engagement at all. Social media can be deadly when your post lands with silence. I’ve had some epic fails, like my Coffee with Karm launch video. There have been other attempts at engagement that didn’t quite resonate, like my journaling session and Amazing Women projects. One of my most impactful podcasts was tainted with a technical error, and that one hurt badly! But as they say, nothing worthwhile is ever easy. 

It’s a slow road, and I’m in for the long haul. Some need time to get comfortable with the idea of sharing, and I get it. But ask any of my contributing authors or podcast guests, and they will tell you, that sharing their stories was monumental and transformative for them. I am so grateful for their trust and generosity. For those who’ve listened to a podcast, read a story or shared this project with someone you love, I am also grateful. Your comments truly are what keep me going. 

One lovely lady did write an essay for my Amazing Women project. Just one. And yesterday, I got to deliver flowers and read that essay to an unsuspecting, beautiful woman. Three women stood in a doorway, 6-feet apart with masks on, reading and hearing words that had never before been shared. Time stood still for that moment. Three women, holding back tears, hearts bursting with pride, gratitude and love. Love between a mother and daughter, and for the rest of us women, too. Because we know how awfully hard life is, and how wonderfully glorious it is too, and how important it is to occasionally stop, and take it all in. 

Now I get to share that essay with you. 

Mary Telatnik

I see my mother, Mary Telatnik, as a picture of strength and a model of grace and good character. She has put herself out for people her entire life without expecting or receiving much in return. 

The most obvious way I see her strength is as a mother. She has parented three very different girls with the perfect mix of sensitivity and conviction. I would call her a quiet type, but she was at all times a model of grace and good behavior. She taught my sisters and I what is right by doing right. She taught us what is important by living those important things. She had a strong but gentle hand in shaping our values and helping us to see that family, respect, and pure goodness are the beauty of life. Still today I look to her when I need focus, perspective, or that feeling of being wrapped in pure love. I am most at peace in her presence. 

My mother was a giver in her profession as a registered nurse. She is a giver in her personal life, sharing her talent on the piano at church and at home. She is a giver in the kitchen – making everyone’s favorite things upon request and creating beautiful full tables for us to gather around. She has quietly given of herself to make others happy. I wish for her to be surrounded by beauty in all its forms, for beauty is what she has given to me.

                                                                                                 ~ Mary Beth Telatnik Smith 

So now you understand how lucky I am. I get to do this. And I’m so very glad you’re doing it with me.

Thank you. xo Karm