Well, I have about a million and one things to do and SHOULD do, but my entire house is in a massive state of upheaval. We are having all the trim in our house repainted from wood to white and having hardwood floors installed on the entire bottom floor. SO I have no studio and I am writing this from my bedroom. And since I am caught up on emails and invitations to send out for my big Whatif Monster Book Launch Party (Yes, I scheduled a party that I invited over 100 people to during all all of this – but don’t worry, the contractor ASSURES me this will all be done in a week. Projects like this never go over, right?)
So I am sitting here and trying to slow down and think. And reflect. And be still. And be grateful. So many amazing things have happened so fast. I don’t want forget a moment of any of it.
I finished my first year of school visits this past year. And I replay so many of those moments again and again, trying not to forget each child’s smile and delight and cheer when I turned around my art. I don’t want to forget the feel of little arms around my waist and the whispers of “I love you, Miss Michelle.” I don’t want to forget the absolute intensity of their little faces when they needed to tell me something and NEEDED to be heard – even if it was just, “I have a black dog. His name is Skipper and I love him.” I don’t want to forget the sound of hundreds of children promising me in unison out loud that they promise to follow their dreams with everything they’ve got. And especially I don’t want to forget the children too shy to say it out loud but I could see them hiding their pinky and silently mouthing along. I never will forget the little girl that was absolutely sobbing at the end of my presentation in New Jersey, she was crying so much that er teacher let her come to me. Once I calmed her down she managed to squeak out, “I am going to miss you so much when you leave, please don’t go, Miss Michelle.” That just about ripped my heart out and and I gave her the biggest, longest hug I could and asked her best friend to please take care of her for me – and I watcedh two first grade girls walk away, one with her arm around the other comforting her.
I don’t want to forget going to my publisher’s national sales convention in Tulsa and meeting hundreds and hundreds of people so passionate and friendly and each all so amazing. I don’t want to forget meeting my incredible editor, and owner of Kane Miller, Kira Lynn for the first time in person and being absolutely delighted to find we are amazingly similar people with the exact same sense of humor. Within moments of meeting we could just look at each other and know we were finding humor in the exact same moment we had just observed. I don’t want to forget when I asked where I should sit at the big dinner gala and Kira said, “The front table Michelle – you will always be at the front table here – follow me.” I don’t want to forget how misplaced I felt at that table, yet also giddy with excitement, at sitting at those front tables. I don’t want to forget how I felt the first night, sitting next to the CEO of Usborne Publishing, Randall White, listening to to him tell me jokes and call me a liberal commie for the rest of convention – because he knew I understood his humor and could handle it. I want to remember how I felt the next morning sitting at breakfast and not believing this was my life because I was talking for hours with brilliantly talented Susanne Gervay and Kira. And I don’t want to forget singing karaoke with Randall – belting out Margaritaville and changing a few lyrics to represent our differing political views. I have pictures of that!
I want to remember forever the feeling of standing in front of 500 people at that convention and being more nervous than I ever have been in my entire life, but calming down as I told story after story of my silly life. And the feel of an entire room giving me a standing ovation when I was done. I got goosebumps just writing that – the feel on stage? Surreal.
I don’t want to forget getting home and having so many emails and messages and texts from so many people telling me how my book, Jonathan James and the Whatif Mosnter, my little book that came out of my heart and soul, is affecting hundreds of people. A message that is so universal and somehow I created it in a way that is so accessible to so many. I have heard so many stories of hardships, of triumphs of people so low but ready to pick themselves back up and begin again – and telling me my little book is helping them do that.
I don’t want to forget my school visit calendar for the entire next getting completely booked for out of state visits, in about 5 days. I wish I had more weeks to give, more time for more children. But I will get to them, I promise!
I often say I don’t know how this gets to be my life all the time. But I guess that is not exactly true. I know I have had years and years of working so hard towards creating this life. Of wanting so desperately to show my children that actions speak louder than words, that they can do anything they want by watching their mom do it. I have kept focus on wanting this life and never forgetting my goals even when times got hard – sometimes harder than I thought I could endure. The hard work part? It got rewarded. The part that was out of my hands? The luck part. But I was so very ready when my lucky moment came and boy did I grab on to it with both hands and I have yet to loosen my grip – and I never will. I have so much I want to do with this life I have been given. I want to encourage children and adults that they can have their dream life too – that this is possible for all of us. I am proof of that. There is nothing about me that is more special than any other person in this world. We all deserve a magic life.
And finally, I don’t want to forget the feeling I had when I read an email from Kira the first day of convention that said she was in love with my newest picture book and wanted to make an offer on ‘Bob is a Unicorn’ the week after convention. Do you have ANY idea how hard that secret was to keep??? If you know me, you do. And right now you are SHOCKED I did it. I can’t wait for y’all to meet my newest love, Bob. Y’all are gonna adore him. Soon I will begin painting his story for the world, but right now it is Jonathan James’ and the Whatif Monster’s time to shine. And besides, I can’t get in my studio right now anyways. 😉
I am so very grateful to every single person who has helped me in one way or another on this journey of mine so far. I can say with certainty, that I did not do any of this alone, nor could I have done it alone. And people are amazing, so I would not want to do it alone. This ride is so much more fun with y’all. I love you all so very much.