“how can i change the world if all i’m doing is making dinner?”

i could change the world t-shirt

While I was leading a recent workshop about the importance of finding and sharing your inner sparks – the passions, talents or interests that light you up from the inside out – a woman (we’ll call her Linda) approached me during our lunch break, eyes glued to the carpet.

“I’ve figured out my spark is cooking,” she said quietly. “But I heard you say we can change the world one spark at a time. How can I change the world if all I’m doing is making dinner?”

Awesome question! 

I asked Linda to tell me how she feels when she’s cooking. She said her stress melts away in the kitchen; she feels relaxed, happier, in control. No surprise there; this is true for almost anyone who’s deeply engaged in something they love.

world peace must develop from inner peace - the dalai lama

When we find that thing that lights us up from the inside out, we experience an inner peace that softens the edges of our struggles and casts a glow on our life’s path. You may not even realize how that spark illuminates the best parts of you. But the people around you will.

When I mentioned this to Linda, she looked surprised, saying, “Yes! Actually, my daughter just told me the other day that on the nights I cook dinner, I’m a lot more fun to be around!”

I’d like to live in a world where everyone were more fun to be around. I’d like to live in a world where everyone leverages their sparks to serve others (like Linda regularly and joyfully cooks for family and friends). In a world like that, cooperation and joy would be the norm, not the exception. And every time someone like Linda discovers her role in that vision, we get a little bit closer to changing the world.

The X Factor: Finding The Courage To Shine

I am such a sucker for talent shows. My DVR is full of recorded episodes of the new X-Factor and The Voice. I’m just amazed by the courage it takes for people to put their hopes and dreams on the line, to sing their hearts out or dance their booties off, in front of strangers and in competition with other talented folks. Just sitting in the audience, whether in person or on TV, I can feel my heart thumping inside my chest for each brave soul.

Holy smokes – did you see the bullying victim who appeared on last night’s X-Factor? 19-year-old Jillian Jensen sang through tears after sharing how she’d been bullied through middle school and high school, much like judge Demi Lovato had. By the time the judges all gave her “yes” votes, I had tears streaming down my face. It was really moving. I mean, how does a girl who’s been so emotionally bruised by cruelty from her peers muster up enough confidence to make her mark on the world?

I was compelled by her story and did a little digging. I found this online letter Jillian Jensen wrote to other bullying victims, detailing her own experience and the dark depression she went through as a result. Music was her lifeline – her spark – and it’s clear she had family and friends to both get her help and support her dreams. I know a little bit about finding your inner song and am so glad Jillian found hers. I hope she soars on X-Factor – for her sake and to inspire all the kids watching – the bullied and the bullies – and prove it’s possible to find the courage to shine.

P.S. Check out Jillian Jensen’s Facebook page, full of comments and gratitude from people who relate to her story.

 

Giveaway: Win a Spot in BuzzWorthy!

Speaking of sharing your brilliance, don’t forget – you’ve got until Friday at 11:59pm central to enter my giveaway: you could win 1 of 3 spots in my BuzzWorthy ecourse, which starts Oct. 1.

 

Quick Video Message: Let’s Make Sparks Fly on 9/12!

I’m totally excited to invite you to a special event!
Want to make sparks fly in your own life and with the kids you love or teach? 
Quick video message above from me, taken on the backyard swing.
 

To sign up for our FREE webinar via ParentFurther, go here.
Oh! And here’s a past post on why this matters so much to me!
Can’t wait to make sparks fly with you!!

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Will You Be The One? Creating Deep Connections

Photo by Kiley Flynn

Last Wednesday, 15 teens from around the U.S. and U.K., accompanied by caring adults from their communities, arrived in Tennessee for the first Laws of Life Youth Summit. They shuffled into the college campus meeting room that would become our gathering space for the next few days.

No surprise, the kids were skeptical and shy that night, unsure of themselves and each other. When I predicted that by the end of the Summit they wouldn’t want to leave each others’ sides, I got some serious eye rolls. But, lo and behold, this was the scene on the last day: hug huddles, teary eyes, and promises to reunite wherever, whenever, however possible. They couldn’t bear the thought of leaving. It broke my heart and filled it up at the same time.

This group’s ability to connect so deeply in a matter of days proved to me the power of vulnerability and authenticity. Our workshop content was designed to help them open their hearts, build trust and gain confidence in their own gifts. They did it – and it was awesome to witness their walls crumble and hearts crack wide open. But it took one brave person to open up first, and then another and another – until it felt safe enough for everyone to do the same, to share their true selves. Hopes. Dreams. Challenges. Fears.

Early in our time together, one darling girl sheepishly shared how much she adores Greek Mythology. As her peers shared more common interests – like sports or writing – she worried she’d sound like a weirdo. But once she said it, two other teens revealed they loved Greek Mythology, too. She beamed! The same thing happened over and over: it took one person brave enough to show their tender places – the difficulty of divorce, the reality of living with chronic illness, the loneliness of low self-esteem – for the walls built up around the others to come tumbling down.

Magic happens when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable – and allow others to be, too. {Just ask Brené Brown.} If I want the world to be a kinder, gentler place, I have to be the one brave enough to get the ball rolling. Truth is, we’re all weirdos. We’re all dreamers. We’re all broken.

So, let’s each be the one in our neighborhoods, in cubicle land, on committees, in book clubs to be brave enough to speak the truth and make compassion contagious. It only takes one spark to start a fire. Are you in?

Sweet Serendipity: Signs From the Road

Shortly after we lost my dad last fall, I felt like I was being called to California. He had planned to spend time teaching there after his so-called retirement this year. So, when I learned about two creative workshops in Berkeley with awesome-blossoms Andrea Scher and Kelly Rae Roberts, I knew it was my cue to head west.

The first two days of my California trip were primarily spent with academics that my dad worked with and loved. I stuck out like a sore thumb, I suspect. I over-shared, I cried a couple of times, and I probably didn’t even use the right fork at meals. But I cherished my time with these professors and researchers as I gather information and contribute to pushing my dad’s vision for Sparks forward. I listened to their stories about him, learned more about their work, and imagined him walking through those campus courtyards and hallways with books under his arm and pens in the pocket of his button-down shirt. I wondered whether he was aware of and okay with my interactions with these scholars, despite me stumbling all over myself.

Next, I flew up to the bay area for the second leg of my trip. On Saturday, the photography workshop with Andrea started at 10am. I just assumed the second workshop, on Sunday, started at the same time. Umm, it did not; turns out I was an hour early. So, I walked to a nearby cafe in Berkeley and began to write down some reflections in my itty bitty notebook. I sat down by the window with my chai latte and had only written about 10 words when my phone rang. It was Suzanne, a friend I’ve mentioned here before who’s a professional intuitive. I answered.

“Where are you?” she asked.

California, I told her. And she proceeded to say she just had to call because she could see me so vividly writing in a quiet place with a little notebook, by the ocean. The closer I am to the ocean, she said, the clearer I am. It’s totally true; I feel more like myself whenever I’m by the sea. I told her I had already spent some time at Santa Monica Beach, but she urged me to find a way to get back to the ocean again before leaving.

And then she said my dad was “with” her, hand over his heart. Saying I did him proud. Saying I did better than he could have {which is so like him}. Saying I brought a modern energy to the work, to the conversations, and that he couldn’t be more proud. In tears, I told Suzanne what he was talking about, that I’d just spent two days with some of his peers talking about sparks. I thanked her for reaching out at the perfect time. Had she called an hour later, I wouldn’t have been available to get that sweet message from my dad.

I walked back to Teahouse Studio, hoping my face wasn’t too blotchy from crying. The place looked magical; I found my seat and saw this beautiful message awaiting me:

It took my breath away. It was such a sweet gesture to lovingly call out my own spark – and extra-meaningful after my experience at the coffee shop. After our workshop, I asked if anyone knew how I could get to the ocean before flying out the next day. Someone suggested a nearby bay, but Andrea stopped them.

“No, you want the real shit, right? Like the ocean ocean.”

EXACTLY! She pointed me to Cliff House in San Francisco – a restaurant perched over Ocean Beach. It wouldn’t be easy to get to and I’d have luggage with me, so she said, “Let’s just manifest a really kind person there who will take care of your bags.” The girl speaks my language. I immediately envisioned it being a total breeze – and I could sense her doing the same for me.

The next morning, rather than navigate the subway and train systems with my suitcase, I splurged and took a cab. I had no idea the ride would be so long, but I was lucky to have a fantastic driver named Ricky. We talked about his background, his dream of becoming a police officer, his love of helping people – essentially, we talked about his spark. He absolutely lit up when I offered suggestions for furthering his dreams.

When we finally arrived at Cliff House, he offered to pick me up later and take me to the airport. I wouldn’t have to worry about calling another taxi. And you guys? He kept my bags while I ate lunch and took pictures along the beach. It was the perfect ending to my trip; another sign from the road that I am always right where I belong.

 

 

 

 

Inspiration Rising: We Are All Artists 11.21.11

Over a year ago, my parents gave me three tall stacks of canvases for my birthday. I had asked for acrylic-coated wood panels for my collage work; they thought the canvases were the same. It was such a generous gift – all different sizes, probably 30 in all – but I hated canvas. I didn’t have the patience, inspiration or confidence to paint. I tried months later to return them to Dick Blick, but they wouldn’t accept them without a receipt. I thought about selling them on Craigslist, but never got around to creating a listing. So, they just sat in my dudio for months on end.  

After my dad died last month, getting back into the dudio was hard. But I knew I needed to make art again; my soul craved it. When I sat down to create this piece, I asked my dad for help. In my mind, like a prayer, I asked him to help me feel inspired again, to help my spark flicker bright enough to cut through the fog of grief. I sat in silence – listening, waiting, hoping. Rather than start working with a beautiful mess of papers and textures, I felt moved to pick up a paint brush.

As I painted those wildflowers, I could practically feel inspiration rising. I didn’t question myself, beat myself up for mistakes, wonder if anyone else would like it. I just painted, feeling much like I was outside my body, literally following my heart.

I couldn’t wait to do more. My friend Aimee said she was diving into Art Every Day Month, so I joined, too – hoping inspiration would stick with me through November. Oh, has it ever. Those stacks of blank canvases are dwindling, at long last. There are some days I have two or three paintings going at once. Some turn out awful – which used to bother me, but I now realize is part of the process. I learn something from every mistake. And others, like this one I completed last night, feel right on – like I’ve managed to imprint what’s in my heart onto the canvas.

I have sold three originals in the past week. I have four new greeting cards coming later this month {squeeeeal!}. I’m in a groove and it feels so good.

This is the way the best things in life come about, I suppose – finally moving forward, fear be damned. We are all artists with a blank canvas before us. We get to choose each day whether to listen to the doubtful, fearful voices in our head or the brave and beautiful whispers of our heart.