Welcome to What Does the World Need Now? In this series I decided to ask the people that I have come to know through blogging and social media to offer their opinions of what they feel is troubling this world of ours. I also asked them to share their ideas and views on how we might move forward to leave behind a better world for the next generation. The subject is very broad, since we seem to have so many issues that need addressing, and I have left it to my guests to choose their own selection. The aim is to find as many differing views and opinions as possible including those regarding politics, religion, education and other social issues.
Today my guest is Kim Gosselin from the Greater St. Louis area of the United States. She is an award winning author, blogger and public speaker
Like most of the bloggers that I follow, Kim has a wonderful way with words and it is clear that family values, community and care for others are very high on her list of priorities.
Kim has loved books from an early age and at college she also felt at home on the stage in plays and musical theatre. As a young mother, she found that life had some challenges for her to face when her two young children suffered from chronic conditions. Insulin dependent diabetes and asthma.
To educate others parents and children, Kim set up a successful business writing and producing picture books explaining the conditions. Over the next seven years Kim wrote 16 children’s books and published a total of 26 titles successfully marketing over 3 million books. Eventually, the family and her growing sons required more of her attention and Kim sold the company to a New York Publishing house while retaining her author’s copyright.
However Kim has been very much involved with organisations that focus on children’s health and is a former board member of The American Diabetes Foundation and The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. In fact one of her titles, Taking Diabetes to School, is still being lovingly dropped into JDRF’s “Bag of Hope” as a gift to newly diagnosed children even today, nearly 20 years after being written.
Her grown family and grand-children and a “Doodle” Dog are now the recipients of undivided love and attention and it is family that I wanted to ask Kim about first before moving onto the four core elements of the interview.
Thank you Kim for joining us today. You talk about your family in your blogs and it is clear that you are all very close. Can you tell us about your childhood and teen years and what key experiences and people made the most impression on you and how they have influenced you as an adult?
Thank you for having me, Sally. I am so honoured to be asked. Yes, family is a number one priority for me. I am the oldest of five children with thirteen years between myself and the “baby boy” of the family.
When I was 15 months old, my younger brother was born with a hole in his heart. Back then, doctors wouldn’t do surgery until he was a toddler of three. All those months and years my young mother lived with two babies, not knowing if her youngest would survive. His fragile condition probably triggered her life of mental struggles. Although she was the best mother possible to all five of us, she never truly escaped her demons. To this day, Sally, I have great sadness for her needless suffering. How ironic that at babyhood, my fate was set to live a life honored by Chronic Conditions. I use the word, “Honored,” because the people I’ve met through life and work, together with my relatives and my children have amazed me in so many ways. I’ve been blessed, Sally.
Kim and her sisters as close as ever.
As a child a favorite past-time was using my imagination to play make-believe, probably an escape in some sort of way. I loved telling stories to friends in overgrown fields or putting on plays in our basement for little ones. When Labor Day came around, the neighborhood kids gathered to raise money for Jerry Lewis by putting on carnivals for MDA. My friends chose me to be the Fortune Teller every year, sitting me at a covered card table with a plastic “crystal ball” on top. Beneath it was a slot hiding each child’s school photo, depending on who sat across from me. After telling someone’s fortune, I’d yank off the colored scarf to reveal the chosen one’s picture! Red heads or blondes would plunk down quarters before running away, screaming with eyes all a ’wide. So fun it was, Sally!!
During my pre-teen years I discovered the magic of reading, where I spent hours hiding in our three-story historical library. Throughout the years I devoured everything from picture books to heavy volumes of Shakespeare. Whenever visiting home, I hurry to skip flights of stairs in order to run fingers across spines of weathered books. Such memories live in that building!
Upon entering high school I met extraordinary teachers who left great impressions on me. Although none of us knew it at the time, fate was already stepping in. Together, they gave me that certain ‘spark’ in life, helping me to believe that anything was possible. Dreams and wishes came true at a later date when creativity was needed to form a children’s publishing company for kids living with chronic conditions and/or special needs.
Parenting in this modern age is more challenging than ever before. What do you believe are the key elements to bringing up children safely and with the ability to fulfil their potential?
First of all, it’s definitely a tough balance. So much has changed from the time I raised my own children. And, my baby grandchildren are being raised even differently. Sadly, it isn’t possible for kids to be brought up as freely as when we were children. At the same time, I would never want to instil ‘fear’ in child. Awareness is key. Education is a must, but at the appropriate age levels. Even kids as young as toddlers of two can begin to learn the difference between proper touching, stranger danger, and when to say, “NO!”
As your children grow and convey their wishes and dreams, encourage them to believe in such. If you do, they will to! Help them to the best of their ability, but be careful not to push a long-lost fantasy of your own into their hearts. If they choose to be a waste management supervisor with gusto and happiness, let them “Go for it!” It never mattered what “degree” my children earned in life, the most important thing to me was their health and happiness. Of course, being able to support themselves financially was always nice too!
The theme behind the show is to discover the varied views of people of all ages and all walks of life on how we might improve the world for those who follow us.
Firstly, perhaps you could tell us about the most useful lesson that you learned in life and how it has impacted you both as an adult and a parent?
Wow! That is a hard one, as I’ve learned so many Life Lessons, particularly while raising chronically ill children. If I had to choose just one, Sally, I believe it would be to “let go of things I can’t control.” There was once a time when I was having great difficulty trying to cope with helping my children through their illnesses. I was worn out. Spent. A very wise therapist took my shaking hands in the two of her own and brushed my weeping eyes one by one to look directly into the soul of them. “Kim,” she said, “No matter what you do, you cannot save them. Only God can do that.” For the very first time in many years I ‘got it.’ Finally, I had permission to ‘let go,’ to live my life and join the family who long awaited me. God would take care of the rest.
There are many issues that are very concerning about the present and the future of the world. It is clear that health is an important issue for you but I am going to put you on the spot and ask you to name three key areas of life that you consider are vitally in need of focus and how you feel we might improve and resolve the issues going forward?
1. Adversity and Tolerance: I’ve always considered myself to be a people person, loving and respectful of all faiths and religions, colors and races, creeds and ethnicities. Everyone is welcome in my home. Yet I live in a city very near the area where protests and riots have taken place for many months. Sadly, I see no end in sight. “Justice” seems to be a word without meaning, for no one can agree on the same definition. All that has taken place in this city that I love and share with others…is this truly the answer? People tell me that unrest has always existed here, lurking beneath the surface which saddens my heart. Now it often propels to an unimaginable magnitude. Protests have left hardworking proprietor’s businesses in ruins or completely without patrons. Buildings have been burned to the ground, some by surrounding neighbors. Others are painted with graffiti or boarded-up and empty.
Yes, I understand anger and I certainly understand frustration in life. I understand the right to free speech and respect everyone’s right to protest. What I do not understand is the rationale behind all of the destruction in the very neighborhood where the protesting is taking place. Isn’t there a better way? How does this help anyone? What does this solve? Please explain this to me…please? What about the innocents who are trying to make an honest living, the children going to school or toddlers who wish to ride a trike? How about the elderly who lay awake because they cannot sleep and now have no place left to shop? Who will be there to help them? I try so hard to understand. Why can no one come together?
I don’t know how this can be resolved. “Experts” from all over our nation, even the world, have been wracking their brains, discussing the issues on television or have been out among the public grasping for answers. No one wants to ‘budge,’ Sally. Globally it seems to be the same when it all should be so very easy. Meet with one another. Shake a hand. Learn to trust. Someone has to begin a conversation. Don’t be afraid to join in! Hug your neighbors. Look each other in the eye. Really look at one another. Be human for God’s sake. People are people. Love each other. In reference to your song, Sally. “What the World Needs Now…. Oh, if it were only that easy….
2. Technology: The very ideals to make our lives easier have made things more difficult in many ways. Technology was supposed to give us “more time.” Instead, many of us seem to have less time. Does it even make sense??? Send an e-mail or text someone. In an instant the receiving end expects an immediate answer. Our children and grandchildren have no down time, Sally. I never see my children able to relax or take a break. I worry about them being over-stimulated. Will the next generation and the one after that all end up being medicated some day for anxiety? Is it all just too much??? What about our grandchildren? Is it possible for a little one to curl in a cosy corner to read words upon a paper page? Can kids in a group of four play a board game or watch a movie in a theatre with popcorn in their hands??? Wherever I go I see little fingers moving up and down, back and forth. They’re swiping to the right and punching ever so light. Listen, Sally….You can almost hear the “tap-tap-tapping and click-click-clicking” sounds from early dawn until the dark of night.
For our children and grandchildren this technology will be their normal, I suppose.
They will know nothing else, which is good in a way. We will have to tell them stories of “the old days,” Sally, when we were young. When books were read from pages held in the two of our hands. When “play” was riding bikes till dark or running in the sand.
Technology will continue to improve. It will get better. Faster and smaller, easier and
more efficient. Our children will adapt to all of this change without any problems, hopefully. I must remember the most important lesson I’ve learned in life,“Do not worry about things I cannot control.”
3. Government Waste: Although I vote, I’m not much of a political junkie. Still, I see so much waste within the Government that it often makes me sick to my stomach. I’m all for helping those in need, but it bothers me terribly to know of so many who could physically work but simply choose not to because they get a check in the mail each month. Cycles and cycles of families, men and women who literally make excuse after excuse why they can’t get a job. “I don’t have a car.” I do have a car, but I’m sick this week.” “My boss yelled at me.” “I can’t work with a baby at home.” “They want me to work, but why bother???” It never ends, Sally.
Not only do people get money for food and shelter, they get free health care together with much, much more. The cycle continues. As their children grow older, they too learn the system, often repeating it. I’ve even seen third generations repeating the cycle! Personally, I know of many who have sold their food and/or shelter assistance for drugs. Afterwards, additional help comes in from parents or relatives who are in denial until another government check rolls in.
There is so much abuse of the system that it would take major efforts on both sides of our Congress to try to solve even a tiny drop in the bucket of water waste before any help begins.
What I would love to see happen is for every welfare recipient pass a spot-on drug test before they are ever handed a check. I know, “the check is in the mail.” So how is this supposed to happen? Well, Sally, I never said I had all the answers….just a few ideas.
As a final word do you have a piece of advice or perhaps a quotation that you would like to share?
Yes, I believe if everyone followed the Bible verse below, much of what we’ve just discussed could easily be solved. “What Does the World Need Now?
Thank you very much for having me, Sally. It’s been a true pleasure.
My thanks to Kim for her thoughtful insights on how we might all make a difference to not just our neighbourhood today but on a more global scale in the future when we hand over the reins to the next generations. It is clear from her views that we all have very similar issues in most of our home countries and local communities. Perhaps we should all stop inventing the wheel and put our combined heads together to resolve these important challenges. It needs feet on the ground and common sense collaborations at all levels and more publicity for those projects that are desperately trying to make a difference.
Please comment as both Kim and I would welcome your views and if you wish to share and reblog please fire away – make our day.
Have a safe and happy week. Best wishes Sally