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This week I'm celebrating Amy Krouse Rosenthal.
Like the rest of the kidlit community, I was devastated to hear that Amy Krouse Rosenthal passed away this spring. I don't even know where to begin in terms of all that she accomplished in her life. If you aren't familiar with her work or would like to explore all she did with her time here, you can visit her website or do a search and just keep clicking.
She was utterly amazing.
I'm lucky to live north of Chicago so I was able to drive downtown and visit AKR: A Beauty Salon at Carrie Secrist Gallery, an exhibit to celebrate Amy's life.
It was an absolutely beautiful, serene space. There were two other women there exploring when I got there but shortly after, they left and it was just me.
But as quiet as it was, there was so much love.
I took pictures as I moved through the exhibit so I could share them here and spread the love.
I didn't really make a grand entrance, but I did pause to prepare myself.
I wasn't sure what to expect but I knew I would be emotional.
There was also a dish of pennies and
a fishbowl full of water with a layer of pennies on the bottom.
"Take a penny on your way in, then make a wish on your way out.
But not one of your own."
With directions to make a friend and then to make a wish for them.
In this case was a collection of Amy's notebooks and Brain Lint.
Do you have a notebook for your random thoughts?
I love Moleskine Volant journals. They come in packs of two and I use one as a bullet journal and the other as a writer's notebook.
Next to this super cute space to sit was a table
where you could make yourself a cup of coffee.
On the wall with the coffee station, was a draft of Little Pea,
each page tacked to the wall with yellow pushpins.
Under Amy's words,
"I was here, you see. I was."
People shared messages, drew pictures, signed their names.
In the center of the space was this picnic table with swing seats.
(I saved this for last.)
The writing on the wall reminded me a bit of Charlie Brown.
And when I think of Charlie Brown,
I remember being in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown
when I was in fifth grade. I've always loved the Happiness Is... song.
Being here was happiness for me.
I mean, I was sad to be there and know Amy is gone
but I was happy to know she gave us so much.
A writing prompt for the wall:
"Think about what ATM stands for in your mind,
grab one of these pens, and write it."To Amy, ATM stood for Always Trust Magic.
Here's a little bit of magic:
Amy and I went to the same high school.
(I just found out!)
One of my HS English teachers was named Amy.
(She's a big part of why I'm a writer now.)
You bet I did:
What would you write on the wall?
I took this pano while sitting on one of the beanbags in this corner of the room.
I wrote a few pages in my (luckily? magically?) yellow notebook.
I wrote about being 37 and loving life.
I wrote about my sons who are 7 and 10.
I wrote about hoping I can show them how much I love them everyday.
I wrote about wanting the world for them.
I wrote about wanting them to make the world a better place.
On a pillar:
And finally, I went back to sit on a swing.
I sat in front of a word search puzzle.
Written along the side it said, "Finish what I've started..."
Who wrote those words?
I have no idea.
Who else sat in this same spot and found a word?
I have no idea.
Who is going to find the next word?
I have no idea.
But I felt connected.
I felt part of this puzzle called life.
I didn't look at the words, I just scanned the word search.
The first word I found was rainbow.
So what did I do?
I drew a rainbow.
First on the paper.
And then on me.
All day, I've found myself looking down at the colors on my arm.
As I type these words, I know they are there.
I haven't drawn or written on my hands in a really long time
...maybe since high school.
I can't even remember the last time.
But today I did.
Because of Amy.
I'm inspired by Amy Krouse Rosenthal.
I know many others are too.
Because of Amy
went through a new door
wrote on a wall
drew a rainbow on my arm
cried my eyes out
drove down a different street
emailed a friend I haven't talked to in a while
thanked a teacher
believed in my own magic a little bit more
Have you been inspired by Amy Krouse Rosenthal?
Please share in the comments what you have done Because of Amy.
Also, if you'd like,
you can make a donation to the AKR Yellow Umbrella Foundation.
Thanks for coming to celebrate with me this week!
I love you.