Forrest and I had the most wonderful, inspirational visit to Mission IGC on Thursday.
When you write a book, a song, anything, it's such an unbelievable honor to have someone actually appreciate your words. For me, it keeps my fingers on my keyboard and my brain buzzing every night as I think of new and exciting things to write and share.
The kids had great questions. Some that made me laugh. One bright eyed student asked if I was a millionaire because I had written and published a book. I assured him that I was still living in my middle class home with no plans to retire and buy a yacht just yet. I let them know that most writers and artists do not write, compose songs, paint pictures, etc. for money...they do it for the joy of creating. I let them know that it had been my dream to write a book since I was in my 20's, and if I could achieve my goal and dream that they could too. Several young, aspiring writers asked me for tips on becoming an author. I loved seeing the wheels turn in their heads as I told them to just write---to write what they knew and loved---to keep journals and never throw anything away that they wrote even if they did not think it was good enough.
The highlight of the afternoon had to be when Forrest performed a couple songs for the students. He got to visit with them as well. Forrest had been in the middle of a whirl wind and large spotlight for years, starting at the age the students were. He let them know, as they sat on the hard, dusty gym floor without even squirming, that although he was jet setting around the country, and other parts of the world becoming a rock star that he still longed to finish high school. That even though he was meeting famous producers, musicians, actors, etc., and was considered a rising star in the music world, he left it all to finish his education. He made a tough, but mature decision to give himself more time to just be a kid. Forrest told them to never give up on what they want to do in life. To work hard, very hard. He told them to practice daily the thing they're good at, and if they did nothing could stop them.
It was amazing to see the students maul him as the assembly ended. We signed books, and book marks for the kids for over 30 minutes. Forrest had gotten used to signing autographs years ago. I still find it weird, but always oblige the young people. It was really cool to see Forrest smiling at the students as he shook the hands of the "cool" teen age boys, and hugged the squealing, red faced girls.
I was that proud mama, as I watched Forrest sign slips of notebook paper, cell phones, folders, shirts, jeans, and lots of arms and hands. But most of all, I took pride in the fact that I was sitting by my son, who could have had greater fame and the world as his oyster years ago---to watch him interact with the kids with joy and a light in his eyes. I was proud to know that he made such a mature decision at fifteen years old. The decision that was best for him. As hard as that decision was, he was right where he needed to be that day.
I was so proud to see Forrest encouraging the students, especially in the wake of the young boy that committed suicide at their school just two days before. It was so healing to be able to laugh with the kids. It was heart warming to be there at the Intermediate Grade center with all those impressionable minds, and share with them about my book Red Dirt Rocker...a story that's filled with hope for those that might be bullied, or pressured to try drugs and alcohol---a story that shows them they can follow their dreams without giving in to the peer pressure that is so prevalent in our school systems today--- a story that was based on a real boy who was there with them that day.
It was such a great visit...and I even got asked to sign some hands and arms with my black sharpie as well!