Writer marks 6 years of sharing her life, dreams

Time is a funny little thing. It can slip away like sand between your fingers or go by slowly like breakfast on a lazy Sunday morning.

Either way, you can’t go back to reclaim the seconds, minutes and hours you lost. You can only look back and hold onto the things you’ve done. And if the past six years of my life are any indication, the paths I’ve crossed thus far have been nothing short of surreal.

October marks my six-year anniversary as a columnist for the Altoona Mirror. It started out as just an idea – something I thought about diligently as I sat in my news writing classes at Penn State Altoona.

I had no problem dreaming, since the Mirror was where I’d secretly always wanted to work. In fact, I told Margaret Moses – one of my professors and a former colleague at the Mirror – that I one day hoped to join her ranks, or at least measure up to half the journalist and businesswoman she was.

Then I told Ray Eckenrode, another one of my professors in college and current general manager advertising at the Mirror, that I was going to “work for him” when I graduated.

It would be easy to say that getting hired at the one place I’d dreamed of was just a matter of fate or really, really good luck. However, I’ve never looked at it that way.

This was my first job. It was my first big break as a true writer, and the fact that I still have this job is mind-blowing to me. The amount of people I’ve had the opportunity to meet and rub elbows with is crazy in the best way possible. The fact so many people in this small railroad town have reciprocated or found any part of my life interesting is more than I could ever ask for.

My goals when I started at the Mirror were just to tell my story and help people feel comfortable talking to me. That’s it. I simply wanted an opportunity.

I didn’t think much of what I had to say was that compelling. In fact, I thought it was boring. I guess I initially felt that way because dealing with my cerebral palsy was my main focus at that point in my life. It became so ingrained in my daily routine that it simultaneously became mundane.

The irony in this was I knew my CP wasn’t something that was going to go away. By the same token, I was aware that some of those feelings of staleness were still going to be there regardless of how much or how little I reveal about myself. Nonetheless, I put a piece of my story out there on the first Thursday of October 2009, and it stuck with readers all across Altoona.

That day, I realized it doesn’t matter if I think my life is mundane and boring. I only think it is because I wake up every day and have to push through so much stuff – stuff that I see as normal and don’t necessarily think of as exceptional.

If I can continue to give others a glimpse of my daily life, perhaps they’ll look at their own lives in a brighter light. So, to the entire staff at the Mirror, thanks for an incredible six years. I hope to continue to grow as a part of your team. To the community, thanks for letting me in each month to share my not- so-normal life with you. Keep on laughing and I’ll keep on writing. Isn’t that what life is all about?

Erin Kelly, 30, was born with cerebral palsy in Korea, and lives in Altoona. In addition to this column, she also writes for online publications The Huffington Post, The Good Men Project, and Real Talk Magazine. Email her at Writer Wheels28@gmail.com.