A few weeks back, I had the amazing honor of meeting Scarlette Lewis, founder of Choose Love, the Jesse Lewis foundation.
We met during an intimate dinner hosted by two genius minds, Doug Harrison and Scott Duffy.
Doug and Scott brought us all together to mastermind around how to raise awareness about Choose Love, a Social Emotional Learning program (SEL). Their ultimate goal was to get the program distributed into more school systems throughout the United States.
The name of the foundation itself got me pumped. Little did I know how deeply Choose Love would touch me.
For those of you who don’t know, Jesse Lewis is the 6-year-old hero you may remember having read about in the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting (our nations’ largest school shooting massacre ever).
When the shooter came into Jesse’s 1st-grade class and started shooting at everybody, Jesse leaped to protect his teacher. One of the bullets ricocheted off of his teacher and hit Jesse, but it did not kill him. He was knocked down, but he was still alive.
Jesse noticed the gunman was having problems with his gun, as opposed to staying down to save his own life, he stood up and yelled to all the 10-12 remaining kids hiding under their desks to run for their life. The kids listened to Jesse and ran.
He saved all of those kids’ lives.
Then, the gunman shot Jesse.
~ Warrior ~
Generally speaking, the way of the warrior is resolute acceptance of death ~ Miyamoto Musashi
When Scarlett tells this story of her son, it’s as though she’s outlining what has become the “new normal” in schools today; school shootings and suicides.
Even though Scarlett is saddened by Jesse’s death, she is at peace with her sons’ decision, knowing his life will be remembered for “raising awareness and teaching people how to Choose Love.” She is filled with the deepest gratitude for the time that they did have together. She has surrendered grief for love, purpose, and forgiveness.
Like her son Jesse, Scarlett is a true inspiration, because she has also chosen love.
Throughout our dinner, I found myself constantly tear-jerked when Scarlett would talk about Jesse, but then she would pull me full circle and bring me back to love. It was amazing.
Scarlett shared so many precious insights and stories, always speaking about Jesse’s magic in the present, honoring all light and awareness raised in his passing.
The love, focus, and clarity that radiated through this woman literally made me blurt out loud mid-meal, “Scarlette, I love you”. She told me she loved me too and that we were soul sisters.
The next day, I dove into the book she gifted me, Nurturing Healing Love. It is a tender reflection of the love that Scarlett and Jesse shared. I couldn’t put it down.
As I read the book, I realized she was an earth angel, who channeled the divine and found the highest purpose in her sweet son’s transition. She gracefully allowed the message that was passed through her son’s death to come through her, and as she shared it with the world.
On each page, I learned more about Jesse, a lover of rubber ducks, learning, and being the protector of the family. It’s very mystical to see all of the clues this little 6-year-old warrior left behind and still shares with her.
He had a mission.
He was born a warrior and had a spirit so strong that he was able to guide his mom through what’s clinically known to be one of the most horrifying experiences any parent could ever have, the death of their child.
On the day of his funeral, Scarlet was still in shock. When she drove up to the funeral home, thousands of people were lined up to see him off. His bravery was an inspiration and had an impact on each one of their lives. Little did they know, that would only be the beginning of the impact Jesse would have on children all over the world, struggling to get through life, make their way through school, and have the social and emotional tools they need to thrive in today’s world.
It’s not surprising that during Jesse’s service, Scarlett looked to the far corner of the room, only to find a group of elder native chiefs from an Indian reservation up North. They told her that in the ceremony they felt a great spirit leave the planet and they wanted to come to honor him. That spirit was Jesse.
When I read this, I just balled. I couldn’t stop crying, like I am again right now, as I write this blog. I’m not only crying for the beauty represented by these spiritual beings’ presence, but also for the gift and power, and the little taste of magic, I get to take away from this.
That’s what happens when we’re inspired, we get to own a little bit of that magic and blend it into our own lives.
Nurturing Healing Love is as much about the Sacred Grieving process as it is about Jesses’ legacy.
I’m eternally grateful to have been allowed in to see and understand the tender spirit of griefs’ healer.
The further you read into the book, the more you see Jesse’s spirit everywhere, guiding and reassuring. Even in his death, he was not going to allow his mom to think that he wasn’t 100% committed to his choice, and he needed her. She listened.
Within the first year of Jesses’ passing, Scarlett founded Choose Love, the SEL curriculum.
That in itself is powerful beyond words!
They say the death of a child may be the worst trauma a human being can experience. The trauma and psychological implications are pages long. My grandma lost her son and never recuperated.
How did Scarlett do this? Spirit is the only answer. She listened.
Since the Choose Love Foundation was founded in 2013, the Seeds of Love curriculum has been implemented in over 50 countries and growing. The mission statement is: “to create awareness in our children and communities that we can choose love over anger, gratitude over entitlement, and forgiveness and compassion over bitterness. Our goal is to create a more peaceful and loving world through planting these seeds of wisdom”.
Scarlett passionately knows that if this boy who killed Jesse had gone through this program, none of this would have happened. The amount of child suicides and killings has escalated to out of control numbers. The need for this work is loud and clear.
After I read this book, I could better understand the Scarlett I met a few weeks ago. The woman who had floored me with her poise. A woman who has gone through hell, forgiven from the pit of her soul, and released herself into a journey to help others Choose Love.
There is no doubt that this is what Jesse came here to do and he chose a mom he knew he could count on.
It’s been three weeks since I read Nurturing Healing Love. I have a rubber duck that Scarlett gifted me as a reminder of Jesse and his warrior soul. I keep this memento, next to my tub. And every day when I see it, I tap into Jesse’s courageous spirit.
Of course, I immediately wanted to produce a fashion show fundraiser, and get behind Scott and Doug to get Chrome or Apple on board and do whatever I could to help bring this amazing movement to more schools and people. But since nobody’s going out right now and all meetings are on hold, I think the most beautiful thing I can do is share my experience, so you could now have a piece of it too.
Here are a bunch of links about Choose Love and what they are up to. Tap into something near you and get involved. During this Stay At Hometime, below are some free links to introduce to your kids. I think these are the most important lessons they’ll ever learn.
I hope you enjoy!