kansas city, missouri.  |  daughter. sister. wife. mother. friend. homemaker.

I met Kelly Kramer in a pool hall in Chicago in the nineties. She and I were both working second jobs as waitresses to get ahead in the world. During the day, she worked as a sales rep while I worked at The Second City. By night — we served up cocktails to the delight of thirsty neighborhood regulars. Kramer and I would meet at the service station to swap stories of sexual harassment and delusion. Kramer was the girl who could wear a Charlie’s Angels jumpsuit and pull it off as if she were Jaclyn Smith. The men could barely contain themselves.

  We ended up living in the same building and it was she who taught me that mascara and nail polish were perfectly acceptable accoutrements. In fact, they were a right of passage for women, to be worn with honor and grace. (I was raised by my father in the formative becoming a lady years. While he was loving— he was clueless. Especially with females.)

Kramer would habitually place gifts on my back door stoop that encouraged femininity. I would open my back door to take out the garbage and there would be a bottle of pink nail polish carefully placed to the side of the door. She left these little treats often: mascara, lip gloss, concealer. Once day , she even hung a bra on the door knob. (Yes. I often went bra-less. The true sign up growing up motherless. I was flat as a board so I didn’t think it mattered much. Turns out– it totally did. Victoria Secret provided padding in all the much need places.)

I adore Kramer. She is a faithful friend who saw my beauty long before I did. She taught me that I could dress and act like a lady— giving me permission to surrender my societal resistance “I don’t need to pluck my eyebrows for anyone” attitude. Thank God for Kramer. I don’t place lipstick on my lips without thinking if her. It is no wonder that she gave birth to two beautiful girls — life is exactly as it should be. Enjoy today’s highlight with one incredible mother.



How does one live a graceful life?

Well, I think in a nutshell it’s getting through any difficulties you’ve been dealt, by using the gifts you’ve been given. Those gifts might include brains, friends, beauty, a sense of humor, it can even be good to use fear to scare you into doing your best.

  

How would any of the previous mentioned gifts be used?

Brains, of course, to figure out how to get through it. Friends, to lean on and ask for advice or even just vent when you just want to talk yourself through a situation. Outer beauty, to open doors to show off your inner beauty and brains. When I say outer beauty, I mean comb your hair, dab a little lip gloss, you know, clean it up a bit. Obviously, a sense of humor helps to get through the hard days. And finally fear, which can be a huge motivator.

  

What was your greatest challenge?

My oldest daughter Lucy. She was born with a metabolic condition called phenylketonuria (or PKU for short). My husband and I were told when she was 11 days old that her metabolic condition required strict adherence to a specific diet or she would have guaranteed mental retardation by her first birthday. (No pressure!) Fear got me through my greatest challenge. She was my first born baby and I used to hold her and wonder why this child had this condition and how in the world was I going to manage to make her “normal?” She grew and she learned and she is now a smart, healthy, “normal” almost nine -year old girl. After years of counting the grams of protein she eats every day I consider that girl my greatest accomplishment. She is smart and kind and talented.

On that day she was diagnosed, I prepared myself for the possibility of a very different outcome. When I see her learning and thriving in school and extracurricular activities I think I’m the proudest parent in the room because I remember when it was unknown how life would turn out for her. My fear and a lot of help from family and friends and my own God-given brains and imagination got us both where we are today.

  

Let’s get back to grace …

I believe grace comes with surrounding yourself with people you love to make you the best person you can be. When I met my husband I told him, “I don’t like most people!” I didn’t mean that as an insult to most people I met over the years. I meant it as a compliment to the people I keep close to me. I’ve learned that “friends” can come in many forms. You have friends that you call when you want a “drinking buddy.” You have friends that you call when you need advice on shoes or nail polish. You probably only have a very small number of friends that you’ll call at 3 am with a flat tire. I’m proud to say I have friends who fit into all those scenarios, and I’m very lucky to have that. When I was younger I used to be disappointed by “friends” who didn’t fit into ALL those categories. Sometimes I still find myself disappointed by people whom I may have put in a different category than where I think they “should’ve been.” I’m still learning and trying to be more forgiving about the nature of friends and people in general.

I think the single most important thing that comes with having grace and persevering through this life is showing appreciation and saying “thank you.” It goes a long way and people always remember whether you did or didn’t say it. So to sum up: be kind, love your family and friends, use your gifts, and say “thank you!”