We are well into our second session with the kids at the middle school in Inglewood. The Farley Project started by journeying to this school over a year ago and it has been a blessing watching the organization and our program blossom over the past two years.
What happened today though, almost has me at a loss for words. We are working with 25 sixth grade inner-city kids. They are beautiful. They are tough. They are scared. They are angry. They are lots of things and up until today, internally I have almost been judging them. Judging them because week after week, they just sit there. They will not let us in. Week after week we sit there begging and pleading for them to just sit still for one hour and listen to what we have to say. I have a newly found high level of respect and admiration for teachers -- I honestly don't know how they do it.
Today we did an exercise called "I am a Rockstar Because..." I snagged this lesson from a friend of mine who runs an amazing organization called I Am That Girl. Most people put themselves down. We look in the mirror and could be the most physically beautiful person in the world and all we see is a pimple. We look in the mirror and tell ourselves that we look fat, ugly, have frizzy hair, too many muscles, not enough muscles. We go through life and tell ourselves that we're not good enough, we won't make it, we're stupid, annoying, or any other choice word explaining how we are less than.
The goal of The Farley Project Curriculum is to get kids to see themselves through another lens. A kinder, gentler lens. Today we went around the circle, introducing ourselves and stating "I am a Rockstar Because..." The rest of the students were instructed to practice active listening.
I sat in a room this morning and watched how 20 11-year-olds opened up. They shared some unbelievably intimate and powerful stories. They cried. THEY CRIED. They shed the most beautiful heart opening tears I have ever seen. They were talking about how strong they are, how brave they are, for most of these kids have lived VERY challenging lives.
They've lived challenging lives and they made it through. And this is why they are Rockstars. For their entire lives these beautiful souls have been holding in what they have been going through. And in turn, holding on to all of that aggression -- they hit, they punch, they stab. And really all they want and need IS SOMEONE TO LISTEN TO THEM. Someone to love them.
All they want and need is someone to say "HEY, YOU ARE SO BRAVE!" Let's talk about how brave you are! Let's acknowledge how challenging your life must have been.
They just want to be loved. They just want to be looked at. They just want to be heard.
I did not learn to and allow myself to get really vulnerable about my feelings until I was 33 years old. And these kids are doing it at 11.
I am honored. Humbled. Emotionally drained. Blessed. And feeling as though I have been given a very special gift from the Universe. I have been given the gift of being able to touch lives. I know what it feels like to look into someone's eyes and tell in that very instant that their life has been changed forever. And I am lucky enough to be doing it every week with The Farley Project.
This work makes me feel good. This work makes me feel alive. This work drives me. It almost feels selfish sometimes, because the feeling I get from helping these kids -- it's a feeling I wish for everyone to experience.
For many, many years I lived a life that was all about me. Shopping. Partying. Laughing with my friends. Working. Traveling. I thought that this was what life was about. Work hard, make money, spend it, enjoy life.
I know better now. Life is about helping others. Kids. People. Animals. The planet. We ALL have the power and ability to do it. We can share our money. Our time. Our smiles. Our attention.
We all have been given the special gift to help. And I invite you all to use your gift. Use the gift of living for others, and I can guarantee you a nice warm and fuzzy pot of gold is there on the other side to await you!
With so much love and gratitude,