(This post was written and photos used with permission of those involved.)
Let me tell you a story….
Once upon a time there was a young woman. This woman, hardly done being a girl really, dreamed often about a life she longed to live, but through decisions made all on her own, found herself in no position to live the life she wanted. Not yet anyway.
She dreamed of writing and illustrating children’s book, traveling the world and sharing her heart and passion with others. But alas, she had two small children, was in a failing marriage and struggled daily to meet the most basic of needs for her young children, while working several different jobs to barely make ends meet.
When she needed time to herself, she would go to the children’s section of the bookstore and pull piles of books from the shelves. She read them all and made notes of ones she liked and willed to memory the ones she loved. She had no money to buy any of them, but she would read them and dream of the day she could have a book she had written on the shelf.
But it was the books that made her gasp after a page turn – that literally brought tears to her eyes – those books? She saved up her money and bought. And vowed that she herself, would write books like THAT one day. Books where someone else’s heart seemed to leap off the page through words and illustrations – staight into the heart and soul of the reader. A book that would touch a reader so deeply that you could feel, actually FEEL the love from the pages of the book.
Yes, she would write those kinds of books one day. She promised herself.
That women finally realized her dreams of writing and illustrating books and traveling the country sharing her passion with children. It took her 15 long, long years, but she did it. And she created the books her heart told her needed to be written.
And on certain days, when the love in the air is swirling, when the magic and mysteries of the universe are stronger than any other force in the universe, the love comes full circle.
Last November, I went to visit a school in the Midwest. In the audience, there was a boy named Nathan. He was a foster child in a home where he was loved and taken care of, but he feared he may never have the life he dreamed of. Due to circumstances, none of his own, he found himself often wondering if he would ever have the life he dreamed of. While he had an amazing foster family, he was scared of wanting them too much. Scared of wanting more. What if he could not have the life of his dreams?
Nathan heard my message. Nathan heard me tell he and his classmates to dream big, take chances and to work towards the life we want. Nathan listened to me when I reminded him that for every ‘bad what if’ in life, there is an ‘amazing, wonderful what if’ and we get to choose which one to keep in our brains.
I said goodbye to Nathan, never having met him personally, but he said goodbye to me and high-fived the Whatif Monster I held as he went out the door.
I never knew it, but my words had entered Nathan’s brain and then made a home in his heart.
He asked his aunt for my book, Jonathan James and the Whatif Monster and the plush toy for Christmas.
I was sent pictures of him receiving it on Christmas Day. That was the first I heard about how much my book had touched Nathan’s heart.
I have since been sent photos of Nathan making a Valentine’s box in the shape of the Whatif Monster.
I have gotten pictures of a wedding that the Whatif Monster was in – marrying a lovely monkey! The reception and cake were divine!
I have been told that Nathan and the Whatif Monster are inseparable.
And then, last night, I got a message which read:
Your book has changed my son. It gave him hope and a better outlook – to “Dream big.”
Thank you for taking your art to the next level and writing your stories. It touches kids in a way that I am sure you didn’t plan!
From the bottom of my heart, Thank you!
Nathan said “Whatif I never met you and I wasn’t getting adopted.”
Today, I am getting a tattoo for Nathan.
Nathan wrote out ‘Dream Big’ and told me where to put it. This is my gift to him.
Nathan will be officially adopted by us in just a few more months.
Oh, my heart. And the tears of joy and gratitude. Nathan, you and your family could not have given me a more precious gift than this. Thank you all so very, very much. I love you and your beautiful family to the moon and back!
Please, PLEASE, dear reader, let this story be a sign if you are looking for one. Follow your hearts, follow your dreams. Find the things in life that light you up inside like sunshine – but here is the most important part. SHARE THAT SUNSHINE with the rest of us. Share your joy, your passion, your love with the world. You WILL make this world more magical, you will change it…just by being YOU.