“What I have learned to do is find the gifts in those things, and as weird as that may sound, I believe that everything that comes to us in life and everything that happens to us in life does contain a gift, and it’s our job to unwrap it.”
Toni Reece: Thank you so much, Tara, for agreeing to be part of the Project today, and before we begin, can you please introduce yourself?
Tara Kennedy Kline: Sure. My name is Tara Kennedy Kline. I live in Berks County, Pennsylvania, with two sons, Max and Alex, and my husband Chris, and I am an author, speaker, dream coach, and entrepreneur.
Toni: Fantastic! So Tara, when you think of that word inspiration, who do you inspire, and how does that happen?
Tara: I believe I inspire people who feel that they’re hopeless. That is very new for me. That’s a very new reality for me. It kind of took the four questions that you sent me to get me to realize that, because I really had to think about that because I work a lot with just everyday people, and I work a lot with teens and families, and what I found was a lot of the people that are drawn to me are people that feel like they’re in a place that they don’t have any way out; that they’ve gotten themselves somewhere that they feel lost; that they feel like the world has started to stack up against them. I don’t seek these people out. It’s kind of one of the things where they come to me.
Toni: Well Tara, what happens with the people that come to you that you’re attracting and this realization that you’ve had? What happens in that transaction between you and these people that you believe either draws inspiration or gives inspiration? What happens?
Tara: Conversation. It is … conversation has become the model of who I am, and I think that it’s become a lost art in everything, all of the technology that we have today, and so when these people come to me, we just talk. Through our conversation, I think they realize that they’re not alone. A lot of what has happened in my life has given me the ability to say “I get that, and it’s going to be okay.”
Toni: So there’s a lot of empathy that’s going on.
Tara: A lot. A lot, and at the same time, a lot of empowerment because the things that have happened to me in my life we wouldn’t have time to go through in this short period, but the things that have happened to me in my life, everything from death to divorce to debt and diagnosis and everything in between, a lot of people would have given up. A lot of people would have said “Wow, this isn’t going to work for me.”
What I have learned to do is find the gifts in those things, and as weird as that may sound, I believe that everything that comes to us in life and everything that happens to us in life does contain a gift, and it’s our job to unwrap it.
Toni: Now, when you speak of empathy going into empowerment – which I love the way you put that – where in there is the exploration of someone’s potential?
Tara: I think I do a lot of “Okay, that’s happening, and what’s the worst thing that can happen if that happens?” You know, people will come to me with a lot of “what-if” scenarios. “Well, what if this happens, and what if that happens?”
Okay, what if that doesn’t happen? What if you would take the bull by the horns and say “I’m not going to let that happen because this is where I’m going.”
Being a dream coach, I’ve learned how to speak to people in a way that inspires them to tell the stories that celebrate them, and in doing that, they’re able to see that there really is good going on, they just have to focus on it. You know, it’s kind of funny, because that is actually a chapter in my book. If you’ve ever played the game punch buggy, if you look around the road when you’re driving, you really don’t notice a lot of Volkswagen Beetles anymore. And my kids and I have started playing the game punch buggy, and it’s amazing, because I tell people now when we’re driving down the street, at any given time I bet you we’ll see between five and 15 punch buggies on the road, because that’s what we started to focus on.
I look at life as you see things through the filter that you choose to see things through, and if you focus on the good in life, you’re going to bring more of it, you’re going to see more of it, and you’re going to go after more of it. If you’re constantly focused on the bad things that are happening to you, then the bad things are going to continue to happen to you, because that’s what you’re going to be focused on.
Toni: And so through the art of conversation, you provide this laser beam focus for someone.
Tara: Yes; and usually not intentionally. It’s kind of funny – usually we’ll be sitting there having a five-minute conversation, and then we’ll part ways, and either they or someone else that knows them will come back to me a few days later and say “I don’t know what you said, but they told me that this happened to them, or they’ve made this choice, or this phenomenal thing is going on in their life right now” and I’ll kind of like smile and nod. And it used to give me goose bumps, and it still does, but now I kind of go “Yeah, I kind of figured that could happen.”
Toni: So Tara, what inspires you?
Tara: My children. My dreams. My own potential. And I think they all kind of go together. I do a lot of journaling. I do a lot of active journaling where I’ll just sit and imagine what my dream life would look like a year from now, and then I write that all out in living color. And when I start to see those things coming back and happening and I start to realize the people coming into my life that are moving me towards those goals, that inspires me.
Toni: Well, now, let me ask you – when you find yourself on a day where you’re going “Yeah, I could use a little inspiration today,” do you tend to reach for the same tools or resources to kind of move you along?
Tara: I do have a lot of those days. I think we all do. I’ve created a thing called a SMILE journal, and it’s Small Moments Inspiring Laughter Every Day, and what I’ve put in there are the things that … the proof that life is really going well — things, articles that I’ve cut out that made me laugh or cartoons or pictures of my family that bring me joy, a thank you note that I’ve received from people — and I keep them in this little photo journal that I’ve created. When I’m feeling like I’m really having a bad day and that things aren’t going well at all, I can usually open up that book … I can always open up that book and find something that makes me go “You know what, you’ve got it pretty good. Yeah, life is pretty awesome, so keep plugging, because the next big thing is right around the corner.”
Toni: Now, have you always been a positive dreamer?
Tara: Oh my gosh, no! Oh no, not at all. Yeah, back in between 2002 and 2006 I was actually in a clinical depression. I was having regular anxiety attacks. It was bad. Life was really bad. I was going through a separation with my husband. Yeah, my mom was diagnosed with leukemia in that time. My brother died of a heart attack in that time. So no, I wasn’t always a positive dreamer. I was actually drug into it kicking and screaming, you might say.
Toni: Were you drug, or did someone push?
Tara: Well, in the beginning someone pushed. In the beginning, my husband pushed. He said, “Enough is enough, and I don’t believe in any of this stuff, but here’s this book called The Secret, and I think you should read it, because I’ve heard people really get good stuff out of it. If nothing else is going to work for you, maybe this will.” It was a short read, and I have ADD, so that was okay. That started me on a path.
I was drug into a conference with Jack Canfield and Marcia Wieder, and Marcia Wieder is ultimately the person who certified me as a dream coach. So yeah, when I didn’t walk, when I was pushed, I was pulled.
Toni: And that’s really … I appreciate your honesty here, because there are people that are listening to this Project all over the world, and they may be in a state where they’re feeling that hopelessness. As you said, you’re helping people to get out of that state, but there is a moment, isn’t there, that occurs, and that moment may be several days or several months long, but there is a crucial moment where you say “Okay.” Whether it’s that push behind, whether it’s a … you know, from a, I don’t know, a metaphor perspective, that push, but you did that and you had that. But isn’t there a sense of courage that happens as well that kept you walking forward?
Tara: Absolutely. Absolutely; and I think it’s kind of ironic. I don’t tell this story very often, Toni, so I don’t know what’s pulling this out of me in this moment, but there was a pinnacle moment when I was at my ultimate low, and I literally was standing in my closet crying. I thought “This can’t get any worse.” It was just one of those places. I looked on my shelf and there was a bracelet there, and it was one of those WWJD bracelets, and I looked at it, and at first I didn’t even understand what it stood for. I couldn’t even figure it out.
In my head, I heard “Bear the burden and make it right.” I don’t know what that meant, I’ve never heard it before in my life, but the words were in my head so loudly and I thought, you know what, “Deal with it, fix it, and move on.” And that became a mantra for me. In that moment, I felt weight lifted off of my shoulders, literally. From that moment, I started myself on a path, you know, the journey of a thousand miles. I started myself on a path where if something wasn’t going the way I expected it to go, I would deal with it, I would fix it to the best of my ability, and I would move on. And in that moment, my life changed.
Toni: Thank you very, very much for sharing that story, and I know that are many people reading this transcript, listening to your interview, that will relate to that. And quite honestly, Tara, what I’m hearing from you also is this … you said you don’t seek people out, they come to you with this sense of hopelessness and you help them through the art of conversation to that feeling of empowerment. The story you tell, you had that conversation – don’t know where it came from, everybody has to draw their own conclusion – but through a statement, a conversation, one-sided, it moved you forward. So isn’t it amazing how this is coming full circle for you?
Toni: That’s pretty darn cool.
Tara: It’s pretty darn cool, yeah.
Toni: So the final question of the Project is, what are you doing now to explore your own potential?
Tara: I challenge myself every day. Every night, I write in a journal. I keep a gratitude journal of things that I’m thankful for. Big, little, doesn’t matter. And then I write down goals for myself. And I do have a dream board in my office, which is hysterical, another 15-minute conversation, but I challenge myself every day to put a goal out there that I’m going to take steps to achieve. And sometimes the goals are as small as, you know, packing for vacation before I have to be at a meeting, and sometimes my goals are as big as, you know, I’m going to get on the Today Show. But every day, I take steps towards my goals.
Toni: Well, you have been absolutely very forthcoming in this interview, and we’ll have a link at the bottom of the transcript of how people can visit your website and learn a little bit about your book and you. And for the interview that you’ve given today, truly, we cannot thank you enough at the Get Inspired! Project.
Tara: Thank you, Toni, I appreciate it.
Toni: You are quite welcome. It has been a pleasure.
Tara: Thank you.
Toni: Take care.
Tara: You too.
For more information about Tara Kennedy Kline: www.tarakennedykline.com