Yesterday, Hazel and I were able to go to a local inner-city school and visit with about thirty, 12 & 13 year old students. They are part of this special club called "Inspire." Maria, one of the teachers, felt that there was a need to teach these children much more than math, literacy and geography. Things like growing their own food, like garlic. They talk about about the health benefits and recipes for using garlic, as well as the planting and cultivating process that goes along with it. Maria is bringing in local farmers to discuss where food actually comes from and stress how important it is to be a responsible consumer and to eat local whenever possible. It's FANTASTIC!!!!
I met Maria by chance at a mutual friends party (although I don't believe much in 'chance') and she pulled me aside and told me she was a reader of the blog and she absolutely loved Hazel. She then went on to tell me that I inspired her. She was so genuine and passionate about what she was telling me, I found myself trying to keep the tears from filling my eyes. Months later, I got a message from her asking me if I would come and speak to her club at school. She wanted bring in people that "inspire" her on a daily basis to hopefully, inspire her students to be more conscious, compassionate and loving human beings.
You guys, I am telling you, I was speechless.
I sit behind this screen, tapping away on the keys, sifting through photos and hitting the "publish" button. Often, I don't stop to think who is on the other end. Well, in this case it was a woman who wears a HUGE heart on her sleeve. She is spreading love everywhere she goes. When I met her students yesterday, nothing was more clear to me. Her students are a reflection of her heart, her passion and her love.
I went in with my heart. The one that beats outside my body. The one that lives inside Hazel's chest. We went in to spread our message of inclusion, compassion and acceptance.
As I was talking, I was looking at all the sweet faces and I knew that they were not only hearing me but listening to me. They were smiling, nodding and engaged in my message (I'm not sure if any of you have tried to engage with a 13 year old but sometimes it's not the easiest). These kids were fantastic. But guess what else? Their teachers were FANTASTIC. They were engaged, nodding and sharing their thoughts as well. We spoke together in different voices, to get across the same message. We did it through laughter and we did it through tears. When one of us cried, the other stepped in to finish the thought.
Among these emotions - I felt hope. I felt love. I felt understanding, acceptance, being fostered right then and there. Passion growing and landing on each of their faces. These students need to know that they have the power to make someone feel all the big feelings. They have the ability to make a difference, even if only in one child's life. They certainly made a difference to this mama yesterday. I know that given the chance they would be responsible for enriching Hazel's life.
Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, they upped the ante. Through the blog, their teacher had heard about Ruby's Rainbow. She showed the class the video I posted a couple of weeks back. Well, they were inspired to do their own take on Ruby's Rainbow. They presented Hazel with a check. These gracious children made a donation to go towards Hazel's college education, AND they called it Hazel's Rainbow. GAHHHHHHH!!!!!!! I was without speech. The generosity of their gesture was not only appreciated it made me really stop to think. These kids BELIEVE in Hazel. They believe that she will go to college. They believe she will have a future full of accomplishments. THEY BELIEVE!!!! Every single time I tell somebody about the check they made I have to pause for tears and my heart literally feels like it's going to explode.
What an honour I was given to be a part of this magic. I was there to spread the message but I assure you I am the one who has grown. I am so grateful for this life.
While saying goodbye and giving Maria a huge hug. Feeling so thankful to have been given this opportunity, and that her students made it such a rewarding experience, we found ourselves stuck in a conversation battle of who was more of an inspiration; "you're more inspirational" - "no you are" - "no YOU ARE!!!" with the pointing fingers and all. As I was walking to my car, smiling and shaking my head, I vowed right then and there to make it a point to have many more conversations just like this one.
Be inspired. Share inspiration.
I went to bed reading "Happy Grams" from each of the kids feeling so proud of them for being so grown up. Then today I received a note about what one child had written in his book report: