Blessed and Thankful

Photo Credit: The Great Kaysby

The last big event LilKsby went to before the world shutdown in 2020 was a first birthday party for one of his first friends. Within two weeks of that party everyone was sheltering in place which led to LilKsby’s first birthday being a masked, socially distanced, outdoor affair with just his seven close family members. His second and third birthdays didn’t involve masks and outdoors, but they still involved the core seven as we were trying to minimize his exposures to Covid. Finally, today LilKsby got to have his first birthday party with friends AND family, and I kept thinking over and over, “We are abundantly blessed, and I am so thankful for everyone here!”

Days like today remind me of how abundantly blessed we truly are. First and foremost, we have an amazing family who are always there for us and who absolutely love LilKsby. The way they play with him, share their talents with him, and create memories with him will melt your heart! Secondly, we have amazing friends old and new. I remember a song from when I was in Girl Scouts as a kid with these lyrics: “Make new friends, but keep the old.
One is silver, the other is gold.A circle is round, it has no end. That’s how long, I will be your friend.” When I looked around the room full of love today, these lyrics rang so true! There were friends of mine and Mr Kisby’s from as long ago as high school, from 16 years ago when we were introduced to one another, friends from previous jobs, and new friends from within the last year who are some of the most incredible moms I have ever met! Likewise there were friends of LilKsby’s from the time he was a baby, from his first time at camp, and and from within the last year of weekly Pre-K classes! It was such a blessing to see them together talking, playing, and celebrating especially as concerned as I was a year ago about LilKsby having social opportunities. I could gush and gush about how blessed we are, and I assure you that my smile will always be so big that you would think there was a coat hanger in my mouth (Friends reference for all you other fans out there.)

I am also very thankful for everything surrounding today. First of all, I am thankful for Mr Kisby and the greatest gift of our lives which was the reason for today’s celebration: LilKsby. Sometimes I look at him, and I still can’t believe that God trusted me to be his mama! Secondly, I’m thankful for all the people who have been a part of LilKsby’s life. Whether they were at the party or not, there are so many people who have positively impacted his life in the last four years. If I attempted to name them, I know I would forget people, so just know that if you’re in our life, we are thankful for you! Finally, I’m thankful for the absolute pure joy of today’s celebration! I believe that experiencing joy is a key to living your best life, and today the joy overflowed in my heart! Like at times I literally felt like our little family was glowing from joy, thankfulness, and blessings.

Aside from going to bed absolutely elated, I hope that I never forget how blessed and thankful we are.


The Great Kaysby

Me + Food = ?

Photo Credit: The Great Kaysby

If you’ve read my blog for a long time, then you know that I used to write a lot about food. I would discuss my favorite foods along with where to get them. I thought of myself as a foodie and being a paid food critic sounded like a dream job! Paid to eat? Sign me up! However, as I got older and my priorities changed, I started realizing that my relationship with food was not a relationship I wanted LilKsby to grow up copying.

I grew up in what I would like to call the “clean your plate era.” I distinctly remember going to restaurants as a child and the restaurants having rewards (usually more food) for children who would eat everything. I’ll never forget that at Captain D’s a free piece of chocolate cake was the reward. As a kid, I thought this was great even though I don’t even like chocolate! It was just the idea of “winning” a prize. As an adult, I find myself appalled that the reward for overeating was to eat more. Because of these reward systems, for a long time I found myself feeling required to clean my plate. I’m not saying this “clean your plate mentality” is the sole reason for my obesity – a lot of bad habits went into that – but it took a long time for me to become okay with having leftovers!

Some of my other bad habits with food have also attributed to my up and down relationship with the scale. One of the worst of these is eating out of habit instead of hunger. For my entire school career, health classes pushed the concept of three meals a day: breakfast when you woke up, lunch around noon, and dinner in the early evening. There was also usually a rousing chorus of “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Since this is what was taught, eating became routine whether I was hungry or not. Lately, I’m really working to ask myself “Am I hungry?” before having a meal or snack. Another bad habit for me is emotional eating. This is a big one! Just this evening, I was feeling a little moody and found myself thinking “I need a cookie to feel better!” I looked at the tub of cookies, then I thought to myself, “You don’t need a cookie! You’re not hungry!” Guess what? I’m really glad that I didn’t eat that cookie!

Acknowledging the bad qualities of my relationship with food has been an interesting journey. When you love something so much, it can be hard to want to make a change. I’m still working on making better choices a lot of which comes down to planning and sticking to the plan. I’ve also been striving to educate myself on better healthy eating habits from credible sources and avoiding “crash diets.” It’s a work in progress, and I know that there are going to be occasions where I over indulge. However, I’m not going to give up!

Want to join me on my wellness journey?


The Great Kaysby

39 While 39 – Complete

If you’ve been with me for a while, then you know two things. One, last year I sat out to complete 39 fun things while 39 years old. Two, tomorrow I turn 40. I’m excited to say that I’ve completed 39 things!!! I’ve actually completed a lot more than that, but I finished my list. You will note that my list changed throughout the year. This is a reflection of my own personal growth throughout the year. My most important takeaway has been that it is okay to change what you want in life because that is a sign that you’re growing! I’m so happy with how much I’ve grown over the last year and how much I’ve begun living by my priorities. I could get very philosophical about this, but instead I’ll share my accomplished list!

✓ Ride a roller coaster – rode a couple of them at Dollywood. Wooden roller coasters are still my favorite!

✓ Ride a train – also happened at Dollywood! It was beautiful looking down at all the Christmas lights!

✓ Finish the green and gold dress – I started creating this dress in 2012 when we still played Amtgard. When we stopped, I stopped. Now it is finished, and it is beautiful!

✓ Take a vacation – We took several! Made it to Pigeon Forge area twice, America’s Historical Triangle, Nashville, and Rough River. Looking forward to more travel this year!

✓ Sushimas – First once since 2019! I loved seeing all of our friends and bringing back traditions!

✓ Bet on the Derby – Felt so grown up to bet on the race from my phone. Looking forward to getting my $9 check!

✓ Go kayaking – Nothing like being out on the water to make you feel one with the universe!

✓ Finish Baby Books – LilKsby is turning 4 soon, so I’m elated to say I finally had time to finish his books!

✓ Play pool – I love playing pool! Did this on my birthday last year and in Gatlinburg!

✓ Go to a cave – We had the wonderful opportunity to take our nephew to Mammoth Cave last summer.

✓ Enter a competition for creativity – I’ve always wanted to enter a Christmas tree competition! I came in like 12th out of 31!

✓ Calendar Album – Made an album out of all the calendars LilKsby has made for presents.

✓ Complete 1 Year Frame – I had bought one of these my first year frames before LilKsby was born. Finally completed it!

✓ See Dr Strange 2 – Fun movie!

✓ See Thor Love and Thunder – Great movie!

✓ Read 12 Books – Finished 13 and have started 14!

✓ Watch Young Sheldon 3 and 4 – Glad I did because Seasons 5 and 6 have been amazing!

✓ Watch Step By Step – Great throwback to my childhood!

✓ Go to GenCon Online – Gaming is fun in person and online!

✓ Wedding Scrapbook – After almost 11 years, mine and Mr Kisby’s wedding scrapbook is complete!

✓ Order a t-shirt quilt – Wanted to do this for years! Can’t wait to get it back!

✓ Go to an art museum – Virtually visited the Van Gogh Museum!

✓ Make a state fair entry – have a few ready to go!

✓ Go to Gatlinburg – Great trip! Highly recommend Cade’s Cove!

✓ Go to the Tulip Farm – Beautiful local farm! Love supporting friends!

✓ Complete 10 Coursera Classes – took classes for fun and business!

✓ Complete 5 paintings – painted for myself and Christmas gifts!

✓ Go to JR Neighbors – I’m proud of us for trying something new.

✓ See the BSB DNA Tour – Amazing show with amazing people!

✓ Complete NANOWRIMO – Loved starting this book! Can’t wait to edit and publish!

✓ Go to a winery – Not only did I go to one, I also became a member!

✓ Write Letters for Book – Completed a book with letters from me to Lil Kisby!

✓ Watch The Game Season 2 – This show is epic! There needs to be a Season 3!

✓ Finish a Bible Study – Learned about love being the greatest gift of all!

✓ Go to a pumpkin activity – We went to the Pumpkin Wagon!

✓ Try a salt cave or salt room – So relaxing! I’ve been twice now!

✓ Write 10 fan letters – This was so fun! I never got any responses, but it was fun to do!

✓ Get a Casey’s Taco Pizza – My favorite pizza! I only get them when going west. Hope yo have another soon!

✓ Go to the State Fair – worked it and went as a guest! Love it!

Not on the list? Transitioning from full time working mom to stay at home/work from home mom. Hands down the thing I did while 39 that has helped me be a better wife, mother, and person while also improving my mental and physical health. I challenge all of you to take risks, do things you enjoy, and make your next year the best year!


The Great Kaysby

Thoughts and Prayers Are Not Enough

This image is a screenshot from a news article on

Remember the old story about the man who prayed and prayed to win the lottery? He prayed to win every day, yet he died without ever winning. When he got to heaven, he asked God why he never won the lottery even though that had been his only prayer for years. With His infinite wisdom God told him something simple, “You never bought a ticket.” All that the man needed to do was make a simple change to his daily routine and buy a ticket, but he never did because he relied on prayer alone. The moral of the story? Even God (or any other deity based on your specific faith) tells that thoughts and prayers are not enough and action is required to make a change. Spoiler, this moral applies to a lot more areas than just winning the lottery!

One of the areas where this applies is the after math of a shooting. Let me preface this by saying that thoughts and prayers are great for the souls of those who lost their lives, the families of the victims who need comfort, and the family of the shooter as their lives will forever be marred by what a relative did. However, thoughts and prayers are not enough for there to be an end to gun violence. For gun violence to end, there must be action taken and changes made. Obviously, this means there needs to be changes made in the area of gun control legislation. I can’t propose what change should be made because it would be very skewed to my own beliefs on guns. However, I can recognize that there needs to be legal change immediately! Additionally, we need change when it comes to mental health. In the picture, I highlighted the words “And everybody who needs it, don’t be afraid to get some help.” It is 2023, and NO ONE – I repeat NO ONE – should ever be afraid to get help. Likewise, NO ONE should be made to feel ashamed because they need to or do seek help with mental health. Along with this acceptance that mental health assistance is positive, the needed services also need to be more readily and affordably available. Something else that needs to be addressed? Why are there so many employees/former employees who are so disgruntled with their employer/former employer that they feel violence is the only answer? My guess is because their employer makes them feel expendable and not valued. Employers need to re-examine how they are caring for their own. I understand that in business you have bottom lines and standards that must be met for success. However, there is also time to make your employees feel important and recognize when they are in of something. Imagine if all of these actions/changes were combined with thoughts and prayers. Do you think things would finally begin to improve?

I’m not a fool, and I realize that violence will never completely cease. However, I do believe that the sooner people agree that thoughts and prayers are not enough and start to call for changes, then we will see a decrease begin. Not sure of how to start? Post on your social media calls to change, sign petitions, and contact legislators. If you are so called, join a protest (peaceful and non-violent please). Advocate for mental health help and better work environments! By all means, continue to pray while also taking action. You don’t want to be like the man who prayed to win yet never bought the ticket.


The Great Kaysby

Children Get It, Adults Need to Get It

This evening at Holy Thursday Mass, LilKsby spent most of the service sharing toys with the child in the pew in front of us. As I watched them interact by passing their toys back and forth, I thought to myself that these two children who are around pre-school age understand the true message of the Gospel more than 70% of people who call themselves Christians. They may not have understood the message in the readings about Passover or been able to relate to the sermon, but they do understand the importance of treating one another as you want to be treated and showing love towards other people. Reflecting on this, I feel like children get how to live by the Golden Rule, and adults are the ones who don’t remember how to do so.

What is my evidence for adults not remembering how live by the Golden Rule? There are so many things you could cite as examples from the things people say on social media and the Internet to the way people behave in public. Right now one of the biggest examples is all of the acts of government currently being carried out that openly discriminate against people. I cannot count how many pieces of legislation have been passed (even though some governors have attempted to use their veto power) that openly discriminate against members of the LGBTQ+ community so far in 2023. The passage of each one breaks my heart as I cannot wrap my brain around laws that hurt people. Likewise, today, my heart breaks and my mind is outraged for The Tennessee Three. They are being punished for standing up for what they believe to be necessary for protecting innocent lives. They are being unjustly compared to people who led riots that caused deaths even though all they did was peacefully protest. Two of the three are being further discriminated against because of their race. Again, it is 2023, and frankly, I believe that the people of this world can do better than that! I could go on and on with examples of adults who have forgotten how to live by the Golden Rule, but just thinking about it makes my blood pressure go up, and I’d like to sleep tonight.

So how do adults purposefully discriminating and children treating each other with kindness at Mass tie together? First of all, Jesus would have fallen into one of those categories that still gets discriminated against. So in some ways discriminating against someone because of the color of their skin is kind of like discriminating against Jesus himself. Think about that for a moment. Secondly, if you believe that Jesus came to save ALL people – the sinners who admit their sins and the sinners who think they are above sin – then you should believe that Jesus would want ALL people to treat one another with kindness and love. You should believe that Jesus would want you to share the toy with the person the next to you. There again, children get it, and some adults need to get it!


The Great Kasyby


Twenty one years ago today, my grandfather gained his wings after a nearly six year battle with various illnesses which followed several short battles that spanned his lifetime. When I reflect on his life, I find myself always looking at him as two different people. The first person was Healthy Grandpa, and the second person was Unhealthy Grandpa. As I write that, I realize that synopsis either sounds callous if you cannot relate or sounds extremely true it you can relate. Either way, both versions of Grandpa led to lasting memories.

Healthy Grandpa was eccentric. He could be intimidating, but he would give the shirt off his back to a stranger were the stranger in need. He came from a strict background – like was raised in Catholic schools and the nuns beat the “devil” aka the left-handed out of him – that was highly regimented. The later led to a successful military career, a desire to be a servant leader, and a desire to live a highly scheduled life. He believed in God, the American Legion, the VFW, the Knights of Columbus, and that his biggest calling was to provide for his wife and kids. He was very old fashioned in this respect, and I feel like this was because he wanted a stable “normal” home after how atypical for the 1930s his childhood was. He was very much the man of the house, and my grandmother always seemed okay with allowing him to assume that dominant role. He liked his breakfast, lunch, and dinner at a certain time on his plate. It was a white plate with an off center picture of pink flowers on a vine. Each day of the week had a specific menu item which is why to this day I wrinkle my nose when thinking about “Fish stick Friday.” (Side note: I’m convinced fish sticks are the hot dog of the ocean.) Each night after dinner, he either wanted to sit and watch TV or tinker around in the garage.

Not everything Healthy Grandpa did had to fit into a perfectly planned little box. He loved his Kansas City sports which was definitely not a perfect plan given they weren’t good at winning way back when. We were always visiting him during baseball season, and you knew that if a game was on and Grandpa had an ice tea in hand, then he was not to be disturbed. You were welcome to sit with him to watch the game and talk to him during commercials. You were not welcome to the ice tea because it sometimes had whiskey in it that was kept in a special amber colored decanter that he didn’t hide as well as he thought he did under the table next to his blue chair. You were also not welcome to sit in his blue chair, but we did when he wasn’t there because we thought it was funny. I like to think because us grandkids were adorable that he secretly found it cute.

Healthy Grandpa taught me a lot of things in the thirteen years I got to spend with him. I’ll never forget that he taught me what false teeth were when one night me and my cousin were playing outside in the yard, and I looked over at him sitting on the patio listening to a ball game with his teeth in one hand and a handkerchief in the other. I distinctly remember wanting to stare because I couldn’t decide if this was intriguing or gross. He also taught me and my cousin how to light fireworks with a blowtorch. I can still picture him sitting in the lawn chair with the blue glow of the blow torch reflecting on his face holding the blow torch in one hand and a sparkler in the other. He was also adamant that only adults could do this. I never tried it, but I kind of hope my cousin has tried lighting a sparkler with a blowtorch as an adult. I think that would make Healthy Grandpa proud. Healthy Grandpa also taught me that a bunch of old soldiers could walk the like three miles across town between the two cemeteries to do 21 gun salutes on the 4th of July without having a heart attack. This also taught me what “shooting blanks” meant. Along with this, he taught me the proper way to dispose of an old flag: burn it in a barrel in the middle of the city park while wearing a Legion uniform and saying some top secret Legion words. To little me this was a really cool ritual! Lastly, there is the most important thing he taught me: how to be a cat lover. He always had cats. My favorites were always the big fluffy white ones that he loved so much. They looked like the cat in the Fancy Feast commercial! He’d be proud to know that since I was 12, I’ve had cats!

While not the most important thing Healthy Grandpa taught me, this one does warrant a whole section. He indirectly taught me about Bingo (which may have been why I felt so drawn to take LilKsby and Mr Kisby to family bingo today). Twice a week, the Legion would sponsor Bingo, and like the dutiful family of a Legion member that also enjoyed the chance to win money, we went to Bingo. He was responsible for selling the Bingo cards and distributing the cash prizes. I remember that his selling office was essentially a closet with a concession stand style window. There was brown paneling and the counter top was off white. There was room for his stool and the grocery cart full of brown bingo cards that had the little window you slid closed whenever your number was called. He preferred the players who were okay with any card, yet he still obliged the players like me and my cousin because we wanted specific numbers. My cousin always wanted a card with a 4. I was a little more specific and needed a 16, 21, 47, and 55. I remember that we would always sit at the corner table by the door that exited to the street. The table was also catty corner to the calling booth which was cool because I liked watching the little balls get sucked up the tube. Occasionally, he’d come around with the shopping cart in case anyone wanted to switch cards. I think he purposefully ignored us because he knew I’d have a lot of requirements. From the days at Bingo, I also learned how to be a gracious loser because I never won. This worked out because my grandpa didn’t seem to like giving the prize money to his own family very much. My mom has always said he was steamed the night he had to write her a big fat check for the jackpot! Those times at the bingo hall were some of my best memories associated with him especially when I learned that you could get good food from the bar in the back!

Obviously, Healthy Grandpa taught me a lot; however, the six years with Unhealthy Grandpa taught me a lot too. The first thing I learned from Unhealthy Grandpa was that laws for helping those with mental illness are in great need of reform. At twelve years old even I knew that it was complete bogus that a person couldn’t be made to get help until they were a threat to themselves or someone else. It’s seriously tragic that this is the tipping point since sometimes that point is too late. Secondly, Unhealthy Grandpa taught me that even in unlikely situations social connections are still important. No matter where a person is, they benefit from social interactions and having a sense of belonging. In his nursing home this was achieved by trading things like Hershey bars for cigarettes. The last thing Unhealthy Grandpa showed me was the importance of music. He had a tendency to randomly start singing. Sometimes it would be familiar things like Christmas carols and hymns. Other times it would be things I had never heard of but could assume had been popular songs in his younger days. It was in these musical moments that he would seem most like Healthy Grandpa. It was like music and the action of singing somehow connected a broken link in his brain. As an adult looking back, I remember that seeing Unhealthy Grandpa was really hard given he was weak and predominantly wheel chair dependent (not sure if it was out of necessity, a desire to fit in with other nursing home residents, or both) instead of tall (one time he came to visit us and he was the person I ever encountered who was tall enough to walk into a ceiling fan accidentally) and able bodied. It was also awkward because you didn’t always know how to respond to some of the things he said or what to do when a crying episode began. These were also complete 180 behaviors from Healthy Grandpa. Despite not knowing how to process it at the time, this situation taught be patience and to be more understanding of everyone. I’m very thankful that while I don’t like to think about the unhealthy version of my grandpa, I can at least understand that even then he was teaching me life lessons.

Both versions of Grandpa loved his family more than life even if he did sometimes have a weird way of showing it. He’s the only grandpa I was ever able to get to know, and I’m glad that I got the time with him that I did! I’m thankful that I got to make the trip to see him and my grandmother at least once a year growing up. Thanks for going down memory lane with me!


The Great Kaysby

Don’t Be An…

Photo by Leon Woods on

If you’ve followed my blog for long or follow me on social media, then you know that I love a good inspirational quote. Put the quote on a picture of a beach or mountain, and that is like a little slice of motivational heaven. Today, I saw one of these pictures that summed a lot of what I have been thinking about the actions of people lately. It said “inspirational quote of the day don’t be an ass.” Frankly, I feel like that is the exact inspiration that a lot of people are needing these days.

Why is this needed inspiration? At it’s most simple form, it is because there are sects of society who have become too preoccupied with their own agendas to seem to care about how their agenda impacts others. So I’m going to present to you a series of question, and if you answer yes to any of them, I implore you to take some time to reflect on how it relates to the advice of “don’t be an ass.”

  1. Are there things you do in the name of “morality” that purposefully hurt other people?
  2. Do you almost hit people head on because you aren’t paying attention to which side of the road you’re on?
  3. Do you judge books by their covers so to speak?

I’m sure my list could go on and on, but I just wanted to include the ones that I’ve seen this week where I feel like “don’t be an ass” is appropriate advice. The first question on the list comes from all of the bills around the country aimed at hurting those in the LGBTQ+ and Drag Communities. Whether that is something you understand or not, purposefully hurting those communities through legislation is being an ass. Number two on the list comes from almost getting hit today by a goober who turned on the street we were on today and didn’t seem to notice they were on the wrong side of the road until I stopped to avoid them hitting us. If they had of hit us, then I’m pretty sure this mama would have been a total ass. I will be the first to admit that I’m not 100% perfect at following this advice. The last question comes from a general observation of how judgmental people can be. Spend five minutes scrolling through social media, and that will remind you of just how judgmental people can be especially when there is a keyboard and screen separating from whomever they are judging. In a nutshell, there’s the reasoning behind my list of questions and why I think “don’t be an ass” is such sound advice.

What is the best advice you’ve seen this week?


The Great Kaysby

23 Hours

Photo by Kat Smith on

For 23 hours across the last two days, we were without electricity. The loss of electricity was due to windstorms unlike any I’ve ever experienced in our current home. At one point during the 8 hours of hurricane force winds, I thought our house sounded like it was going to explode or be ripped a part from the inside out. At some point in the first couple of hours, part of the roof ended up in the backyard. From all of this a lot of emotions have been experienced in the last 23 hours.

During the 23 hours, there were a couple of times when I was like, “Ugh…this is terrible.” For example, when I woke up at 5:40 in the morning to the smell of cat poo, I desperately wanted a cup of coffee. When I remembered you can’t have coffee with the power out, I was bummed for a minute. Likewise, when I needed to take a shower, I was like, “Ugh…this is going to be cold, but I have to go out in public and don’t want to be stinky.” Truly, I wasn’t actually stinky, but I’m not a fan of having to get dressed in clean clothes after sleeping without taking a shower. Thankfully my “Ugh Thoughts” were few and far between.

My thoughts that were not few and far between were the number of times I felt thankful and blessed in the last 23 hours. Throughout this time frame, our cell phones never ran out of battery, we had food to eat, and we were able to stay warm while sleeping under an extra layer of blankets. Additionally, the damage to our home was relatively minor. Plus, at all times we had other family members with electricity with whom we could have sought refuge if necessary. For a fun bonus feeling, I got to write and reflect in my journal by candlelight, and I got to read a book by flashlight like I used to do as a kid when I wanted to read after bedtime. I was such a rebel! We may have been in a crummy situation for 23 hours, but I am glad that I was able to keeping feeling thankful and blessed!

While I was able to continue feeling mostly positive during the 23 hours, I know there are others who were not able to feel that way. I want them to know that their feelings are also valid. Everyone is entitled to being able to process a situation how they need to work through it. I also want to share that my heart goes out to all of those who have been dealing with the issues associated with this swath of storms. My gratitude also goes out to those who have worked tirelessly to restore power, Internet, and telephones to those who experienced outages.


The Great Kaysby

The “Art” of the Matter

Photo by Monica Silvestre on

Once again March is here, and I am in the middle of Tech Week for a show. Like usual during this week, I either find myself thinking about a better way I could have made a costume work or why I believe all children should have access to the Arts at early age. Just this morning I found myself thinking, “Why do so many people push their kids into athletics but not something related to the arts?” I am not a researcher, but as a life long fan of the arts (seriously, I played a sheep at age 5), I feel like the “art” of the matter is that people don’t see the benefits of involvement with the arts.

So what are the benefits? This can vary depending on the type of art form being utilized. To start, let’s talk about the theatre. First and foremost, being in the theatre teaches team work. Unless you’re starring in a one person show in which you also do all of the tech work, you have to work cooperatively with others to stage a successful production. A big component of this is strengthening communication and self advocacy skills. For example, if you’re in the cast, and you lose something, then you have to be able to ask the appropriate person for help. I can’t tell you how often I get asked “Where’s my x?” I’m always glad they ask so that they have something to wear on stage! Additionally, theatre promotes learning empathy (something that I believe is strongly missing in today’s society). Whenever you are playing a character, you have to find ways to understand their emotions and portray them in such a way that you can relate to the emotion. Empathy can also be developed just from watching a theatrical production as well. Obviously, given my 35 years of being in theatre, I feel very strongly about this one!

However, my strong feelings about everyone trying the arts doesn’t stop with theatre. I believe that learning to paint, creating collages, and using clay are essential to developing fine motor skills. Another way to work on fine motor skills? Playing a musical instrument! Learning a musical instrument and how to read music can also help with math skills. In elementary school, I always believed that fractions made sense because of knowing how to read music and understanding the number of beats associated with a given note. Along with teaching math, music can help with writing skills, emotional management, recalling memories, and much more. Seriously, look up all the ways music can be beneficial. One other thing worth looking is the health benefits associated with music and art therapy. If I can’t convince you to get the “art” of the matter, the research might be able to do so. Are you feeling ready to try being artsy yet?

Understand that I’m not trying to say sports don’t have a place. I played several of those while also being active in the arts. Likewise, I’m not trying to convince you to only pick the arts. However, if getting to the “art” of the matter could have a positive impact on life, why not at least give them – or encourage your kids to give them – a try?


The Great Kaysby

The Impact of One

Since attending Mass last night, I’ve been thinking about part of St. Paul’s letter to the Romans:  “just as through one transgression condemnation came upon all, so, through one righteous act, acquittal and life came to all” (Romans 5:18). In the context of Christianity, this is an allusion to how one man’s negative action changed the world for the worse while one man’s positive action changed the world for the better. At first I reflected on how true this is per my beliefs and how in other religions one person has also had a massive impact on all of humanity. When thinking about this today, I started thinking about how frequently in history one person has made either a negative or positive impact on a portion of humanity.

Of course it was easy to think of singular people who have negatively impacted humanity. I immediately thought of Hitler who was directly linked to the start of World War II and the deaths of 6 million Jewish people. Negativity has stemmed from the impact of this one person for the last 90 years (the first Holocaust victims lost their lives in 1933). My next thought was of David Koresh, a cult leader, who did a number of unimaginable things to his followers and ultimately led many of them to their deaths in a fire in 1993. The losses were nowhere close to the scale of the Holocaust, but at age 9, this was the first time I remember seeing the news and thinking, “How can one person influence so many people? Why would people follow them?” Be they politicians, cult leaders, terrorists, criminals, etc there are many instances – more numerous than I can even fathom – where singular people have had a negative impact on humanity. In some respects, this can be downright discouraging.

However there is a light in the darkness! There are single people who have had major positive impacts on people around the world. My first thought was of Civil Rights leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. Both of these men had major positive impacts on the Civil Rights movement. Then, I thought of Marie Curie. Her work with radium has been game changing in the medical field for over 100 years. Though her work ultimately cost her own life, it has saved millions of people. There are also people like Dolly Parton who are constantly positively impacting people by supporting literacy, medical research, and many other causes. When thinking of the positive impact of one person, we also have people like Henry Ford who developed the assembly line, and we have authors like Maya Angelou who impacted Civil Rights and Literature. Looking at the arts, there have been positive impacts by people like Lin Manuel Miranda. The list could go on and on!

My biggest takeaway from this reflection is simple. It can be easy to dwell on the negative impact of one person, but when you start to think about it, the positive impacts of one person occur frequently. What will your impact be?


The Great Kaysby

An Open Letter to Kate Winslet

This is outside my normal blog writing realm; however, I thoroughly enjoy writing fan mail. Along the same lines, I’m also too lazy to go buy an International stamp. Thus, I’m sharing this here even though I know that Ms Winslet will probably never in a million years see it.

Dear Kate Winslet,

A few nights ago, I went on a date with my husband to see the 25th Anniversary run of Titanic at the movie theater. When the movie was released 25 years ago, I saw it at the cinema five times. A part of that was because I had a huge crush on Leo DiCaprio. Fourteen year old me thought it was amazing that he was a hottie who also gave a damn about the environment even before it was trendy to do so. Just as big of a part of my going to see the movie so much was because before you brought Rose to life, I had never been able to see part of myself in an actress.

Growing up, I always saw myself as out of place physically. I had auburn hair that was far from a popular shade in the 90s, and I was heavy set compared to most of my peers (today, I realize that 155 at 5’7 truly wasn’t that heavy). To go with this, I’d always had a more round face and slightly chubby cheeks than most classmates. Prior to Titanic, I never could relate to anyone I saw in magazines, film, etc. However, from the time I saw your natural beauty and grace onscreen with similar features to mine, my outlook changed. Through seeing you, I discovered that I was also beautiful in my own way. Seeing you in the film also helped me realize that unique can be a lot more beautiful than the cookie cutter Barbie-like pretty that was so popular when I was growing up. Thanks for making a red head feel like part of the cool kids club!

In recent years, I’ve read that you feel like your performance in Titanic was embarrassing. Though it may not be your favorite, I am forever grateful that you chose to be in the film. Your choice began the journey for making me realize how powerful and beautiful a red head can be!


The Great Kaysby

The Answer Is Love

There have been several times this week when I have wanted to write, but I couldn’t quite find the words to do it without feeling as though my writing would seem confrontational. Confrontation is not my jam, so I decided not to write at those given times. Some of the things I wanted to write about were how everyone should never feel like they cannot achieve their goals. This thought pattern came after reading the book and watching the movie Dumplin’. At a another point in the week, I wanted to write about how any legislation that promotes discrimination – especially legislation that promotes discrimination against children – is wrong. However, I didn’t want to start a political debate because that really isn’t my style. Yesterday, I considered writing about self improvement as I realized that one of the areas I need to work on is remembering that I have two ears and a mouth because sometimes I need to just listen and not insert my two cents. As I reflected today on these various topics, I realized that while I do have opinions about these issues and know that I need to do more self-growth, what I really wanted to remind everyone is that the answer to life’s problems is love.

If everyone would speak more words of love and perform more actions based in love, then maybe we would see real lasting change. When everything is based on love, there isn’t room for discrimination. Likewise, in order to show love to others at the highest level possible, we have to love ourselves. I’m sure a lot of other positives could come from a little more love in the world! Thus, my conclusion for the week is that with all the hate fueled things happening in the world, I’m going to do my best to show others the goodness that can come from love.

My challenge to you is this:

  1. Work on learning to love who you are if this is a challenge. I know this is difficult, but I promise that it is worth it. Also, learning to love yourself is a life long journey, so don’t give up!
  2. Show those you love how much they mean to you. Don’t just say, “I love you.” Think about their Love Languages or Enneagram type and utilize that to show your love.
  3. Forgive those who have hurt you. Part of being able to love is to be able to forgive. Remember, just because you forgive someone that does not mean you have to associate with them. Likewise, forgiving does not mean that you forget. Forgiveness can be just as much – if not more so – for your personal healing than the person who wronged you.
  4. Be a light of love to others so that they might want to show love too.


The Great Kaysby

Library Love

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When I think about my childhood, I often find myself thinking about memories of the local public library. Some of my earliest memories are of attending Summer Reading and other programs such as pajama story hour with Mrs. Pickle. I also remember getting super excited as a kid when I could have my own library card and check out books in my name! Two of my favorites that I checked out over and over were Happy Mother’s Day and Happy Father’s Day by Steven Kroll. They were such big favorites of mine that Mr Kisby surprised me with them as gifts one year!

My love of libraries wasn’t contained to my local branch. Both of my grandmothers had libraries in their small towns, and I loved to go to those libraries too. In fact, my grandmother in Kansas lived across the street from the town librarian. I always thought that was so cool! Plus, since she knew the family, she’d let me check books out of their library while we were there visiting in the summer. This made me feel so special!

As I got older, libraries became a place to use the Internet and study. I never thought much about checking out books for probably fifteen years. Then one Saturday morning many years ago, Mr Kisby and I went to the local library for a morning date of checking out books. I thought it was so sweet! From this date, I became reacquainted with our local library. For the past several years, the library has become a staple in our lives. One of the things that I was most pleased to learn was that the library is no longer just about checking out books and using the Internet. Our library offers a plethora of classes, activities, and even movie and music checkouts for free! Bonus, the classes and activities are for literally all ages! I’ve also been amazed at how much they do for families including Book or Treat and Milk and Cookies with Santa. The first of which has been a hit with LilKsby, and the second of which has made him scream. They also always have games that you can play as a family and a puzzle that you can work on while relaxing!

So why am I talking about the library? Because February is National Library Lovers Month in the US! Libraries are a forgotten gem, and they need to be utilized so they won’t become a thing of the past! For more ideas on how to support your library, checkout this article: In the meantime, go visit your public library!


The Great Kaysby

Baby Gifts of the Magi

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I am a champion at starting things and forgetting to make time to finish them. One of these projects has been completing LilKsby’s baby book. Lately, I’ve been putting a renewed effort into completing it, and tonight I was working on the page where the prompt was listing gifts that people gave me and Mr Kisby for LilKsby. Even though he’s almost four, I was able to recall enough of the gifts to fill the page. We were VERY blessed by the AMAZING people in our lives! The page was filled with items such as picture frames, clothes, toys, bouncers, nursery furniture, and feeding sets. We were also very thankful to be brought meals by our closest family and friends. These were essential during the first few sleepless weeks!

After I filled out that page in the baby book, I was flipping through notes on my phone. One of them was titled Gifts of the Magi. In the note I had written the following:

  • Gold – most valuable metal, symbol of divinity
  • Frankincense – medicine for many ailments
    • Myrrh – Used as medicine and embalming royalty, a gift reserved for kings

I’m guessing that I looked them up one year after hearing or reading the story of the Three Wise Men coming to visit Baby Jesus. I’m sure I made the note so that I wouldn’t ask myself again in the future what frankincense and myrrh were. I’ve always thought that they were strange gifts to give to a baby, but when looking at what they symbolize/were used as, it makes sense that they would be appropriate gifts for a baby king. So I get it, but I do wonder if Mary would have appreciated a warm baby blanket or the back in the day equivalent of Pampers. I’m sure I’m not the only mother who has every thought, “Man! Those Magi gifts were not practical!”

That’s enough of my curious thoughts for the night. Time to go back to comparing toilets on Home Depot’s website, registering for an event, and considering starting another Coursera course while listening to The Big Bang Theory all while the toddler snoozes next to me.


The Great Kaysby

The Broken Road

Photo Credit: The Great Kaysby

There’s a song by Rascal Flatts with the lyrics “This much I know is true/That God blessed the broken road/That led me to straight to you.” The song is aptly titled “Bless the Broken Road,” and though it came out a number of years ago, it has been in my head today. I saw a post from a Facebook connection (sometimes it seems weird to me to say Facebook friend when it is someone you knew years ago that you’re not really sure if you were friends or acquaintances with then much less now) reflecting on the journey of their life and how some of the must unexpected parts yield the biggest blessings. That post moved me because I felt like it was talking to me in that most of what I thought would be my future 22 years ago hasn’t been my path at all; however, I could not be more blessed and happy than I am today on this road.

When I look back on those days, I think of a person who just really wanted people to like her. At times I felt like I would do anything just to try and get/retain friends. As a smaller kid, I was always heavy set and far from the “pretty, popular type” which meant not always having a lot of people want to be around me. Looking back, I realize that this need for people to like me could occasionally come at the cost of hurting others. It was never intentional, and since I haven’t seen a lot of those people in a long number of years, I hope they have either forgotten or forgiven the wrongs I did to them. If they haven’t done either, then I get it. Sometimes I wasn’t the nicest way back in the day.

Thankfully, a long my journey through various roads, I have learned to like me for me. I’ve met a wonderful tribe of friends along the way thanks mostly to theatre, LARPing, teaching, and Mary Kay, and a long the journey I met an even more wonderful husband! I know that Mr Kisby is the absolute best husband in the world because he’s my best friend, my biggest cheerleader, and so much more. I could keep going, but the lovey dovey overload might make you sick at your stomach. The best way to put it is we love each other and like each other. Mr Kisby is also the one who gave me the biggest blessings in the world: the baby in Heaven that taught me just how much I wanted to be a mom and the sweet little boy here on earth that calls me Mama. ❤️ As the boy and the husband lay asleep next to me, my heart could not be more filled with love and joy! Thank you God for leading me to them!

Personal growth aside, there are a lot of other parts of life that I never would have imagined 22+ years ago. You may not believe it, but at one point I wanted to be a lawyer. What can I say besides Clueless and Legally Blonde made it look glamorous? I would have been a terrible lawyer because I absolutely do not like conflict. In fact, having conflict with people has been know to make me so upset I get physically sick. Then, I started college with the intent of getting a double major in theatre and journalism with a minor in sociology. I ended up changing schools because I didn’t like the college and I missed home with all of my friends. That change led to a couple of business degrees and eventually a teaching degree. All of these led to job changes which saw me through various relationships and a lot of time LARPing (these I’m confident enough with who I am to admit publicly how nerdy I am). Each of those choices were little roads that also brought me to where I am today.

Today, I am on the best road I ever could have imagined! I absolutely love being wife and mama, and I am so thankful to be in a position where I am able to be home caring for them full time. Each day with them is an adventure, and as I am watching LilKsby grow and change, I feel like I’m also watching myself grow and change for the better each day! I love the person I am becoming, and I believe that allows me to love all of the important people in my life that much more!

I realize this is pretty deep for a Friday night, but I feel like turning 40 this year is going to be filled with a lot of similar reflective retrospection. I’m not one of those dreading 40. It’s actually quite the opposite. I feel like 40 is going to be fabulous! Since the broken road has led me to where I need to be, some of the greatest chapters are still to be written!


The Great Kaysby