Monday, January 8, 2018

A New Year, Sadness and Joy, Challenge and Resolve, and One Direction: Forward!

My good friend and writing buddy Claudia Harrington Kallmeyer passed away last week after a long and courageous, often irreverent, and at times even funny (think pranks on her doctors) battle with brain cancer.

Claudia was a joy to know. She was funny, and could write funny, she was kind, she was determined, she worked hard, she cared about others, and she was generous with her time and talents, volunteering for over a decade as the Regional Advisor of the Los Angeles chapter of SCBWI.

And she was my friend.

This moment, captured by Rita Crayon Huang, is from the 2011 Los Angeles SCBWI Writers Day conference. I'm on the left in the black T-shirt, and Claudia is at the lectern, holding the ceremonial scepter of leadership - which, as she and Edie (pictured in the tiara) couldn't find, ended up being a toilet plunger wrapped in tin foil with a ribbon for show...

Claudia's family, including her three great kids (two grown and one teen) and her husband, and her mom, and all her friends like me who hold her memory dear, are an ongoing legacy - we got to know and love Claudia, and our lives are more filled with light and joy because of that. And who knows how that light and joy will continue to change the world, long into the future?

Claudia's creative legacy includes 12 picture books (the "My Family" series highlighting the diversity within a child's classroom) and 8 early readers (the "Hank the Pet Sitter" series - four out now and four more in the pipeline, revised manuscripts accepted and currently being illustrated. Her books are funny, and heartfelt, and I'm so glad the world has them. Who knows the lives those books will continue to touch, long into the future?

So the challenge seems to be to take the sadness of missing Claudia and transmute it into resolve: Creative time is sacred, because it lets our light shine. So I need to treat my creative time as important, as a priority. Because every day is a gift, and there are no guarantees. So we (I) need to carpe diem, and more forward as best we (I) can.

My mantra for the adventure ahead:

Trust my journey. Trust my process. Trust in myself. FLOW... And be grateful for all my many blessings... 

including having this platform to share with wonderful readers and members of my community: YOU!

Here's to the good memories, and the joy, and each of us shining with our own unique light – because that's how we change the world. Like my friend Claudia did.

1 comment:

ann whitford paul said...

what a beautiful tribute, Lee. I was so saddened to hear of her death--way too young--but happy she had experienced success in her writing.