Laura's Love Letter: The World Wholeheartedly Needs YOU
Uvalde victims photo credit: Reuters
Tuesday I was in New Jersey with my family, to celebrate my youngest nephew CJ graduating from Seton Hall. The commencement speakers were the head of the United Nations, the bishop of Newark and president of the school. I found it interesting that there was less of a, 'go for your dreams, you can do anything' message, but one of 'the world wholeheartedly needs your help.' They all spoke to the injustices going on in our country and globally and asked the graduates to look at how they can be of service and contribution. As we waited for my nephew to cross the stage, we saw the news of the shooting in Texas come through on social media. I had the gut and heart wrenching feelings that the children killed on Tuesday will never walk across graduation stages, the grandparents killed while grocery shopping a few weeks ago won’t be there to attend the next birthday parties, weddings, family dinners, etc.
It’s tough to find the words this week to share in a love letter, when our hearts and psyche are pummeled with fear, stress and trauma. My heart breaks for these families, teachers, communities that will never be the same, as well as for the parents who are scared to send their children to school, the students and teachers practicing ‘active shooter drills” - how did this become a thing? I’m baffled that there are still people opposing gun reform.
And, this is when we are called, as valiantly as possible, to rise, shine, and lead with LOVE.
I’ve struggled with what I want to say here - but listening to the commencement speakers I realized we all have different roles. My greatest desire is that my books and their message reach as many hearts, homes and classrooms as possible to help children, and adults, know how truly loved they are, and to feel connected to one another and to God/Source/Life/Love. I do believe when we know we are loved we will not want to harm or kill others, or ourselves. I am a messenger. Have you ever read Fredrick by Leo Lionni? I so resonate with that book. There are activists. With all my heart I have a feeling this is it — I believe these nineteen children and two teachers and husband/father will finally be the catalyst to gun reform+. Our young people are going to demand it — we’ve allowed the situation to become a disgrace and absurdly unworkable, and it is going to fall apart. And it’s not just gun reform, it’s also taking a hard look at who we are being, how we treat one another - we can not bully and berate one another, and then get upset, or act surprised when our children do. There are healers. It is coming to light just how much deep seated stress and trauma we have as individuals and collectively. It’s been discovered that trauma is passed down in our genes - something many of us have known for a good while. The healers and the light workers are ready to do this work. I’m reminded of the Michael Franti song - “We can be the healers, we can be the flower in the gun.” And my dear friends Cheley Tackett and Randall Clay wrote The Healer.
Let’s encourage one another, and especially our young people, to find our roles, and step up to shine and share our light and love with the world, how ever we feel called to do so! It is up to US -together we can and will make the world a better and brighter place.
Read a bit more on my blog about the awesome woman I met on the plane today and how she is choosing to rise, shine and lead with love....
I had the pleasure of sitting beside Amy on the plane today who was traveling from York, PA to a wedding in South Florida. Amy a substitute teacher, and her husband an attorney, found themselves with two children going and growing through their own hero’s journeys. Her son is a savant piano player who is Autistic - he just graduated high school, won several awards and attended two proms - applying and auditioning to attend Oberlin University in the fall. His experience called her and her family to be and learn so much more than imagined when they planned to have a family. Their second child Finch, was born Rachel - and recently began transitioning - though her mom said she could now see signs along the way. Amy is processing the whole experience, while also helping and loving Finch through it all - because (ideally) that's what you do when you are a mom. Her district put a broad ban on books which made national headlines. This became personal to Amy now and she ran for school board and was elected. They were able to get the support of Brad Meltzer and with his help 6000 books were donated to the community. I loved getting to know her - Amy is an activist and a Momma Bear! Can anyone guess where Finch chose their name from?
I AM a messenger and I was blessed this week to connect with these beautiful souls. This is at the Livingston, NJ Barnes and Noble - one of my super stores! The oldest child there is Noah who FIVE years ago roared his awesome belly laugh when I sang Silly Giraffe! This is who I AM and what I am called to do! Thank YOU Mary Mandel for arranging this visit, being a champion for my books, and fellow Ambassador of Love!
A Basket Full of Feelings -- I've seen this done differently in classrooms and think it is brilliant, so I've tweaked it a bit for home play. In schools - maybe 3rd grade up I've seen students write down a challenging situation they've gone, or are going through. They crumple up the paper and toss it in a basket anonymously. The papers are pulled out and read aloud and if a student wants to claim the paper they can. It's a way for young people to see that their classmates all have their own challenges. We often feel so alone in our pain and struggles - it is so comforting to know we are not!
At home and with younger children ask them to name different feelings. Write them down together on small sheets of paper, or have your child/children draw a feeling - crumple it up and toss them in a basket. Have everyone pick out a piece of paper and see if they can identify the feeling, or share a time they felt that way. Ask if people can feel differently about the same situation? Share that it is ok to feel whatever we are feeling, and it's natural for feelings to come and go. Create a space where your children are comfortable with their feelings and sharing them with you. I'm a big believer that a lot of good comes from sparking these conversations of LOVE!
Please feel free to download or screenshot and share. Tag #lauraduksta #iloveyoumore #ILYM and we'll be sure to re-share your posts - we love seeing our books in the world with your loved ones!
- June 4th: Farmer's Market on Las Olas and A1A
- June 12th: special event at the Las Olas Farmer’s Market
- End of June - July: Road tripping up the east coast - if you know of a festival, market, camp, school or church I should visit, send me a message!
- June 30th - July 3rd: National Alopecia Areata Foundation Conference in Washington, DC.