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  • Writer's pictureKindred Spirits Photography

Celebration of 30 Years

There's a growing trend of a "Death to My 20's" photo session for a 30th birthday. Mourning the loss of what many consider to be the golden era, the fun, and carefree time, and entering into the humdrum of your 30's as something to be sorrowful about.

Personally, I found that to be sad. Growing older isn't something to mourn, it's something to celebrate. So that's what I wanted to showcase in this piece. This is the work of several months, and multiple photo sessions. I hope you enjoy this story.

This is my beautiful sister, Leah.

She is turning 30 today.

A couple months ago, I asked her if we could do a series, celebrating her, the things she has accomplished in the last 30 years, focusing on the blessings, and documenting her life with photos.

Leah has inherited our dad's love of hanging clothes up to dry, so much so that she even has found a way to keep it up through Michigan winters and temperamental weather. She has also inherited our mom's love of bathrobes and plants.

She loves to cook with friends, and for friends. Her oldest friend Emily, and her often find obscure recipes to test together. Leah also is one of the first to start up a meal train for friends, or volunteer to bring meals. That love language trait is a part of her Mexican heritage she gets from our Abuelita (and dad) in her, in the way she always wants to feed people!

While in college, she worked as the pianist for a local church. She still frequently uses her piano skills to play for friends weddings, writing lullabies for nieces and nephews, impressing said nieces and nephews with what a piano should sound like as opposed to being pounded by tiny fingers, and playing for praise and worship at her parish.

Family home movies have documented Leah casually reading a chapter book at age 4. Mom still claims to not remember exactly how or when Leah learned to read, but she earned every personal pan pizza you could growing up. One of the library's most faithful patrons, she shares that title with our grandma, who is now faithfully reading all of the books Leah recommends to her.

Kickboxing has become a hobby of hers, and she enjoys recruiting her friends to go with her, or just to go work out.

Leah has been a cardiac nurse for 8 years now. This last year has been by far the most challenging of them. Regardless of your views on Covid, a small glimpse into the reality for nurses, especially this nurse, is that it was absolutely draining. It is that our Dad stood on the other side of that glass door and they both cried because they couldn't give each other a hug for months. It's her getting ready every day by herself, and bearing the fact that some friends and family were scared to be around her because she worked the Covid units. It's calling me on the phone on her way home from work, weeping, because they lost so many patients. This sounds familiar to many, because it was brutal for everyone, but, I wanted you to SEE a glimpse of what she has done.

Thankfully though, we are coming out of the lockdown, and in doing so, Leah is planning her first major post-Covid trip to Iceland. Leah has traveled to England, Italy, Malta, Greece, and countless other places in the last few years. Sometimes with friends, sometimes solo, she has a deep love of exploring, and plans all of her trips herself.

We've always joked that our hometown is our own version of Stars Hallow from Gilmore Girls. Leah can get ready, walk out her front door, walk a block, and arrive at one of her best friends home's. A few more blocks, and she's at our sister's. Beyond that though, Leah always shows up for friends. Whether that's popping over for a late night dance party, helping with wedding setup and planning, holding babies while her sister folds laundry (*Ahem, me). She values being present with people, and meets her friends with where they are at in their lives.

There is so much that Leah does in her life as you can see, but I've saved the most important things for last. Her family, and her faith. The physical resemblance of our parents in her is strong, but the ways she resembles them in her life is stronger.

The bonds of family are everything to Leah. Whether that's the deep friendships that have formed with cousins, who are also travel buddies, fellow horticultural enthusiasts, up for midnight texting, and the occasional garden party.

Or the crazy bond she has with her siblings, and bonus sibs-in-law, where we find any excuse possible to plan a party. Halloween, let's all dress up. Birthday for the youngest in the family? Movie night with a throwback to The Road to El Dorado. No good holiday for a stretch? Well, let's have a breadstick party where we get breadsticks from all of our favorite places and taste test to figure out the winner. Her brothers and sisters were her first friends, and even as she balances work, a bunch of new friends, world travels, and everything else, her family always comes first. The quietly thoughtful way she consistently checks in with everyone, and makes sure to spend quality one-on-one time with everyone, helps keep everyone crazy-glued even closer.

The newest additions to the family do not go overlooked by her either. Aunt Leah is beloved by her ever growing nieces and nephews. Her godson Theo is carefully encouraged in his spiritual growth, and the rest of the kids are often the frequent recipients of spiritual gifts from her travels. Leah is one of the first to admit that she's "not a kid person", but these children are so very loved by their aunt. Whether it's a watchful eye and mouthing, "I see you" to a wayward child snitching dessert, bouncing a baby for one of the ever frazzled mothers, listening and asking questions to the big kids about school, and starting to share that love of books with the next generation, it's so beautiful to watch the love of an aunt with her nieces and nephews.

My favorite part to share. The deepest part of these past 30 years, is Leah's faith. Planted and nurtured by our parents, encouraged and inspired by grandparents and an amazing faith community, Leah has truly embraced her Catholic faith as her own. The way she continues to seek out answers to questions, to find ways to grow, to serve those around her, it's not flamboyant, it's just, a part of her. It's the subtle peace that you can see in her life. That through everything, the ups and the downs, the joys and the sorrows, she has such a deep and unwavering love of Christ that grounds her life.

Today, we celebrate this beautiful life. The final part of this, is a photo session we did in downtown Detroit, I hope you enjoyed learning about, and celebrating Leah. Happy 30th, my dear sister.

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