During the year, I visit plenty of students. 2011 has been especially important to me. Personally, I love people and I want to know what “the little people” (anyone still in school and under the age of 18) are thinking. It is very difficult to talk to your own children because they are not giving you the whole story. However, when you talk to other children, they seem to be so impressed that you at least care enough to ask about them.
In January of 2011, I made a goal to talk to 500 or more students by the end of the school year. My number does not include my children's school either. I reached my goal in May of 2011. I was so excited. I recently reflected on all of the beautiful faces that I had the opportunity to have in my presence. I could see the wonderment and expectation of my presentation, which was always different than what they thought. The adults wore the same faces too but by the end of the speaking engagement they were up clapping.
I could see that some children just did not have the opportunities that I am able to afford to my children. The ones who sat in groups, I broke up by giving them assignments during my speech, like handing out information. If I did not they would probably talk while I was speaking. I always left feeling great. I left them with words of encouragement, my e-mail address and the promise that if they contacted me, I would do my best to help.
I told them about me and my life and that it was not easy. I told them that it does get better but it is up to them to make it better. My theme is “the best revenge is success”. Go to school and get a degree. Make yourself happy by achieving greatness beyond what is expected of you. Whatever people say about you after that is their problem and not yours. I could see their minds absorbing what I was saying. It was as though they would have to pull out those words of advice later.
I feel great in 2011 leaving negativity to the side and knowing that I can love people as a whole but not allow a few to make me feel poorly is a blessing in itself. We should all strive to do that. Please know your worth or someone will do their best to take advantage of it.
I may be a dreamer but I have come a long way and I want children to feel the same way.
I asked some tweens (11-13) what was the most recent thing that someone said to them that hurt. Hurtful words have a way of holding people back. There were no names on the papers but the responses were interesting and brutally honest.
Here are the responses:
“Somebody who I thought was my friend was gossiping about me behind my back. She told everyone that she really wasn't my friend.”
“When they talk about my mom.”
“When my dad told me that I can go live with my family because he knows that I really don't love him.”
“I'm an ugly fat bum.”
“When people talk about my hair and lips.”
“I love my life.”
“My mother said she wasn't my mother anymore.”
“When people make fun of me because I am short.”
“When other kids talk about me really badly.”
“A parent telling their child that they hate them and they wish they were not born.”
“My dad told me that he didn't want me.”
“Someone said I had mosquito bites for boobs.”
“Someone called me a border hopper bean pitcher.”
“Someone said I was so ugly and told the other person to look at my teeth.”
“Someone called me fat.”
“My dad smacked me in the face.”
“You can't dance like a black person, so stop trying.”
Parents, surrogate parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and all who have children in their lives please tell them that words hurt. Please be conscious of what you are telling young people. They remember and your words are shaping them to become “big people”.
Let us hope that the young people who have experienced negative words will move past them. We should be providing children with words of encouragement and not be afraid to talk to other people's children.
I was out and about the other day and I heard a girl yell out. “Hey, hey there is the Motivational Speaker Lady?” She had a huge smile on her face. She may not remember my name but she remembers the positive things that I said. I know I am making an impact. What are you doing to make a conscious impact in your world?
PS. Come and support us at Poetry in the City 2011. The ad in on the back page!