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.
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.