Sheleen and I are meeting at the Starbucks on Lake Drive in Kirkland’s downtown. Outside, rain falls from a gloomy sky. But in here, the climate is very different. Not only because it’s warm and dry but because of Sheleen’s life mission: happiness. It seems to surround her like a halo. It’s there in her smile and in her sparkling eyes. She is a kindred spirit! How lovely! You’re familiar with the old adage “Misery loves company?” —the same is true of happiness. Happiness loves company, too. Being in the company of Sheleen’s happiness makes this ol’ Starbucks feels like the best place in the world!
Sheleen Lepar directs her work specifically towards children. She knows that with the right ingredients such as gratitude and reflections that develop a deeper awareness, happiness can be crafted. When we think of kids, we think of happiness. That’s when we all were happy, right? I’m not so sure. I certainly was less burdened as a child, but I do remember lots and lots of unhappiness: trying to work out the social hierarchies at school, finding a way to belong, being sent to bed while the grownups stayed up, having to do the dull work of sweeping the stairs instead of playing outside on a sunny Saturday. I would have loved a tool with which to navigate the upheavals of childhood.
Sheleen has created such a tool: The Amazon bestseller, My Gratitude and Dream Journal. Sheleen does the gorgeous art, her mother, Helene Pam, the text.
What strikes me immediately as I turn the pages is the brightness and colorfulness that cause an instant uplift. The journal looks happy! Hot air balloons soar into a blue sky. Red-headed mushrooms with white polka dots sprout in a green meadow. Elephants entwine long trunks before an African sunset. From colorful kites to prickly cacti, from coral reefs to a wolf, howling at a moon that floats in a star-spangled sky, there’s something here for children from all over the world. (The world-wide feel makes sense, considering that Sheleen moved to the US from another continent—South Africa.) Because My Gratitude and Dream Journal is gender neutral, it will appeal to kids of every gender. As an added bonus, the illustrations avoid cutesiness. Hallelujah!
What strikes me second is that the My Gratitude and Dream Journal doesn’t talk down to children. Helene Pam understands the child’s mind—it isn’t all silliness and play in there. Children have deep thoughts and are capable of profound reveries. That’s what Helene’s words tap into and connect with. The journal announces this sensibility with its straightforward encouragement that “Life has special magic for those who dare to dream.” The first page upon which children can set down their thoughts—preferably in colorful crayons—is called, “My Dreams.” Next, the journal which is appropriate for kids of all ages, offers that “bridges of respect and acceptance build relationships that can bloom.” My Gratitude and Dream Journal allows children to develop a conscious relationship with their innate wisdom. It allows them to work out daily complexities and complications and to put into words the gratitude for the good that surrounds them.
Children are born with a wisdom that’s of startling depth. They are less experienced than us tall people, but their brains and bodies grow at tremendous speed and purpose. Supporting that purpose by directing it toward developing an inner life rife with self-reflection is Sheleen and Helene’s recipe for helping children learn the life skills that bring lasting happiness. The My Gratitude and Dream Journal says so on page one: “This book will remain a wide open door to all that you’ve dreamed and are grateful for.” That’s something we all can use: A door, an invitation, and a guide to happiness.
Our time together has been so enjoyable, it’s hard to part. Sheleen and I promise each other to meet again, perhaps even collaborate in some way to support each other in spreading the skills that lead to happiness. The thought warms my heart as I duck out into the rain—feeling glad for my hat—and make a dash for my car.
Sheleen Lepar has a passion for everything creative. She loves taking a concept, bringing it to life, and using this gift to inspire others. Together with her mother, Helene Pam, they create products and experiences with the mission to spread happiness and inspire young minds. Their latest being #1 Amazon Best-Seller, My Happy Place Journal and Amazon Best-Seller, My Gratitude and Dream Journal. They love teaching children to become deep thinkers, helping them to find the confidence to believe in themselves, and empowering them to achieve anything they set their minds to. Their hope is also to inspire them to help others and the world in the process.
My Gratitude and Dream Journal
By Sheleen Lepar and Helene Pam
54 pp. Purple Splash Studios. $14.99
Available on Amazon
Ages: This journal is appropriate for kids of all ages