My post this week is a tad late because I was fittingly distracted doing the things I love (see #1, #2, #5, #6 and #7). This left me with much inspiration for writing this post, but also at a loss for how to convey it. I’ve decided to present you with a quick list of things to do to get to know me. This allows me to share my interests with you while also perhaps being a helpful resource for the people in the area I hope to cross paths with this summer. So, without further ado, I present to you How to Get to Know Kayleigh DeBruyne: A Checklist.
1. Introduce yourself.
While it varies depending on the environment, my natural tendency in a group is to be a reflective observer, which means I am often more comfortable stepping back a bit and watching what is happening around me. Yet, sometimes people interpret this as being shy or removed, but I am quite the opposite. There are few things I love more than meeting new people. I just thrive best in smaller, one-on-one conversations, but I really do want to meet you.
2. Tell me something you think is neat.
My family’s nickname for me until middle school was Kay-pedia, because I would literally read 900 page “bathroom reader” fact books for fun and would interrupt our dinner conversations with the random facts I had learned that day. I was also the kid who came home from school and proceeded to play school with her friends (of both the human and stuffed animal variety), because I thought school and learning was the most fun activity I could possibly do and did not want it to end. Nowadays, I still love to learn and am always open to gaining more knowledge, but I’ve wisely realized that even more learning happens outside a classroom and in many shapes and forms. So rather than lugging my fact book around (900 page books are heavy!), I would much rather you share a fun fact, because I love to know what you find fascinating.
3. Ask me about my dog.
I love my dog. Even if you don’t want to hear about how wonderful I think he is, ask me about the other people, places and things I love. This is the best way to get me talking. I tend to steer the conversation away from me and ask questions about you, but I am happy to tell you how neat I think the things my friends are doing are, how proud I am of my siblings, or my favorite things about my family that might enlighten you on who I am today and why.
4. Show me something you love.
Be it a song, a picture, a book, a restaurant, a funny video, your best friend, a place in the woods or your favorite pair of boots. I love to see what makes you happy. There is something so incredible in those moments of being able to share something you love. Like the look of anticipation on someone’s face when they put their earbuds in my ears and tell me this is their favorite song and wait to see how I react. Or the joy I feel when we turn around the bend on a scenic car ride and they tell me excitedly that this is their favorite viewpoint in their town. I get to experience a little piece of what makes you happy and seeing people in little moments of joy is precious to me. I enjoy getting to know people and creating meaningful relationships and sharing what you love allows me to do that.
5. Cook, bake or drink tea with me.
In the first few months of college, a time when we were all desperately trying to find friends, one of my favorite things to do was bring people to my kitchen. If there was someone that seemed friendly and caught my interest (probably for doing one of the items in this list), I would invite them over to have tea, bake cookies or cook a meal. The “kitchen test” of friendship. Being raised in a family that strongly valued having family dinners every night, preparing and sharing food together is one of my favorite activities and a central part of building community for me. You’ll learn how messy of a cook I am, to double the recipe for baked goods because I will eat half the batter raw, that I will sing at the top of my lungs with abandonment, and that I love the way different teas have gloriously rich hues, which is why my glass mug is my favorite. Besides that, good eats are one of life’s greatest pleasures and I will always make time to sit and enjoy food with you.
6. Take me on an adventure.
This can be by telling me about your whirlwind day, taking me to the corner of the street to see a spider web you noticed, going camping or traveling halfway across the world. I have an insatiable curiosity (shout out to my loyal readers who already know this about me from last week) and for me, this goes hand in hand with exploration. If you are curious you will inevitably explore and adventure. I enjoy traveling and discovering new places but I also love discovering new things in old places. Adventuring together and seeing the world in the eyes of someone else is a great way to do both.
7. Take me to the water.
Second best, just take me anywhere outside. I could have put this under take me on an adventure, but it is so important to me that it deserves it’s own category. Seriously, if you take me somewhere gorgeous outside I will probably want to be your best friend. As a kid, I always loved digging up worms alongside my mom while she gardened and I was lucky enough to live near lakes and spend countless hours swimming. Then, in high school I went to Conserve School, a semester school with a focus on environmental stewardship. I learned how nature can be fun and beautiful, but also discovered it’s incredible power to ground me and calm me despite the stress and busyness of our lives. Later, I went on to work four summers at Camp Manito-wish as a leadership facilitator and leading canoeing trips. I fell more in love with being near the water and gained a further understanding of the power that comes from transferring lessons from outdoor experiences to our everyday lives as well. I am my happiest self outside and near the water and I am grateful to have had these experiences there that have shaped who I am and what I consider important.
8. Stay up all night and watch the stars with me.
Yes, I do just love to stargaze and I don’t care if it is too cheesy to say. I am a night owl who loves to be outside. But more so, stay up with me and learn about what keeps me up at night. The anxieties I have about the future, how frustratingly good I am at over-thinking everything, how deeply I feel concerned about the status of our planet and the people who will be most affected by changes. Stay up and learn how confused I am at times on what to do about it all. Stay up, ask questions, and have a good conversation with me.
I’ll stop at 8 because that is my favorite number. A not quite comprehensive list, but a good start. These are some of my favorite things. If you boil it down, they all revolve around building relationships, sharing stories and creating communities, grounded in a deep love for the outdoors and a tenacious curiosity. These affinities of mine are what led me to the LAKES program and my research this summer. Meeting the folks in the watershed, collecting their stories and working with the goal to help protect and improve our environment inspires me and keeps me motivated. In return I am working to learn what people here love and do and what inspires and motivates them. In doing so I strive to make connections between our passions and our pursuit of improving the community and the environment. I hope to engage in all of these favorites listed above during my remaining time here as I continue to explore and learn through them.
Peace on the Waterways.
#2, #6, and #7 in practice