So, last week was Karen's birthday and in the weeks before I was completely caught up in planning Accolades (a giant work event), which incidentally took place on her actual birthday. Boo! She was a really great sport about it all. She helped me with so much in the weeks leading up to the event, even though she doesn't even work at Wedgwood! Just because she is nice and wanted to help me! That is who she is. She totally took the time to come (ON HER BIRTHDAY!) and celebrate me for my years of service at work and support me in the crazy of that big event. She even brought me amazing, beautiful, thoughtfully picked flowers! This girl. She is the best. Anyway, due to those events beyond my control, I wasn't able to fully celebrate her in the way that she deserves to be celebrated. So now I have found an opportunity to try to make up for that and am taking it! Karen always does special birthday posts for all of her family and close friends and I believe that it's about time someone did one for her. And it's now Mother's Day, another day where she deserves to be totally celebrated for her awesome-ness! Here is my attempt, late though it might be, to share with the world (or at least the people who read her blog) how much I adore her and some of the things that make her one of the best friends I've ever had!
I have known Karen for 15 years but I really always have this feeling that I've known her since birth. When I see pictures of her as a child or teenager or in college I'm usually a bit surprised that I'm not in the pictures! She is one of those friends that nearly immediately became one of my closest and most trusted people. Maybe partially because we worked together in the crazy, intense setting of Crossroads, but I think it is so much more than that. We clicked nearly immediately and haven't stopped talking endlessly about everything and nothing since! Karen is one of the people that I can spend hours with and then promptly call as soon as we are apart and STILL somehow have lots to say! She reached out to me when I was a newbie and even though I was kind of nervous to make a new friend, she put me at ease right away. Karen does that. With sincere questions and an incredible listening ear, she draws people in and makes them feel comfortable and important. She truly cares about the people in her life and wants to really know her friends and family on a deeper level. I think I could tell right away that this was someone who would become a kindred spirit. My very own Anne Shirley!
Karen is also really, really fun. Like, really fun. And we don't even have to be doing anything spectacularly epic in order to have fun! Normal, everyday things like grocery shopping or zumba become an event when done with her! And her sense of humor! So clever. So funny. So intentionally (and unintentionally) dorky! She can make me smile even when I'm in the lowest of moods. Karen is also a born optimist and that has been such a gift to me through the years. I tend to see the glass half empty a lot of the time and Karen definitely tends to see it half full. She encourages me to look at the bright side and often points out the places where thankfulness is the more appropriate response than my complaining attitude. But not in a way that is condescending at all. It's totally edged with empathy and concern, but points me in the right direction gently, and yet firmly.
She is also incredibly talented and very, very smart. And super creative. And kind-hearted. And just really lovely. Inside and out. Each of these qualities on their own are great but they combine in such a way that makes Karen uniquely her and such a special person. She has so much to offer and does so freely. She can do just about anything once she sets her mind to it. She will always put others first and think of their feelings even if it might inconvenience her. Karen doesn't ask for the spotlight and rarely gets it, although in my opinion she is the real rock star. She just lives in such a way that supports and encourages and allows others to shine.
Through the years I have watched Karen be an incredible wife. A-mazing. Her love and commitment to Juanito is so deep and so strong. She and Juanito as a couple are one of the best examples of what marriage is supposed to be and I'm so grateful to be able to observe their relationship close up and learn some of what it takes to stick it out for 20+ years! They are so steady and sure but also can totally act like love-struck newlyweds on a regular basis!
I have also watched Karen become a mother and take on that role full force. Karen is hands down one of the best moms I have ever known. She is so intentional as a parent. One of the things that has always stood out to me is how she listens so carefully to her kids, engages them and does her best to answer their questions. Karen is also really patient and takes the time to make things extra special for her kids. She goes above and beyond to help her kids have amazing experiences and learn how to live the best kind of life. Her love for them shines through in so many ways. Karen also doesn't do any of this for the praise or recognition. She just is who she is and does so much without any expectation of receiving something in response. Her selflessness, not only with her kids, but with her friends and family as well, is inspiring to me.
I could go on and on and on...the talent and creativity and intelligence and beauty...basically, she is just simply amazing!!! I am so thankful that she reached out and befriended me all those years ago. My life is so much better with her in my life. Happy Birthday & Happy Mother's Day, dearest Karen! I love you!