I have just completed the Germany phase of our Comical Sense tour. In Italy now!
On this trip, I have met some incredible, forgotten kids.
I say forgotten because most people have no idea what children of military families go through. Or, for that matter, even give them a second thought. (This is the reason Ronda Englander and I co-founded our non-profit, the Comfort Crew for Military Kids.)
We often see the slow motion video of a child running into their dad or mom’s arms upon their return from a deployment. And that’s about the extent of it.
I say forgotten kids because these little souls, almost two million of them in the US, float among us without most people realizing:
That they have to move every two to three years often leaving friends and family behind at every turn.
That their parents may be on the fifth, sixth or seventh deployment. Or even more.
That some will go to six, seven and eight different schools before they graduate.
That the divorce rate in the military is very high.
That military kids have higher rates of suicide ideation than kids in the general population.
On the subject of military kids, I could not help but shoot a picture of this little girl (Norah) when I was at her school in Ramstein last week.
Her little soul shines out from behind her stunning eyes. This is a wonderful, thoughtful human being who has not chosen to be a military kid but will go through a lot while her family serves to protect the rest of us.
As a salute to our military kids, I’d like to paraphrase an e-mail I received some time ago when we first began the With You All The Way Tour.
Dear Mr. Trevor,
When my daddy was deployed I wrote my feelings down in the journal that you gave us. When my daddy came back I showed him my journal.
When he read my journal he started to cry.
When my daddy started to cry, that’s when he got his feelings back.
When he got his feelings back, that’s when I knew I got my daddy back.
Delissa (9 years old)
The Comical Sense Tour is in Germany this week! We got this lovely note from a student who gave us permission to share her thoughts about the presentation.
Check out some pictures below from our stop in Utah.
I met a young girl recently who was going through a really tough time at school. She does not fit in, feels like an outsider, is exceptionally creative, not very sporty, test averse, and told me she doesn’t like life very much because it is too hard and often sad. Self-harm has crossed her mind.
I chatted with her for a long time and finally discovered that she has ADD and feels ashamed and embarrassed about it because she is teased at school and feels like she is not very smart due to the diagnosis.
I told her some dumb jokes, a few self-deprecating stories and then shared a little secret I have with her. I also struggled with ADD at school and still often wrestle with the remnants today.
She was so happy to learn that I was like her. I told her that we belong to an amazing and exciting subset of people who rock the world, sometimes literally. I am thrilled to say that she was encouraged and inspired to turn her struggle into expression and is now painting up a storm and making little movies and, yes, doing a million projects at the same time as most ADD people do. She has found comfort in her discomfort though, and that warms my heart.
To help her(and anyone else) understand how my brain works, I made this little, animated video about my experience with ADD.
Many people have some of the issues those with ADD experience but most don’t have them all tangled up together.
Other people with ADD include Justin Timberlake, Emma Watson, Zoe Deschanel, Ryan Gosling, Lisa Ling, Adam Levine, Magic Johnson, Mozart, DaVinci, Richard Branson, and astronaut Scott Kelly, to name just a few.
(This short video is my personal experience and not a general statement on the subject:)
The Comical Sense Channel provides meaningful entertainment for kids to make them happy, healthier, and more confident.
My first book with a major publisher came out a good number of years ago.
I submitted that particular book to over 50 publishers, some big some small and was rejected by them all but one.
Finally, it was acquired by Harper Collins Publishers in New York.
The initial version of the book I had sent them was illustrated in black and white because I wanted it to have the feel of ‘The Giving Tree,’ by Shel Silverstein.
Harper Collins had different ideas. My editor wanted it in full color.
I was excited, but petrified because I was at the beginning of my illustration career and was afraid that I was going to make a mistake when painting the color pictures for the book.
After freaking out for five minutes, I tensed up and painted the illustrations as perfectly as I could.
The publisher wasn't happy with my efforts. They were rather blunt about not liking what I sent them back.
I was devastated because I was so sure they were going to love what I did, but they didn’t.
I tried it again. This time I worked even harder to do the perfect watercolor illustrations.
They still didn't like what I had done.
I felt quite depressed, to tell the truth. My big break was feeling rather broken.
After some calls and discussions, the publisher decided to get, what they called, a colorist to do a sample illustration using my line drawings.
They sent me a sample page of the guy’s work and asked if I minded if that person did the coloring of my book.
I was very disappointed, to say the least. I felt like a bit of a failure actually. My big bright moment had a dark gray cloud hovering over it.
I wallowed in self-pity for about five minutes and then accepted the inevitable.
Truth be told, which I wasn’t going to admit in public, I kind of liked the sample painting the colorist had actually done.
Then I had a revelation. “ $#@*, I bet I could do that." I thought to myself.
While speaking to my mother on the phone later that day, I subconsciously doodled with my paints and duplicated the style the colorist had produced without even realizing what I had done.
My bruised ego suddenly peeked out from behind the dark cloud. I marveled at my own creation. “Hmmmm.” I thought. “It looks really good.”
I did a few more samples, and before any self-doubting could creep back in, I quickly sent the new samples off to the publisher.
They loved it.
And I illustrated the book in the style seen in this picture.
I’m really proud of the way it turned out.
The book came out the next year and was translated into many languages. It even had the honor of being acquired by Yoko Ono for the Japanese market. (Also seen in the picture is Yoko’s photograph (not mine) which appeared on the inside dust-jacket cover in the Japanese edition. I also heard a while back that Yoko Ono is considering turning the book into an animated short film. No news yet but I’m hoping that will come to fruition.)
The lesson I learned from the entire experience is that I was trying too hard to create the perfect pictures instead of enjoying the process, having fun, and painting the way I normally paint.
I was creating what I thought people wanted to see instead of doing what I love doing.
The stress, angst, and pursuit of unattainable perfection almost cost me the opportunity of doing my own illustrations for my first major book with one of the biggest publishers in the world.
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"The place where I grow ideas and create stories using words, illustrations and photographs." - Trevor Romain