Featuring Kristin Leavy Miller
Chicago native Kristin Leavy Miller is a freelance writer and blogger, currently based in Baltimore. She devotes her time to writing about her firsthand experience in managing a food-allergic family—complete with stories, allergy-safety tips, recipes and the daily life of her food-allergic preschooler. When not writing, Kristin’s busy in her kitchen experimenting with allergy-safe ingredients, making delicious treats for all to enjoy. You can find Jet magazine articles written by Kristin at JetMag.com or Kristin’s blog at http://www.carsonskitchen. tumblr.com/.
We had a chance to interview author Kristin Leavy Miller, whose essay "A Kid Like Mine" appears in All the Women in My Family Sing. This is what we learned...
What inspired you to write your essay for this anthology?
It's simple; my son. Despite being his mom and his teacher, we truly experienced this part of life and learned together — he was so strong through it all. He paved the way for us and for his little brother who is just an infant and already experiencing allergic symptoms and being introduced into an allergic lifestyle. My children will forever be my inspiration.
What is one of the most memorable challenges you have experienced as a woman of color in the twenty-first century?
Just being unapologetic for who I am inside and out. Being a black woman, wife and mom with goals, needs and dreams with all that's going on in the current state of our country is my challenge. The cards are not exactly stacked in our favor. I'm learning how not to be afraid to (first) feel, followed by not being afraid to say what it is I'm feeling or sharing my life experiences. My story is just that. Mine. I want to own it all despite its appearance, and share pieces that I feel may help someone along the way.
Give an example of women’s roles in today's social justice movement.
I think women's roles shouldn't have to be defined. We are so much bigger than the little box society has carved out for us. I believe that as women, we can do anything we choose whether traditional or non-traditional according to societal standards. Our roles in social justice should be to contribute our talents and skills to the movement in ways that show there are no boundaries to what we can do despite how complex or simplistic one may believe them to be. Be bold. Be confident. Believe wholeheartedly in equality while demanding it at all times in whatever position and voice you choose to use.
What have your experiences been in leadership as a woman of color?
More recently, my leadership skills mainly consist of managing my family and an administrative health care position, keeping me busy as the mom of a 6-year-old and 3-month-old. But I normally find my leadership skills are most fulfilled in my allergy writing and baking projects, and with providing guidance to other allergic families seeking advice through the beginning stages of an allergic life.
I am not a clinician, therefore always suggests that they communicate with an allergist...but I find that parents need to connect emotionally for reassurance that they aren't alone in this process. Whether it's a suggestion with allergy-safe ingredients, safe restaurants, skin care products, hypoallergenic cleaning supplies; or ideas for planning or attending a birthday party with their child, knowing they may have to manage a child's disappointment over unsafe birthday cake, or figuring out a recipe of their own to take with them. It truly warms my heart to provide that guidance and potentially make a difference in their lives by offering my own experiences as support to them.
What do you most hope readers will take away from reading this book?
I want readers to know that food allergies are real, and that it's so much bigger than just food. It is emotionally, socially, mentally and physically exhausting. Do not rely on others to validate how you feel. Read the signs, listen to your gut and follow through! Despite how dark it seems, there is always a light in the end. You may just find your best self and unknown talents during your darkest days...and when you do, shine bright!