This is the tenth in my series of 30 posts to friends, mentors, and teachers who have inspired me over the past few years. I hope you enjoy.

Dear P,

You are a writer, and every year on my birthday you carefully crafted a poem for my card. Never just a simple rhyme about turning one year older, you took the time to write about the new sports I was playing, the new hobbies I was pursuing or my favorite subjects in school. (While also doing this for every other member of your extended family!).

Because of those poems, I learned to choose words…even syllables and sounds carefully. I saw the power of rhythm. And you showed me that there was a place to follow your passion for writing while also building a very successful career (and supporting a family). You’re retired now, and you still have universities and companies knocking on your door — asking for help with press releases and other writing projects. It’s so easy to see how much you love what you do.

But beyond the writing — you’ve built a life that you love in other areas too. At 84 years old, you still play shows with your band (a talented trombone man), ski (faster than I do!), and take your brisk walk every morning after you read the newspaper. You also take impeccable care of your body — eating super-healthy food and standing as a powerful example that our bodies will reward us if we truly take care of them.

Because I’ve moved three times in the past year, I wasn’t able to find the particular poem I wanted to quote. This may be a little off, but here are the lines from my all-time favorite card. (The picture on the front of the card was this gorgeous angel).

“Out from the chrysalis of youth

Kate spreads her fairy wings to fly

All elegance and grace in search of truth

And launches herself into the sky”

Thank you P for teaching me so very much about writing and building a life that I love.