Love That Lasts A Lifetime – An Exclusive Interview with Author Linda Higgins
Love Through A Child's Heart Files
Love is the most important thing in the world. - Michael Jackson
To build a sound home, you must first pour a firm foundation. If you add only walls and a ceiling, how can your house withstand any turbulent weather? This is also true about love. Love must be the prevalent foundation in ones life, before the beams of hope, trust, respect and forgiveness can be constructed. Eventually, these beams will be sheltered by the roof of peace you find inside yourself, enabling you to stand strong against any stormy situation.
Linda Higgins, author of The Power of Finding Ten Things You Love, and creator of the Ten Things I Love Challenge, has dedicated her life to empowering others through the written word of love and inspirational videos. Best known among the MJTP Community as Director of Community Development, Writer and Editor-In-Chief of the Newsletter for the Michael Jackson Tribute Portrait, credits Michael Jackson for unleashing her talent of writing from the heart. Linda continues to encourage others to find love within their own hearts, using that love to heal themselves and the world around them. She is also the author of a new fictional series called, Michael's Magic Box that can be found through her column in The Jam Cafe online magazine and the Michael Jackson Tribute Portrait.
Linda Higgins at Forest Lawn in Glendale June 2011
Interview Date: February 14, 2012
First, I would like to thank you Linda for doing this exclusive interview with us on this most appropriate day for celebrating love, St. Valentine's Day.
Heather: Many have come to know you through the empowering articles you have written, as Director of Community Development for the Michael Jackson Tribute Portrait. Please, share with our readers when you first became a Michael Jackson fan, and how did Michael inspire you to become a writer?
Linda: I first became a fan of Michael and the Jackson 5 when I saw them on the Ed Sullivan show in 1970. I remember lying on the living room floor on my elbows watching them sing “ABC” and loving every minute of it. When Michael broke off from the brothers to pursue his own career, my heart went with him. I used to daydream all the time about meeting him. I was so fascinated that he had all these exotic animals at his house in Encino and I always wished I could go see them. I feel very blessed that I got to grow up with him, so to speak, because I have many great memories.
I’ve always had a talent for writing, so Michael didn’t really inspire me to become a writer, but it is because of him that my writing has become inspirational. When he passed away, I was affected profoundly. The love that was unleashed in me took my creativity to a whole new level and it changed the way I express myself. Now, it comes from the heart.
Michael's Magic Box click on photo to read more.
Heather: Last December, it was announced through the Michael Jackson Tribute Portrait, that you are in the process of publishing a fictional book entitled, Michael’s Magic Box throughout the year 2012. Could you share with our readers briefly what it is about? Also, the special way this new book is being released, and why you chose to publish it this way?
Linda: Michael’s Magic Box is a fictional story about a girl named Isabella who gets a magic box that plays messages from Michael Jackson in an effort to help her live a life filled with love. It begins with her as a 7-year-old and follows her throughout her life as she receives and applies the messages she gets from him.
I decided to write this book because it is my heartfelt desire to ensure Michael's life has meaning beyond his passing. I think his messages of love, hope, and healing should be known by future generations forever, because I think he has some great ideas about how to make the world a better place. Writing this book gives me a way to share some of those messages in a unique, innovative way. I feel like I’m collaborating with him to put love back into the world.
I chose to publish it like this, because I want to give fans, and others who may be interested in the story, something to look forward to every month. I wanted to write something that would give Michael’s words meaning in a way that educates people about the power of love, engages their heart while reading it, and entertains them at the same time.
Ten Things I Love website link click here.
Heather: Last year you published your first eBook entitled, The Power of Finding Ten Things You Love, along with a website called Ten Things I Love. Why did you feel the need to publish such a book and launch the www.tenthingsilove.com website?
Linda: In This Is It Michael inspired his team by instilling in them a sense of purpose. He said, “We’re putting love back into the world, to remind the world that love is important”. Those words inspired me to do something to put love back into the world too.
Ten Things I Love came about after I saw Tito Jackson tweet something about Michael. He wrote, “When I came in contact with all that is wrong with people, he helped me to remember what is so right with people.” That’s when I understood that Michael was able to maintain such a strong capacity to love because he focused on what is right with people.
Ten Things I Love is a tool that helps people focus on what is right - with themselves, other people, and the world. I wanted to do something that was fun, but meaningful, so in keeping with the tradition of the MJTP, I decided to create a challenge and see if I could get 1,000,000 people to tell me ten things they love.
I wrote The Power of Finding Ten Things You Love, because I want to educate people about the power of love and help them put it to work in their lives.
Heather: In your book you mention on page 8, “As a society, we tend to fixate on the negative aspects of life, causing us to look at people with judgment, criticism, and condemnation.” Could you please elaborate more on why you believe as a society we are so quick to pass judgment on others and what approach you are taking to rectify this epidemic form of name calling?
Linda: I think we’re so quick to pass judgment on others because we’re so quick to pass judgment on ourselves. Many people struggle with feelings of inadequacy. They think they aren’t pretty enough, smart enough, talented enough, or loveable enough, for example, but thinking about yourself in that way hurts - because who you are is love. That’s why Michael sang “Love is the answer to all that I am”.
When you continually think about yourself in a negative way, you create negative feelings inside of you that are painful – a result of a separation from love. Judging and criticizing others is a way for people to feel better about themselves. It’s an attempt to find something worse in another individual than you see in yourself. If more people could learn to look at themselves through the eyes of love, they would no longer find it necessary to make someone else look bad in order to feel good.
The approach I take is to help people feel the love inside of them. Empowering them with positive thoughts, beliefs and attitudes accomplishes that. I take that approach in everything I do; in my work, my personal life and for Michael and this community.
Michael Jackson Auditorium at Gardner Elementary School, Los Angeles, CA, June 2011
Heather: In chapter 5, you discuss several “obstacles” or feelings that can dim the light of love. Many teens today deal with a compound array of emotions. One of the obstacles you mention is “hurt”. What advice could you give teens that have been hurt by a loved one, friend or maybe a bully? Also, why do you believe, “Respect is a principle that gives you power”?
Linda: I believe respect is a principle that gives you power because it is an attribute of love. When you treat someone with respect it shows that you value them as a human being. When people feel valued they are much more likely to respond to you in a positive way.
A beautiful example of this principle in action is the team who worked on getting Michael’s name uncovered from the auditorium of the Gardner Elementary School. From the very beginning, they treated the school district with respect. They didn’t try to shame or guilt them. There were no humiliation tactics. All team members conducted themselves with dignity and they encouraged other fans supporting them to act in a dignified manner as well. The school district responded positively to their actions and ultimately uncovered Michael’s name. They set the standard for how all things related to Michael should be handled in the future. I give them lots of kudos.
As far as giving advice to a teen who has been hurt, that would depend on the circumstances, but in general I would say to always remember that you are the one who controls the way you feel about yourself. The only way other people can hurt your feelings is if you have let their words or actions influence your opinion of yourself in a negative way. This is actually a subject I address in chapter 3 of Michael’s Magic Box.
Heather: In November 2001, Michael lectured at Oxford University about the need for the “Heal the World” foundation. In this famous speech, he stated, “If you enter this world knowing you are loved and you leave this world knowing the same, then everything that happens in between can be dealt with.” What do you think Michael was trying to convey about the relevance of love and why do you think he feel so compelled to make sure others knew they were loved?
Linda: That is one of my favorite quotes of Michael’s. In fact, those words are on the wall in my office. I think he felt compelled to make sure others knew they were loved because he understood the power of love. He knew the positive effects love can have on a person as well as the negative effects a lack of love can have on a person. He experienced both extremes in his lifetime.
In an article I wrote for the MJTP called, A Light of Truth About Michael Jackson, I described it this way, “In every generation, there are a handful of people who come into this world equipped with the ability to change it for the better because of their heightened sense of awareness about the power of love. Those people understand love, not as a feeling, but as a state of being, a way of relating to the world. They have a certain light about them; a way of living that encompasses being kind, caring, compassionate and empathic. Through their ability to connect to love, they have the potential to heal the world. Michael Jackson was one of them.”
I believe every human being on the planet has the need to feel like they matter to someone in this world and I think Michael understood that better than most. It’s one of the reasons he has such a loyal, dedicated fan base. He made his fans feel like family. His constant love, acknowledgment, and appreciation of his fans has made a difference for people all over the world in ways others outside of the MJ community couldn’t possibly know.
Michael said it best...Love is, the ultimate truth at the heart of all creation.
Heather: L.O.V.E. is a simple four-letter word when read, but it possesses a multitude of powerful emotions and feelings that can hurt or heal the heart. Through Michael's Magic Box in chapter 2, Michael leaves a message for Isabella that “Love is the most important thing in the world.” What does this statement mean to you? How can youth today put the power of love to work in their lives, and what might hinder them from doing so?
Linda: Contrary to what some people think, love doesn’t hurt. What hurts is a lack of love. Love heals. It doesn’t destroy. Love uplifts. It doesn’t tear down. Love is truth. It doesn’t lie. Love doesn’t condemn and it doesn’t criticize. As Michael sang in Heal the World, “Love is strong…it only cares for joyful giving.”
I think youth today can put the power of love to work in their lives by treating themselves and others with the attributes of love (which can be found in my book, The Power of Finding Ten Things You Love.) To heal the world, we first have to heal ourselves. That is the message in Michael’s song, "Man in the Mirror" – “If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, and then make a change.”
I agree with Michael’s statement that “Love is the most important thing in the world”, because love is a force in the Universe upon which everything revolves. Where there is no love, there is no life. When you stop letting yourself experience the things you love about life, or stop letting yourself love the people in your life, a piece of you starts to die inside. I know that love has the power to unite people. Communities, teams, and families who create a foundation built on love have a bond no one can break. Love has the power to heal our bodies, our lives, and the world. Michael said it best...Love is, “the ultimate truth at the heart of all creation”.
To learn how you can order your copy click here.
Heather: Linda, it has been an honor and a pleasure doing this exclusive interview with you today. Thank you for carrying on Michael's legacy of love for others. We look forward to reading the next chapter of Michael's Magic Box, as it is published each month through The Jam Cafe and the Michael Jackson Tribute Portrait.
Linda: Thank you, Heather.
Finding Love Through A Child's Heart,
- Heather, Director of Children's Awareness
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