Kristi Blakeway is a school principal in Maple Ridge, BC, where she lives with her husband and two sons. She is the founder of Beyond HELLO, a TEDx Speaker, Olympic Torchbearer and winner of the YWCA Women of Distinction Award for Connecting Community.  Kristi encourages everyone to step outside their comfort zone, engage in soulful conversation and connect with compassion. A storyteller at heart, she welcomes the opportunity to speak and inspire. She blogs regularly at www.hopefullearning.com and 

www.beyondhello.org. She can be reached at kblakeway@beyondhello.org.

Author Spotlight: Kristi Blakeway

What is your new book about? 

 

Ten years ago, I invited my students to join me helping the homeless in Canada's poorest neighborhood.  Our intention was to give to others.  Rather than handing out food and clothing, we decided to meet the emotional needs of those on the streets by inviting them to tell us their stories. We also invited them to write cards to their friends and family they had lost touch with.  What started out as a one-day field trip, turned into a decade long project of connection, compassion and love.  We began by giving to others, but we gained more than we could have ever imagined.  There is a wisdom that comes from those who have lost it all.  The stories from the streets have inspired us to connect with compassion and go Beyond HELLO. 
My book will continue to give back, as each book sold will buy one meal for someone in need. 

What have you found has been the most challenging part of writing?

Editing.  Hands down.  To me, writing is like apple pie and ice cream, 

whereas editing feels like a no sugar diet. 

What has been your favorite part about writing?

I love writing in the early morning or late at night.  When the house is silent and free of distraction, my ideas flow.  I love having my own space that I only use for writing or creative thinking. 

What is something your readers will learn from reading your book and apply to their life today?

While my book speaks specifically about the homeless community in Vancouver, the message has much greater reach. I hope the reader is inspired to connect with people who may otherwise be invisible.  This could mean repairing a relationship or reaching out to a colleague or neighbor you have yet to meet.  Overall, I hope the reader is inspired to connect with compassion. 

If you were to write this book again what would you change?

I might spend more time sharing some of the positive messages we have received from families after connections are made, in order to showcase the amazing work my students have done. 

Who were your mentors who have helped you along the way? How?

Hearing Zainab Salbi speak at a Celebrate Your Life conference helped me develop my story.  When I heard her story, I recognized that I had left my own journey out of my book.  Weaving in my personal story helped make my book more vulnerable and impactful.  I saw my story and needed to put it on paper.  Kyra Schaefer came into my life at the perfect time and helped guide me through the process. 

What books are you reading now?

I am usually reading a few at a time. Right now, I'm reading:

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb
and The Wisdom of Sundays by Oprah Winfrey 

What ideal outcomes would you like to see as a result of readers reading your book?

I would love to hear stories of others reaching out to reconnect with loved ones, or of people reaching out to connect with people in need in their community. 

You will be able to find Kristi's Book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble in 2019.