“My father taught me to work hard, laugh often, and keep my word.” –Michelle Obama

My dad is the biggest cheerleader and inspiration guru. When I was a kid, I didn’t want for much. My parents would rather put their whole selves into my sister’s and my lives and happiness, even if it meant working harder to do so. As I (and they) have gotten older and we’ve experienced life together, our relationship has grown. Now that I’m in my career and married, my father has taken on a different role. He often shares how much he’s enjoyed raising us and witnessing our successes. His job now is to continue to be a listening ear and role model for wellness. He recently retired and is loving life. He has shown incredible strength as my father.

He survived cancer when I was in kindergarten, he makes up songs about silly things, he’s witty, he’s incredibly hard working, and he’s a very selfless, loving man. He wants to be part of something greater, and is often referencing “starting a foundation” (not sure what for yet) to be able to support others in need. His life’s purpose has proven to be one of giving and always bettering himself.

It’s been the greatest honor to have him as my father, and I look forward to when he is given the opportunity to be a grandfather. Until then, I’ll enjoy our chats, his life advice “that I don’t have to take if I don’t want to,” and his greeting cards he sends over texts a couple times a week. Thanks, Dad. I love you!

Kristen Ellis

Kristen has worked in the mental health field since 2013, with a focus on crisis work, substance use services, and bringing a voice to lived experience. Her ambition is to change the way mental health care and recovery is seen and achieved, so to redefine what it means to defeat adversity.