This daily #OneGoodThing was dedicated to celebrating extraordinary women I know last December. Many of the 31 bold, beautiful, brave women featured shared stories of perseverance after abuse, addiction, miscarriages, illness, and loss. They represent various fields and backgrounds, and I admire each for their passion and strength. The series was so deeply inspiring that I felt it needed to live on as a weekly feature in 2020. Each Monday, I’ll introduce you to another incredible superhero—including artists, businesswomen, union organizers, nurses, writers, teachers, movie makers, designers, reporters, and all-around badasses. It’s about finding the extraordinary in each of us!
Kim Carter was raised in New Jersey, just outside of NYC, in an interfaith, interracial family. Her mom was Russian Jewish and her dad was black and grew up a Jehovah’s Witness (though he left at 18). Kim comes from a working-class family and proudly recalls when her dad became president of the paper workers union. She lived in Israel for a couple of years as a teenager. Kim’s dad died when she was 12 and her mom when she was 17. After a brief time living with her aunt and uncle, she moved to Seattle and started a career as a home care worker, where she helped create a union. Since then, she’s been working in the labor movement for more than 20 years and lived in Oakland, California for much of that time. Kim has also volunteered as a Commissioner on the Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Commission, a member of the Community Board of the American Diabetes Association, a Chairperson for Tour de Cure, and a Prisoner Rights volunteer. Kim moved to Sacramento last year, where she lives with her two adorable cats, and runs her own consulting business.
1. What did you want to be “when you grew up?” When I was a kid, I wanted to be a homicide detective. I didn’t want to be a police officer. I wanted to be the person who would walk in and figure it all out—kind of like Sherlock Holmes.
2. What makes you the most proud of yourself? The fact that I’m still alive and for the most part feel really positive about life is what I’m most positive about. I’ve had a rough life, a rough childhood, and the fact that I’ve been able to continue to be positive and be a positive force for others despite all the trauma, I’m really proud of that.
3. What darkness have you overcome? How did you find strength? I’ve had a lot of death in my life. I lost my parents when I was a teenager and had to become my own person at 17. I feel like I’ve done really well with that. That’s the biggest darkness I’ve had to overcome. I also live with chronic illness, which at times is really dark and debilitating, but I feel like I triumph over that most of the time too. I think often my strength came from fear of the situation I was in and fear that I had no one else to take care of me and I had to take care of myself. I didn’t have the luxury of stopping so I just had to keep going. Also, my parents really instilled some things in me that have kept me going. I have done a lot of things because I knew it was something they’d want me to do. I worked all through college, working at night and going to school by day, and I think that’s something they’d be proud of. The time I did have with them gave me a lot of values that have stayed with me and I’ve pushed myself because I knew they wanted me to do it.
5. What makes you smile the most? Wow, so many things make me smile. Being surprised in a positive way makes me smile. Interactions with people who are different from me and I learn something in a positive way. And completing projects and being happy with the results.
Bonus: What advice would you give your younger self? I think looking back I regret the times I had a tense relationship with my mom. I would tell my younger self to be a little more forgiving with her so we could have had a better relationship before she died.
Today’s #OneGoodThing is sharing this extraordinary woman and my friend, Kim Carter, with all of you! We are stronger together, so let’s shine a light on our extraordinary sisters! If you’d like to participate or nominate a woman to participate, please send me a note or leave a comment! What was your #OneGoodThing today? Please share in the comments! Kindness is Everything.