Sharing Our Stories : These Kids Changed My Life

Five years ago, I was living in Baltimore, Md., & working at a group of community newspapers in a job that made me miserable. Because of connections I still had in the nonprofit sector, where I had previously worked, I found out about a group that was hiring people part-time in an after-school tutoring-type program. I jumped at the chance to get back into the field I loved & ended up working with kids in the Sandtown neighborhood of Baltimore, one of the more violent sections of the city.

Five years ago, I wrote these words, they’re all still sitting in an old online journal. I go back to these words from time-to-time, mostly when I need to remember… that there are so many things outside of my Self, that I’m one small part in a whole, that I am worth it, that I am strong & vital, that I touched these kids’ lives, my kidlets, my shining stars. I look at these words when I’m feeling down & I need to redirect my focus, when I get frustrated with the world, when I realize that I’m not appreciating & loving myself as well as I can. When I need to be inspired & hold onto Hope, because these kids inspired me so much. They taught me so much. I still look at these words, I still remember each of these kids & I hope that they believed me when I told them that they changed my life, so much for the better.

Peace to you, in every step you take, xoxo, Jenn


Sharing Our Stories : They changed my life
Starting at the upper lefthand corner & working our way around : Chante & Rumia being all smiles, Jabari drawing such amazing beats from a djembe, Indigo & her little brother Ross cheesing it up, Ross & me, after he taught me his kung fu moves. Indigo took that last photo, I think it’s my favorite of them all.

If I can just keep seeing their eyes light up, it will all be worth it.

If I can get through to those three girls to let them know that they can relax and be real, it will all be worth it.

A. ran up to me and gave me the biggest hug, wrapped his arms around my waist and then scampered away — I could NOT stop smiling.

It’s all worth it.

All of the running around, late nights, early mornings, lack of sleep, trying to squeeze so much into every moment, meetings, not seeing friends, headaches, drama, all of it — if I can just do this. I’m so tired and there is so much more left to do before I can sleep. I’m so freaking tired.

I forgot what it was like, the dancing. The fierce command and control I have over my body, and that I project — 1 2 3 and down 5 6 7 around and 2 up up 5 6 and a 7 8 — an unending eight count to the beat of drums. Confidence in my body and its strength instead of noticing only its weakness. I am not frail or fragile, I am strong and graceful and powerful, and I had forgotten to revel in my body.

More, more, more. Just a little bit more.

So often we only focus on the things that are wrong with ourselves, the things we don’t like about ourselves because those are easier to notice. I know that I pick myself apart every time i look in the mirror, find the things I don’t like and wish i could change. We don’t look at ourselves and love each other enough.

So in the spirit of self-love, I’d just like to say three things that I love about myself, and I invite you to do the same.

  1. I love my eyes, their color and shape, the little flecks of yellow and gold that hide around the edges.

  2. I love the way i walk, for so long I tried to change it, to not swing my hips and walk stiff and straight because boys made fun of me, but I can’t. so i embrace my walk, hip sway and all.
  3. I love my tummy. It used to be hollow, but now it has the cutest round curve to it, and is adorned with a ring.

It can be easy to overlook your own beauty, but please take some time to rediscover the things about you that you love the most, even if you don’t share it here, love yourself, Love Your Self. ♥

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