You Bring Out Me...
 By Michelle Strauss, twelve years old... 

     I have distant friends, neighborhood friends, basketball friends and online friends.  However, I have one group of friends that has really been special to me.
     In the fifth grade, my twin sister, Monica, and I transferred to a new school.  Without any hesitation, I went.  I didn't argue.  Since my mom taught there, I would no longer have to ride the bus with a bunch of rowdy boys and worry about stuff.
     At my old school, I hadn't made any real friends.  I was treated like a complete dork because of the way I looked.  I had glasses, baggy clothes, pimples and blemishes.  I rarely smiled and hardly ever laughed, wore a belt and was overweight. 
     So, on the first day at my new school, I just hoped that I would make friends.  For a few weeks, I was always alone.  Monica ended up having a different lunch period than I did, so I would just read during recess and lunch.
     Then one day, a girl in my class named Cori came up to me at lunch and asked if she could sit by me.  We began to talk, and since we both are twins, it gave us a lot to talk about. 
     Soon, Cori introduced me to friends of hers - Adriane, Hannah and Toni - and I introduced them to Monica.  Then Cori's twin, Cole, and his friends Matt and Ross started hanging around with us.  We became one big inseparable group. We did everything together.
     Ever since we've been together, my friends have always been there for me - even the boys.  They liked me, for me.  Having them in my life changed the way I felt about myself.  Their friendship gave me a sky-high feeling.    
     I began being more outgoing, like getting involved in student council and entering writing contests - some that I even won!  Then came the sixth grade, our last year of elementary school and the last year for all of us to be going to the same school together.
     Adriane, Hannah, Toni, Matt and Ross were going to Tison.  Monica and I would at least still be seeing Cori and Cole since the four of us were all going to Hall Junior High.
     I'd also be seeing my "old" classmates from the other elementary school, including some I had run into recently.  Boys who had teased me in my old school, stood staring at me not even knowing who I was. 
     The girls who previously had treated me like vapor now paid attention to me and called me by name. 
     I couldn't figure it out.  I didn't know why.  I thought that I was the same old me.  But then when I looked in the mirror, I realized that I was a lot different than I had been before.
     I wasn't short and stubby anymore.  I had grown tall and slender and my complexion had cleared up.  The glasses were gone and so were the belts.
     I realized then that my friends had done more than just make me feel good - they had made me feel confident because they had supported me, and slowly my appearance had changed.
     With their help, I had pushed my weight off. I learned to properly wash my face with the help of my friend Hannah and her magical beauty tips.   With the help of Cori, my belt was gone. Adriane suggested that I wear my glasses only when I really needed them. 
     My sister, Monica, loves clothes and helped me pay attention to how I dressed. It really helped to hear her say, "Wow, Michelle, that looks FANTASTIC on you!  Man, why couldn't I have gotten that?"       
     As I gaze into the mirror, I turn to the left and then to the right.  I smile at my reflection, because I now realize that these people, my true friends, never saw me as a dork. They liked me and I became pretty. They made me bloom.
     In conclusion, I have to say...thanks, Cori, Cole, Hannah, Matt, Adriane, Ross, Toni and Monica...Your friendship gave me a life to look forward to. You are the best friends anyone could ever have. I hope I can be that good of friend to the new people I meet.
from Chicken Soup for the Soul...
 An awesome letter and a point to ponder. A lot of insight for a twelve year old girl...
A simple act of kindness
Passed on from and to man
Is but a touch of God's own love
In a kind, extended hand
Compassion, love and mercy,
Passed down through all mankind
Completing then the circle
That all men seek to find
The kindness and compassion
That He's sown deep in our soul
An instrument of His own love
To make life's circle whole.
I pray your day is awesome...
Download ssc here.

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