Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Friendsday #3

If you got here somehow other than through Facebook, here's a catch up: I'm starting a series of posts about people in my life who make my life better.  I want to take the time to thank them because it's just a great way to live.  If you missed my other Friendsday posts, you can read them here and here.

I’m in the middle of one of those weeks.  Everything that’s happening is fun and happy and great, but I have been going non-stop.  I fell asleep on the couch last night, lying against Scott, and he propped me up with a giant stuffed polar bear the kids have been playing with and let me sleep there all night.  I’m looking at my to-do list, fully aware that there’s no way I can get it all done, but I have been looking forward to today since LAST Wednesday, so I’m pausing for a moment (more like 43 minutes because that’s how long I have until I have to leave to take the kids to gymnastics) to say THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOU to another shining star in my life.  

I don’t want to sound all dramatic and sentimental, but YOU GUYS, knowing that I get to write about the people I love once a week has just…I don’t know.  It’s just been so life-affirming and perspective-shaping.  You should try it.
I had to use this picture of Kelsey because
1) almost all of the pictures on her FB page have other people in them, and
2) it's probably the best thing I've ever seen in my life.  I look at this picture sometimes
when I'm stalking her on FB late at night and need a pick-me-up.
So, I met Kelsey through my mom when she started working at the school where my mom had been a teacher and guidance counselor for almost twenty years.  Because I was living in SC at the time, I only knew OF Kelsey for a couple of years before I met her.  Once a week or so, I’d hear a story about something creative or smart Kelsey had done in her classroom, or my mom would give me a book recommendation, saying, “Kelsey told me I HAD to read it, so you know it’s going to be good.”  After awhile, my mom started joking around about her “other daughter.”

Kelsey and I are about the same age, and while I had never spent any *actual* time with her, I started to fall in love with who she was and with who she was to my mama.  What I knew about her: she was passionate about teaching and loving kids who had been labeled unteachable and unlovable.  She had a quirky sense of humor that carried my mom and the other staff members through some tough times for their school community.  She thought outside the box and challenged her kids to do the same, despite the fact that many of the kids she taught came from high-risk backgrounds that led other people to believe hope was lost.

Eventually, I was able to meet Kelsey in real life and stop living vicariously through my mom’s friendship with her.  I tried to make a point to hang out with her on my visits to OK, and my time with her rounded out the character I’d created in my mind.

This year, Kelsey made a tough decision to move back to CO to be closer to her family, and she’s one of the reasons I thank God for technology.  I can see what she’s reading on Goodreads, and I can say hooray when she finds an apartment, and I can cry (I know, it’s stupid—having children unclogged my tear ducts, and now I can’t stop) when she posts pictures of herself with her dad because even though I don’t know her dad, I know how awesome it is to love your dad that much.  When I started doing this two weeks ago, Kelsey was one of the first people to respond, saying that my quest to thank and love the people who have impacted me in ways big and small was “inspired.”

If I were to think of a word to describe Kelsey, that would be it.  We talk of ideas being inspired, but Kelsey is living an inspired life.  This is somewhere around the same realm of being a free spirit but with gravitas.  She’s living her life very much in the way I want to live mine—she’s independent but understands the strength of community; she’s funny—like laugh out loud wit funny—but understands the depth that sorrow brings; and she’s vulnerable—the way Brene Brown talks about vulnerability in Daring Greatly, “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness.”  I covet the way Kelsey gracefully embraces and exposes truth and courage in ways that make others around her want to seek truth and find courage in themselves.

I believe that every person who comes into my life has the potential to teach me a lesson, and I feel like I’m sitting at the feet of one of the greats in being Kelsey’s student friend.  She’s taught me the importance of appreciating the people who love the people I love.  I live far away from many of the people I love most, and during the few years that Kelsey was working with my mom, I knew that she was a soft place my mom could land if needed.  I’ve also learned to take risks, especially when naysayers tell me something can’t be done, and then to embrace the change with joy.  And finally, I’ve seen Kelsey nurture herself—through books and friendships and through the choice she recently made to move to CO, which I believe is the reason she has the energy she does to give so fully to those of us who have been witness to her beauty.

So, today, in the middle of the craziness, I took a minute to nurture myself by writing about someone who taught me how to do that.  Kelsey, you’re one of a kind.  I hope you know how much I love you.


  1. You're just too much. You spoil me with your words. Love you friend!

  2. this is one wonderful undertaking, leia. thanks for sharing the love.

    1. Thanks for reading, Susan. Every time I write something, I think of you. Every time.