Dear Jenny

I cannot even say how excited I was to meet you Friday night when you came to Dayton. I’ve been looking forward to meeting you since, well since I first started reading your blog several years ago. Because honestly, everything you’ve written sounds like something I would (or have) said.

And when I thought I wasn’t going to get to meet you Friday, I was pretty much in tears. I was #128 and around #25 our friends who were driving in from Cleveland texted me to say that they were almost there. My husband and I knew we’d never get back in time if we waited, so I went and asked the post-it lady to trade in my books, but they didn’t have a copy of Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. I thought for sure that meant that I just wouldn’t get it signed, but the kindness of your fans floored me. I’m explaining that I need to exchange my copy of Furiously Happy, while trying not to cry, and they offered to let me jump the line.

Every. Single. Person.

They all stepped aside and with kindness in their eyes told me to go ahead. They all told me not to worry about it, that they understood. And I got to meet you. I got to tell you how much it meant to meet you. I would have loved to talk to you for hours, but I am so glad that I got to tell you I submitted a writing for the Furiously Happy video. It touched my heart to see that you were so moved.

But if I could have said everything I wanted to, this is what I would have said.

You write about depression and mental illness the way I hope to write about abuse and bullying. I want to bring the awareness that you have brought, create the community and support that you have created. I want to spread the hope. And I just want to tell you how much I admire you for that. When you signed my books and I told you that what you do means so much to me, that was what was behind those words.

You truly are an inspiration to me, in all that you have done, and it gives me hope that one day I can write my own book that will (hopefully) create a home for those people who have been trapped by abuse and bullying.

You make me snort and giggle while I read your writing (which makes it really hard for my husband to sleep). You are completely the type of person that I would love to have lunch with and get to know. Swap crazy stories. Shake our heads about how or husbands don’t understand our awesomeness. Play board games. Build each other up. You can never have enough of those people in your life. I love that you embrace life and live FURIOUSLY HAPPY, and do the crazy things that make you happy. I try to live that way too. I have licked a volcano, taken a sword fighting class, danced in the rain, and done tons of other stuff like that. Because I have been struggling with recovering from being severely bullied for most of my life. And some days the voices that say ‘you’re worthless’ win, and some days I dress as a queen and play flamingo croquet.

Hold onto the love of the people you have helped, and when the struggles come, we will always be there for you, even if being there means writing notes to you as you hide under your bed.

Thank you for all you do

Laura

PS- When we were kids, my dad, sister and I totally ate milk bones. The green ones tasted the best. My dad used to pack them in my lunch as a joke when I was in Elementary School and my one friend still randomly brings it up.

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The Best Words

Today, one of my kids at work said the best thing to me.

I’m the homework teacher. Which means that on any given day I help 18+ kids with their homework. At the same time. It’s a non-stop barrage of “Miss Laura, I need help”, “Miss Laura, I don’t understand this”, “Miss Laura, I was next” and “Miss Laura, it’s too loud”, naturally all being yelled across the room at the same time.

But I love it. I love watching the kids learn, and helping them see what they are capable of. I love that they know that they can turn to me with their problems, and not just their homework problems. Most days, it just fills my heart.

But some days. Oh, some days.

Some days, the kids who have finished their homework can’t seem to stay quiet so the other kids can keep working, and there are a few kids who are just at each other’s throats, and someone just has to have my attention right now, and BLARG!

And today was a little bit of that. Nothing too bad though, thankfully. But there is this one little girl, M. I love her to pieces. She is in 4th grade and super smart, but also super distractable. She is in advanced placement classes, but she gets lost in her own head (yes, she has ADD) and just can never seem to focus. She has good days and bad days and man, today was a bad day. We would be working on a problem together and she would drift off while we were talking.

And I just felt that I was failing her. I knew she had homework in three subjects, and that she needed to make a significant dent in it if she wanted to avoid getting in trouble at home, but I just couldn’t get her to focus. I was getting frustrated and I wasn’t doing a very good job of hiding it, and it was finally time for me to close my room so she asked to pack her backpack back up. I told her she could, because she wasn’t going to get any more work done and that I had to leave anyway. But after she finished, she came up to me and said, ” Thank you for doing all you could to help me Miss Laura.”

It just kind of made me stop.

I had felt myself starting to go over the my time with her in my head, wondering what I could have done different, what I should have done. What the ‘right thing’ was, because I felt that I had failed. I was starting to beat myself up because I felt that I couldn’t help this wonderful little girl, and yet she still appreciated that I took the time to try.

I went over to her and put my hand on her head and said “Thank you for saying that. That really means a lot. I was just getting frustrated because I felt like I was failing you because I couldn’t get you to focus.”

And she looked at me and nodded. She went over to get something she left at a table and said, very matter-of-factly, as if that’s-just-how-the-world-works “But not focusing is my issue, not yours”

This little girl gave me a life lesson in a 2 minute conversation. Because that is how the world works. I’m not responsible for her actions, only my efforts.

I don’t know if she will ever know how much I will cherish her words.