Updated: May 10, 2021
Hi, I'm Kelli! It's nice to meet you. My story is an interesting one, and I am so happy to share this with you! You ready for this?
I was born and raised in Rantoul, Illinois. A small town in central Illinois. I went to a private grade school and then the public high school. After high school I went on to the University of Illinois where I got my bachelor's degree in Human Development and Family Studies and my master's in Social Work.
Stay with me...just a little more background info before we get into the good stuff!
After I graduated with my Bachelor's Degree I went on to work full time while I was getting my master's degree. I worked in Children and Family Welfare, Crisis Response, Juvenile Justice System, Elderly Healthcare, and Elementary Schools. As you can see I got a lot of different experiences during those 3 years of my master's program.
After I finally graduated with my MSW, and what I thought was going to be a clear process, it was actually the most stressful and scary, yet enlightening and influential period of my life. After graduation I decided to take 6 months off to travel and really explore what the heck I wanted to do with my life. I lived in Thailand and Cambodia for a couple of weeks doing service projects. (another blog post about this coming up). I worked at a summer camp for children with autism and social emotional disabilities. I went to California and Chicago to nanny for complete strangers. That was definitely an experience! At the end of these 6 months, I had traveled to many places, dabbled in many random job possibilities, and then ended up staying near my home town and working for a local non-profit.
Now I know what you're thinking. This is not the ending you were expecting to the 6 months of travel and adventure, and believe me, neither was I. What is crazy about this whole story is the job I landed and ended up working for for 2 years, (currently still working there, and loving it!) ultimately was the pivotal turning point in my life. Because of this job, I am where I am today. I'm eternally grateful for that experience.
Now here's the thing, COVID sucks, am I right? No matter who you are, or how "healthy" your mental health is, everyone struggled in one way shape or form because of COVID. Personally, I never struggled with mental health issues, or at least I was never aware of them, until COVID happened. You take a girl who is an absolutely control freak, adventurous, free willed woman and tell her she can't do the things she had planned to do. She can't see her friends or travel like she wanted to. Yeah that didn't go well for me. (personally still working on it) But really, I STRUGGLED! I had no motivation, I was angry all the time, I was tired, I would even say depressed. The first couple of months of lockdown were not easy for me, and I know they weren't easy for just about everyone.
So, at that point I realized something. I can either do something about this, or I can just get worst and do nothing about it. Well that's not typical Kelli, so I decided to do something about it. I thought about how impactful coloring and creativity has been for my clients, so I decided to create an adult coloring and activity book, called Freaking Awesome Adult Activity Book. (another blog post about this book specifically)
Well anyways, I created this book for myself. To help myself get out of my funk and try to somehow enjoy life again. Well my sister, which you all will get to know her very well through my work, but she had the idea to share it with others, because the thing we all should know, if you are experiencing something in your life, chances are really high that someone else is experiencing that too. So I decided to sell them, and they BLEW UP! The feedback I got from those books was way more than I ever expected. People told me that this was exactly what they needed in a time like this.
Well, fast forward to now. How did I decide to create this whole thing? Well, after the coloring book I also created a 30-day self-guided journal that was more designed to work through mental health struggles with concrete activities and journaling. After a couple months of that book being released I was getting messages for more. People needed more. People wanted more.
So, with that, The Inspire Pack was created.
I think it's really important to look back on your own story and think about how you got where you are today. Everything that you experience impacts who you are today. It's up to you to decide if that is for the better or worse.