Midnight in New Madison, Ohio

I am supposed to be asleep. I have my last day of school visits in Ohio before packing up super early Saturday morning and heading to New Jersey for visits there. My sleep schedule is a mess. After a day of visits with sometimes 6-7 45-minute presentations, I get back to my hotel room and the second my head hits the pillow, I fall asleep for 2-3 hours. Then I wake up, do a workout, go get dinner and then makes sure I know my schedule and where to be the next day. By then it is 11pm or so and I SHOULD go to bed, but that nap threw me off and I can’t fall asleep. And so I stay up until 2-3 am. And the cycle repeats. Ah well…

I am drained and exhilarated when I get done with a school visit. I give 100% every single time to these kids. I try very hard to look every one of them in the eye as I am talking. I want them to see that I SEE them. I try hard to get to every question and comment. I slow down and make sure I hear every word, even if it is, “I have a dog, his name is Barney.” This matters to them. To be heard, to be seen, they want matter to me. I need them to know that they DO. So much. And when they tell me they love my art or my books or me, I slow down, look them right in the eye and put my hand over my heart and say, “Thank you for telling me that, that means so much to me.” And they can tell I mean it.

My biggest fear ever since I was a little kid, was that my life might not matter, might not make a difference. As a little girl I really worried about that. What if I lived my whole life and once I died, no one really cared, what if I had not mattered, had not left something important of myself behind. I think that is why I am so driven. I am not a religious person. I don’t define myself with any religion, nor am I affiliated with any of them. I don’t claim to know what comes next or what doesn’t, but what I do know? I have THIS life right NOW, right HERE. And I need to make it matter. I need to do good here and now and pour out the love and joy I feel everyday just to get to be alive. I somehow have been lucky enough to have created the life I have dreamed of. Yes, I worked my tail off, but I know luck has to be in there somewhere. So when luck came along, I was ready, I grabbed it and never let go. And I want these kids to know, every single one of them has a life to live that will matter. They have something to give that will make them light up inside – I tell them when they figure out what their magic life is it will feel like sunshine lit up inside their heart.

This three week trip is very unusual as I normally will only travel when my kids are at their dad’s house, but due to a scheudle mix up, here I am, three weeks on the road. I am so grateful for my husband and kids for supporting me in my career. They are an amazing family to come home to. And I am grateful to my amazing parents that spent the week at my house to help with all the driving that goes along with teenage kids. Knowing I have that love at home, well… not sure I can find the words for that gratitude.

I am meandering now, I think I’ve lost track of where I was going in this post. I guess I am just trying to share in words the light that is filling up my heart right now. The little girl inside of me – whose voice is still the same as it ever was – is pretty thrilled to find out that her life matters. Every email I get from a child, or drawing I get in the mail, or hug or high five I get from a child who breaks out of line in the hallway and runs tome when he sees me after a presentation, makes me realize I have done something right. I matter to these children. And that? Feels like sunshine lighting up inside my heart. 🙂

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