Well, here it goes! My first post for my 1st children’s book! I have been thrilled and horrified at the same time about publishing it. The side of me that is thrilled looks forward to releasing this gift so that kids all over the world have a reminder of how much they are loved. Not only do I want to send the message that our kids are loved, but also no matter what they may be going through, they will be all right AND they are surrounded by love they may not be able to see. A love that is rooting them on past their challenges. A love that whispers words of encouragement and power in a world that screams out messages of self-hate, shame, and fear. The decision to publish this counter-narrative is part of why I am a bit nervous (yes, I wrote horrified earlier…you will learn I am a bit dramatic).
My original intent was to write a book solely for my daughter and my nephew whose father was killed in August 2018. As I began sharing the poem with friends and colleagues, I noticed how many were moved to tears as they talked about their own experiences with the themes in the book. Once people saw the illustrations that went along with the poem, the floodgates opened up. Soon, I was hearing about stories of bullying, abuse, addiction, mental illness…you know, the stuff that we humans do when we are broken. Dealing with my own issues as a recovering “People Pleaser” and “Fixer,” my automatic reaction is to go into fix-it mode. When I cannot fix a situation (or person…that will be a whole different post), I come down really hard on myself. This feeling of guilt comes from my shame in not being able to help my sister shake her addictions which led to her death in 2002.
As an educator, I have worked with hundreds of women and seen them work their way to healthier ways of being. However, there will always be that one…the main one, who will live on in my heart as the one I let down. Now, fast forward to hearing stories from other people who have lived through unimaginable experiences, and I already feel like I am going to pass out!
As I work on developing greater self-compassion, I am realizing that if I breathe for a second (or four) and listen carefully, what I am actually hearing are not “problems to be fixed” but stories of resilience, power and love. The fact that these folks are alive to tell their stories their way is a testimony to their strength and should be celebrated.
So, here I go. I will look forward to hearing your stories, now. Just know that I may have a few “Oh Sweet Black and Brown Jesus!!!” moments privately. No worries, my 10,000 will set me straight!
Peace & Blessings
R.I.P. to my sister, Jacqueline Renee’ Polk (The “Love of 10,000” was written on her birthday July 15, 2018)