Sometimes an idea comes to you just because.
Federal Way mother Catrice Dennis is the author behind the children’s book “I Love You Just Because.” The book was illustrated by her eldest daughter, Asiyah Davis.
“This book just reinforces that all you have to do is be,” Dennis said. “It’s this beautiful simple story that’s about unconditional love. You don’t have to work for love. You don’t have to do anything extraordinary for love. Your presence is enough.”
It was never her intentional plan to write a book, although Dennis said she’s always enjoyed writing poetry. But the words began to flow after giving birth to her fourth child, Mecca Rose, in March 2017.
“I was just looking at her and I was sitting on my bed looking out the window and I just got this message,” she said. “I was like ‘I just love you, I love you just because.’”
Love overwhelmed her as she gazed at her newborn and thought of her other children, 11-year-old Zarah, 18-year-old Jeremiah and 22-year-old Asiyah.
With her simple, yet meaningful story complimented by the vivid artwork of her daughter, Dennis found Federal Way-based publishing company, Life Chronicles.
“Now looking back, all of this was divinely orchestrated,” Dennis said. “It just came out of nowhere and sometimes the best things happen like that.”
Dennis’s children’s book, published in March of last year, inspired Asiyah to write and illustrate her own book titled “MetamorphISIS: Transitioning into a Young Woman is a Marvelous Journey” published in December 2018.
“A lot of times, especially as a person of color, you don’t see yourself reflected in literature,” Dennis said. “I think it’s getting better but a lot of times our literature for people of color is historically based or something serious …”
This book is Dennis’s contribution to fair representation in literature, she said.
“I want to be able to be a part of authors that are creating meaningful stories that are happy and light and that everybody can connect to,” she said. “My hope is that someone who might look like me can read this book and see ‘Oh, here I am.’”
The hardest part of any endeavor is getting into action, Dennis said.
“We all have ideas and we all have this greatness within us and for whatever reason sometimes we just don’t believe in it or fail to act or brush it off as a fleeting thought,” Dennis said. “But really, it has a purpose.”
Dennis earned her Master’s in education and is committed to helping young people. She’s taught fifth grade and has also been a family advocate among other roles in education.
“During the time I’ve been in this field, I’ve just seen a lot of children that are hurting and their self-esteem is low,” she said. “So I was like ‘Ok, this is what I’m supposed to do. I’m here to help young people be good human beings.’”
Dennis owns TLC Learning Center in Federal Way. This tutoring facility offers morning and afternoon education sessions as well as tutoring for ages kindergarten through eigth grade and resources for families.
Dennis integrates mindfulness, yoga and self-empowerment with emphasis on how to create good thoughts about yourself.
“We know we’re supposed to love ourselves, but nobody ever tells you how you’re supposed to,” Dennis said.
One of her classrooms is an open space filled with natural light. Two mirrors are placed on the walls surrounded by word decals of positive words – these are the affirmation mirrors.
Students are encouraged to say something nice about themselves using “I am” statements.
“Through that, they soar academically,” Dennis said about first creating a foundation for social emotional well-being.
“I Love You Just Because” is available at Marlene’s Market in Federal Way, Positive Vibes at the Commons Mall, Columbia City Art Gallery, Third Place Books in Seattle and on Amazon.
For more information about the mother-daughter duo, visit catriceandasiyah.com.