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  • Writer's pictureHolly

Bad Ass Shepherd for the Dark Night of the Soul

Updated: Jun 19, 2023

My friend Kelly has a big milestone birthday today, and in thinking of the best way to honor this moment, I thought I might celebrate her by gifting her with the best testimonial I know how to give.

When I first met Kelly, I was a person drowning in my own limitations, but I couldn’t see it, nor could anyone else, because I was too busy playing the part of the highly productive, “happy person” all the time. But then I read her book and I came undone.

At its core, her book, A Carlin Home Companion, is an example of the kind of grit it takes to step out from under the shadow of greatness and find your own spot in the sun. To find your own place in this world by being truly and authentically you.

When I found myself crying my way through the last half of the book (and not the pretty kind of cry) that was my sign that I must be struggling with something similar as well. So naturally, when she announced she was starting a coaching program called Humans on the Verge I immediately reached out. And that was one of the single greatest things I have ever done for myself in this life.

I am not the same person I was 5 years ago (or however the hell long it’s been). I’ve lost track. I’ve changed my career, my entire approach to my life, laughed in the face of my deepest fears and limitations, allowed myself to grieve false dreams and expectations. And the result is a life where I feel more and more at peace and in my purpose than I ever really thought possible.

I wake up surprised everyday that I somehow got here. I was on one trajectory, and now I am completely on another one. And all I can say is it’s just so much easier and more enjoyable to be one’s self.

She’ll say I did all that. And I did. But it was most definitely her as well. She has a way of seeing straight past all the cleverly disguised bullshit, right to the heart of who you really are, and being a stand for nothing less than that.

She’s fierce and funny and oh so very kind. She knows how heartbreaking life can be, but has learned the power of staring straight into the face of it. And she’s fearless in holding space for others while they stare into the face of it as well. She does it because she’s committed to helping others reach those gifts that she knows, from experience, are waiting on the other side. Basically she’s become one bad ass shepherd for folks going through their own dark night’s of the soul.

Somehow along the way, our coaching relationship transcended into one of my favorite friendships. And then in a surprising turn of events, she gave me the honor of allowing me to be her writing coach (because that’s just how badass she is, always open to learn from others as much as she’s willing to teach). And this, of course, ended up being a gift right back to me again, because I ended up learning so much about who I am as a writing coach (which, according to her is “a story witch” said with her special brand of enthusiasm.)

Kelly, there are no words for how happy I am that you were born on this day, 60 years ago. The words above will have to suffice. I am but one, of many, of the countless lives you’ve changed, just by being willing to show up and be fully yourself in the world. It is obvious to me that the best is yet to come for you. That these next few decades will truly be your golden years. You’ve done the work and it’s time to reap the rewards. With flair. And so I wish you the happiest of birthdays. Sing, dance and ride your heart out.

And to anyone who is reading this, who can feel deep inside that their life was meant for something more, but have no idea how to get there, you might want to consider reaching out to Kelly. You'll thank yourself later.

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1 Comment

Susan Jizba
Susan Jizba
Jun 17, 2023

Such a beautifully written, real, and powerfully authentic tribute!

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