Me, on the day of my high school graduation, January 1997.
Like everyone, my life has seen its highs and lows: I had a two-story playhouse that stopped traffic when I was five and couldn't afford to see a doctor when I was fifteen. I have a college degree that I didn't personally pay for, and can also tell you what it's like to live in Manhattan while barely making five figures. Fortune has favored me this year and yet I have no idea what the situation will be like twelve months from now. Or two. I was lucky to be born into privilege (even when it didn't last) and, for all of my self-made success as an adult, I would never conceal the fact that early opportunities paved the way. When I went to volunteer in a public school in New Orleans as a college freshman, I was stunned as a chunk of plaster fell out of the ceiling as I walked up the stairs. It was the first time that I understood why people talk about public education as being in crisis and how different my experience was growing up in an affluent Maryland suburb (although I did notice when I went to visit my same-age cousin's kindergarten class in Mississippi that they weren't reading in class, a fact my mother asked me kindly not to mention again). Tonight at a board of directors meeting for Girls Write Now, I was elected chair of the board by my colleagues. It means so much to me to have such an incredible organization put its faith in my leadership abilities. Girls Write Now is New York's premier creative writing and mentoring organization for high school girls. In New York City, one of the most influential cities in the world, almost half of high school girls will not graduate. I barely graduated myself, but I did, and went on to ever better things. If you enjoy reading Lux Lotus, please make a donation to Girls Write Now today. We'd like to pay our few staff employees more of a living wage next year. We'd like to move to a more vibrant space with better fundraising and event opportunities (my position is fully volunteer, with a fundraising commitment of $2,000 per year). We'd like to serve many more members of the next generation of writers and leaders and thinkers and doers. Every dollar you donate goes further than you could ever know (although if you're in New York, you can see it in action on January 17). If you make a donation, online, or through Facebook, or send in a check, please tell me, so that I can make a donation on December 20th to match it, with love for the holidays from everyone who reads Lux Lotus all around the world. Love, Lauren