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Monthly Archives: October 2016

Avengers X Hamilton

After the success of my Avengers + Taylor Swift post, I decided to pair my favorite heroes with some of my other favorite lyrics. For some reason, these turned way more serious than the T Swift ones.

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Thank you, Rick Walton

The news comes through Facebook. Rick Walton has passed away. This isn’t surprising. Last year Rick was diagnosed with a brain tumor. After an initial surgery, the tumor returned, leaving no more treatment options.

For those of you who don’t know, Rick Walton was the author of over a hundred picture books. He taught writing and publishing courses at BYU. And to me, he was a mentor.

Rick was the first person who made me feel that I could turn my love of words into a career. He taught me that the road to publication is twisted and full of (mostly) fun detours. That it was okay if reaching your dreams took time, as long as you kept writing.

But the most important thing I learned from Rick was not how to get a book published. The most important thing I learned from Rick was how to leave the world a better place than I found it.

Rick was a dreamer. He was always talking about his Next Big Idea. His enthusiasm was contagious, and it made you want to hit the ground running to work on your Next Big Idea.

He was the type of person who believed that we were all better off when we stuck together. He was a builder of community. He was generous and supported everyone within his sizable scope of influence.

A few summers ago I was attending a writing conference (which I was only able to attend thanks to a referral from Rick) where Rick was honored for his efforts. The emcee asked everyone who had been influenced by Rick to stand. Over half the auditorium stood.

That’s the kind of person Rick was, and the kind of person I’d like to be.

On my desk, I have a note from the mother of one of the students I tutor, thanking me for helping her daughter with writing. In my inbox, I have a message from a former editing client telling me that ten literary agents have requested to see her work. I get to spend my days teaching college freshmen that they can, in fact, write and write well.

And I think Rick would be happy that I get to spend all my time putting words on paper and helping others do the same.

Thank you Rick, for helping me believe that I could be a writer. Thank you for teaching me to lift those around me. One day I hope I can say I’ve inspired half as many people as you have.

In the mean time, I’ll just keep writing.

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That Time I Fell in Love

Walking home from school the other day, I realized I was happy. Really happy. Giddy happy. A little bounce in my step happy. I’m practically dancing down the sidewalk to the song stuck in my head (or as I like to think of it, the soundtrack to the movie of my life). Today’s selection is Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling” and my brain is blasting it at top volume.

I recognize this feeling. This is what it feels like to fall in love.

Before you get too excited, let me clarify that I’m not seeing anybody. I don’t even have somebody I’m trying to date. The romantic feeling taking me over has nothing to do with a boy.

In my mind, I rewind to the girl I was three years ago. That Kyra would hardly recognize or understand the Kyra I am today, the one who’s dancing in the streets.

Three years ago I was suffering from clinical depression. Getting out of bed in the morning was a struggle. Forget about falling in love, I couldn’t feel anything at all. I was completely paralyzed emotionally.

But with time and a lot of love from friends, family, and God, I got better.

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Awhile back there was a trending tag on Twitter called #depressiontaughtme. The stories there are haunting and beautiful. I added my own: Depression taught me empathy.

My depression and the painful recovery process that accompanied it taught me more about suffering than all of my previous life experience combined. I truly believe that this increased perspective has made me a better listener, a better supporter, and a better friend.

What I’ve only recently realized is that my depression has made me a happier person.

Not at the time, certainly. I was anything but happy then. But in the time that’s followed, I’ve felt true joy.

It isn’t that my life is perfect. It’s not, and there are things that I would change if I could. But my life is so much better than it was three years ago that it’s almost impossible for me not to feel happy and grateful.

Because when you spend that much time in the darkness, even a little light feels like it can illuminate your whole world.

This kind of happiness is special because it doesn’t depend on circumstance. It isn’t contingent on getting good grades or having a good hair day or being asked out by your crush.

This kind of happiness is just there and it’s yours for the taking.

It’s there because you now realize that life isn’t so bad even when it’s not great.

It’s there because there are people in the world who love you just the way you are.

It’s there because you finally know that you can do hard things.

It’s there because you’re Kyra Nelson and you deserve to be happy and fall in love.

You get to fall in love with laughter and friendship and hard work. You get to fall in love with meteor showers and red velvet cupcakes and poetry. You get to fall in love with life.

Perhaps most importantly, you get to fall in love with yourself. Just with being yourself and doing all the things you do.

And that’s a pretty special feeling. I think I just might put it in my pocket and save it for a rainy day.