When a child is born into a family part of the fun comes from waiting and watching for her natural talents to unfold.
When Sarah Jane Schulze was born to my brother Dr. Richard Schulze Jr. and his caring wife Donna Schulze, her first gift was to bless us all with so much joy.
Sarah Jane became the first blood grandchild born to my mother Jane Espy.
And because I never had human babies of my own, she became a little girl I watched over with an interest far exceeding my duties as her godmother.
I delighted in holiday crafts of dyeing Easter eggs and making gingerbread houses with Sarah Jane.
I would pile my car with boxes of gemstone beads and special lamps for beading to make the four and a half hour drive down to Savannah so that Sarah Jane and her friends could make jewelry with me.
Like many young children Sarah Jane always delighted in painting and drawing.
But unlike others she also seemed to have an innate understanding that her talents could actually pay off.
As legend has it, she and her good friend held a for-profit art show one day and she wrote at the bottom of a drawing of apples, “Give Sarah Jane one dollar.”
Fast forward to the past two years.
One of my bestest of BFFs, Nina Lynn, had recently published her first children’s book, You’re the One.
You’re the One is about a mother’s love, about unconditional love and about the heart-opening joy that comes from loving a little child so much.
There are many reasons Nina and I have become so close.
We’re both nutritionists who studied with Dr. Diana Schwarzbein, M.D. In 2005 I convinced Nina to come with me to Canada to train with my mentor in healing, Sue Maes (I’m highly convincing and can talk you into all kinds of things that are actually really good for you).
Nina owned two gyms down in Florida and had years of experience as a dancer and studying all kinds of therapeutic movement, including when we met at a conference with Paula Chek.
As we followed parallel paths, we often got together to trade healing sessions. Nina would come to visit me in Atlanta or we would meet on video conference to assist each other, discuss the latest techniques or talk about how we could improve our work.
Above and beyond our mutual passion for natural healing, Nina and I also share a dedication to being truly happy.
Although many people want to earn a good living or make a difference in the world, often the minor detail of what it actually takes to be a happy person gets overlooked in the quest for fortune and fame.
In December 2015 during a particularly painful transition in my life, Nina came to stay with me for a week. I wanted to move beyond my challenges and Nina wanted to readjust her line of work.
Even though I consider Nina to be a healer of equal power and talent to myself, Nina loves working with children.
After days of healing work together, Nina decided to take a job as a nanny so she could hold babies at her heart all day long.
The truth is that you are really only ever a baby or a puppy a way from pure, unadulterated joy.
You just have to figure out how to make room in your life so that you can get your baby or puppy fix on a regular basis.
For Nina, with her two boys and three grandchildren living in California and North Carolina, that meant taking a job as a nanny in Maryland.
For me doing healing work in Atlanta, that meant including my rescue girl Belle and her successor Dixie as my fluffy four-legged assistants.
During her time nannying, Nina began writing sweet little baby books.
As she wrote them, Nina would read them to me.
And me being me of course I encouraged Nina to publish them.
After Nina published You’re the One, I showed Nina a picture by Sarah Jane I have framed in my guest room.
I knew that Nina’s books would do even better if Sarah Jane would be her artist.
So in the summer of 2018, Nina sent Sarah Jane the manuscript for Gracie and Sammy.
Sarah Jane began working with her art teacher on a series of 12 illustrations.
Nina and I didn’t hear anything about what was going on when we vacationed in France together in October 2018, but by November 2018 when I went home to Savannah for Thanksgiving, Sarah Jane showed me her illustrations.
You couldn’t help but love everything about them.
Sarah Jane had perfectly captured the message of Nina’s new book, which is about friendship between a little girl and a little boy, and her illustrations told the story of Gracie and Sammy while celebrating their two different personalities.
Rama became my BFF as a result of designing seven of my eight book covers, doing the layout on seven of my books and co-teaching social media for authors with me for two and a half years. I still consult with Rama on all matters authorial.
Rama came to visit me in Atlanta as he was putting the finishing touches on the book and Nina, Rama and I had a conference call to discuss the final details.
Gracie and Sammy was published on December 14, 2018, precisely one day after Sarah Jane’s 14th birthday.
Although I am proud of Sarah Jane for being a straight A student at Savannah Country Day and for being a kind and compassionate friend, I am now so proud of her for being a published illustrator.
Please join me in celebrating the wonderful accomplishment of my dear friend Nina Lynn and my niece Sarah Jane Schulze.
May their new book bring great joy to all who read it!