22 May kind of a big deal
This weekend is kind of a big deal. My stomach knows it. The butterflies are fluttering about, vying for my attention, tickling at my awareness. My intestines also know it (TMI?). Sometimes they get a little nervous before an event, which I suppose is a good thing because it keeps me humble and forces me to focus. Truth be told, I’m a bit of a wreck before each aMg event. It’s not the crowd, or the public speaking. I think it’s the gravity of the message, you know? The importance of getting it right; The potential for change if I do and the danger of no change if I don’t.
My body screams, “All systems down!”
“Not gonna do it,” my mind warns.
But my heart reminds me with an empowering whisper, “You can do all things, even this.”
So as I’m gearing up to fly to Virginia for the second time, I wanted to pause and collect my thoughts. Take a moment to settle the butterflies and give my intestines a stern talking-to. I’m so honored to be invited back to speak to more teens, more parents, more teachers. I’ve met some incredible people in Loudoun County who are deeply invested in making this world a better place, and I’m thrilled to work alongside them as they change and save lives. Special thanks to Jennifer with the LCPS Student Support Services PEER Program for being an advocate for the aMasongrace project to return in May for another presentation. She and her team have been instrumental in sharing the aMg project’s vision and pulling the messages through on the campuses of Loudoun County. I’m excited at the opportunity to speak with parents and students at Riverside High in Leesburg this Monday!
Around the same time the planning conversations were taking place with LCPS Peer, some dear friends and World Changers were actively discussing additional opportunities for the aMasongrace project. Through my lovely friends Annette, Stefanie, and Hillary, I was introduced to Kristen, the founder of a unique organization called HubDot, a community for women to be inspired and connect though story telling. Instantly, I fell in love with the concept and knew that I wanted to be a part of whatever it was that they were doing! You know how you just know when something is gooooooood? We exchanged a few emails and Kristen invited me to be one of the speakers HubDot’s May event. Of course my answer was YES! I had no idea what I was getting in to, but without any hesitation, I agreed to it all. I just had this gut feeling that it was going to be good…
May’s theme is The Transformational Journey of Motherhood. Women from all professions and demographics will come together for a fun evening of storytelling and networking, during which time multiple speakers will share their stories of Motherhood in 60 seconds or less.
Mmmmkay, seriously? Sixty seconds. S I X T Y S E C O N D S. Six-Oh.
When I learned that, my eyes almost popped out of my head. I can’t even tell you why I like my favorite wine in 60 seconds, much less give a comprehensible glimpse of my experience as a mother. However, I do love a challenge! My wheels were immeditely spinning. What would I say? What could I share in that amount of time that would be meaningful or enlightening or even relevant to other women? What piece of my journey would fit into 60 seconds and not just fall flat with a thud in the middle of a room filled with unmet expectations? I mean, these ladies are buying tickets, for Pete’s sake!
The pressure. My butterflies. My… well, you know.
But wait, there’s more.
Kristen went a step further and spoke with her church, Dulles Community Church, about the possibility of having me speak to the youth group Sunday morning. Teens?!?! Yes, please. The youth pastor graciously and courageously offered up his mic and planned to have me speak to his sixth through twelfth graders in their ECHO Sunday youth service. I was thrilled to add this to the event lineup… after all, teens are my JAM! (Keep your eyes peeled for the social media blitz that will follow! I am convinced that selfies and social media are the Love Languages of today’s teens.)
Today, as I was going through airport security before my flight to Dulles Airport, I received a voice mail from Justin, the DCC Youth Pastor, advising me that plans had changed and requesting me to call as soon as possible. He has no idea what commotion that caused for my sweet little butterflies, or what impact his voice mail had on my intestines (still TMI?). When I phoned him back, I learned some devastating news. His community had been rocked, yet again, by another suicide just days ago. This makes 5 young lives ended since October. Originally, we had planned to have me present aMg’s three core messages to the teens in the youth service, but Pastor Justin and his senior pastor decided instead to turn over the main service to the aMasongrace project to allow me to share with a much wider audience. The students will be there with their parents and the rest of the congregation. Additionally, an administrator from a nearby school obtained permission to send out an open invitation for anyone in the community to attend. In Christian circles, they’d say, “God is on the move.” In any circle, the ripple effect is clear.
Three events. Two days. So many hearts.
Forget the giddy anticipation and the funny little butterflies. Forget the sick tummy, the nerves, the pressure. It’s not really about me after all, is it? Sure, it starts with my story. It starts with Mason’s story, the boy who ended his life in a moment that felt too big, with a snap decision that rocked our community. But it’s about more than that, more than us. It’s about the teens that LCPS Peer is rounding up and herding my way. It’s about the women who are getting dolled up for a night out with friends; the mothers who bravely share their story and the guests who will join in the discussion with their own. It’s about the people who will get out of bed Sunday, when they could choose to sleep in, and head into church for their weekly dose of Hope.
It’s about the 8th grade boy who ended his life just two weeks ago in Las Vegas. It’s about the Junior in High School who didn’t make it to see the weekend. It’s about Mase, yes. And Collin. And Brian. And Carla. And Jay. It’s about young people who desperately need to hear that the moment they are in is not the moment they will be in forever. It’s about the kiddos who may have never heard these two words: Please Stay. It’s about the irreplaceable, unique, incredible li’l biscuits whose self-worth is guiding their decisions (decisions that might look totally different if those li’l biscuits knew, really knew, how much they mattered).
You see what I mean, don’t you? This weekend. This opportunity. This moment. It’s such a big deal.
I bow my head in humble gratitude that I am invited into these circles. I’ll show up. I’ll keep showing up. I’ll share the message of truth, hope, and love with anyone who will listen. I’ll pour out my story for 60 minutes Sunday morning then tell it again in 60 seconds Sunday night. Monday, I’ll meet with World Changers and Hope Givers and Thought Leaders and Educators and Parents and Teens and do it all again in the hopes that together we save lives.
It’s Just Me…
The blog, It’s Just Me, is written by Holly Chamberlain, who makes a living as a sales manager for a global pharmaceutical company but who makes a life by working with teenagers, teachers, and parents to redefine the criteria for self-harm and suicide. She is the Founder of the aMasongrace project and shares these core messages with students to help build resilience, offer hope, and improve self-esteem: Moments Pass, Please Stay, & You Matter. To subscribe to the blog, please visit the website, www.aMasongraceproject.com, and enter your email address. Follow the aMasongrace project on Twitter and Instagram: @aMgYouMatter. To invite the aMasongrace project to speak at a youth group or school, please contact Holly via aMasongraceproject@gmail.com.