My next guest’s memoir reminds us and vividly illustrates why your story matters and encourages you to embrace it because the most powerful stories we can learn from are our own.

Welcomed back to the Author Hour Podcast. I’m your host Hussein Al-Baiaty and my next guest is Kelly Muir. She’s here with me to talk about her new book called Lessons From Nowhere. Let’s flip through it.

Hello everyone, welcome back to the show, I’m here with my friend Kelly and she has just launched an amazing book. I think you know, it’s one of those stories that really captivates you, pulls you in and you just come out the other end just feeling like a warrior and I feel like this is exactly what we were talking about right before the show started but Kelly, welcome to the show. Thank you so much for joining me and thank you for you know, putting down your wisdom. Congratulations on your new book.

Kelly Muir: Thank you. I am so excited, so excited, so relieved as well.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yeah. Well also, congrats on finishing up your finals for school, I know that must have been really stressful. So there’s a lot going on right now especially right along the holidays. I really wanted to get our audience to get to know you a little bit but before that, I really want to know, why did you decide to write this book and who are you trying to reach with your beautiful message?

Facing The Hard Moments

Kelly Muir: You know, it’s interesting. I had to think about that for a while and really what it came down to was my children, and that’s going to sound super silly but I’m a single mom, I have four kids and often, I would find myself saying to the kids, “Well you know when I was your age, this was happening.”

It was like the, you know, what was that story that I walked five miles in the snow uphill both ways, you know when parents tell stories to their kids, but it really occurred to me that they had no idea about my background and we tend to keep those things from even our own kids and focus on raising them.

And then I realized, there was such value in my upbringing and I wanted to pass that on to my kids but also at the same time, I realized that as I looked around people my age especially, I want to say with the advent of social media, there is this tendency to pretend that hard moments of life aren’t happening.

Those are the moments that don’t show up in social media and I, on my social media, I share everything, right? Like I talk about good days and bad days because I believe there’s value in all of it and it occurred to me that other people were being encouraged by that. That they found that refreshing somehow that when I told the story about how crappy of a day I had and what I learned from it, the people started saying, “Oh gosh, you know, this is how my crappy day went” right? And there is value in sharing our stories.

So really, that was why I did it, both for my children to understand my background and a legacy within my own family to pass on, but to give people the freedom to just really own their story, their life and feel great about it.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yeah, that’s so powerful. I love that because when you sort of put your “why” at the center of how you share who you are in the world, it really starts to resonate with others, right? Because I feel like all of our “why’s” are connected, right? Like, in this weird spiritual realm where deep down inside, we all want to be connected, we all want unity, we all want a thriving community.

But when you share genuinely how we are and how we feel, then you resonate because that other person is probably feeling something similar, probably not exactly the same thing but something similar —

Kelly Muir: I think that’s exactly right. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to cut you off.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: No, I think it’s so powerful. I’m so glad you shared that because it’s so meaningful. And to start a journey to write a book, you know, sometimes that’s not clear, right? Like sometimes when you’re starting a book, you’re like, “Oh, you know, get my message out there” whatever it is, and then or you maybe had a whole different idea of what your book could be.

But then as you start writing, as you start working with people, as you start navigating that journey, I know for me, it did you know, I wanted to write a book to just kind of share my story but it became so much deeper. I had to go learn what a memoir even was and how truthful I could be. Like, there was so much and I’ve been an artist and graphic artist my whole life.

So like for me, you saying that really centers the core concept of the book which is you know, this idea of sharing our stories but…so let’s start giving our listeners a little bit about who you are, like, your personal background, where did you grow up. You put me in the most beautiful setting in the beginning of the book but I want you to take our audience there and then I want to draw the line kind of coming out of that and sort of what happened next.

But let’s go ahead and sort of revisit your background, your history a little bit and share about your upcoming?

Kelly Muir: All righty. Well, in the book, when you start the book, it actually references me at about four years old and you know, I don’t want to give away the setting of the beginning but I can tell you that when my daughter read it, she came down to me and said, “Who is this person at four years old because clearly, this is not who you are” you know?

So it is fair to say that my life started on a very high note. I didn’t want for anything, I was very privileged because you know, you don’t know that at four years old obviously. But it only lasted for about 10 months and then, after 10 months, every single thing just started to fall apart, and then, it became my life as I know it.

So, when you ask where I’m from, you know, the book is called, Lessons from Nowhere because that is the question that you know, for my whole life, has perplexed me because people would say, “Well, where are you from?” it’s such a general question and I couldn’t answer it because I have lived in so many different places and the book is that journey through all of these different locations.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: It is so powerful because sort of as you grow up, you know, this lack of connection to, you know, you roots, right? Like where you’re actually from, what you can actually connect to. You know, we live in such a, I don’t care if people believe it or not but tribal mentality, community-oriented mentality, where you’re from matters because there’s a reputation and that comes along with where you’re from, right?

And so I know for me, my question, “Where are you from?” Middle East, Iraq, some people didn’t even know where that was up until the war started, right? And so like growing up and so you know, that starts to identify you before you say where you’re from but in some cases, as a young person, it’s important.

What did that do for you as you were growing up and moving around with your family and you know, just trying to pick up the pieces? Can you share a little bit about those hard times and how you navigated them?

Kelly Muir: Of course, of course. So for every move that we took, as a child, I was uprooted. At first, it was just very disorienting. So the foundation is shaken and when you talk about our identity coming from where we are, when somebody is constantly moved and even in your case, I mean, you had a huge shift, your entire foundation of identity can be questioned because all of a sudden, you don’t have anything rooting you anywhere.

And at first for me, I was a very little girl, it’s very disorienting. I didn’t quite understand what was going on and then as I got older, I began to realize like, “Wow, we are moving so often” and in such a chaotic way that every single time I land somewhere, I’m actually able to recreate myself. I’m able to wipe my slate clean and become someone completely new, which as a child you think it’s kind of fun.

I mean, it didn’t feel fun going through it but I can’t be dishonest and say that as a seventh grader, it wasn’t cool to say, “Oh, at this school, now, I’m going to become the athlete” and at the school before, I tried to be the very studious person. So I kept shifting who I was and I think it was the way that I coped with just the constant moving but then as I got even older and into my teens, I began to have a real identity crisis.

Because I really didn’t know which one of those people was I at the foundational level and then my entire life became about figuring that out. What did all of those experiences really create for me and how did all of that impact who I actually am and that really is the essence of the book is, taking a lesson from each one of those relocations and then ultimately, now as a middle-aged woman saying, “Wow, it really was the blessing of the moving that allowed me to become who I am.”

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yeah, that’s so powerful and it takes time to process that experience into wisdom, right? And so many things in the moments, when you’re going through those difficulties, when you’re trying to understand, you’re sort of lost, you’re feeling like you’re from nowhere, those moments are extremely difficult to navigate because emotionally, you don’t know how to process them so you put them aside and then they come up later when you really start to question you know, who you’re becoming just spending your time and energy and resources on and all that stuff starts to flood back and your really have to deal with it.

But if you can process it into wisdom in the ways that you have, I feel like you can really start to learn from that and say, “Oh, I’ve gone through this before, here’s how I can process what I’m going through now” and it’s such a profound shift but I want to know, what was the thing that got you into martial arts? Like, where did that start to sort of coming to your life and this transition into being a warrior basically?

And I just—I really appreciate that story because you spent a good portion of your life being a warrior in the world like quite literally, which I think is amazing but can you share a little bit about that and I hope I didn’t offend you by using the word warrior, I mean that in the most graceful, beautiful way.

Being a Warrior

Kelly Muir: Absolutely not, absolutely not and it does not offend me at all. I think all of us in some way, we can be a warrior regardless of what we do and as somebody who has three of her four children in the military, you know, their idea might be different of a warrior but martial arts for me really came out of this desire to have a dream and the one thing that I thread through the book is the idea that I wanted to become successful.

Even as a little girl, I saw everything around me falling apart and the one thing that I could really hang on to was a dream because to me, a dream was solid. It existed in my mind, nobody could take a dream away from me and so, I spent this enormous amount of time honing different dreams in my imagination.

You know, at one point, I wanted to be a superstar and at one point, I wanted to be something like a businesswoman and then I saw Nadia Comaneci and there was this entire reason that I ended up watching the 1976 Olympics and I talked about that in the book and how I was trapped in front of the TV, which I never watch TV so it was a kind of an odd sense of universal timing.

But I saw Nadia Comaneci and I was like, “Oh my gosh, this is my path, I am going to be the next Nadia Comaneci”, which was ridiculous because I wasn’t athletic at all. We lived in the middle of the wilderness and there was no part of me that understood what gymnastics even was let alone, you know, how was I going to become an Olympic gymnast but man, I hung on to that, right?

So I thought I was going to be an Olympic gymnast until I realized — eventually, I had a chance to take a class at like, I don’t know, the YMCA or something, and I couldn’t even do a back roll, I didn’t want to do a back roll, it scared me. So I had to find a different sport and my brother and I whipped out this book called, the Encyclopedia Britannica, which was Google before Google and we started going through all these sports and I saw these people that looked like they were wearing pajamas and they were fighting.

My brother literally said, “Well like, you could do this, you know? We fight all the time” which we did. Yeah, that’s how I got introduced to martial arts. Like in my head, it was karate but really, it turned out that I’m sure I saw a picture of Judo but I didn’t know that back then and eventually, that became my life, the pursuit of martial arts.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: That is so powerful because I got to tell you, I’ve been doing these interviews for some time now and the thread of how many people, you know, whether they’re watching TV or they see something in a magazine or…and it just lights up a corner of their dream in such a way where they basically see themselves doing that.

It’s not that they’re seeing that person, you embody that person if you will. As a young person, I feel like you know, it happens to a lot of people. I know in some ways, it happened to me but it’s interesting how what we see in the world and what’s possible for us and then how we kind of you know, start to integrate and say, “That is possible for me, I can do that” and then, especially if you… here’s the most beautiful part.

All you need is like, literally, one other person outside of you, I feel like. Sometimes, you don’t even need that one person but that one person that look up next to you and say, “Yeah, we could totally do this, let’s do it” and it’s just like, that is the fuel to the fire and your brother sitting there saying, kind of giving you that validating moment of like, “Yeah, you could do this, we could totally do this.”

Like that statement is so profound and I’m telling you, like, as I do this interviews, you know, I hear this story similar to a degree, just so beautiful because you know, which is why I do the work that I do, which is you know, I always say like, you know, you don’t know who may be watching you and who you might inspire, you know, to do something great for our world.

There’s a beautiful quote by Tupac Shakur, the infamously famous rapper. He said, “You know, I might not light the fire, I might not be the person that changes the world but I might be the spark for someone that will” and man, does that ever resonate, and here you are, you became that person that lights the fires of obviously, your kids and the people that you come across.

So you kind of venture off, tell me more. Tell me about how this fire started going down this road of getting into martial arts and sort of where that led you?

Getting into Martial Arts

Kelly Muir: Well, it’s really important too to kind of stop here and say, you know, when that happened, I was seven. So that was in, 1976, so long ago but I hung on to that picture, and in my family, we didn’t have any money and we also kept relocating every seven months. So as a child, you can’t jump into the community center classes. You know, back then, we didn’t have as many activities for kids.

So I just kept this vision in my head and through this weird series of events that were very unpleasant for me, I ended up and this is… so every time I tell this story, I laugh out loud because it’s so crazy. I ended up going to a school in seventh grade. Now, mind you, I’ve had no martial art lessons, I just have this idea in my head that I want to be an Olympian.

And I get, I don’t like the word bully so much. It’s become… I feel like some, in some ways, almost overused but I was like fairly terrorized by this little gang group of girls in this little town in California and these girls would chase me around and one of them said she had a knife and I was terrified, right? I was in seventh grade. So I spend my whole seventh grade or a section of my seventh-grade year at this one school and I’m hiding from these girls, right?

So then I get to eighth grade and now, I’m in Oklahoma. So I was in California, then I went to Ohio, now I’m in Oklahoma. So that’s how fast my relocations were happening. So I lived in three different states during that seventh-grade year. So eighth grade comes and I am in Oklahoma. I’ve decided I’m going to have this great year, nobody’s going to chase me around, you know, threatening me.

And on the very first week of school, I find out that there’s this girl that wants to fight me and I’m like, “You know what? This is not happening, we are not repeating this.” So I ran into the girl and everybody kind of gathers around to watch us fight and I looked at her and they told me she knew karate, right?

And I didn’t at that time, I didn’t really understand what karate was but I had that picture in my mind. So I say to her, “Well, where do you do karate?” and she was like, “What?” and I said, “No, like, I want to learn karate” and so here I completely disarm her, she ends up taking me to this karate class and what is so funny is this is exactly what you were just talking about, the instructor, he didn’t know me from the man in the moon, right?

Like, I’m this seventh-grade girl at that time, I know no karate but I am all in. So I’m practicing really hard and he comes over to me and he said, “You know, you’re a good kicker” and in the book I say that that statement, it changed my entire life because I went from like, “Oh, I think I could do this” to “Oh my gosh” You know, in my eighth-grade brain, “I’m the best kicker in the whole world” you know? And I look at pictures from back then and trust me, I was not a very good kicker. But it was…

Hussein Al-Baiaty: But it’s that level of enthusiasm, yeah.

Kelly Muir: Well, he just believed in me, he just gave me this little thread of hope, right? What’s so funny is I ran into that man years later at the US Nationals and by then I had a team. So I was a coach, I had a business and I had taken a whole team to the US nationals and I went up to him and said, “I want to thank you for changing my world.”

This man had no idea who I was and so yet, I had built an entire career around his one sentence. So I think that really shows exactly what you were talking about. Like, we don’t know how one thing we say to somebody can really change their life.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yeah. That is so powerful.

Kelly Muir: It is, it’s so valuable, and also the reason I wanted to really document this because I think people and I talk about this in the book, I say that we’ve been sold this lie of storytelling where we have to have some great grand story to tell. But you know? What really causes this world to move forward are not the great grand stories.

They’re the small, tiny, highs and lows that people have experienced and then share and encourage other people because of and that was a really small moment in my life but I’ve had thousands of students that I have inspired because that one man said something kind to me.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Isn’t that amazing? I’m not going to lie, I kind of teared up when you were talking just now. That resonates so deeply with me, so deeply. I mean, when I was in eighth grade, you know, I was just thinking about, when I was in eighth grade, like, my ESL teacher believed in me so much she was like, “You’re smart, like, you don’t need to be in here. She’s like, you can take this test with flying colors, like, to get out of the ESL program.”

And I was like, “Yeah, but I have like, my friends here” and she’s like, “Look, your friends are always going to be around you but do not hold yourself back you know, from your potential because someone else isn’t there yet” and she made me take the test the next day and I, of course, passed it with flying colors because my English and my writing were just exceedingly well and I cherished those, where it is still until this day and you know, later on in my life, I had the opportunity to go and speak to her.

She became like a vice principal and I went to go speak to her at school and it was just amazing and she was such a beautiful person that just you know, again, just believes in you and just says like, “You can do this and you could do this well” and all it takes is this one person like you said and I am fortunate enough to have my family, my father, you know, so many influences that were positive in my life and I feel very fortunate to have had that.

I know that there are so many people that don’t have that, which I feel it is our responsibility then to be a microphone for our own voice because you don’t know who could potentially be impacted by what you do or say. So again, this is why your book really resonated with me but I want to know, what was the most difficult part of the writing journey for you to produce this book?

The Writing Journey

Kelly Muir: I would say I am a person as I feel many people who have gone through some traumatic moments in life become. We, I have to choose my words carefully here, there is a sentence in the book that says, “When somebody goes through a great deal of chaos, the one thing that we learned how to do is move on.” We keep moving on, keep moving on, and sometimes, depending on the person and the level of chaos or trauma in their life, they don’t have an opportunity to even stop and process what they’ve experienced.

I liken it to somebody who is afraid they’re going to drown. Nobody who is afraid they’re going to drown is worried about whether or not the stroke of the swim stroke is technically correct, right? We’re all just trying to survive. So I spent decades trying to survive and moving forward and moving forward and I honestly don’t think it was until I stopped to write this book that I had to process all of it.

I had to process the death of a parent, the loss of another parent and complicated relationships and traumatic moments. I had to really walk through that so I felt like I had to go back and live my life as young Kelly and there were times when I became very emotional. I am not a crier. I talk about that in the book, for some reason I’m unless I am watching some silly puppy show on TV, crying isn’t something that I do.

I think that got lost in my childhood but when I wrote this book, I was feeling some deep emotions and it was very hard for me to recognize what that felt like and then to give myself time to process it. So the book took a lot longer than I anticipated because I thought I was just going to whip my story down there and it was emotionally challenging for me. So that was the hardest part for me, absolutely, was becoming little Kelly again.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: No, that’s really powerful. Writing a memoir, rewriting your story is very cathartic. It is very cathartic because yes, you have to go back in time and in those memories and analyze them from a different perspective but you still kind of have to feel the emotions in that state that you felt and I am sure like for me, it was like, I am a little bit wiser now. I understand the things that I went through.

But to feel the emotions again and then process them, man, that was rough. It took some time to really pass through. So again, you know, kudos to you because writing about even a good time, even a fun time, right? Like it gets you emotional. Writing about difficult times, the things that you had to really like push through, those are the best difficult writing I believe and so you know, in writing our memoirs, in writing our life stories, I just wanted to point that out.

Because writing is a beautiful tool to process but it is also – it is one that you really have to choose, right? And you did and by sharing your wisdom, your kids have been able to grow up now. I know that you just shared that they’re in the Armed Forces, which you know, grateful for their service to our country but it sounds like all of these tools and all of these lessons and bits and pieces of wisdom that you picked up along the way have really, you know, they start to impact your kids of course and they start to kind of pass along in a unique way for you.

What’s been the most powerful thing that you think the world of martial arts has helped you in just general life, like day-to-day life, what would you say is like the most powerful thing that you learned throughout your journey?

Kelly Muir: You know, it’s funny when you asked me that, the quick answer is going to be as a martial artist, especially as a fighter, you learn how to process quickly. You learn how to get back up when you get knocked down, which sounds like such a cliché but when you’re a fighter that’s like a real thing.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: That’s a real thing, you got to get back up, yeah.

Kelly Muir: It’s a real thing, right. Like somebody just punched you in the face and you really do have to get back up again.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Like you are dizzy.

Kelly Muir: You’re right and as I wrote the book, what I began to see were these parallels and so it became so obvious to me why I felt comfortable in martial arts because it was a fight and when I was young, I was kind of in a different type of fight but what I can tell you, the most powerful thing has been is for me to now be able to take my book and share it with people and say, “Listen” and even my own children.

The journey, we always hear this silly cliché of like it’s not—what is that? That phrase that’s not the destination, it’s the journey or whatever, there is truth to that, right? So even for my own children, I hand them this book and say, “Listen, this is the most chaotic imperfect journey that one could have.” It is filled with alcoholism and drug addiction and lying and dishonesty and con activities, chaos.

From anyone else’s perspective, they might look at my childhood and say, “Oh my gosh, you know that was really terrible” it is like kind of being in a fight but now, I can look at my kids and say, “That was my journey, those were my challenging moments but here is what I know as a 55-year-old…” or 54-year-old, I don’t even know how old I am but here is what I know now, everybody is going to have challenges.

Everybody is going to feel pain, everybody is going to get punched in the face at some point. It might be when you lose a job or a relationship fails or maybe your health becomes a struggle or your house burns down or you know, who knows? There are so many things that can challenge us but when those things happen, it’s really important to treat it like somebody who just got punched in the face and the ring would treat it.

You have to look at the situation, you have to say, “What can I learn from this, what can I take from this? How is this going to strengthen me? How can this help me move down the work or like the road as a wiser, more productive, more empathetic human being?” So I think the lessons in the ring, to answer your question, are exactly the same as the lessons of life.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: That’s so powerful and it just resonates with me so deep like I feel like for a long time I was a graphic artist. I love my journey, did so many beautiful things. It was an amazing talent I feel like, that was passed down through my father and I took such responsibility to it and I feel like you know, by writing a book and all of these things but I was always in my mind and in my hands, right?

Like creating but my brother was a martial artist, he loved martial arts. He is always in the gym, always working out and you know more recently in my life, I decided to take on—I was telling you earlier, take on some boxing classes just to have fun and oh my god, it’s completely like it’s re-ener—I feel like I am 15 again, 16 again in a sense you know, it is like using the body to express yourself.

It is such a—you know, I have always loved that. I have always loved watching Mohammad Ali like fight or talk or speak. You know, he is one of my favorite athletes in the world. It’s like you don’t have to just watch, right? You have to just see these amazing people you can become, right? It doesn’t have to be at a Mohammad Ali level. You could just go to the gym and just throw some punches at a bag, it’s fun you know?

It’s so freeing when you utilize the body too and then, which has led me to start thinking about how to write my next book, which again, helps your creativity, helps your – you know, it just improved my communication with my wife not that it was bad or anything but I just feel like it got better and I just love this connection between, of course, the body and the mind. You really bring it together with the spiritual as well by just being able to know that your story is not only unique and beautiful.

But it is okay that it had the challenges because that’s how you are able to appreciate the bright days, the beautiful sunny ones. That is just so profound.

Kelly Muir: Oh my gosh. It’s so funny to me, so the one thing I talk about in the book is the fact that I had to drop out of high school and I really wanted to go to college really like that was my only goal even beyond and above being an Olympian, like I really wanted to go to college and because of the craziness of my upbringing, I couldn’t finish high school. So I ended up dropping out of high school and then I become a young mom and have four kids.

I knew when my fourth child was grown and flown, right? Gone, I was going to go back to school. So you know, I did the whole GED thing and then I told my children, “I want to go to college now” and you know one of my kids was like, “Why would you do that? You have successful businesses and it would be a waste of money” and I said, “No, no because this is something I want for myself” right?

So I want the whole experience, right? So I go to a junior college, I’m in classes with these young people and I discovered that these—some of these kids are like 16, right? So here I am, I am in school with these 16 to 22-year-olds and I have been there for four semesters now. I am getting ready to transfer to a university but for all four of those semesters, I thought these kids must think I’m like a loony bin, right?

You know, they don’t really talk to me, we don’t really interact very much and then the most incredible thing happened and it happened last week. So I finished a final exam and I’m leaving my philosophy class of all things and I’m in the parking lot and this young man came up to me and he had not said a word to me for the entire semester, not a single word and he came up to me and he said, “Excuse me, ma’am.”

He called me ma’am, he said, “Excuse me, ma’am. I wondered if I might be able to get a copy of that book that you said that you wrote,” and I said, “Well, of course. I will make sure you get a copy” and then he said to me, “I just felt like some of the things you said really gave me hope” and here I thought that these young people were looking at me like I was just you know, like some old lady in the class that I don’t—

They don’t—they just didn’t interact with me but he said, “Your words made a difference” and so I don’t know this guy. I don’t know what his life is. I have no idea but what I do know is if I hadn’t dropped out, if I haven’t been forced to drop out of school all those years earlier and if I hadn’t had all those challenges, I would never have been in that parking lot at that moment to encourage this young man that I don’t know and who knows where those words are going to land?

I gave him a copy of the book. I just happened to have one, I’m like, “Here, you know, you do whatever. You read it, you don’t read it, it is here for you” but I just think it’s very valuable for us to realize that even if our journeys are kind of ugly and chaotic and crazy and they don’t fit as weird perfect picture that that actually gives us a way to help other people. We can’t become who we are if we don’t experience that stuff, so you know?

Hussein Al-Baiaty: So powerful and so well-said. You’re making me tear up over here, Kelly. I am over here in tears and stuff, I am just two seconds away from sniffles. I just appreciate you so much by just being the warrior that you are in the world. I just love that. I want to know with your new book that’s out in the world, I want to know what your wish is for the reader. What do you want their walkaway like when I’m done, I put this book down, what do you wish for me? What do you think I would walk away with?

Lessons from the Book

Kelly Muir: That’s the best question and I have a very simple answer. I want someone to read my story, all the ups and downs, and the craziness, and at the end of it not think about me ever again. I don’t care if they ever think about me. I want them to then look at their own life and things that they have always viewed as negative. Like for example, maybe they lost a business in COVID or they went through a divorce or they got into some trouble, right?

Whatever it might be, I want them to look at themselves in the mirror and say, “That is the perfect part of my journey because it has taught me something. It is valuable. I don’t have to hang on to it that whatever happened isn’t my identity, it’s just part of my journey” and then I want them to extract the lessons they learned from it, the good, the bad and I want them to let it go and move on down the road.

Just stop living, I think especially our young people because they are always looking at social media, I think there is this fake image of what life should look like and nobody ever told us that that’s what life actually was. It is just a created marketing image that we should all be happy with a mortgage and you know, 2.5 kids in the suburbs or something like I don’t know but when my own children have big bumps in the road, honestly my response to them is, “Oh, that’s amazing. Okay, awesome” all right?

“Yeah, so okay it sucked, it felt bad, you’re super angry, maybe you feel like it’s someone else’s fault or whatever, tell me what you learned from it” and then when we can all figure out that we can take something good from every situation then our whole life can change and so that’s the point of me telling my story is so people can just look at their own story and go, “Oh yeah, look at what I gained from this.”

I will tell you an example, right? So two weeks ago, all right, so I have the book but I also have a brick-and-mortar business. So I have a martial arts center and the martial arts center is quite large and I have quite a few students and I am sitting on my couch studying for finals and I get a phone call and it is someone I don’t recognize, so I don’t take the call. You know how we all do, we look at our phone and we’re like, “No, spam.”

Then they call back again and it’s kind of getting late at night, so I thought, “All right, well maybe this is serious. Let me answer it” so I answer it and it’s this young lady from the pizza place next door to my karate center and she said, “Kelly, I’m so sorry to bother you but you need to know that a car just drove through your building” I swear, swear. So I can’t even convey to you like in my head, I just figured they went through the front like glass plate window.

No, no, no, no, I get there, there are fire trucks and police cars, and this man who wasn’t hurt, thank God and nobody else was hurt, this man’s car is in the middle of my building. So now mind you, I just am getting on my feet after COVID, being closed from COVID. So I look at that and immediately I start asking myself, “What is the goodness here? What am I going to learn from this” and that’s a situation where I think people would say like, “Poor me.”

“Why would this happen to me?” COVID really hurt my business and it’s finals week at school and woe is me but instead, I was like, “All right” and even the policemen commented that I was very calm. I am like, “All right, well, here is the goodness I see in it. What I see is that thank God it didn’t hit the pizza shop where all these people were and this is going to give me an opportunity to redo my lobby and I’m going to have to be creative.”

You know what I ended up doing? Was taking the time where I can’t be at work now and I built a podcast studio in my house and I created a podcast and so that block of time where I could have sat there and just been bitter at this man for driving his car through my building, I just let go of all of that and I decided how am I going to use my time. “What good am I going to create from this weird moment?” and I created a podcast.

So I think when we can switch our perspective of things that come into our life, we can find little nuggets of productivity and wisdom that if we just hang on to the negative, we’re never going to find them.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: That’s so powerful and so selfless and so experiential. I mean, here is one difficulty after another but with someone who has faced many difficulties and has overcome them, you say, “Okay, well, what’s another one? I’m glad this happened to me, I’ve been ready for this.”

Kelly Muir: Well, I’m built I guess, right.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: You know what I mean? You know, I am built for this, yeah, and that cultivating of that mindset really takes old past experiences and grinds them up to like fine powder and says, “I am going to use you when I need you” and not in like an angry way. You processed it down to fuel and that is what we need. I feel like you know, my book is all about resilience and art and creativity and you know?

So I just deeply resonate with everything that you mentioned, talked about, and experienced and I am just so grateful that our paths crossed. You know, I had the privilege of getting to know you throughout this episode and really just sharing your selflessness with the world. I am just so grateful that your book is out and I know so many people are going to be impacted. I know I am one of them for sure by just listening to you.

So thank you for your courage, your ability to navigate motherhood and bring light to the world at the same time, you have inspired me today Kelly. I can’t thank you enough for sharing your stories and experiences. The book is called, Lessons From Nowhere, if you are listening to this, highly, highly encourage you to go get your copy and maybe get a few copies because it is such an important story to add into our lives.

To make us reflect and really become the people we know we can but besides checking out the book Kelly, where can people find you?

Kelly Muir: They can find me on my website, which is, kellymuir.com.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Beautiful. Thank you so much for joining me today Kelly.

Kelly Muir: Thank you.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: I really appreciate you.

Kelly Muir: Good luck with that boxing, right? And remember, when you hit the mat, you just get up. You just get up.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: You just get back up, yep. Oh, thank you so much, Kelly, I really appreciate you.

Kelly Muir: Oh, back at you.