Kris TennantI’ve known Kris Tennant since grade school.  What I love about Kris is her willingness and enthusiasm to help others.  When I started ePIFanyNow™ in 2009 Kris was one of the first people to form a team and attend the event.  As a coach for the Webberville Girls Basketball Team, she’s also brought her team to every ePIFanyNow™ event since the beginning.  Because of this, I have had the opportunity to know Kris on a different level.  She’s been a huge supporter of mine and I’m so appreciative.

I believe everyone has a person in their life that they may not see often, or even be close to, but they have significance.  Kris Tenant is this to me.  We grew up in the same town together, and although we are not related, our roots are eternally intertwined.  Growing up in a small town, you cannot help but feel some people are like family and are always there for you.  I’m honored to have known Kris for so many years and be influenced by her nurturing, positive nature.  I’m blessed to call her friend!

Who what inspires you? 

There are many people that have played instrumental roles in my development, key educators, coaches and family.  People who inspire me are those who are truly wonderful from the inside out in my personal and professional world; those who serve others and take the time to know you as a person.   I am a “Chicken Soup for the Soul” junkie.  I love to read leadership books and quotes.  One of my favorite websites is  Oprah Winfrey has always been a role model for me on a national level.  I would say the Suzy Merchant on a local level.  On a personal level, I am inspired by you Bob Hoffman.  I have known you since the fourth grade.  You have always been kind, considerate and giving.  I believe you have used all your resources and brought our communities together in an amazing way.  I love your visionary and catalyst leadership.  My parents have been a source of great inspiration for my relationships with my family as they have always lead by example in terms of love, work ethic, and living by the choices you make.  I am inspired by those who are intrinsically giving and altruistic in their intentions.  Watching personal and professional growth in those who surround me inspires me, watching people overcome adversity and hardship and take those experiences to make them better inspires me.

Do you have a slogan, motto or mantra? 

My mantra is Mahatma Gandhi’s “Be the change you wish to see in the world”  I live and breath that motto.  I love posting inspirational quotes everywhere

Do you have a lesson or thought to share?

I have attached a handout that I give to every one of my basketball players at the beginning of the season.  It is a collection of insights that are a summary of my life.

 To my Lady Spartan “Daughters”:

I want to share some words of advice and perspective to think about. As we enter this season and many seasons for the rest of your life, I want you to remember that it is important to have a vision for your life and what you want it to be. A “Vision” helps to provide guiding principles and kind of a “lighthouse” of sorts for the choices you make in your lives. I encourage you to think about what you want your lives to be. Think about what kind of community member, friend, parent, wife, or employee you want to be thought of. Think about how you want to feel when you go to work each day. Is it with excitement and passion or is it with a sense of duty? Are you willing to make short term sacrifices for long term gains? Do you want a profession that offers job security? I heard this speech on one of my favorite movies “Coach Carter” and it brings me to tears each time I hear it. Read the powerful words and think about them.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

LIFE LESSON #1: One of my greatest life lessons came to me at the tender age of 18 when I lost one of my closest friends in an auto accident. We had grown up together and had been pals for as long as I had known. When he died we were in a tiff of sorts for dumb competitive high school sports things. I never had another chance to get things “right”. I learned the hard way that God doesn’t promise tomorrows. Speak from your heart frequently and openly.

LIFE LESSON #2: This came when I had a roommate in college who was very difficult to deal with.  I identified this almost immediately when our year started and I never spoke up and asserted myself until about 6 months later when I exploded and starting screaming like a raving lunatic. She was blindsided and in the middle of my screaming at the top of my lungs stopped me and asking me why I was screaming so loud and why I hadn’t told her sooner?? It was a light bulb moment for me. I realized when I see things that are not right I need to address them at the time they are occurring. Then, it won’t weigh on my soul and I won’t harbor so much ill will. It honestly was the best “management” lesson I have received for my professional career. I have learned to identify opportunities for improvement and communicate them in ways that help people want to get better. I call it “Gift wrapping a Sword.” 

 LIFE LESSON #3: I remember struggling in my college years as I was tired of missing “fun” stuff my friends were doing or watching them purchase new cars that were better than my beat up Escort. I never had the trendiest clothes because my money had to go for my college. My Mom and Dad couldn’t afford to pay for my school and I was upset. I was working to earn money for college or studying for my difficult course of study. I was having a meltdown one day talking about my “sacrifices” to one of my basketball girlfriends and she shared some very wise words. She told me the sacrifices I was making right now would give me choices and opportunities later in my life that others who hadn’t made the commitment that I had would be able to have. She said, “When you are done, you will be able to buy a new car and if several years later, you want a different one, you will be able to buy that too while your friends are still driving their old one.” My point is being willing to make short term sacrifice for long term goals and dreams.

LIFE LESSON #4: I was dating my now husband and we broke up and it wasn’t on my terms. I was going through a difficult time adjusting to this and I came across a poem that you have heard me quote many times; I believe it is a great reminder as we face different adversities in our lives.

 After a While

by Veronica Shoffstall

 After a while you learn the subtle difference between holding a hand and chaining a soul

and you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning and company doesn’t always mean security. And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts and presents aren’t promises, and you begin to accept your defeats with your head up and your eyes ahead, with the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child. And you learn to build all your roads on today because tomorrow’s ground

Is too uncertain for plans and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight. After a while you learn that even sunshine burns if you get too much,

So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers. And you learn that you really can endure, you really are strong,

You really do have worth, and you learn and you learn. With every goodbye, you learn.

LIFE LESSON #5: In 2004, just after I had Kennedy, I woke up with severe pain and bruising in many parts of my body. We didn’t know what was happening but it left me with very little strength and endurance and pain unlike any I had ever experienced. It was 14 weeks before we had a clear understanding of what was happening to me but during that time my physical condition declined to the point that there were times that I would have to wake Kenny up at night to have him help me roll over in bed. I needed assistance with getting dressed and carrying Kennedy and cooking and cleaning and everything that for years I had taken for granted.  I have always been fiercely independent and to have to give up that ability was one of my toughest personal challenges.  Now, I take shots each week that keep my condition of psoriatic arthritis under control but I have never forgotten what it was like to be able to want to do something and being unable to do it. I ask that you use your strengths and physical capabilities to your potential. I BELIEVE you will amaze yourselves!

I have had many other life lessons along the way and will until the day I am gone. I want you to know I believe in each of you. You each have so many special gifts. I want you to dream big and then work to make those dreams your realities! It can happen if you are willing to do the work! I am proud to call you my Lady Spartans and I look forward to a wonderful future with each of you! I hope that each of you will push yourselves on the court and off to be the best person in this very short lifetime that each of us are given. I am thankful to be a part of your lives and even more thankful to have each of you as a part of mine. I know what I believe we can do and together with our basketball family and the same spirit, focus and vision, I know what can happen. Thank you for your dedication, commitment, and focus! Wishing you all the best my Lady Spartans!!                                                                           

Love You, Coach Tennant a.k.a. Mama T.

 How do you deal with stress?

There are many things that I do to decompress.  I find that time away always helps me and day trips or weekend trips with my family help me to rejuvenate.  I have some great friends and support systems in my professional world and life-long best friend who helps me unwind.  Not to mention, my husband is a great counselor! 🙂

Anything you want to share?

I love surrounding myself with like-minded individuals.  My social circles include individuals who serve others.  I am in healthcare and love trying to help make a tough situation better using any tools that I can.

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