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The Artist The Cards The Symbols The Wisdom Encouragement

The Beginning

“Dreams come true. Without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them.” – John Updike

Almost 15 years ago, a self-help tool for children

settled as a seed in my mind. Initially, the idea

was a “system” that included:

Of utmost importance seemed to me to help children find their “inner wisdom.” Quite a feat when I look back over the years to children who were impulsive, destructive, socially inept or even self-hurting.  Certainly, the goal would not be to allow them free reign on their emotions–as so many alternative and holistic teachers appear to imply.  

The goal, then, became creating an instrument to help children understand and interpret their feelings and their world, and to be pro-active in making changes for improvement.  Take a look at this inspiring  passage by Anne Lamott in the book, “Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life,” wherein the author laments that so many children lose their in-born sense of intuition:

When we listened to our intuition when we were small and then told the grown-ups what we believed to be true, we were often either corrected, ridiculed, or punished. God forbid you should have your own opinions or perceptions–-better to have head lice.  If you asked innocently, “Why is Mom in the bathroom crying?,” you might be told, “Mom isn’t crying; Mom has allergies.”  Or if you said, “Why didn’t Dad come home last night?,” you might be told brightly, “Dad did come home last night, but then he left again very early.”  And you nodded even though you knew that these were lies, because it was important to stay on the adults’ good side. . . . So you may have gotten into the the habit of doubting the voice that was telling you quite clearly what was really going on.  It is essential that you get it back.**

The content of this self-tool was to be derived from many sources:  my own childhood (see My Story), years of education and training as both a teacher and a psychologist, decades of working with children and their families, and many personal experiences–with varying degrees of associated joy or despair.  

I spent many hours in those early years laboring over exact wording to both get the point across and stay at my intended early-elementary reading level. For many reasons, the project became derailed. I know I am NOT the same person who started this project over a decade ago. But even scars of the soul bring much wisdom and have something to contribute. I believe if the task was meant to be completed by now, it would have been.  So there is something about the timing that remains mysterious to me:  which generation of children will be the first to use this tool, who is the best partner in this endeavor, what new wisdom I bring because of life experiences…who knows?

** Lamott, Anne.  Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.  Anchor Books: New York, 1995 (pp. 110-111).

The Art

“A picture is a poem without words.” – Horace

Very early on, I began sharing my “words of wisdom” with my daughter who, at age 14, was in high school and still living at home. Larie amazed me with her ability to take my words and transform them into art. Ultimately, we decided it would not be feasible for her to illustrate the entire Project, yet her beautiful translations of my original ideas deserve to be shared with the world, and I have included them on my site in the section of Self-Help Ideas.

After that, with much help, I engaged on an extensive search and review of over 3200 artists’ works from around the world. Finally, I decided on the work of Mariagrazia Orlandini, an award-winning artist from Italy. Clearly, her enchanting paintings would speak to children, even those without reading skills. Of course, having an American writer (me) and an Italian artist (Grazia) communicating across the globe with entirely different languages made for an interesting, if sometimes tedious, process. Still, the final products are fabulous! I am eager for the day the Project will be published and shared with children everywhere.

The Intention

"The thing always happens that you really believe in; and the belief in a thing makes it happen." – Frank Lloyd Wright

Despite the excitement of the early work, especially the joy of Grazia’s art and the excitement of the children I was seeing in my office at the time, real life intervened in the form of various crises I would never have predicted. I hesitate to say these events “interfered” with the Project, because my deepest belief is that there must be some Divine plan to all this: the timing must not be quite right yet.

Regardless, the Project was never officially launched, although I continue to hold it in my heart. I believe my writing can stand as a beacon of light and hope for despondent or perhaps simply confused children everywhere. I am guided by the idea that had I only had a tool like this as a child, my life would have had so much less pain, so much more comfort.  

Since I view a major part of my life purpose as easing the suffering of children, at this point, what “the Project” means to me is an opportunity to pass on wisdom to this new, emerging generation.  My writing is an opportunity to take the heartaches and triumphs, the betrayals and the lessons learned, the tricks of the trade, and the ideas that work, and to pass them on with conviction to these little people.   

Children who learn self-help strategies and develop resilience do not need to make the same mistakes and be hurt in the same ways I have witnessed and worked with. Certainly, they will make their own mistakes, but they’ll carry with them a tool for self-discovery, enlightenment, and strength to cope in the world.

The Project:

Higher Intelligence

The Future

"The Noah rule: Predicting rain doesn't count; building arks does." – Warren Buffett

I still see this Project as a way of passing on my knowledge–-my days and years and decades of listening to children and their caregivers.  I visualize the Project as a big box of wisdom with a beautiful ribbon of fun wrapped around it. The idea is to, “Take what you can, use what fits, and pass on the rest.” At the end of the day, what the Project means to me is . . . Hope.

And now the time appears right to take the next leap of faith, putting the essence of the project out into the world.  

Although the  SITE IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION,  it is available for review at this time.  The product itself  has not yet been published, as we are in the fundraising stage.  Check out

Artwork by Mariagrazia Orlandini.  

Copyright by Charlene Messenger, Ph.D.  

All Rights Reserved.

The Status

"Perseverance is a great element of success. If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody."  – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Through the nine years since its inception, the Project has undergone so many revisions, it has in effect been completely “overhauled.”  Twice, I have been on the brink of receiving an advance from a publishing house to complete the work, and both times some inexplicable tragedy–including the death of my marketing agent–has prevented things from moving forward. These losses and setbacks led me to put the Project away for a few years, as if I was grieving the loss of “what might have been.”

Only recently have I been able to pull out all the art and drafts and work on the Project again with a sense of joy instead of sadness. I am now making revisions, but more importantly I’m actively seeking support and success through unique avenues.  The Messenger Institute continues to receive donations, and I am applying for various grants and networking with associations and non-profit organizations whose focus is on children.