I’ve met a lot of amazing people in my life. Individuals who have taught, guided, and inspired me. Todd Parr is on this list. As I write this week’s blog I am trying my very hardest not to “fan girl” out, but it’s hard when it comes to Todd.
Let’s start from the beginning, as it’s a very good place to start.
Several months ago Saleem Hue Penny and I shot a spot for No Small Matter about teaching unity, kindness, and peace. During the video Saleem gave a shout out to Todd Parr and his Peace Book, and tweeted a message to Todd. Much to our surprise, Todd wrote back! Within a week we had exchanged several emails and planned a trip to visit Todd in California.
For weeks leading up to the trip I was a ball of nerves. I made Chris, my director, drive around the block twice because I was too nervous to knock on the door. Meeting Todd was a big deal. His writing had impacted me and my classroom so massively that I didn’t want to disappoint him. As I climbed the stairs to his adorable home, all fears were laid to rest.
Before I even reached the door Todd was there. His smile overwhelmed me. All the nerves left my body as he gave me a massive hug. I instantly felt an immediate connection. Over the next few hours Todd was the best sport; having to deal with camera set ups, a cooking segment, and everything that goes into a production. While the videos we made are some of my favorite footage we’ve posted, the greatest moments happed when the camera was off.
We shared tales of Chicago, memories of restaurants past, and the success of our Chicago Cubs. We exchanged stories of our families and the people we love. We talked about life’s paths and the mystery and excitement of the future. Todd told me something during this chat that I’ve thought of every day since our meeting.
Todd explained that life has path, that the people we meet, that the opportunities which present themselves happen for a reason. It is important to take off the blinders and be open to the world around you.
Todd’s wisdom is reflected in his own path. From an assistant manager at a Taco Time, to a flight attendant, to a celebrated author. From sketching Snoopy to It’s Okay to Make Mistakes. Todd is the perfect example of what can happen to you when you follow your passion and are open to the possibilities of life.
“You can do anything that you want to do. It may take a little longer than you want, but don’t give up.” -Todd Parr