Rising Through Resilience: Kim & Mike Barnes of Parenting Aging Parents On The Five Things You Can Do To Become More Resilient During Turbulent Times

An Interview With Savio P. Clemente

Savio P. Clemente
Authority Magazine
Published in
14 min readAug 31, 2022

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Mike: The first is “Hard work pays off.” I spent 30 years as a sportscaster. I didn’t have the best voice and didn’t have model looks, but I worked hard. Sometimes that meant 6-day work weeks with no extra compensation. Sometimes it meant working 12 to16-hour days with no extra compensation. The hard work paid off when I was named Best Sportscaster in Austin 17 times.

Resilience has been described as the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Times are not easy now. How do we develop greater resilience to withstand the challenges that keep being thrown at us? In this interview series, we are talking to mental health experts, authors, resilience experts, coaches, and business leaders who can talk about how we can develop greater resilience to improve our lives.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kim & Mike Barnes.

After spending 30 years building stellar careers on TV, Kim and Mike Barnes have a new mission: to broadcast a message of support and to undercut the confusion surrounding care for aging parents as well as to provide a community where no one in these situations will ever feel judged or alone. They realized they needed to do something to help other adult children with aging parents, leading to the creation of Parenting Aging Parents in 2021.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?

Mike: My Mom has Alzheimer’s, and when my sister and I (with our dad’s blessing) started looking at memory care places for her, we were very overwhelmed. I came home and told Kim that I felt like if we were this overwhelmed, most people were probably even more overwhelmed. I suggested we start a Facebook group for people with aging parents.

Kim: During this same time, my mom, who is single, needed more help after surgeries for skin cancer around her eye. She’s gotten scammed a couple times, and we’ve had to take her car keys away. When we started the Facebook group, we decided to use our journalism experience to do interviews with experts who could help us understand all the things we don’t even know we need to know.

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

Mike: I went to visit my mom recently in memory care. The first words out of her mouth were, “I don’t recognize you.” After I said who I was, she asked, “Are you my brother?” When I repeated that I was Mike, her son, she said, “Why are you here?” That’s not the type of conversation you want to have with your mom. But I’ve learned that you can’t take it personally. It’s not my mom talking; it’s the disease. And in so many ways, you have to keep that attitude as you’re dealing with “problems” with your aging parents. I don’t think they’ve chosen to have dementia problems or heart problems or cancer problems. You can’t take it personally.

Kim: As a local television news reporter, I covered the Branch Davidian Standoff in 1993, which quickly became a national story. I got to do live shots for ABC stations around the country. But on the final day, when everything became so chaotic and my station was live for hours, I didn’t take the initiative when I should have because I was waiting to be asked. That experience continues to help me now as I deal with things for my mom, like Medicare and medical authorizations. Just recently, I’ve spent 6+ hours on the phone trying to get approval for my mom to be able to see her cancer doctor for a follow up. I’ve learned I must stay on top of it, keep advocating for her and not give up.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Mike: Kim and I did not sit down one day and brainstorm about a business to start. It kind of found us. We are walking this path with everyone. We’re learning and struggling along the way.

Kim: I think the fact that we share our personal experiences make us relatable. We don’t have all the answers, but we can bring in the experts who do. We constantly see comments of appreciation in our Facebook group, thanking us for the kind, supportive community we’re building. And we help each other. One woman posted about wanting to take her 91-year-old mom with Alzheimer’s to the beach for her birthday and asked for input. Another group member let her know that the beach they were going to has a beach wheelchair you can reserve. A couple weeks later, we see pictures in the group of the 91-year-old mom beaming from ear to ear in the water in the wheelchair. This gave this family a memory they’ll never forget.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Mike: My dad has always been a great role model. He and my mom used to tell stories about being so poor when they got married in 1960, and how they budgeted to live off 10 cents a day. My Dad would buy a hamburger for lunch with his dime. My Mom used hers on cigarettes and coffee. They overcame those early obstacles to have a house and raise two kids. And my dad had a nice career in business. In the early 90s, after Kim and I got married, we were in a similar situation, not making much money and not knowing if we’d ever be able to afford to have kids or buy a house. I talked to my dad when we went to a hockey game together and told him our concerns. He could’ve gone into a long diatribe about those days of living off 10 cents or he could’ve lectured me about choosing a better paying career. But he turned from the hockey game, looked at me and then looked back at the game, and said, “Hard work pays off.” I never forgot that as Kim and I worked hard to buy a house and have two kids.

Kim: Carole Kneeland was a revered television journalist who I first worked for when I was in college. She taught me the skills of a good reporter. She helped me make career decisions. Later, when she became a news director, I was hoping she would hire me. Carole had very high expectations of me and told me I wasn’t quite ready. Fortunately, not too much later she hired me again and had a profound impact on my life and career.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?

Kim: To me, resilience is falling down, getting back up, and trying again. I also think it’s how you think about things. I have friend who told me that in every situation, “You either win or you learn.” It’s taking what you’ve learned and moving forward.

Mike: What I just said about hard work comes to mind quickly. That, and your faith. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “I know the plans I have for you says the Lord.” We all ride a roller-coaster in life. That verse helps us keep the faith during the highs and the lows.

Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different to resilience?

Mike: You must have courage to succeed because failure is always a possibility. When you fail, you have to keep trying.

Kim: I think both courage and resilience take guts. I feel courage is having the guts to try something out of your comfort zone, something you’ve never done before and might not even be sure if you can do it successfully. If something doesn’t go according to plan, resilience is what you use to dust yourself off. Maybe you pivot or tweak what you’re doing but you keep moving forward.

When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?

Mike: I don’t think of a person as much as I think of a sport: baseball. I’m a huge baseball fan and often tell people that life is like baseball. If you fail one out of every three times at bat in baseball, you’ll probably be an All-Star. And it’s like that in life. Have the resilience to forget about that strikeout, get better, and make the most of your next opportunity.

Kim: My son Brandon. He was speech delayed and went through extensive speech therapy when he was 2. He had to suck pudding through a straw to build his mouth muscles. He had to do hours of flash cards to work on sounds. Instead of getting frustrated, he kept doing the work. It paid off, and the bonus was that he started reading when was 3 because he was so aware of sounds from all the speech therapy.

Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?

Mike: No one told me that “catching Kim” was impossible, but I was afraid it might be. We went on seven dates in 1988, 1989 and 1990. Seven dates, total, and there were a couple of long gaps. A year and half between dates two and three. Nine months between dates five and six. I should’ve given up, but I kept trying. Then I was in a car accident in December of 1990. I wasn’t wearing my seatbelt and was thrown from my car. Serious head injuries had me in ICU, practically in a coma. I didn’t open my eyes for five days. But on the fifth day, Kim came to visit me. She walked into my room, touched my arm and said my name. At that moment, I opened my eyes, grabbed her hand and started talking. We were engaged six months later.

Kim: It was the first day of my first broadcast journalism class in college. Our professor looked at the 12 of us and said, “I just have to tell you that half of you will never get a job in television news.” I remember looking around the room and thinking, I feel so sorry for them. It never occurred to me that I would be one who wouldn’t get a job. Maybe it was confidence. Maybe I was naïve. I just knew that I would do whatever it took. I did multiple internships. I worked for free. I knew I’d need to move to a small town to start. I went on a road trip over spring break my senior year with another journalism friend while all our friends went to the beach. We went to five cities in five days, and each talked to the news directors at fourteen television stations. It led to three job offers I turned down, before accepting a job at the station I had been waiting to have an opening. I was determined and followed through.

Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?

Mike: I lost my job as a sportscaster in 2019 after 29 years at the same station. New managers at the TV station didn’t want to renew my contract. It wasn’t a fun time for me, and it’s been a daunting challenge ever since. But in the steps since then, we came up with the idea for Parenting Aging Parents.

Kim: In 2004, I gave up my career in TV news for my family, not sure what the future would hold. But 18 years later, I know I made the right decision for my kids. It also gave me other opportunities to see success in sales, management, entrepreneurship, communications training, and other on-camera roles. All of which I’m using today to build Parenting Aging Parents.

How have you cultivated resilience throughout your life? Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?

Mike: I love to tell the story in one of my keynote speeches about being a failure. I was seven years old and hadn’t won a trophy yet. It was the 1970s, and we didn’t have participation trophies back then! Our local YMCA put on a competition, and when I got there, I saw all of the trophies that could be won. I was so excited! Long story short… I didn’t win. I was so upset and demoralized. My mom drove me home and tried to help me feel better by saying, “Things happen for a reason.” It didn’t get me a trophy, but it helped me know there would be light at the end of the tunnel. Sure enough, I won a Punt Pass and Kick competition four months later and got my first trophy! I’ve tried to keep that in mind ever since when things didn’t go my way. Whether it was sports or school or girls or jobs.

Kim: I grew up in an alcoholic family. My dad was very gregarious and high-functioning but also very unpredictable. One day, we were having a great family moment. The next he was threatening to send me to boarding school. I tried hard to earn his approval with everything I did, but often wasn’t good enough. I’ve tried to learn from that as a mother with my kids. While watching them in school, playing sports, dance or watching them in their careers now, I want them to know that I stand by them no matter what, even when they’re not “perfect,” since none of us are.

Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.

Mike: The first is “Hard work pays off.” I spent 30 years as a sportscaster. I didn’t have the best voice and didn’t have model looks, but I worked hard. Sometimes that meant 6-day work weeks with no extra compensation. Sometimes it meant working 12 to16-hour days with no extra compensation. The hard work paid off when I was named Best Sportscaster in Austin 17 times.

Kim: The second is “Look back.” When we’re stuck in the muck of a current situation, it’s easy to only see doom and gloom. When we look back at the successes we’ve had, the goals we’ve accomplished and the challenges we’ve overcome, it can help us see the potential ahead. That can give us the drive to keep going. The first time I applied to be the weekend anchor at the TV station where I worked, I didn’t get it. I was very disappointed. However, looking back, I reminded myself that, when I got hired at the station, I was the youngest news reporter there, which was kind of a big deal. I turned my disappointment into drive so that the next time there was an opening I was ready and got the job.

Mike: The third is “Don’t take it personally.” I applied for lots of TV sportscasting jobs when I got out of college but didn’t get one for six months! Sometimes when you apply for a job or try out for something and don’t get it, it’s not all because of your talent. Maybe there was something about the person who was hired or who got the spot that made them stand out. Keep trying and find that moment when it’s your turn to rise and shine.

Kim: The fourth is “Surround yourself with the right people.” If you’re around negative people, it’s hard not to be negative, too. If you’re around positive people, that rubs off. The people we spend a lot of time with can shape who are. I’m fortunate to have mentors, friends and my supportive husband so that even during challenging times I know they’re cheering me on.

Mike: And the fifth is “Things happen for a reason.” You must have faith that there’s a reason when things don’t go your way.

Kim: We’ve had to make some tough decisions in more than 30 years of marriage, and God’s been in the middle of it all. When I didn’t get a promotion I thought I wanted, I couldn’t understand why the offer was taken away. I was upset and confused and didn’t know why that happened. Later, when I was promoted to a different position, and we started a family, I realized that the first job would have been a nightmare.

Mike: And, that’s why we know to always trust Him.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Mike: Because of what we’re doing in Parenting Aging Parents, I hope we can inspire a movement to help everyone who’s taking care of their aging parents. It’s amazing how many aging parents don’t have Wills or Powers of Attorney. I’d love to get someone involved to help fix that problem and let everyone know about the great community we have in Parenting Aging Parents.

Kim: We want to normalize the conversation so people talk about caring for aging parents. The more we talk about it, the more we can help each other. We want companies to look at ways they can support their employees who are helping their parents, just like they do for parents with young children.

We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them :-)

Mike: I’d like to think a great political leader would be THE person to help everyone know about helping our aging parents, but in today’s world a famous person like Jennifer Garner or Nathan Fillion might swing a bigger stick.

Kim: I’d love to talk with Brene Brown. She’s led a movement, getting people to talk about tough issues like shame. So many in our community bring up issues of guilt and difficult family relationships and I’d like to be able to offer resources for them.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Mike: Parenting Aging Parents is a private group on Facebook that is easy to join.

Kim: There’s a link to our Facebook group along with dozens of interviews we’ve done with experts on our website.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

About The Interviewer: Savio P. Clemente coaches cancer survivors to overcome the confusion and gain the clarity needed to get busy living in mind, body, and spirit. He inspires health and wellness seekers to find meaning in the “why” and to cultivate resilience in their mindset. Savio is a Board Certified wellness coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), stage 3 cancer survivor, podcaster, writer, and founder of The Human Resolve LLC.

Savio pens a weekly newsletter at thehumanresolve.com where he delves into secrets from living smarter to feeding your “three brains” — head 🧠, heart 💓, and gut 🤰 — in hopes of connecting the dots to those sticky parts in our nature that matter.

He has been featured on Fox News, and has collaborated with Authority Magazine, Thrive Global, Food Network, WW, and Bloomberg. His mission is to offer clients, listeners, and viewers alike tangible takeaways in living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle.

Savio lives in the suburbs of Westchester County, New York and continues to follow his boundless curiosity. He hopes to one day live out a childhood fantasy and explore outer space.

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Savio P. Clemente
Authority Magazine

Board Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC), Journalist, Best-selling Author, Podcaster, and Stage 3 Cancer Survivor