L ast week, my mom, dad, and little brother William were in Miami. We celebrated Christmas in January and reveled in just spending time together. To be honest, I was pretty weepy when they left. I just kept bursting into random tears – out of gratitude for how good they are to me, out of this ache that we live so far away. I kept thinking, “did I love them well enough during their time here? Did I hug them tight enough?” Goodbyes bring out all the emotions in me.

While we spent a couple days in Miami, the big highlight of their time here was driving up to Orlando (just three hours away) and visiting Harry Potter World – it’s been William’s dream for awhile. Leah flew in as well – so 5 out of 7 Nixons/Nixon Petersons were together! (Bobby and my brother Stephen both had to keep their noses to the grindstone and work. We’re proud of you both!)

I went back and forth in my brain wondering if I should make this into a post. I know that looking through other people’s vacation photos can be yawn inducing. But let’s be real – Harry Potter world is MAGICAL. I was enamored by all the details and artistry. It would be rude of me NOT to share.

As we wandered through Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley I was struck again and again by this thought: look at the value that art can bring. I’m talking both value in terms of inspiration and joy but also cold hard cash. I imagined having a debate with some stone-hearted, pragmatic business man who thinks that art is frivolous – and I would just say, “Oh yeah? Art is frivolous? WHAT ABOUT HARRY POTTER WORLD? Bam.” I totally shut down that imaginary business man. All he could do was grab onto his lapel collar and stare at the ground.

Do I think that every artist is going to make millions and contribute to the economy in massive ways? No. Do I think that the value of art or an artist should be solely determined by how many dollars they bring in? Definitely not. Still, I think it’s so wonderful to reflect on J.K. Rowling’s journey – to see how her creativity and dreams have become this wild phenomenon.

In 1990, when Rowling was scratching her thoughts on napkins, I’m sure there were a lot of people who thought her art was just a pipe dream. People who basically gave her a pat on the head and said, “You’re writing a book? Oh that’s nice.” But I’m so thankful that she kept with it. And I SO hope there were at least one or two people who fiercely believed in her, who looked her straight in the eyes and said, “YES. You have a vision. You have a gift. Keep doing what you’re doing.”

Ultimately, it’s not about the money (although I do find that mind boggling and impressive). It’s about the impact.  Her books have been translated into 68 languages; we heard dozens of languages being spoken in the few short days we wandered through these magical worlds. We felt joy and delight everywhere we turned, using an interactive wand to work spells on the store windows (they’ve thought of everything), sipping on butterbeer for breakfast, walking through the Hogwarts castle to ride on a dragon…it was enchanting, every bit of it.

Maybe you have some wild, pie in the sky dreams. Maybe you’re scribbling words onto napkins or into a little journal you keep in your bag. Maybe you’ve thought about turning your love for painting or baking or dancing into something bigger. Maybe you have some wonderful, encouraging, empowering people in your life – and if you do, then HOORAY! Keep them around. If you don’t, though, then pull up a chair. I’m glad you’re here. I don’t care if you ever reach the level of J.K. Rowling – but I do care that you keep on going.

There is value in art. You have a vision. You have a gift. Keep doing what you’re doing.