Last week, Peyton was the feature story and cover image of the localGeorgetown View magazine. This is a very polished and professional publication that comes out every few months and is (as far as I know) free to Georgetown residents. I’ve always admired their high – gloss finish, as it often reminds me of Texas Monthly. They usually have 1 or 2 feature stories, about 6 smaller stories and lost of local information, plus plenty of ads from local businesses. Overall, it’s a beautiful magazine that is created to showcase the uniqueness of Georgetown, Texas.
Along about February, their Creative Director, Carol Hutchison, contacted me about putting Peyton’s story in the magazine. I was immediately both honored and intrigued. It had been 3 months since Peyton died and I was eager to find ways to keep his story alive. Having read each issue that came in my mail, I knew they would present his story in a tasteful way and would help to honor Peyton’s legacy. It didn’t take me long to agree, and I was then connected with Michaela Cain, the writer. Michaela is a well respected young writer and is also a children’s pastor at a church in Round Rock. I knew her heart would be in the same place as mine.
The interview was scheduled and Michaela agreed to meet me at East View High School during my conference period. At first, I was a little bit nervous about her recording the interview (mostly because I hate how my voice sounds), but after a few minutes, her easy and sweet demeanor put me completely at ease. She didn’t pepper me with questions, but instead just let me tell the story of Peyton in any sort of rambling way I chose. We talked about everything – from Peyton’s premature birth, to my divorce from his father, to his love of reading and cats, to his funny and quirky spirit and yes, to the torment he suffered from years of being bullied. I wanted her to have a complete picture of my sweet boy. He was not ONLY a bullied child. He was so much more than that, and I wanted to make her see that. We then talked about Peyton’s death and the birth of Kindness Matters. I was able to share how the campaign began by a simple magnet on my sister’s refrigerator and how it grew after a beautiful write up by Joyce May in the Williamson County Sun, which led to local TV coverage that would be picked up by the AP wire and shown in 4 other states. It was interesting to talk about my “grass-roots” message and sort of relive how it went from a way to ease my soul to a national campaign. I know I’ve said it before, but Kindness Matters has become something that I never imagined. I never knew it would grow like it has and touch so many people the way it has. I always say I’m overwhelmed, but that word is certainly inadequate.
A few months later and several emails and follow up questions later, I met with Shelley Dormont, the photographer. She happily met me at my house and was able to get a feel for who I am before she started shooting. Now, I’ve stood behind the lens of a camera for many years, but I’ve rarely been the subject. It was a little awkward for me because I don’t think I take very good pictures. However, she was so fun and relaxed that I became relaxed too. She made it much easier to be the “model,” which is not an easy thing to do at all! We hung out for over an hour as she busily snapped away; she even got pictures of Peyton’s dog, Toby!
Finally, after months of preparation, the Peyton edition of the magazine came out. Thankfully, a friend of mine texted me about it before I went to the mailbox, so I wasn’t startled upon finding it. I mean, I knew it was coming, but to see Peyton’s beautiful face on the cover of a magazine was still a bit unreal. Once I sat down to read it, I was, of course, moved to tears. It was so eloquent and it really seemed to capture Peyton’s and my voice. It said just what it needed to say. The balance between sharing Peyton’s history and telling about the creation of Kindness Matters was exactly right. I didn’t want the story to be too heavy, and while it is most definitely a sad story, I’m happy that the article ended on the positive things that have been done in Peyton’s honor.
Since the magazine came out, the response has been amazing. I’ve gotten countless emails of love and support from people all over the community. There have been just as many similar message on the KM Facebook page too. But the funniest thing is that I’ve now been “recognized” several times by people in town. This happened a couple of times before the magazine, but not like it has now. One of he first times, I was at Thundercloud Subs and another customer came over, out of the blue, and asked if she could hug me. She then told me that she’d come to Kindness Matters Day and was following us on FB. She told the sandwich maker, “You’ve got a celebrity in your store!” and I was then sufficiently embarrassed! But she was very nice and so supportive that I couldn’t help but love her too! In the last week, similar things have happened on the Georgetown Square, at a training I was in, at Which Wich and at the local Walgreen’s. Maybe its because I always wear a Kindness Matters bracelet that they know its me? Or maybe, and this is what I hope, Peyton’s story has touched them in such a way that his face and mine are sort of etched in their memory. Either way, I’m flattered each and every time, but…I have to be honest and admit that its still a little bit weird!
I guess the point of me writing all of this is twofold. First, I want to be sure that the folks at Georgetown View magazine know how much I appreciate everything they’ve done for Peyton, for me and for Kindness Matters. Second, I want everyone to know that I appreciate all the words of support and especially the hugs I’ve been given. All of this has really changed who I am as a person, for the better. And I have the good people of Facebook and Georgetown, Texas to thank for that.
This is the link to the online version of the Georgetown View. I’m not sure how long it will feature Peyton’s story, but I’m sure it will be a couple more weeks.