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March 20, 2020

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I love the word “kindred” and using it in phrases like “be kindred,” “kindred friend,” and “live everyday kindred” (our tagline), even though its dictionary definition would probably disagree with the expanse of how I’m choosing to use it. The dictionary definition is pretty simple and straightforward, something along the lines of “being related to or kin to,” hence the kin-dred, implying family or relative connections of some kind.

But if you’ve been around Kindred & Co. long enough, you’ll know the word “kindred” has more depth and significance than the dictionary definition gives it. Kindred, in my opinion, captures the heart of what I envision women (and other humans) can be and what I believe each of us have been created to be. In the current state of our world, I believe even more we should be kindred friends and living everyday kindred. And to be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever really stopped and taken time to explain what “kindred” means or what it looks like to “be kindred” or “live everyday kindred,” so we’re going to take some time now and maybe it’ll help each of us understand why now makes more sense than ever.

I first came across the word kindred in a childhood favorite story, “Anne of Green Gables.” Anne was a fiery young orphan girl who moved from home to home and had a deep heart longing for a friend, a kindred friend. For Anne, kindred went far beyond meaning being related to or kin to. It had to mean more since she had no known family of her own. Kindred, for Anne, meant someone she was connected to and someone who helped her experience belonging.

Belonging is such an important word for our current world, one that is admitting to greater loneliness and anxiety, social and general. Belonging means there’s a sense of safety, security, acceptance, and love. It means if I belong to a group or to someone, then I’m assured to be seen and known. That’s a powerful feeling.

There are unfortunately people who distort belonging for means to control and abuse someone else, and this is wrong. But the wholesome and pure definition of belonging is for someone to feel a sense of home.

For Anne, kindred friends (or spirits as she often called them) helped her experience belonging. They helped her feel accepted, known, seen, secure, and loved. And it wasn’t because they were just sweet friends who loved her outfits or complimented her hair (although they did that too), it was because there was depth in how they helped Anne feel belonging (and visa versa, Anne towards them):

  • Seeking to understand as a means to love one another better

  • Sitting in the mess and chaos of life, not diminishing or invalidating the feelings associated with mess

  • Loving and caring enough to not let the mess dictate life and next steps

  • Seeing the potential in someone and who s/he is becoming, calling it out and encouraging challenging her/him towards it

  • Celebrating when there are celebrations to be had

  • Grieving and mourning the loss in life

  • Fighting for abundant joy

  • Pointing one another towards beauty in the world, within themselves, and the beauty that can be created

  • Extending grace and forgiveness when miscommunication and accidental hurt occurs

  • Being warriors, fighters and cheerleaders of dreams and goals

  • Pushing one another towards the scary that’s for our good and cheerleading when we make the steps towards it

  • Being intentional with words and actions

But it wasn’t just about how Anne and her friends were being kindred towards one another, but also what it looked like for herself to be kindred. Among all the other things listed above, for Anne to be kindred for her friends, it also meant:

  • Being intentional with her personal time

  • Practicing stillness and reflection so there would be space and capacity for caring, loving, celebrating, grieving, being intentional, etc.

  • Seeking opportunity to connect

  • Practicing a posture of wholehearted

What kind of world would we live in if it was full of kindred people? People who sought to encourage one another to be the best they could see them becoming. People who practiced wholehearted intentionality in who they wanted to become and help others and the world become. People who embraced life with abundant joy. People who didn’t neglect the hard in life, but balanced it with gratitude. People who sought joy, connection, intention, beauty.

Notice something? The words and phrases used to describe a kindred friend and kindred people are Kindred & Co.’s mission statement expanded upon. When I thought about what I wanted this company and business to be about, these were the phrases that came to mind. This was the type of person and friend I envisioned each woman and human was created to be and that was where I wanted to develop and encourage people in their life journey. This was the community I envisioned creating around my brand and this is why no other word, beyond “kindred” made sense to have in the name.

So when I say “be kindred” or “kindred friend” or “live everyday kindred,” this is what I envision. It’s the depth of all those words and phrases culminating into one little word.

And while it’s 100% important to strive to live like this everyday (knowing we’ll fall short of that expectation because we’re humans), I believe it’s 110% more important now in the midst of crisis. Our friends, our neighbors, our community, our strangers, are hurting and anxious and fearful. You might be this way too. And what would it look like, if someone acted like a kindred friend to someone in need, how would that change that hurting person and how would it change the kindred person?

I’m not entirely sure, but I’m sure it would be beautiful.

Photocredit: Marissa Wu | @mllemarissa | http://marissamwu.com/

Photocredit: Marissa Wu | @mllemarissa | http://marissamwu.com/

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