My college art teacher Mrs. Boggess told me, "Krystle you have a knack for layout and design." She was right, more than the composition of my art projects though. It's seeing the connections in every day interactions with people, hearing the way a song should be threaded together, and leaving a space for the right piece to come to me.
This is my gift, and this is why I have the space I have NoDa. I've honored that gift. I walk into the beautiful house every day and I'm in awe of the space being Pachyderm Music Lab's to share with you.
I want you to know that you will NEVER know how you are going to do the big thing. I dreamed of my business long before I had it. For a decade I thought I wasn't worthy of it. A poor kid with no resources. No one to co-sign a loan. To do something like that you need money right? What would I do anyway?
Again and again I was bombarded with this idea that I was supposed to be doing something other than what I was doing. It could be the waves of depression, tuning the radio and one line popping out at me, meeting a stranger and them telling me "You don't seem like you belong here."
Once I stopped ignoring those messages and I said yes to the things that flowed my way things drastically changed for me. Some of those things were terrible and some delightful. Saying "yes" led me to a new life and to giving birth to a new life.
In 2009 I was in my hometown Fayetteville, WV. I had been fighting severe depression. I worked 3-4 jobs simultaneously trying to distract myself from how sad I was. I partied a lot. Too much.
I had nothing to lose so I decided to move to Hilton Head Island, SC. I didn't know anyone, had never been there, it was a whim of a suggestion made by someone. I said f*** it. I can go be sad at the beach. I didn't have a car. I saved up a measly 2k and hitched a ride with a new roommate who was in a similar situation in Ohio. We were flying blind together.
As soon as I said yes to that, I was in flow. The island move led me to music again. Within 3 months of living there I was in a band.
The partying never stopped, though. I knew it was not going to end well. After a time I had to leave the island paradise and so I chose a city.
I moved to Charlotte and started another band. It was different, so different. I couldn't make a living playing music anymore. I had to get another sh***y job. So I did. I was sad again. I got comfortable, though. I fell in love.
I never wanted kids until I was reaching the end of my 30s and thinking well if I'm ever going to do this... it's now. This relationship is stable. I'm middle-class and not in poverty for the first time in my life I like the idea of having a mini-me...
I had a baby. She is magic. I looked at her and all of this fear bubbled up out of me. Oh f***! She's a girl! She will have to work harder to prove herself. She will be seen as prey by sick people. She could be sexually assaulted like me.
I prayed. Please help me make the world a better place for my daughter. I don't want her to endure the same things I have.
Girls Rock Charlotte had just formed. They put a call out for volunteers. I joined and ended up serving a pivotal role in the organization to the point that I'm encouraged by the founder to label myself as the co-founder.
I said yes. It led to me teaching in home lessons. It lead to me doing the first Lady Rockstars and finding my own space to teach out of.
It led to being able to start Pachyderm Music Lab in Indian Trail. I could not have done that without the help of my spouse.
Spending all this time teaching women and girls to use their voice, I was using mine and getting better at it. I wrote out and rehearsed my speech for TEDx and it ended up healing me from the sexual assault I went through as a child. I healed myself with my voice while talking about how using your voice gives you power. Pretty cool.
Now I'm in NoDa in this magical old beautiful house with the organization that is my heart beat and I tear up regularly feeling so much profound gratitude. I'm an out and proud member of the LGBTQ+ community and I'm experiencing a love like I've never had with my girlfriend, Elizabeth, who is an advocate for the poor and a space holder like me. We are big and together our magic is so powerful.
It all came to me because I said yes to flow and that meant yes to me and yes to helping those around me.
10 years ago, I had no f*cking idea. NONE.
10 years ago I was coming home from work with tears streaming down my face, staring at a wall for hours contemplating ending my life.
I overcame depression, drug addiction, healed my sexual trauma and co-dependency all by saying "YES" to those things that kept nudging me toward the path of flow (some of you might call it "God")
And guess what, things in my life are still hard (like my parents ghosting me when I came out in May, still navigating divorce and having my daughter every other week).
BUT I WOULD NOT CHANGE A THING.
I'm grateful for the good stuff and the hard stuff. Without it we don't grow.
Life is going to continue to be good and hard and sad and magical. I welcome all these moments that culminate to my experience in this life as Krystle Baller.
After all, life well lived is the best thing we can possibly hope for.
Push through the discomfort and say YES if your heart agrees. You won't regret it.