Johnny J. Kean, a faculty member at Montgomery Academy
illustrated a children’s book written by Jamie Tripp Utitus
Not everyone has MS (multiple sclerosis) but everyone has something. It is such a simple, ungarnished truth yet such a profound statement.
It is this very simple and powerful statement that is the very premise of nj.com Parental Guidance blogger, Jamie Tripp Utitus’, Ugly Like Me blog and at the heart of her new children’s book, Zoe Bowie Sings, Despite All Sad Things
To understand the story behind the story of her children’s book, we must rewind half a decade.
A little over five years ago, Jamie had just given birth to her second child. She was training for another marathon. Jamie kept falling. Convincing herself that her weakness was related to just having had a baby, Jamie began to train more ambitiously.
It was not long before Tripp Utitus realized that it was not a matter of ambitious training. Something else was challenging her.
When the doctors advised Jamie of her Multiple Sclerosis, this mother of two young children, full-time teacher, avid runner, and active community member could have been devastated. In fact, it was depressing.
Jamie will be the first to candidly let you know it was not all sunshine, unicorns, and smiley faces. She doesn’t pretend it was. She, however, did something profound with her truth. She took her mixed bag of emotions; the anger, the overwhelming sadness, the hope, the faith, the humor, and even some gratefulness, and decided to share her emotions with the world.
She shared all of this by starting a blog, Ugly Like Me. The blog offered others an insider’s view into the world of life with MS. It offered interconnectedness. Jamie became inspired by others who reached out to her. She served as a source of hope to others.
Her blog, which recently was awarded America’s Best Blog by Healthline 2014, became popular with both those who are somehow affected by MS in their own lives and with people who have never dealt with the chronic disease. Her words served as a reminder to all that we all have something. We are all imperfect, flawed, and yet we are capable of extraordinary things and incredible courage.
It was this universal, interconnected message that Jamie wished to convey in her children’s book.
Her 800-word children’s book focuses on a sweet eight year-old girl who is dealing with both the addition of her new baby brother to the family and her mother’s new diagnosis of MS. Jamie’s goal was always to share the truth yet in a way that isn’t scary. There is beauty in the family’s imperfection and bravery in their creative ways of problem solving. There is hope in the message that things will be alright even though things may not seem okay.
It is such a powerful message to children of all ages and parents alike. It is an 800-word reminder of hope. It is a tale that reminds us of the uselessness of pity, the power of perspective, and the efficacy of the family unit. There is strength in togetherness.
Speaking of goals, Jamie continues to raise two children, write for MS comunitiies in 97 counties and Parental Guidance for nj.com, while writing her “big people book” based on her blog and relentlessly advocating for fair healthcare for patients for a cure for MS.
Jamie is also the keynote speaker at the Doctors 2.0 & You conference in Paris, France in June. The conference will focus upon how social media can be used to further progress dialogue between the patient, the doctor, and pharmaceutical companies.
Her shared story reminds us all that what we believe to be obstacles in our lives are often gifts. Her lovely tale underscores the importance of community. Her brave journey wildly emphasizes the profound beauty in our imperfections, the strength in sharing our flawed truths, and that we are never powerless when we have control over our own perspective.
“I left four years ago feeling like MS had won. I was able to walk in there the other day, shake Janice People’s hand, and dedicate a book to the library in honor of the first class I taught in Plainfield. They are now graduating high school. Walking in there with a book, in honor of them, I realized I won.”
You can arrange a reading with Tripp Utitus by contacting her publicist Ashley Manz at email@example.com, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.