Category Archives: Change Makers

Loving the Children: What Happens When We Do What Scares Us

girl-laughing-paint

I have a best friend who stretches the day around her arms like a big medicine ball. She wraps her intentions from fingertip to fingertip and hooks it tight, seals it close. She believes in busyness. She believes in happiness. She believes that black high heels should never limit her. Or define her. Or slow her down.

The rest of the world stuffs pockets of time into social networks. They’re busy pining for the lives of others. She’s busy stuffing spare moments with acts of kindness.

She called me last month. When she calls, it is always for a reason. Last week, it was because she was headed to Boston for a business trip. Could I imagine her in Boston? I could imagine her anywhere the sun sets and the coffee drips and the roads find a few trees to hide beneath.

Last month, though, it was for a quiet reason, the beginning of something new. Embarking on a journey will do that to you: it will whisper fear into your lungs and spit out anxiety. She never quite lets that muddy her strength though. She had applied for a job. A volunteer position at a nonprofit where she would grant wishes to children with terminal illnesses.

And could I keep a secret until she knew whether she got the job?

I told her yes. Of course. When someone hands you a secret, you keep it. I kept it.

But all the while I was itching to hold her up like Simba from The Lion King and tell the world about her: she was good, she was kind, she was never too busy to grant wishes for children who may never be adults.

“I know you’re going to yell at me,” I said, “but do they tell you if, you know, the kid doesn’t make it?”

I was merging into my lane, exiting the freeway, headed home for the suburban life. She was promising fairytales to little girls in princess dresses.

“I mean,” I restarted. “If you’re still working with them, do they tell you?”

She didn’t know. She didn’t want to know. She didn’t want to know what it would feel like to grow attached to a girl with baby blue eyes and strawberry blonde curls and sundresses with watermelons on them only to wake up one day and see her name in the newspaper obituaries.

Life is hard. Life is weighed down by the attachments we make. To toddlers. To teenagers. To chances and choices and childhood ambitions. For a long while, I wanted to move to Los Angeles and watch the sun set and pen stories about love and life changes and the catalysts that sparked them both. But I wasn’t fit for LA. I had to unearth that: I was not fit for the busy streets of Los Angeles.

That was okay. She will walk with her black high heels down this path with baby boys and girls whose dreams are Christmas lights every single morning they get to wake up. She’ll hold their hand. Ask them questions. Make phone calls on their behalf and say prayers for their health.

She’ll do it all with a smile. Because she knows a secret: that what scares us is what enlivens us, what we hold close teaches us, what we strive for enables our futures.

You are a light. You are a light in someone’s life.

12 days

Dear Writers,

I need you. I need you hard workers & best friends & big dreamers. I need you smile seekers & dreamers & deeply, deeply caring people. Kitty needs a love letter today. And I know it best come from you.

Today is Day 2 of More Love Letters12 Days of Love Letter Writing. Take a moment to read on because these requests come straight from the hearts of loved ones and each recipient gets loaded down with personal letters from the MLL community.

Below is Kitty’s request. Join in and send your note, the one only you can pen to paper, to the below address by December 20:

Kitty’s Bundle
c/o Joy M.
33 South Catalina Ave.
Suite 204
Pasadena, CA 91106

“Kitty came into my life one day in eighth grade, and brought with her sunny hilarity, a love of fun, and an exuberant, quirky, generously loving personality. Kitty saved parts of my soul that I believe would have otherwise shriveled up and died from lack of nurture.”

Many years into their friendship, Kitty was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. As she could not afford the medication most people use to be functional, she has managed her symptoms through “grit and a dedication to life”. While working to recover from an injury Kitty discovered that she loved building things and began working toward becoming a carpenter. Kitty’s friend says “Carpentry is not just her vocation, it is her calling. Kitty is tiny, but she hefts huge loads on the back she still takes good care of. She comes home from work bruised, with smashed fingernails– and she doesn’t care. This work is in her bones. The carpentry profession is male-dominated, and not only is Kitty a woman, she is a woman who is new to the trade. She deals with rampant sexism on the job, and has to work twice as hard as her male co-workers to earn the respect that they receive from one another immediately. Kitty shows up on time, works incessantly, and stays late. She loves her work but struggles with self-doubt in a field that does not encourage women.”

Read my love letter below:

Dear Kitty,

When I was in eighth grade, I was shy & apologetic & embarrassed to be the person I was. That spring, I met a girl who brought with her all the love & light & hope & hard work that I was holding inside me.

I watched her be strong and sure, wild and crazy, passionate about little things like the last episode of F.R.I.E.N.D.S.

As a teenager, I watched her work full time as a waitress – a job that sits somewhere side by side with yours, grueling & thankless & disregarded – so she could have a better life.

A few years ago, all the lights drained from me. I lost hope. I lost passion. I lost energy. I lost weight. I lost myself inside of a depression that didn’t deserve me.

She sent me a letter that sounded a little like this: “That girl who laughs at everything, she is still inside you. I would know my best friend anywhere.”

I hold that letter & know that I got lucky.

When I learned your story, I thought of her. And I knew this was the kind of letter that held all the possibility of a thank you for a woman who just might not be getting it.

So let me say this:

You are a light. You are a light in someone’s life.

You are the kind of woman people write letters about. Your close friend, she got lucky. She feels blessed to have met you all those years ago. Sit on that. Know that every morning when you rise.

People will love to belittle you. They will hold you & inspect you & try to know you, but they’ll be wrong. They’ll underestimate you. They’ll disregard you. They’ll bruise you.

Don’t let ‘em. Your friend saw a light in you, big & bright & beautiful, and she still sees it. It’s in you. It’s in you. It’s still so very deeply in you.

Find it. Each morning, find it.

With Love & Hope,
Kaleigh

Kitty’s Address (again): 
Kitty’s Bundle
c/o Joy M.
33 South Catalina Ave.
Suite 204
Pasadena, CA 91106

Printable // Big Things Worksheet

It’s already August. Where did the summer go?

I’m sort of in full-on fall mode, burning my pumpkin spice candle and sliding my arms into my inside-out hoodie (laziness, much?) even though it’s one of the hottest months of the year. I’ll drink hot tea any day of the week so long as I’m indoors.

But what I love most about August is the newness. I’m never fully prepared for it come January, and with holiday after holiday hitting us like riptide waves from November to January, when the clock strikes midnight I’m lucky if I’ve put much thought into my outfit let alone the areas in my life where change is needed.

And yet. This growing up thing, this 20-something on-your-own thing, it doesn’t come with an instruction manual. We have the chance to make it something special, if we begin by putting a drop of intention into our morning cereal bowl.

I’ve always been ambitious. Of that, I am sure. But it’s hard to feel good about ambition when you’re not sure where you’re driving, what future you want to carve out.

That’s where the Big Things Worksheet comes into play. I’ve labeled a couple key aspects of life (career can mean anything from taking classes to interviewing to beefing up the LinkedIn profile; and relationships don’t have to be solely romantic – or human-to-human, for that matter) for you to think on and jot down some Big Things you want to make happen.

Pen + paper? Now that’s a beautiful thing.

Preview:

bigthingsworksheets

Download:

Coral // Peach // Lime // Blue

Weekly Inspiration 03 // Sarah Kay’s Ocean

Sarah Kay is the reason I fell in love with spoken word poetry. And TED talks, too, probably. Her poems are so carefully crafted, so expertly executed, that I hear my own fumblings and misgivings echoing back at me when she speaks softly to a crowd of 500 strangers on a red plush carpet.

Our oceans do not look alike; our worlds do not shine with the same luster, do not mirror each other when viewed from airplane window seats. We are bound to see differences in the way our voices sound over crackling connections in city alleys or bus terminals or country plains.

Sarah Kay Ocean-01

The optimist in me has always waded knee deep into an imperfect ocean and decided to love it wholly. We could wallow in the murky waters + wonder where our feet are flicking but we feel it, we trust it, we know that it’s our decision whether to swim to shore or drift out to sea and Sarah? Sarah likes to see the shoreline from afar, take the whole world from a distance, go a little Postal Service on it, believe everything looks perfect from far away.

And maybe it does. But the beauty lies in returning to find all the humanity in it + loving it more. There is a triumph in being so acutely aware of the pain in this world, even when we squint at it from waiting room television screens, but pressing forward with the promise of fixing, cleaning, restoring + rewriting the future, the life, that waits for us the next time we take a step back.