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Kirsta’s You-logy:


Celebrating a 40th Birthday


Compiled with Love, 2017





Kim Beitzel

Melanie Bowlus

Sarah Bowman

Carol Bragdon

Keri Brooks

Marybeth Corbett

Mary Ann Crist

Don Crist

Stan Davis

Forrest Evans

Josh Howe

Darleen Hutchins

Mary Jane Johns




Adam Judd

Marlene McDaniel

Becky McElfresh

Evan McElfresh 

Bruce Wayne McFarland

Diane Miley

Jill Sawyer

Echo Smith

Carroll Smith

Lucy Smith

Todd Smith

Rachel Spehler

Dan Spehler

Cindy Stienecker

Regan Thibodeau

Kristin White

Debbie Zuzelski



A celebration of a life gift for the garden in YOU.


Sometimes we need to believe. Sometimes we need help believing that we even have a garden that is, especially when the weeds feel like they are there to overrun us, and to simply make us forget who we are and why we are.


Gardens have the powers to transplant, to give and receive meaning- in plant form, of course, because well...what else would we be talking about? The seeds of life, reborn virtually anywhere with the TLC they need. Sometimes, when we forget what we need, others are there to remind us. Then an important exchange happens as we remember that we are each needed.


The seeds of knowing. When we know what a seed does from watching it grow over and over again in our gardens whenever it visits, we learn together who it is. Here is your You-ology, an herbology or a botany book of sorts, of how you have lived in each of our gardens and the experience of our visits in yours. We believe in the cycle of seeds that make you, YOU.


Whenever you may feel like you have lost your way or a part of you dies- in plant form, of course, come visit your You-ology and allow us to help you tend to your garden with the way we each see you as your companions, tools, fertilizer, rain, sun, and boundary in the years to come.


With love,

Regan and Mom


You-logy for Kirsta

on the event of her 40th birthday, 2-25-17


Kirsta’s birth story, like all others, has a uniqueness that never grows old for me. She was my first. My learner baby. And she has been my soul mate. I have been richly blessed. So, here is her story, the one I keep in my heart and know, better than she does.


Once upon a time, I fell in love – with the idea of marriage. I never really dreamed of having children one day although I suppose I thought that was inevitable. I dreamt of who my husband would be, if I’d met him already and what he would do for a living. I dreamt of being someone’s wife, Mrs. So and So.

Then I fell in love with Kirsta’s father and quickly assessed that our relationship was going well enough to end up in marriage one day. We became intimate and I assumed that, since I was a “good girl”, and had never pushed the limits in any category, I could not get pregnant. At least not out of wedlock. Hence, it never occurred to me, strange as it may seem, that I might need to be careful. Early signs of pregnancy went unnoticed because I was so deeply in denial.


When we did learn that we were going to have a baby, we were anything but excited. Besides an initial reaction on my part to contemplate suicide, her father and I discussed adoption and abortion in those first hours, but not marriage. Eventually, however, we did decide to do the “honorable” thing, and, after a nice, albeit hasty wedding, we honeymooned despite the fact that I was bleeding and was told that I had a 50-50 chance of losing the baby. I had no particular attachment to it and took no special care of my pregnancy at that point as evidenced by riding roller coasters at King’s Island!



 I moved in with Kirsta’s father and began the life of a housewife. I donned the Mrs. title and with it, cooking, cleaning, and trips to the grocery store. I might also have donned the title of “mother” but morning sickness felt more like the flu than a miraculous being that was usurping my body for its existence.  I began to bloat so badly that some people didn’t recognize me. Maybe I didn’t recognize me either. The old me seemed to have disappeared overnight and a new me took its place, one that I learned to live into. I played the part. That’s how I see it, looking back. I experienced one grand, extended sleep walking episode, putting one foot before another and looking into a foggy future that required no long-range plans.


When I felt the baby move inside me, I could no longer pretend that I was simply ill. At some point, we decided to go through natural childbirth classes, picked names and set up a nursery. These things finally birthed the exciting and scary reality of a new life on the way. Of course, we didn’t know yet the sex of the baby, since ultrasounds were not considered routine then. We painted the baby’s room in a non-sexist color and picked decorations appropriate for either a boy or a girl. By then, I was consumed with the nesting instinct.


The day before Kirsta was born, I made baked beans and brown bread. I wonder now if I was missing my New England roots? When labor began, I thought that contractions weren’t as horrible as people said. We alerted the hospital, sure they would ask us to rush right in. But they simply said that there were no beds available and I wasn’t close to delivery anyway. We stayed home, hoping there really was plenty of time. It was a very cold and snowy February in Cleveland as usual. We lived 130 blocks west of the center of the city and the hospital was about that far east of town. That’s a long drive in the best weather and circumstances. For a new father-to-be, I imagine it was nerve wracking to contemplate getting me to the hospital on time.




 We went to bed and I slept fitfully, awaking to do the appropriate breathing exercises for early labor pains. Sometime before midnight I felt a mild pop and thought that maybe my water had broken. We called the hospital, sure that this time they would ask us to come immediately. But they assessed that my delivery was still not imminent and besides, they still didn’t have any rooms on the birthing floor. We were instructed to stay home. Instead we told them were coming in. I imagine the woman on the other end might have been shaking her head in exasperation.


Sure enough, once there and checked in, there were no available rooms. Again, naively, I assumed there would miraculously be one by the time we got there. It never occurred to me that the hospital might not be able to accommodate us. I was generally used to things going my way and life being about me. We stayed in the hallway until we were told that a bed, not a room, was available in which a woman, recovering from a C-section was resting. They said it would still be hours before my delivery and that we were to be quiet so the other woman could sleep.


Really?! I was brand new to birth and natural birth at that. I had no idea what was coming. I was scared out of my mind. It was the wee hours of the morning, we were both tired and labor was advancing until those easy-peasy contractions turned into some pretty vicious monsters playing tourniquet across my abdomen. I switched to the more aggressive breathing techniques we’d been taught which helped but every so often, I lost control and cried out in pain. Soon a large, scary nurse came peering over the bed rails to tell me that I would have to be quieter. Again, really?! I did my very best but continued to lose control. I couldn’t imagine hours more of this or having that nurse back. Kirsta’s father could see the pain and terror on my face and went to the nurse’s station for help. He came back having been dismissively told that it could be hours before the birth but he hadn’t the heart to tell me that. After another very hard contraction, he peered between my legs to see the baby’s head crowning and went back out to ask someone to check my cervix. 



They were likely annoyed that this first-time father was so ignorant but when a nurse finally came and checked me, all hell suddenly broke loose and the room was no longer quiet. “There’s no time to prep her! (Shaving the pelvic region and applying antiseptic) Get her to delivery!” I had apparently passed transition and was ready to push. We’d only been in the hospital for perhaps 4 hours.


“Pant”, they said, as they pushed my gurney out the door and down the hall. Once I was on the delivery table and the doctor had arrived I heard, “On the next contraction, push!” I did. And a little rocket flew out and almost hit the floor but for the doctor’s quick hands. One push, on February 25th, her due date, just after 7:00 A.M., Kirsta came into the world, with purpose and determination, petite, adorable, looking a bit like a little Native American baby and a bit like a porcelain doll.


And though I had absolutely no idea what to do with her then (and sometimes even now!), over the years, I’ve navigated motherhood one step at a time, following my gut, and relying on hers to fill in the rest. We make a great team. ~Mom

It was Christmas time.  There was snow on the ground in the pretty little town of Williamstown, Massachusetts, as  we vacationed with Mary Anne's parents.  Kirsta was about three years old at the time, and had already coined some new words into the English language.  Eyebrellas and woosy pillows showed an amazing imagination as well as a very deep understanding of what a language is supposed to do.  I shouldn't have been so surprised then by this story, but I was.  


Kirsta had her own room in the back of the house, and given her young age, she was in that

room much earlier each night than the rest of us old folks.  She should have been asleep by the time of this story, but alas, we were alerted by her sobbing cry.  


I went back to her room to see her sitting on the mattress sobbing.  I sat down beside her, and asked her what was wrong. She said, "There's ants in there."  "In where," was the obvious retort. She just looked at me like I was so stupid for not knowing, and pointed to the electric Christmas candles on the window sill just above her bed.  "In there," she said.  Four of the candles glowed brightly, but the one closest to her had no bulb in the socket and was the perfect size to allow a three year old finger to explore.  We put in a new bulb to lock in all of the ants. ~Dad



By Isaac Carver

Your Kind

Your loving

Your the star of my sho

Your the apple of my eye

You brighten my day when I’m sad

Your just the best

          Happy Birthday Mom


You are my favorite mom but you are also my onaly mom to so therefore you are more of my favorite mom and I bet $20 that me and Isaac love you the moast in this household.





Dearest Kirsta,
I have been very honored to have been touched by your Journey, and to have been able to share some of it with you. Yes, you have reached a significant birthday milestone-one that is said to mark the entrance into an age of Wisdom for women-but I believe that you have always been a very old, wise soul.

Being with you as you find your way through life events that would make any human fall to their knees, has inspired me to keep trying to be my most authentic, loving self, as you always seem to aspire to. Being with you when you sing, or make gorgeous music with your bowls, fills my heart with Hope and Joy. You are truly a Blessing...Keep celebrating YOU, and the Gift that you are to all that you touch...
Happy Happy 40th Birthday, Kirsta! With much Love, Kim Beitzel

The phrase “friendship is a sheltering tree” sums up my relationship with Kirsta. We met in 2000 when I showed up at a USM ASL Club meeting. She demonstrated patience and acceptance with my awkward attempts to communicate. As time went by, we became friends, sharing and experiencing school together. Later Kirsta became my mentor in the Interpreting program, and still later we worked together as colleagues.


One thing I appreciated about Kirsta was her encouragement toward me as I was struggling in the Interpreting program. She was completely open with her own past difficulties and shared stories and videos of how much she had learned and improved, while supporting me in my endeavors. She believed in me when I did not believe in myself, and fostered a supportive, motivating environment for me to flourish in, as a fledgling interpreter. She sheltered and protected me as a new interpreter by teaching me to advocate for myself and for my Deaf consumers. She encouraged me by revealing my strengths and worked with me to analyze and improve my weaknesses.


While working together, we had the unexpected joy of both being pregnant at the same time – Kirsta with her second child, me with my first. This was a fun and exciting time of comparing our “baby bumps” while working together. She gave me advice on pregnancy, birthing, babies, and continued to shelter me with her guidance. On assignment together, I remember several times when our Deaf clients were working independently; we would sit in view of each other, and catch up by signing across the room.


I remember going to tea together at Jacqueline’s in Freeport – nine years after we had first met – and thoroughly enjoying the pleasure of each other’s company. A year later, I relocated to TN, and missed our chats and visits. We exchanged letters and kept up through email. And one year 





after that, I learned the devastating news of Silas. My heart was broken; I remember sobbing for Kirsta as if it had happened to my own child. 


More than anything, I wished to be with Kirsta, to somehow comfort her – but could not physically be with her. So I set up a meal train to organize meals for people to bring her family in support. I began writing her letters, sending a card once a month, to let her know my love for her, and that she was not forgotten. At the two-year mark of Silas’s passing, I sent her Sky Lanterns to release in memory of Silas. Through Silas, I learned about love in a deeper, more profound way. Although I never met him in person, he impacted me by allowing me to show love and compassion for a dear friend. He taught me about grief, heartache, love, forgiveness, and finding strength in the midst of weakness.


Now it has been 17 years of having Kirsta in my life. We aren’t able to see each other as frequently as either of us would like, but she has etched permanent marks upon my heart. Now that I am living back in Maine, I look forward to our reunions. And when she leaves for home, I will think to myself, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” (A.A. Milne) ~ Melanie Bowlus


Kirsta was the imagination leader of our little cousin band. As little kids, we spent a lot of time all together, and KJ always lead the adventuring. I recall one instance when she had me convinced that the light on my mother's contact warming case was a silent burglar alarm, and another when she swore that she bumped her head on the sandman, despite my logical protests that it was the desk leg positioned at the head of her sleeping bag. Never a dull moment! ~Sarah Bowman

I've been wracking my brain to come up with something!!

 I always come back to negative things. The force of James has over shadowed any good memories. The hellish travel we endured to be at their wedding that he never appreciated. We have good memories from then but that is a past that should remain there. The best memory is of the drumming and feeling so positive that they were meant to be together. I look back now and wonder if we were so hopeful because Kirsta was a link between James' world and ours.


 Every family get together with Kirsta always ended up with James being angry with one of us. We could never be relaxed and truly get to know each other from fear of him getting angry.

 Then Sy. Oh my goodness he did represent knew beginnings. Such a blessing for all of us. Did he have to leave in order for Kirsta to realize that the man she married really, truly wasn't her soul mate? I often wonder if Sy was still alive if she would still be in that volatile situation. Was Sy sacrificed in order for Kirsta, Isaac and Noah to become healthier, happier? To get out of a situation that would have ultimately ended up destroying the people they are really meant to be?


But, on the positive side...

 I realize that Kirsta had to go through hell in order to realize her true self. For that I am so happy for her. She is such a bright shiny person now. She was always that but I couldn't see it through the darkness surrounding her. ~ Carol Bragdon


It was during the summer of 1998 that I first met Kirsta at Camp Bishopswood in Maine.  The camp director informed me that an interpreter was going to be at the camp.  Since I was used to hearing people’s definition of “interpreter,” I did not have high expectations of the interpreter’s signing skills.  Kirsta completely surprised me.  Here was this person from Ohio who was not yet a certified interpreter but she certainly had the skills!  We had a great time working at Camp Bishopswood teaching the kids ASL and doing theatre skits every week.  During this time I assured Kirsta that her skills were beyond the minimal required to get certified and encouraged her to go ahead and take the RID test.  What I remember most from this camp experience is her singing goodnight to the children.  Her beautiful voice (with my hearing aids) and the lines “….promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep…”  These lines have burned into my memory and often pop up in my head from time to time.  It makes me smile.


Over the years and distance, Kirsta and I kept in touch and our friends became mutual friends, especially when she moved to Maine.  When she was pregnant with Isaac, I was also pregnant with my first child.  She was one of the first few people I told since I was attending her wedding and I only recently found out I was expecting.  Later, I remember her IMing me to let me know that she was in the hospital about to give birth very early.  I was worried for her and her baby.  Thankfully, everything turned out okay.


Kirsta and I have several things in common but the most important one to me is the fact that we each have three beautiful boys.  I was pregnant with my third child when Silas was in the hospital.  It was so, SO hard for me to walk in that hospital and say goodbye to Sy.  However, I found that courage by thinking of Kirsta and wanting to be there for her.  Her courage throughout the heartbreaking ordeal gave me the strength to walk in.

Our life paths are parallel, crossing occasionally.  We both have gone through a divorce, a move to a new state, and a new life partner.  This was our lives parallel until our paths crossed again last summer when Kirsta attended Camp Mark Seven for ASL/Deaf Culture Immersion week.  It was great to see her again, spend quality time with her and get to know her on another level.  I look forward to our paths crossing again soon.


Happy 40th birthday, Kirsta!  Always remember that you are beYOUtiful inside and out, imperfections and all.. Love, Keri Brooks


 Dear Kirsta,

As you celebrate your 40th birthday, I want to share my thoughts and best wishes with you. In the times we have spent together, I have come to realize what a special person you are.

I am sure you know that I enjoy studying the enneagram and that I identify as a 1. You say many things that lead me to think that you may also be a 1. One thing about ones is that they can be judgmental, especially toward themselves.

You are a deep thinking gifted person, talented in many areas.  As you turn 40, I hope you will accept the observations and compliments of others as the honest reflections they are.

As the young woman that you are, just coming to mid-life, I hope you will celebrate the wonderful person that you are, and that you are becoming. Not only you, but your children, your family and your friends will be better for your efforts.

Happy 40th Birthday dear one. ~ Marybeth                                                                                                                



What a dear friend you are. I love the depth of you, and the way you can't be satisfied with the ordinary ways of seeing and being. It's fun to see you at SBNR getting excited when something “clicks” for you and gives you some new insight about yourself or the world.


The other thing is...I've loved watching you getting to know, then falling in love with Josh. It is a wonderful thing how you've blossomed over the last couple of years since I've gotten to know you better.


I loved it when we went out for coffee at Boston Stoker so let's do it again...and again.



Mary Ann



Kirsta, I think the thing that has meant the most to me over the years is your continuing friendship even though I am certainly old enough to be your father! I guess my first important memories have to do with our counseling sessions. I was so impressed with your depth even as a teenager and I continue to be impressed and have benefited many times in "Family Church." You seem to me to be one of my "clan" and I feel lucky to be back with you again in SBNR. You have blessed my life! ~ Don Crist


25th of February


Kirsta's thirties are ending,

Her forties are arriving;

Her youth is gone,

With much bravado.


Through clouds like dreams

The eclipsing moon gleams

On her inner child's soul

That glows indigo.



The snow recommences;


The buried fences


Mark no longer


The road of her pain;


While through the meadows,

Like fearful shadows,

Slowly passes

Her life's train.





~Stan Davis (Adapted from Afternoon in February, Longfellow)

 The bell is pealing,

And every feeling

Within her responds

To the dismal knell;


Youthful shadows are trailing,

Her heart is bewailing

And tolling within

Like a funeral bell.


I met Kirsten when she was a cute little tyke...and remember my brother her uncle Weston playing with her. He adored her. I saw her from time to time but didn't get to know her until she came out to New Mexico to live. She and her small family moved I close to us and Kabira really enjoyed having her cousin nearby. They have always loved each other. It was a fun time, getting to know my niece.


Later we visited her in Maine and we always enjoyed those visits. She has been given some very challenging lessons in life and I respect her the more for how she has dealt with the challenges.


I made the mistake of getting Krista Involved in a business deal and the deal eventually led to bad blood between us. I take full responsibility for the situation. Family is family in the end and I have never stopped loving and appreciating Kirsta. And I do hope she continues to share her amazing bad beUktful singing voice with the world! ~ Uncle Forrest

You Sing Beautifully

Josh Howe



Baths in coffee and pictures of us

At our worst

Let's start from the bottom

ASL: nice to meet you

Up we go

Coffee? No?

Okay, maybe some other time

I get in my own way. I'm clumsy and out of synch.

What are you doing Thursday?


English: nice to meet you


Dinner and a movie

You cry

I hold you

Close to you. We are connected. Love sprouts


Keep in touch



Pet store dates on lunch breaks

Boston Stoker by daylight

The butterflies frenzy and go to war over us

Meet the boys?


English: nice to meet you

Doing family

What's the worst that can happen?

You sing beautifully while butterflies die

People say that being 40 years old is over the hill, I say as we get closer to 40 or we are 40 they are full of shit. I don't think we will ever achieve being 40 I think we are meant to stay 39 for the rest of our lives. 39 is a good age we have become wiser stronger and much more intolerant of other people's shit.  I know who you are. you are this fun, sassy, kind, loving person. You project an aura that everyone can see. You make crystals shine. You put us at ease when you are around. You make us think. I love you my anti-leg shaving comrade. ~Darleen

Every single memory I have of Kirsta includes her smile.  Even the times when she was upset or something sad was going on.  Smiling always happened at some point in the conversation.  I don't think she has ever realized how happy, bright, and beautiful her face burns in the minds of her friends.


There are far too many stories and memories to pick just one so a few words that each have smiles, laughs, hugs, and love behind each of them.

-pickles                          -aerobics                      -walking           -Friends, the series


-Maine                          -lobsters                         -piano                -school


-music of all kinds        -mostly her voice       -Starbucks       -turkeys  


-Star Wars, mancala, and sign language          -nails                -chocolate  


-the art of being "a real woman"                      -youth group, missions, Cindy, boys, and brothers


I have only JOY and happy memories of Kirsta (KJ) but all of my memories fit into a tiny corner of her life.  There has been so much more and is so much more to come. I wish her a blessed and happy 40th!!! ~Mary Jane Johns

To my dear cousin Kirsta,


I am honored to have been your cousin for the last 40 years. One of my strongest memories from our childhood days in Cleveland was your frustration that every time you turned a certain age, I had reached it first. I imagine that as we reach adult milestones, you are probably much less frustrated about that.


You are one of the people who has helped me throughout my life to know what it means to be part of a family. I can’t begin to say how much the time I spent with my cousins as children in Cleveland shaped my understanding of familial love. In you and Aaron (and later Evan), Sarah and I had playmates whom we were always excited to see, because you were so imaginative and fun. Whether playing hide-and-seek at a family birthday party (did we do that before the meal of sloppy joes and cheesy potatoes, or afterwards?), or sleeping over at one another’s houses (I preferred when we slept over at your place, because your parents let us watch Saturday morning cartoons!), I always knew that time with my cousins would be great fun. Also, I learned that grilled cheese sandwiches could have Miracle Whip in them, and that there was a chocolatesque substance called carob. And do you remember those audio tapes we used to record? “We’re gonna get those monsters! COME on!"

A few more memories of our time together in the earlier years: Do you recall that at one point we were dual citizens of the US and the Republic of Gordy? I don’t recall that you were as politically active in Gordy as Dan and I tended to be, but we were all (at least nominally) part of the National Gordy Football League. We also went backpacking together at one point, with (then) Uncle John. I can’t remember— was that in Pennsylvania or North Carolina? Was that the trip where Dan took off his pants and peed on them and I tried to dry my jeans in the fire but ended up burning a hole in them?


Another thing… growing up with our moms, aunts, uncles, and grandparents made singing with the family seem completely natural to me. To this day, I feel surprise and sympathy when I meet a family that does not share the gift of music. For many years, Thanksgiving was my favorite holiday, because that was the day when I saw the most cousins— especially after you and your parents had moved down to Troy. At my school this past November, we did a Thanksgiving-themed meal where faculty and staff members tried to convey to our many international students the meaning of the holiday by sharing traditions and memories from our own households. On my turn, I invited everyone to sing a canon together: “For health and strength and daily food we give thee thanks, O Lord."


Anyway, I’m 40 now, and I guess you are too, as you're reading this message. A lot has happened since those childhood days that live on so fondly in the halcyon haze of my memories. You’ve grown into a strong, intelligent woman whose beauty radiates from within you and lights up the lives of those around you. Your service to the Deaf community as an interpreter makes you one of America’s unsung heroes, in my opinion.


 The cousins have spread to various parts of the country and begun families of our own; still, we have gathered as adults to celebrate marriages, and to celebrate the lives of those whom we can no longer see and hold every day. It was through one such celebration of a life that I first had the opportunity to finally catch a glimpse of the part of your heart that dwells in Maine, and I’m so glad that Jen, the kids, and I had a chance to meet some of your family from the Evans side before you moved back to Ohio. I look forward to our children seeing each other again, hopefully before too much more time has passed.


If you are looking for advice on how your life may be different once you bid farewell to your thirties, I will let you know that I have found it more difficult to do pull-ups. Actually, never mind; that probably has more to do with not attempting them as often as I did before.


To sum up: Happy Birthday, Kirsta! I love you and am honored to have loved you for so long.


Your older cousin, 



Kirsta, I love you for all you have awakened in me; your beautiful voice when singing with the bowls really gets me centered so completely. Thank you for all you do. Happy Birthday. ~ Marlene

Dear Kirsta,

As you celebrate your 40th birthday, I want to send along to you remembrances of the time you and your family lived in our home for a few months while you were waiting for your Dad to be transferred.  You shared a room with Rachel, Aaron shared a room with Dan, and your Mom, Dad, and Evan slept in the basement.  

I have fond memories of many evenings spent in creative ways.  I see you standing on the hearth, microphone in hand, singing songs while dressed in a costume.  “Cousins in the House” became our household song, remember?

And so, this you-logy is a tribute to your lovely creative energy.  As a little girl, as is the case now, you glow with creativity.  I remember when you were little, the phrase “let’s pretend” was one you frequently and happily used.  Imaginative play brought you joy, and perhaps some relief from sadness.  

May you always know that your imagination is a gift you can use to bring joy, comfort, and guidance to yourself, as well as a gift that you use to bring the same to others.  


With love,
Aunt Becky

There is a love I cannot lose,

A second mother since my two's;

KJ to me,

not Kirsta, you see -

A name I'll never use.


There are some stories I could tell,

perhaps your eyes would wet and swell,

I'll be, of sort,

Succinct, in short,

And then I'll say farewell.


A song we'd sing, without a care

About an animal with white hair.

Wasn't fuzzy

Or, wait, was he?

Fuzzy wuzzy was a bear.


Our arguments unorthodox,

Knockout, drag out, throwing rocks,

But all can tell,

Sleepers know well

The sizing of the box.

To Dairy Queen for my next tricks,

Food and athletes intermix.

A high-wire treat,

But not with feet,

The finger Olympics. 


Forty, sixty, eight or two,

Troy, or Maine, or Timbuktu -

It's timeless;  steel,

The love I feel,

When I spend time with you.  ~Evan

Good day. I do hope this writing finds you well my friend. There are many moments to remember dearest Kirsta and I shall share one of those moments. I remember one evening at 267 North Gorham road (the home of her grandmother Francesca Evans) that we laid on the living room floor in the darkness and were listening to Loreena McKennitt. The song was Dante's Prayer. As we lay on the floor the Spirit was all around us and I felt the strength of this young woman who was smiling from her heart. I felt blessed to be present with Kirsta Joy McElfresh and know that we were sharing a  moment that I knew would be in my heart forever. The connection was and is truly a gift. Thank you Kirsta Joy and a most joyous birthday to you. Many happy returns of the day. God bless. TTFN......        


Love and Peace,

Bruce Wayne McFarland

Kirsta is a kind soul, who loves life.  She shares her gifts with those she loves, and those she believes she can help have better lives.  Best wishes to her as she moves forward, loving life. ~ Diane Miley

When I think about most people I've known, my mind goes back to when we first met, how we met, or events we've shared. With Kirsta it's different. I've known her for years, but I can't recall just how many years. I don't know how we met exactly, or where, or when. A few events do stand out, but they are not what come to mind when I think of her.


Dates, times, and events are earthly things. They are anchored to this world and this life. For me, Kirsta is not so strongly bound to this place or time. When I think of her, I'm reminded instead of how she makes me feel, of lessons I've learned from her, and how she's made me a better traveler among fellow travelers. Kirsta makes me challenge what I think and believe, and how I make meaning of what's happening around me.


One lesson from Kirsta that stays with me always is to "wake up." Be aware of the fullness of those I meet. See the larger truths in situations. Wake up to what I can bring that will make things kinder, gentler, more peaceful for those with whom I'm engaged. I know it's her birthday, but she is The Gift.

Happiest 40th birthday to you, Beloved. I see you. I thank you. I love you. ~ Jill

Kirsta has an energy that feels old and wise.  She is someone I always say I wish I could spend a weekend, and pot of coffee, talking with her.  In life, I think those that have the ability to understand and respect the mystical, abstract, parts of our complicated lives and transcend those into everyday practice, are gifted.  Kirsta is one of these.  Thank you for being you! ~ Echo Smith

Kirsta the Great!                       

From Uncle Carroll, alias Carroll the Great


Somewhere, somehow and sometime in the lovely State of Maine, Isaac and Noah began calling me, “Carroll the Great!”  That really did sometime for my ego!  I asked Aunt Lucy, who wouldn’t want to be referred as “The Great!”?  Whatever the reason and the story that Carroll the Great evolved, it is pretty cool!

Kirsta, I am gladly offering to share with you on this day, February 25th , the date you are celebrating your 40th Birthday, my beloved title of  “The Great”; because you truly are Great!

You have been on quite a journey.  Celebrate the journey, including the good times and the not so good times.

I treasure the wisdom of Heraclitus: “No man (woman) ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s (she’s) not same man (woman).”

Happy Birthday, Kirsta the Great!  You truly are the Greatest!

With Love and Fondness,

Uncle  Carroll


The first thing that comes to my mind about Kirsta is her amazing skill in her profession of sign language interpretation. I was in awe watching it develop when she was such a young woman I would have been pleased to have acquired the same proficiency in my skills as an artist at the age of 40 that Kirsta now possesses. That, and balancing it all with a family is most impressive.


So there is that. I also enjoyed being a part of Kirsta's intuitive skills and wonder in all of life while we lived close together in Maine for eight years. One such encounter is most memorable to both my husband, Carroll and I. It was December 20th of 2012 (I think) when Kirsta emailed me to ask if we would like to see Lone Bear Speaking at Portland High School the following nightl. (I think it was Lone Bear. I know it was something Bear! But I can't find notes as to whether it was Lone. . ., so I'll just go with that. . . . ) I had no idea who Loan Bear was. I assumed it was some contemporary music group. Being mostly a stuffy, classical music enthusiast, I wasn't sure I was up to engaging in youthful music energy on a cold winter night. I decided to google the name and see what the deal was. As it turned out, it was NOT a music group. It was an American Indian winter solstice celebration. Kirsta was assisting in interpreting which was one reason she knew about it. Carroll and I decided: what the heck! Let's go! And for 3 hours (it was still going when we left!) we experienced one of the most profound, moving, and magical evenings of our life. Lone Bear was the main attraction. He was about an hour and a half late! Thus our first lesson was the beautiful earth-time that the American Indian culture lives in—things unfolded as they unfolded, and everyone just went with the flow. In the meantime, we heard from a number of Wampanoag tribal people from Maine. They shared their life stories, filled with pain and joy. Young children did a dance. And Ed Bullock who owns the Little Bull Native American store in York Beach, Maine, played his Native American flute, handmade by Lone Bear who was his teacher. We were touched that Kirsta not only knew we would love an evening like that but that she took the time to extend the invitation to us.


Happy Birthday Kirsta—40 years since your first sign: honoring the world with your presence.

Love, (Aunt) Lucy

As a child, my cousins were also my very best friends.

And whenever we would come visit Kirsta for the Strawberry Festival or another family get-together, it was amazing how fun and easy it was to pick up right where we left off, laughing about good times in the past, at Noble Roman's or CJ's High Marks (kids pizza & Mountain Dew).


I'll also always remember a fun day Kirsta and I had when I was in college, and she came up to visit BG and we took a road trip to Cedar Point! As I recall, I think the Raptor broke down while we were going up the hill, so we got to catch up and worry about how in the world they were going to get us down if they couldn't fix the ride (which they eventually did!) Happy 40th, KJ!! ~ Cousin Dan

KJ- When I think of you, I think of love, sunshine, strength and, of course, pickles.  I will never forget the fun times we all had on Drake Road (Cousins in the House) and in Troy (visiting for Strawberry Festivals). 

On your 40th birthday, I am happy to have the opportunity to let you know how truly amazing I think you are.  You always ask the tough questions and genuinely inspire people to be the best versions of themselves.  I wish you a million blessings on this day and always.  Happy Birthday!!!!  I love you! Love, Cousin Rachel

One of my favorite memories with Kirsta was a swim in Lake Sebago, just the two of us, along the shore. The water was calm, and it was a very peaceful experience. As we swam, we were both reflecting on how much we loved that lake, and that it is one of our favorite places on earth.  If I had to guess, this took place at least 15 years ago.  I can't speak for Kirsta, but this experience is one which I will never forget.  ~ Cousin Todd




What a loving tribute to YOU-logize you for your 40th birthday!


Can you believe how fast time passes, in some moments, and how painstakingly slow it goes in other moments? I recently heard it explained when we were young we didn’t have as many experiences, as many moments, so time doesn’t seem too fast, but as the older we get older we have had so many moments that it is a short time until the “next moment.” It seems time has sped up! OK, WHATEVER...can’t we just sing another song & enjoy THIS moment?


That was one of the “things” about you. You were never the attention seeker, you were just beautiful you. You could light up a room when your JOY was complete. You would celebrate others. You were reliable. (See how I’m writing everything in past tense...just like a eulogy!) You came up & helped me sing when I had to be music director for the first time at Emmaus...I don’t sing alone...that’s OK ask KJ, she’ll come up & sing with you!!!

Sure enough you did!


You life has had many a hill & valley, some with beautiful vistas, some darker than dark. You have survived each challenge with grace & beauty, which is why this paper HAD to have a rainbow on it.


May you not even notice that you are over 40 years old… as it is just a number!!!

Happy Birthday!!!Happy 40th Birthday!!! Wishing you Jellybeans &  Love- Cindy

I do not quite know how it began. If you were my water and I your sun. If I just had some gardening tools that you could borrow as I borrowed from yours. I think it just happened. Just as a seed knows to grow. No one commands it to. And the thing that we had in common? The seed wouldn't listen anyways. Finding our own dirt, learning how to sway in the wind, fend off pests, and to be present in our beauty- inside and out . But without you Kirsta? So many dark places would remain defiant and hurt, refusing to believe in the light of transplanting seeds because such darkness experienced leaves a powerful residude, a destroyer of hope. Kirsta, you heal. I grow wild. We play. Life without you will feel like a hopelessness, but because of your journey crossing my path, it will never be as dark as "life before Kirsta." As the tears roll, I know you hear me deep and true, because you saw for yourself. Inside of you exists such a pandora's box safely cared for, bound in self-love. When it opens we know each the struggle to tend to it. A wonderful blessed mirror we are, in this way. But instead of tears from sorrow, they come from a place of love and happsines, having been blessed in and by your YOU-ness. In exactly the you that you are. (For the record, I go first, not you? M'kay?) Here's a toast to Ki-ers-tah! With Love ~Regan 

Many people use phrases like "She's a beautiful soul," or "She is beautiful inside and out," to say these about Kirsta are both understatements. Kirsta's ability to listen and allow people to be exactly who they are can only come from the most beautiful soul. Her understanding of herself is unmatched and yet continually being worked on because that's what she wants. When Kirsta is in a room she is present and those around her feel that in every interaction. The smile seen on her face can only be that radiant due to the biggest heart. She's a loving mother, incredible professional, beautiful artist, caring friend and someone I am truly honored to have in my life. ~ Kristin White

As I’m getting older, I find my memory is not as sharp as it used to be but I do have a lot of fond memories of the kids when they were young.   My earliest memory is when Kirsta started school.  She was so cute with her little haircut and big smile.  I remember one Christmas I crocheted each one of the kids a hat and gave them a Crayola Crayon drinking cup which I thought they would enjoy.  To this day, I have the picture of Kirsta standing there with her hat on, holding her cup!  Another memory that stands out is when we all went to Cedar Point one summer.  I took Kirsta and Aaron to some rides and Kirsta wanted to go on a specific ride.  Now mind you, Aaron was way too small for that ride so we stood and watched as Kirsta started to go on the ride.  Oh, one other thing . . . Aaron was in the middle of being potty trained, and you guessed it . . . at that same time he said he had to go.  This put me in a panic because I didn’t want to leave Kirsta alone, but at the same time knew we have only a short amount of time to get Aaron to the bathroom.  Long story short, Aaron and I were able to get back by the time Kirsta’s ride was over and all was well.  The other piece of good news is that even though the ride was one of those swirly ones, Kirsta didn’t even get sick!


Those days seem so long ago and since then Kirsta has grown into a beautiful woman with children of her own.  While life may take us in different directions, the strand of memories will forever keep us together!


HAPPY BIRTHDAY KIRSTA!!!! ~ Debbie Zuzelski

If you were to write a you-logy to yourself, what would it say?



 Play in the Gardens, Sweet Kirsta...

The difference between

a flower and a weed is 

a judgement.