Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Interview with Marci!


Yay, I've managed to snag another great author who's daring enough to venture by Kidbits and answer a few questions. Marci Matthews is an author and illustrator, who's not afraid to get out there and help others whenever she notices that help is necessary. Don't believe me? Then just read about her yourself!



MARCI MATTHEWS!!!

Marci Matthews is a philanthropist, advocate, author and illustrator. Over the years, Matthews has worked with fraternities and sororities to support various charity events. She feels called to help survivors of sexual violence and is a trained and certified advocate with the Rape Crisis Center of Medina in Ohio.  She is also very active with the Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network (RAINN.org), working for the online hotline, becoming a member of RAINN's National Leadership Council and a member of their Speakers Bureau. In 2013, she received the organization’s Hope Award for her deep involvement. That same year, Matthews founded the not-for-profit Grace Initiative Foundation Tree to support her philanthropic initiatives.

http://www.marcimmatthews.com/books.html





Hello, Marci! And welcome to Kidbits. I'm so excited that you could stop by. You just brought out a wonderful new book. . .actually, it's more of a journal, Every Day a Hope. What can you tell us about it?

I see Every Day a Hope as an empowerment tool and a source of reflection for readers. When I created the journal’s tiny stories and illustrations, I intentionally layered as many possibilities into each page. I wanted the book to look simple, but be meaningful on several levels. I want each reader to ruminate on a particular moment in a way that evokes personal reflection – a sort of mini epiphany from the reader’s own spirit, thoughts, history, mood and more. I want the reader to feel inspired, empowered, and expanded with a sense of her own thoughts and feelings. I want Every Day a Hope to be a safe place for people who need to heal and find hope. For me, Every Day a Hope started a conversation with myself. I hope this journal allows readers to better communicate and understand themselves as well.

Healing isn’t linear.  And life, love, and our spirit-growth don’t follow linear paths, either. I want the pages of Every Day a Hope to suggest possibilities, and I hope each reader will make the journal her own in whatever way that means. Draw. Make lists. Think great thoughts. Take the pages of Every Day a Hope and color them, share feelings, make lists and draw out your dreams. You’ll notice, too, that I often switch up the pronouns I use in the journal. I do this to be inclusive, but I also switch pronoun usage if I feel society needs to think about a concept differently. My only wish is that this book brings something more to the reader: hope, healing, reflection, a lost memory, or just a new possibility created from a moment.

Some people like to keep their books as perfect as possible, not creasing the spine or bending a page. I must admit, I am the complete opposite. I devour, digest, display, and dismember books from enjoying them so much. I turn down corners, write in them, eat around them and make them part of my moment.



Not only are the words inspiring, but the pictures are simply amazing! Do you do your own artwork? Why is there an angel on every page?

I do create all of the art. Some pages literally started out as sketches on napkins or on the backs of bills I paid. I also have a tablet I can draw on directly, which I love. I chose to work only with black and white illustrations for Every Day a Hope because I want the reader to discover for herself the many shades of color available to her own path of healing.

 The angel is representative of the spirit, and it is meant to be inclusive since I don’t want this book limited by one viewpoint. Sometimes the angel is a symbol of the reader, sometimes it is meant as an active character on the page - often both. The angel is an “everyman” symbol meant to enhance and and reflect the reader’s own spirit.



You’ve worked as an award-winning crisis counselor for years. What place do you think journaling holds in the healing process?

Funny you should ask, because the conversations I’ve had regarding journaling led me with great purpose to make this book a reality. In my earlier books, I’ve presented stories because I believed they had significance and positivity, but with Every Day a Hope, I wanted to focus on healing, hope, and surviving specifically because of my hotline work.

One way to heal is to write everything down but keep only the positive. For instance, if you are using scraps of paper, throw the good things you’ve written in a box or a drawer, but get rid of all the negative notes. Say you are so angry right now or sad, write down anything at all that comes to mind. Write the way you feel, even hold the pen or crayon angrily or sadly if you want, but when you are done, rip it up and get rid of it. If what you wrote is in a notebook, tear out the page. Weeks or months later, if you look in the box or the drawer, especially on a bad day, you will find only positive reinforcement. This exercise can be very rewarding and empowering.

I believe the idea of a journal can be extremely beneficial for anyone, especially someone who has experienced trauma. The act of keeping lists or things one might put in a photo album or scrapbook all in one place can truly help the speed and quality of healing. “Journaling” can sound cool, but it can also sound intimidating, expensive, and like a lot of work to some people, including me. No one has to have an expensive journal or even a notebook, scraps of paper can serve a positive function. The important thing is to keep it positive and eliminate the negative.

Here are some things you could keep in a notebook: safety notes, safety planning, support contacts, resources, things you did on a good day, things that you like or used to like, songs or movies that make you happy, places you’d like to visit, photos of anything or anyone you like, random positive thoughts or quotes, observations. Don’t pressure yourself  and don’t feel you must start on page one. Start anywhere you please. Write sideways or upside down. I used to experiment a lot with texture, size, and color. It can be really exhilarating to use a roll of paper and paintbrush or sidewalk chalk.


What’s next for you? Is there another book in the works?


There is another book! It is titled Every Cloud a Dream, and it will explore themes of diversity and acceptance. Because of the book’s focus on dreaming, I will include more abstract and imaginary art. Attainable or not, we should have crazy, beautiful, and awesome dreams in our hearts and our heads: We should be dreamers!  I think it is going to be a delightful challenge.



You obviously love to write. What is your favorite part about the process? 

I think my favorite part about writing, as well as reading, is feeling like I am in a different world - whether it's a few minutes or many hours - it feels just like one giant moment of wholeness, enthusiasm, and focus. The feeling I get from writing is similar to that feeling when you wake up from the greatest dream and it lingers in your spirit for a while and you wish you could go back to sleep, only you're awake.


Is there any part of writing which you would rather eat worms than do?

To be honest, when I was little, I read the book called How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell, so I know it can't be that bad.  Plus, I ate cricket tacos in Washington DC last year. However, in the spirit of the question I’ll say, at the moment, it is cleaning my chicken coop. My three hens (Henrietta, Gertrude and Esther) lay green eggs (totally true) and are total slobs. Worms sound really, really good right now. 


Green eggs? I'll have to have a talk with my own chickens and see if I can't get them to lay some of those.
But if you read Thomas Rockwell as a child, I'm betting you loved for books to transport you to different worlds. What was your biggest wish as a child?

Wow! This is a great question. I grew up a little differently than most people, so I always wished to be allowed just to read. Books were and still are the most important thing in my life in many ways. As a child I wanted to create and have people feel good about what I created. I spent many summers painting rocks, using colored markers (still love them) and trying to make sagebrush and wildflower perfumes in paper cups by the side of a river. I really wish the perfumes had caught on: If you've not grown up near sagebrush, you just don't know what you're missing.


Thanks again, Marci!

Before I go out and lecture my chickens about those eggs, here's a quick glimpse at her new book. If you want to take a peek at my review, feel free to head over to Bookworm for Kids!



Through tiny stories and illustrations, Every Day a Hope encourages and empowers readers to examine emotionally difficult issues, while instilling confidence, introspection, and creativity. In each page, Marci M. Matthews addresses familiar concepts in a unique manner, designed to evoke thoughts, feelings, changes in perspective, and the ability to embrace the positive. The concepts in Every Day a Hope are taken from Matthews' work with survivors, but the book is accessible to anyone who wants to find new ways to approach life with a positive outlook. Accompanying pages encourage readers to embark on their own explorations by asking questions and providing space to draw, write, keep lists, and create in whatever ways inspire them the most. Marci M. Matthews is an author, artist, philanthropist, and Certified Advocate. A survivor herself, she is the founder of the Grace Initiative Foundation Tree, a charitable organization dedicated to the healing and prevention of sexual violence. In 2013, Marci received the RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) HOPE Award for Fighting Sexual Violence and Helping Survivors. She volunteers as an online and phone hotline staffer, a hospital advocate and more.








2 comments:

  1. Hi, Marci! ^_^

    I remember reading "How to Eat Fried Worms!" It's been so long! And I love green eggs, by the way. It seems so unique. I love the comparison made to dreams. When a dream is really good, I just want to stay asleep and finish it! And it's like that when writing (sometimes), too. :) Like, I could just stay in the world for years.

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  2. Looks like an amazing book. Many times I've been healed from both reading certain books as well as writing things out.

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