I went quiet after December 14th. Not my typical modus operandi. I had blog posts written and queued up to post, but I rescheduled them for future publication dates because it didn't seem right to maintain normal routines. I took comfort in the words of others, but I couldn't find words of my own that felt appropriate to share. I read and watched tributes. I walked around lost in my thoughts. I cried.
I did not personally know any of the victims of the December 14th tragedy, and yet I felt like I knew them all. I work with teachers and young children. I have children of my own. I write picture books for young children. And, I'm passionately protective of childhood. It's something I feel called upon to honor, treasure and protect. Yet I'm aware that for many children, childhood is a place filled with less publicized pain. That awareness is one of the many reasons December 14th shook me so deeply. It forced me to stop and think about the suffering in the world. In my country. In my neighborhood. In my extended family.
I got stuck in the sadness and had to force myself to resume normal activities. One of those activities was taking the time to pause and reflect on the past year. I typically devise some type of creative way to share the past year's events with family and friends. I found the escape into creativity a welcome respite. Here is this year's offering:
As I reflected on 2012, I continued to ponder the emotions I felt after the December 14th tragedy. I realized that embedded in the sadness was a sense of powerlessness. I felt so very small.
Feeling powerless and small stinks.
I decided for my own sanity I needed to redirect my attention. Instead of focusing on the bigness of the problems in the world, I would reclaim my power by focusing on the small ways I can make a positive difference:
I can smile at strangers.
I can laugh with children.
I can notice my neighbors.
I can lend a hand.
I can offer friendship.
I can share my time.
I can say thank you.
I can listen.
I can teach.
I can write.
I can treasure the work that I do, as a parent and as a professional.
I can bear witness to the joy and innocence of childhood. The wild laughter. The thrill of new discoveries. The intense energy. The curiosity. The questions. The language. The love.
Thank you friends and colleagues, for supporting and encouraging my work, and for sharing my books with the children you love. You've helped me make a small difference in this world.