A Love Letter to ‘My’ Children

Dear Every Child I have met and will ever have the honor of meeting,

I look at your faces, out in the crowd and my heart aches at your beauty.

And I wonder, can you feel it too?

The love I have for each of you is so deep it overwhelms me. I hope it washes over you like a soft cloud, enveloping you so that you feel all the love, warmth compassion, healing, faith, belief, desire, care, hope and possibility in this world for you.

I want you to know that there is so much love in this world. So much hope for you. So many people that will and do believe in your dreams, your imaginings, your play, your innocence and your wonder. Your absolute and incredible potential.

To the little boy whose eyes filled with tears when I told you I had no doubt that one day I indeed believed you would be the professional baseball player you hoped to be. I am not sure what made you cry, but I know and am certain that in that moment, you believed me when I said I believed in you.

To the little boy that asked what if some people thought his big, giant, magic dream life was a ‘girly dream’? I think you will have an AMAZING and WONDERFUL life that will be the envy of many. Because the fact that you were willing to ask that in front of everyone, proves you are brave enough and strong enough to do anything in this world you want to.

To the little girl that hugged me so tight and said she would miss me after she said goodbye. I said I would miss her too. She walked away but then ran back to make sure I would remember her name – so I would know who it was I would be missing tomorrow. I remember you Adelaide. You walked away with part of my heart that day. I will never forget you.

To the four year old that was a foster child in a room full of foster children and their siblings. You came up to me at the end of my presentation. I kneeled down to talk to you. You took my face in both your hands and said, “Well what did you think of us??” I told you that I think you are more amazing and brave than most of the people in this whole wide world. Then you gave me a giant kiss. You made my heart swell so much I felt it could bust from my love for you.

To the little girl who whispered in my ear that she loves art and that people call her weird because she is different. And then you whispered even more quietly, “And I AM.” I told you, that weird is okay, different is okay. And most likely, you are an artist too. And weird and different are compliments. Your smile at my response could have lit up a city. It lit up my heart.

To the little boy that said I made him want to live a magic life because I made him believe he can. Yes, a million times, yes – you can.

To all the other children who have taken pieces of my heart with them, I love you. I love you for who you are right now. I love you for who you want to become. I love you for who you will be. I believe in you and what will drive me to continue to go into schools and talk to as many children as a person can possibly fit in a lifetime, is your thirst. The thirst for someone to tell us that we can BELIEVE in our dreams. It does not matter if I am in a school filled with children of affluent parents or a school where most of the children come from homes with very little money. The feeling in the air as I talk is always the same. You all want to be believed in. And it shocks me every time how thirsty you ALL are to hear that. How are you all NOT hearing this everyday from everyone? It should be there when you wake up, when you go to sleep, when you breathe. The world needs to get better about telling you that you are an amazing, wonderous creature and we believe in all of your dreams. Ferociously and unwaveringly.

But until the whole world joins me in saturating your day with those words of love and support? I am here. To tell you what you need to hear. You matter. And I believe in you. And I always will.

Love,
Miss Michelle

Taking the Risk to Blossom

When, about 10 years ago, I began in earnest to move towards my dream of being a children’s book writer and illustrator, I was scared. Scared of wanting something so very much and not being able to attain it. I saw others living my dream. I went to book signings, read blogs, followed authors and my heart literally ached at the desire. It physically HURT to see someone living the life I KNEW I was meant to have. It was not jealousy, it was… something else. I can only describe it as the horrible heartache that happens when you cannot be with a loved one. My heart was missing something it had never even had. And it finally hurt so much that I HAD to move forward. I HAD to TRY. I once heard a quote by Anaïs Nin: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom”

When I read that? It said everything. And I began.

And the pain of the rejection that inevitably MUST come when one begins and is a novice hurt – oh, it hurt. There were many humble and embarrassing tears, but it hurt far less than not trying.

And little by little, the rejections got better and better. They went from no replies at all to, “Oh, we love this, but we just published a similar title last season, we wish we could buy this!” Until finally one day, years into it, I finally got that beautiful, amazing, wonderful, life-changing, “Yes.”

And I thought, “Now. Now my life is really beginning.”

But as one begins, finally, on the journey you were meant to live, on the road you had been searching to go down, you realize something. You had been on the right road the whole time. Every experience, every tear, every moment you thought your heart could actually stop beating from the pain of seeing other live your dream, or the times in your life you simply could not do anything to move towards your journey except wish for it, was part of it. And needed. And your life gets so much more beautiful as you connect all the broken pieces and realize they were all not broken at all, not keeping your from your path, but leading you towards it.

And now, two years into living the magical life I have always wanted? I am so overwhelmed every single day by how much MORE it is. More than I could have ever imagined. I am grateful for every moment. But some moments take my breath away, plow into me with a force I could not have prepared for. Like the one from this week.

This week I went to a special needs school. I did four presentations. The first two sessions were for kids at the school because they had behavior issues. They did not behave, they acted out in other schools and were sent here. They were too disruptive for mainstream schools. When the children walked in I began talking to them as I always do. Engaging them before I begin always sets a tone with them. I want them to know I am here for THEM. Not some adult agenda, just to talk to them, to make friends with them, to be with them. They get it. And both of those sessions were amazing. They showed me respect, they stayed quiet, they waited if I asked them to wait, got quiet if I asked them to quiet down. You would have never guessed they had any impulse or self-control issues. The teachers afterwards told me that they had never seen most of them sit that quiet and engaged for so long. I would like to take credit, but when I present, it is as much my audience as it is me. I feed as much off of them as they do me. We share an energy and it is passed back and forth and I know we all feel it. I don’t make that happen, it just does, and I am so very grateful for it.

The next two presentations had me worried. These were children in wheelchairs – with severe physical limitations. I was told the comprehension of some of them was not known. They could mentally be the age of a 6 month old or they could, possibly, be taking it all in – understanding. It was impossible to know the extent of their comprehension. I count so much on eye contact, feeling the energy of the children to know what direction to go in, to know what emphasis to give – I literally feel the energy as I talk and pass it back and forth. Would I know how to do this with these children – some of whom could not even see?

As I began, I looked at these children, I talked to them. I looked into their eyes. Some could not look at me, some looked at me as their eyes fluttered open and closed. I could not tell much. So I began to rely on JUST feeling them, their energy. And when I shifted to just feeling, not seeing? I was overcome. Overwhelmed. The love I began to feel emanating from these children poured into me. And as I talked, we began the exchange of energy between us – as I always do. I began to see smiles. Hand movements. Head nods and bobs. I saw reactions to my art – whether they saw the art or just the colors, it did not matter. These children all understood that I was SEEING them. Their souls. And they saw mine. And none of us did it with our eyes. And I was changed. Forever.

These kids WERE in there. Without any doubt. And just like every presentation I have had for 2 years, these kids knew how much I meant it when I told them they matter so much to me.

As I keep having new experiences like this, my heart aches in a whole new way. It is so filled up with love that some days I am not sure I can take it all in. So all I can do, is keep giving out as much as I can, because my heart keeps filling up so fast – I can’t give it away fast enough. I try so hard to help as many people as I can, encourage and support as many in their dreams as I possibly can. Because that seems the only way it is fair that I have so much – if I can share it. The problem is, giving as much away as I can, fills me up even faster. I think I need a second heart to hold all my love and gratitude.

Whatever road you are on, know you are on a road you are supposed to be on right now. And if it is a hard and troubling road? Seek out your dreams, your magical life. You MUST. Because even just the thought of where you want to be, of who you know you are meant to be, will immediately begin leading you there. The road you are on is absolutely connected to the one you KNOW in your heart you should be on. Just keep moving forward.

And I will end this with something I say at each presentation: You matter. You have a magical life to live that only you can live. You matter so much. And I believe in your magic life dream – even if you don’t quite know what it is yet.

Now, go BLOSSOM.

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These sunflowers were given to me at the end of the presentation with the children at the special needs school. Are they not breathtaking? That star hanging in the background? Is a star I made fourteen years ago with my son when my son was 2. He wanted stars in the house so we made these out of cardboard and tinfoil and hung them all over the living room. We had very little money at the time, barely paying our bills, barely enough money for food. I had a two year old and a baby and my dreams seemed impossible – or at least a million, billion miles away. This is the only star that survived over the years. I keep it in my kitchen to remember back when my dreams seem absolutely impossible. Now? It is my symbol that absolutely ANYTHING is possible.