My Day With The Lunch Ladies of Tennessee

It’s not the politically correct term – lunch ladies. They are actually called “childhood nutrition specialists” – and I am quite sure, after spending two days with eight hundred of them, that they would not mind me calling them lunch ladies one bit. They don’t get caught up in politically correct language. They don’t get caught up in putting on airs. They don’t get caught up in how much you know. They are comfortable in their own skin and they welcomed me like a long lost friend – big hair and all.

Being a motivational speaker gives me the privilege of meeting all those people who serve us behind the scenes. The ones who go unnoticed. The ones who often go un-thanked. The ones who serve with a smile. I’m often surprised that my heart can keep growing to hold all these people in a special place – but it does. The hugs are never ending. Tears are shared in hallways. Laughter follows us up escalators. And I take them with me. The snapshots of their smiles. The memories of their whispered pains. And they become more scraps in the fabric of my life. They strengthen me with their affirmations. They encourage me with their words. They lift me up – just as high as I might have lifted them.

And so today, I simply want to give honor and thanks to the people who serve unnoticed. To the lady in the hairnet who thinks you don’t see her. To the woman taking your change in the cafeteria whose feet hurt, and who has some things going on at home – but she still sits there smiling. To those who serve every day in quiet corners – yet still have the place in their heart to serve me – to give one more hug and a kiss on the cheek. At the risk of sounding really corny, I have to quote the words of that song that couldn’t be more true – “You raise me up, so I can fly on eagles”. To the lunch ladies of Tennessee, and the countless others who have crossed my path: Thank you, for what you give to the world, and what you give to me. Your quiet acts of kindness do not go unnoticed. You fill me up. You are the wind beneath my wings.

Your truly truly grateful motivational speaker, Kelly Swanson.


Motivational Speaker Kelly Swanson - called one of North Carolina's funniest women by Our State Magazine. Kelly lifts the spirits of audiences from coast-to-coast using humor, storytelling, and lives of the characters from Prides Hollow - Kelly's make believe small town. This unique approach to motivational speaking allows Kelly to break through communications barriers and connect directly to the audience's imagination.
Her powerful stories and wacky wit will make you laugh, remind you that you matter, show you how to see beyond your obstacles, and teach you how to stand up and stick out in a crowded market.
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Motivational speaker Kelly Swanson's website

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  1. Right on Kelly!  Three cheers for all of those who lift us up!  So happy that you were in Tennessee to be with those incredible ladies – big hair and all!

  2. You had me at “laughter follows us up escalators”.  Really nice writing, Kelly, great, moving message but really, really nice writing girl.

  3. Oh see Kelly. This is why the world needs and loves you. You remind us of what we need to focus on and  where we need to be looking. Thank you soooooo much. Sharing now. 

  4. Another outstanding post. Another group blessed to hear your message.


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