Living Life Like Liz
Liz Keller is a free-spirited person and has her mind set on being adventurous
December 7, 2016
Fifty-eight-year-old Liz Keller often recalls venturing into the world as a free-spirited teen without a single clue as to what she wanted in life. All she knew was that she wanted to travel the United States, to hitchhike and to live freely in the woods, connected to nature. Looking back, Keller is proud to report that almost all of these dreams have come true. Keller boasts a master’s degree in nursing, is a licensed Lomilomi Hawaiian massage therapist, was a prison advisor for health and is currently a high school nurse at Round Lake High School. She has spent the majority of her professional life caring for others in one way or another. And yet, she has still managed to stay as spontaneous as her teen-aged self.
Keller figures that her success and balance comes from following her intuition. Her mystic camping and hitch-hiking adventure came to an end when the van she and her friends were travelling in exploded. That’s right, exploded, and Keller, being who she is, took that as a sign that maybe it was time to go home.
“I was kind of a free spirit a couple of years after I graduated,” Keller said. “I lived in New Orleans for a a while, and I was I guess kind of homeless, but by my own choice.” And that is Keller’s life in a nutshell. While she likes to see where life takes her and she pays close attention to signs, it’s not as though she takes a backseat to life and lets it go. Rather, she takes hold of life when she feels she should and waits for other opportunities to present themselves. “ [My husband and I] have this philosophy in life, that you take advantage of the fun things that come your way, while also being responsible,” she said.Go and create your own memories.”
After returning from her adventurous trip across the country, Keller attended College of Lake County. “After a few of the courses there, I went to Racine, Wisconsin and started programs there,” Keller said.“In 1984, I got my nursing degree.” And thus, Keller’s life of caregiving began. Her natural inclination for helping others and treating people with compassion drove her to train in Hawaii in order to gain her certificate as a Lomilomi massage practitioner.
“Lomilomi is a type of Hawaiian healing massage therapy that helps victims of any type of abuse learn to understand touch again,” Keller said. “A lot of times people tend to think that massage therapy is having to be naked with oils and lotion rubbed all over you. Truth is, yes, that can happen, but my main goal is to help victims learn to allow touch and feel touch again.” Unfortunately, there is statistical evidence to prove that massage therapy to help assault victims is a huge necessity. According to Zacharia’s Sexual Abuse Center, one out of four women get violated every hour and one out of six men have been abused verbally, mentally, and/or physically.
“I did [Lomilomi massage therapy] for about ten years, but around 1980-1984 I took on nursing school,” Keller said. “So I am a full-time nurse as of right now. But eventually, I plan to be doing massage therapy full time in the near future.” In her new practice, Keller hopes to help people overcome their difficulties. “I’m trying to wrap up a new business with my massage therapy focusing on women and men that are survivors of sexual assault, Keller said. “I’m working with different therapists in the area. I did this slightly when I had my own practice in 2010.” Perhaps Keller is so passionate about helping others is because she is no stranger to struggling herself. At age 25 Keller was diagnosed with depression, something many people deal with. Keller knows how it feels to battle the demons of depression and yet, she has never let it stop her from helping others.
Many RLHS students can attest to Keller’s compassion and care. Misty Schlichtenmyer, a sophomore reported, “ I remember I went there one day with a stomach ache, and as soon as I walked in, Mrs.Keller immediately had asked what was wrong. It was like I was her only priority in the moment.” This truly describes what Keller is about, since Keller had never met Schlichtenmyer, yet cared so much about her well-being as if she was one of her five children.
Sophomore Lili Hernandez remembers a time when Keller accepted her honesty and acknowledged her need for a break.“ “Honestly, I didn’t have anything wrong with me when I went to the nurse’s office last year,” Hernandez said.“I really just wanted to get out of class. I told Mrs. Keller this, and surprisingly, she understood. She sat across from me and told me she had felt the same way throughout most of high school.”
Keller’s empathy and desire to understand and comfort others almost got her fired. “I remember that I almost got fired when I worked at the co-ed, minor security prison for hugging an inmate,” she said. “What nonsense! That was the main reason I left the prison. Because I can’t sit there and watch as these people go through their lives the way they are or have to.”
With someone with such a big heart comes into view, one never knows what to expect, Liz Keller, whether she knows it or not, has affected so many people with just a few kind acts. She recognizes the good in people. She is a truly amazing character, who, starting with a once-in-a-lifetime journey, has continued to live her life with a tiny bit of common sense, balance, and intuition, and a whole lot of passion and humanity.