We had the good fortune of connecting with Sonja Wendt and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sonja, how does your business help the community?
I was compelled to write my Children’s Story’s, under the overall theme and therefore creating of the business, Cultivating Compassion in Children, because of what was happening in the community and the world around me. My community and world need more compassion. What better place to start, than a child. There were child suicides happening within miles of my home. I received ads about being ugly if I didn’t use some beauty products like wrinkle creams and hair color. I saw my aging dad being misunderstood by his grandchildren because of disabilities acquired from the normal process of aging. I could see a child being excluded from others on the playground or at lunch because they were “different,” and the hurt and confusion expressed on their little faces. Stories and messages continued to come to me addressing these issues and the urgency to share these with children to help give them a greater understanding, compassion, and sensitivity to these situations. Children may be innocently oblivious to many circumstances and not aware of what is going on. They may misunderstand a particular human interaction or be unaware of how big an impact they may have on someone else, both positively and negatively. My books address these issues. Each story starts and ends with Seymour and Serina Seed, the seeds that are being planted and nurtured in a child. The stories are varied from a little girl and her grandmother on a porch in discussion, a boy with his grandfather on a Colorado trail, a story of a sunflower blowing into a perennial garden, to a caterpillar with lots of other bug characters, that does not feel like he belongs. After the story there are questions to engage the child with the reader to guide them in the learning of the message intended to share through the story. I hope, even with one child at a time who reads and understands the message in my books, that our community and world will become more compassionate, kind, and understanding.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Compassion is greatly needed, especially in today’s world. It seems we have forgotten the basics of kindness, humility, sharing, giving, acceptance and inclusion. Honestly, I had never intended to write children’s books, or on topics such as these. But I continued getting “called’ to write and was given circumstances and stories that I couldn’t suppress. All my stories are unique, on some topics I have not seen anything written in the children’s book area, and some topics, I have seen but not in the way I present it. All the books have the common theme of compassion and getting a greater understanding of the situation. They all have to do with acceptance and caring, whether it’s accepting a new situation/person, greater comprehension on the impacts of aging with disabilities, seeing beauty in something old, and inclusion whether playing with someone not like you at school, or welcoming someone new. Being an author and publisher is my second career. I worked for over 30 years as an IT project manager in the telecommunications business. Owning my own business with the intent of helping children become more compassionate gives purpose and drive to my life. I love interacting with children, especially in the educational setting. I think by increasing children’s awareness, helping them become more sensitive to situations and circumstances, can help them become a more compassionate person for the rest of their life. Authoring and independently publishing a book is not easy, especially if your intent is to get the books out for people to read. It’s especially difficult if you are not famous, like a national news reporter or actor. There is the creative side of writing and then, the business side which includes the distribution and marketing. It means learning the business, relationships, and connections. I’ll admit, I’m still learning all of this and it is an ongoing challenge which has been exciting and at times, overwhelming to learn.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Ah, where to start. I live in the Westminster, Colorado area which is halfway between Boulder and Denver. Westminster has a cool patio top restaurant called LoDo’s where you can see the beautiful mountains view. There are amazing bike trails, and we are a quick walk or run to Standley reservoir where depending on the season, you can kayak or stand up paddle. The Butterfly Pavilion is in Westminster just down the road. One of my books is about a monarch caterpillar/butterfly so I have a special place in my heart for this place. Nearby is Arvada that has the Arvada Performing Arts Center with amazing plays and music performances. I worked in downtown Denver for over 30 years and loved working down there. Although I used to take a bus, I would now hop on a commuter train to Denver, to get the real experience. We would walk or take the free shuttle down 16th street mall. I would take them on a tour of the capital and Molly Brown house. I would catch a play at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts following dinner at the many places to eat down there. We might have to take another trip downtown Denver to catch a sporting event like watching the Colorado Rockies baseball team. On another day I would take them to Boulder. The views of Flat Irons are spectacular. We would hike on the many trails. We could also go to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. There are so many things to do near home. We usually like to venture out; we love so many parts of Colorado from Grand Junction to Crested Butte!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
A few people come to mind in providing support, mentorship, and encouragement in my efforts with Cultivating Compassion in Children Books series and business. My immediate family is here to bounce ideas when I randomly express a thought or idea. My husband gives me the space to do what I am compelled to do and is perceptive on someone who might be interested in one of my books. But my loudest shout out is to my oldest daughter, Alyssa. She is my biggest cheerleader. When I believed that I couldn’t possibly make a difference, she encouraged me and continues to convey words of wisdom beyond her years about why I should persevere. Even after I published some of my books, she continued to support me by sharing them with her friend’s children to help me get the messages of compassion out to the world. I also have special friends that show genuine interest when I share with them my passion in this endeavor. The warmth and love of all these people fuel the warmth and love I put into these books and the messages I post. It strengthens my sense of purpose and drive. Judith Briles, the Book Shepard and award-winning book author, publisher, speaker, and coach has also been a strong impact mentoring me through the author and independent publishing process. Judith’s wealth of information, keen eye, and direct approach has definitely contributed to my business.