Back to School Stress

Are you feeling the fall pressure?

Does your calendar ALREADY look completely packed?

Instead of falling into the old patterns of overwork and overwhelm from years past, take some time to make the bold commitment to

DO THIS YEAR DIFFERENTLY.

I’m challenging you to schedule time in your calendar for DOING NOTHING. Schedule in some time every day (10-20 minutes) and a larger chunk of time each week (1-3 hours) when you don’t have a “to-do” list to accomplish.

This is a time to do only what you WANT to do. Do what you’re inspired to do IN THE MOMENT. Sit down, drink a cup of tea, draw, stretch, lay on your bed and listen to music.

Stick to your commitment of allowing yourself this down time (this is for teens AND parents!)

Here’s why: when we give ourselves time to stop, breathe, decompress, rest, and listen to what we need in the moment, our rested mind and body is able to make clearer decisions the rest of the day (so we actually end up saving time!)

Can I tell you a quick story about doing things differently?

Last weekend I ran a 10 K race. There was a woman ahead of me who would run, then slow down to a walk, then run again. I had used this strategy in my training, but on race day I was committed to running at a strong pace for the entire race. I was SO FRUSTRATED that this woman was actually moving at the same pace as me!

Here’s the lesson: We fool ourselves into feeling like we need to push-push-push all day long to be productive and successful, when in fact, varying our pace allows us to use our energy more efficiently, and gives us some much needed VARIETY in our lives so we don’t get burned out from the push.

Give yourself the gift of taking a break EVERY DAY!

 

You are WORTH IT!

Deanne

Parenting for Resilience

The school year is wrapping up, and I’m curious….have you really had the impact on your teen that you’d like?

Are you worried about the choices that your teen is making, but feeling powerless to influence your teen?

Are you seeing your teen make the SAME MISTAKE over and over again?

Are you afraid that you’ll “say too much” and push your teen into hiding…again?

SO many parents have been asking me HOW TO PARENT TEENS so that they’re RESILIENT, so I’ve created this FREE MASTER CLASS, and you’re invited!

Parenting for Resilience: How to coach your teen into being a successful problem solver is happening LIVE on Saturday!

In this MASTERCLASS I’ll show you step-by-step how to:

  • Reduce stress by swapping worry for wisdom
  • Listen to your teen so they KNOW that you respect them
  • Ask simple questions that will empower your teen to solve their own problems
  • Build resilience skills over the summer as a family

Are you in? CLICK HERE to grab your spot for FREE!

Not only will you hear my BEST STRATEGIES for empowering your teen, you’ll also have a chance to ask me questions in our LIVE Q and A session at the end of the training.

Don’t miss out on this amazing FREE training! CLICK HERE to grab your spot!

See you there!

Deanne

P.S. We can only accommodate 100 participants, so act now to grab your seat! CLICK HERE to register now!

When I Met Resilient Me- by Jennifer Cahuantzi

My favorite outfit of all-time was a kelly green, terrycloth jumper. It had solid block colors across the front in red, yellow and blue, with strings at the shoulders that tied at the top. I loved that thing, but I would only wear it in my bedroom because the shoulder strings exposed my arms. My plump, padded arms. They lacked any definition and for that,

I refused to let anyone see them. This was middle school. I was not, by any means, overweight. My family often joked that I ate like a bird and usually fell asleep before dinner was on the table, but by high school, I was dieting.

I remember walking down the hall in high school and thinking to myself, “Wait a second … is that my rear shaking behind me?” And it was! So I made the necessary changes and started eating a Granny Smith apple and two Quaker rice cakes everyday for lunch, for years. My family didn’t know, but it didn’t feel like a secret. It felt more like brushing my teeth twice a day. It was just something I had to do.

I was already very active. I’m from the generation of kids that immediately went outside to play after getting home from school in the afternoon. I’d also been dancing since the age of six. Everyday, after school, Monday through Friday and Saturday mornings. Performances, Recitals, Competitions, After-school Intensive and Dance Company.

Since I didn’t know where I wanted to go to college, I attended a community college for a year and continued my dance training at the Artistic Dance Centre. I also joined a gym and went to a cardio class everyday. If I couldn’t make the gym, I did one of my mom’s workout videos at home. I felt great! And I was thin. And that felt incredible.

* 17 years old

* 5’8”

* 120 lbs

Pretty perfect dancer specs. Or so I thought.

In that same year, I discovered a university whose primary focus was dance and musical theatre performance and that’s when I knew that that university was exactly where I wanted to be.

One hundred thirty-two dancers auditioned for the university’s dance program in 1993. Fifty-seven made it. Sitting in the front seat of my mom’s Volkswagen Cabriolet, parked at the top of our driveway, I opened the envelope from the university and cried when I read the letter.

I was accepted as a Dance Performance Major. I was one of the fifty-seven and I was elated.

This was not your typical dance school. Most colleges focus on Ballet and Modern. This program was modeled after the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes, offering Tap, Jazz, Ballet and Musical Theatre with an acute

focus on creating a triple threat … someone who can sing and dance and act, so they’re more marketable in the industry.

Leaving home for the first time, so many emotions swirled within me … excitement, fear, anticipation. I moved from Maryland to the Midwest where the school was planted and fell in love with my decision, my new place in life and the personal path I was beginning to carve for myself. Something about being there on campus, finding and connecting with new people, my people, felt so freeing and meaningful.

With that joy and excitement came hardship, too. At least for me it did. Part of the industry, I learned, pays particular attention to body image. Just as the Rockettes and many other shows do today, dancers are required to make and maintain a certain weight. So in preparation for the real world, we were required to weigh in. No problem, I thought. I was slim and dancing everyday would only make me slimmer. We weighed in three times a semester and our weight was a part of our grade, but as the semesters passed, even though I was a proficient dancer, I began to receive low marks because of my body. It did not match what they wanted.

And then the dance faculty addressed my weight directly. They told me I needed to lose. I was shocked at first. Me?! I mean, I was thin. In fact,

I was thinner than most. I didn’t understand. I couldn’t understand their logic, but I was also too afraid to ask questions. Instead, I began to watch and study and try to determine how they were making their decisions. It just did not make sense. It appeared to me that they were holding me to the 122 lbs I came in weighing in my freshman year. And while other girls weighed more and had more body mass, if the other girls lost 1 lb, but I gained 3 lbs, they were ‘good’ and I was ‘bad.’

So what did I do? Well, a natural-born people-pleaser, I wanted the dance faculty to like me, so I tried to lose the weight. Dancing 4-6 hours a day and afterwards, hitting the gym, I ate as healthy as I could at the time, but also regressed into binges with friends on the weekends.

So I began to manage my weight in ways I had never tried before. Restrict. Diet. Binge. Restrict. I tried not to eat what I thought was ‘bad.’ I tried to control my eating. I tried to control what I ate, the amount I ate and when I couldn’t take it anymore, I’d cave and binge. Restrict. Diet. Binge. Restrict. Smoke. Restrict. Diet. Drink. Binge.

God, I hated those next mornings. Peeling myself out of bed with guilt and shame bound to my body like dead weights at my ankles.

I was devastated and at 5’8”, now weighing in at 128 lbs, my body was beginning to affect my path as a dancer. I was cut from the Dance Company and forgotten, or so it seemed, for Choreography Shows. For all the performances, I was required to work backstage, helping dancers make quick costume changes and then re-hang their costumes on hangers, or I was required to work front of house as an usher rather than being onstage where I wanted to be, where I was training to be, where I belonged. It was diminishing. I hated it. I hated me. I hated me for not being able to get this right. I hated me for not being able to fix myself.

I hated my body for failing me, for not losing weight, for its bone structure and for having cravings I couldn’t control. I hated myself. I was ashamed of myself. I was embarrassed that I’d been rejected. Couldn’t they see? Didn’t they know? Didn’t they know how hard I was trying? Apparently not. So I tried even harder.

Restrict. Diet. Binge. Restrict. Smoke. Restrict. Drink. Binge. Diet. Restrict. The cycle continued again and again, until I had an idea.

I decided one night in my sophomore year to try something I’d never done before, but just this once. I was only going to try it once. I ordered a Domino’s pizza for delivery. Again, it was just this once. No big deal. And then, my brighter idea. “If I’m gonna do this, I might as well add ice cream.” But again, just this once. So I raced to the Braum’s on the corner, purchased a hot fudge sundae – no nuts, no cherry – and raced back home before the pizza arrived. Just this once. Just this once. Sitting and waiting for the doorbell, I tried to remember the last time I had had pizza or ice cream, let along both on the same night. Had it been two years? Two and a half? I couldn’t remember, but you know, just this once.

*ding*

Here we go.

I really don’t remember tasting a thing. I packed it in swiftly and raced to the bathroom. Knees down. Lid up. Fingers down. Food up. Flushed down. Cleaned up. And that was that. Just this once. It was almost a little too easy, but again it was just this once. Yeah. Just this once. Until it wasn’t. Until it was 13 years later.

What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I stop this? Where was my strength? Where was my will? Every time I knelt down to make myself sick, I would prop my elbows on the toilet seat, interlace my fingers, rest my forehead on my clasped hands and sincerely pray, “Please God … please don’t let me die from this. Please don’t let me have a heart attack. I know You’re going to use this for Your will and purposes someday. Just please don’t let me die.”

I tried so many times to stop and I couldn’t. I kept it a secret as long as I could and then I couldn’t. I tried to get help and take their suggestions and I did and then I couldn’t. I went to see a nutritionist, a therapist and a hypnotist. Nothing worked long term. Therapy, with a handful of different professionals, helped for a session or two. I was able to vent

about things I was holding onto and the therapist, who knew nothing of my past, politely sat and listened. I appreciated that, but I needed more.

I wasn’t changing. Nothing was changing. And I was getting frustrated which only lead to more episodes.

This went on for years. When I thought I had it licked, it returned. It rarely got better. It only got worse. One of the therapists even told me flat out, “You know you’ll never get over this. You will have this forever. It will get better at times, but it will never go away.” Her candor shocked me. I refused to believe her. That couldn’t be true. Because I didn’t always have this thing and if I started it, I could stop it. Oddly enough,

it was comments like hers that kept me fighting and so I did. I kept on fighting. I never stopped fighting. I just kept fighting. And it was a living hell.

In my late twenties and through my thirties, I studied under the tutelage of a Spiritual Director. God had had a tug on my heart since my youth and at this time, I wanted to explore more. It was what my Spiritual Director said that finally flipped the switch. Not a switch that turned the disorder off, but a switch that turned me on. A switch that ignited something new in me. Knowing my struggle, she asked me what God would think of me having an eating disorder. I’d never thought about that.

I didn’t know the answer. And when I took time to consider it, I couldn’t connect the dots. What I could do, though, was consider what my dad would think of me having an eating disorder. And that struck something deep within me that started a slow, but continuous shift. My dad had passed away suddenly in my junior year at that university.

I missed him terribly and to think how he might respond to learn that his daughter, his baby girl, his only girl was suffering and struggling and failing and depleted. I could definitely connect to that. It broke my heart and that breaking began my rebuilding.

It didn’t happen overnight, the way I wished; the way it seemed to start. It was and has been a very long road and it is possible. Here are a few of my takeaways:

• Acceptance. Yes, acceptance. I spent most of those 13 years waiting wishing and hoping my life were different, that I was different. Yet, waiting, wishing and hoping only distracted me from exactly what was happening. I was suffering. When I let go of the idea that there was something wrong with me and accepted that I was suffering, I got curious about my suffering. I got curious about me. Instead of running away from me, I started to learn who I was, what I needed and how to meet those needs.

• Start Something New. Have you ever tried to stop something? Like, stop eating after 7pm? Or stop eating the pint of ice cream? Or stop smoking? It sucks! It’s hard! I don’t want to stop anything! I’m not a quitter!!! What I’ve learned I can do is start something. Start something new. Start calling someone you care about when the clock strikes 7pm. Start eating ice cream from a bowl versus directly from the container. Start a new class at the gym or buy a bike and go for a spin. I’ve never been good at stopping anything, but when I start something new, the old thing, the dead thing that no longer serves, starts dissolving into the background.

• Become Your Own Best Friend. For God’s sake, do this. Start treating yourself like one of your own, one of your inner circle, one of your buddies because you are. You deserve the love and attention and kindness and compassion that you probably extend to most other people without a thought or question. For the love of all that is good in this world, toss your loving self into that category. Spend some time with you and give yourself the gift of your own friendship.

• Come Back to Life. Ever notice how much our struggles with body and body image issues cause us to retract and hide from life? I know I did this. A lot. I missed out on so much because I didn’t like the way I felt or looked. Even if I showed up, I couldn’t let myself be seen. I hid inside my life and so coming back to life has been an exciting adventure. Bringing people back to life is essentially what I do as a Coach. I give my clients the tools they need to see themselves and to let themselves be seen. Be in your life. Stand in your life. And whenever you find yourself hiding away, come back. Come back to life.

So do I ever slip up and regress? Heck, yes. Do I still purge? No.

I haven’t for over nine years. I can, however, still put some sugar down, but it no longer takes me where it used to. And when I indulge, I choose the best of the best. The best ice cream. My favorite candy. I only want the best because, for me, it’s the best that satiates.

And when I’m done, I’m done. And I start back clean again. And I rarely feel the guilt and shame for being who I am. Do I still love candy? Yes. Always have; probably always will. It’s just that these days, the difference is, I love me, too, and these days, I choose to include myself in life and living.

My hope is, if you need to, you will get there, too.

I know you can. I know it.

And that, I know to be true.

* * *

For over two decades, Jennifer Cahuantzi, a professionally trained dancer, has worked with celebrity clients as a Pilates Instructor and Personal Trainer – an experience that has inspired her development as a Certified Fearless Living Coach and Certified Fearless Trainer – training people from the inside out.

Through triumphs and trials, getting it right, but more often getting it wrong, struggling with addiction, overcoming addiction and learning to live life versus just survive it, Jennifer has learned some incredible lessons along the way.

Through IgniteSheShines, she expands her clients’ awareness and equips them with tools that empower them to build confidence and stand in the freedom of authenticity.

Teens choose electric shock over spending time alone!

I was just reading Growing Up Mindful by Clinical Psychologist Christopher Willard,  and I was SHOCKED (forgive the pun) when I read that, “A recent study found that young men would rather receive ten minutes of low-level electric shocks than spend ten minutes alone with their thoughts, without electronics” (pg 3, Growing Up Mindful)

This is the heartbreaking truth for many of our teens today: They would rather CHECK OUT with social media, shopping, eating, drugs, etc, than CHECK IN with their own thoughts and emotions.

WHY? Because they have never been TAUGHT how to CHECK IN, and SHIFT their thoughts and emotions.

Checking in with your own thoughts and emotions is a CRITICAL SKILL for life which generates:

  • Authentic CONFIDENCE
  • Healthy BOUNDARIES
  • Healthy DECISION MAKING
  • EMPOWERMENT

If you are a TEEN, or the parent of a TEEN, It’s time to learn how to

CHECK IN to your authentic confidence (this doesn’t mean taking over the room, it means knowing what you stand for and not second-guessing yourself)

CHECK IN to your POWER and WISDOM

You’re invited to CHECK IN to Power Centers: Unlock the power of your LEGENDARY SELF by learning to CHECK IN not CHECK OUT

This 8 week program will guide you step-by-step through a process of CHECKING IN with yourself

CLICK HERE to register

In this 8 week series, you’ll learn how to

  1. Accept yourself
  2. Balance Creativity and Discipline
  3. Develop Authentic Confidence
  4. Love yourself
  5. Speak UP
  6. Trust yourself
  7. Connect to your Purpose
  8. Set Healthy Boundaries

I’m SO excited to share this with you!

CLICK HERE to grab your spot!

With gratitude for YOU!

Deanne

P.S. We start on Tuesday, February 21st, so don’t delay! CLICK HERE to register

What’s your current AWESOMENESS level?

Have you ever wondered how some people manage to just be so AWESOME?

DO you sometimes wish for a user’s manual to YOUR life?

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to tap into your LEGENDARY SELF?

You know, the parts of you that are the most awesome, the most funny, the most talented, and to make your decisions from the centre of your own awesomeness?

If you’re ready to UNLOCK the POWER of your LEGENDARY SELF, then join me for a FREE webinar training to take the first steps to YOUR authentic power.

Saturday, February 18th at 9:00 am PT

CLICK HERE to register for YOUR LEGENDARY SELF: Rock solid strategies to live YOUR life not someone else’s

In this webinar you’ll learn the first steps in

1.       Accepting yourself

2.       Balancing Creativity and Discipline

3.       Developing Authentic Confidence

4.       Loving yourself

5.       Speaking UP

6.       Trusting yourself

7.       Connecting to your Purpose

8.       Setting Healthy Boundaries

I’m SO excited to share this with you!

CLICK HERE to grab your spot!

With love,

Deanne

UNSTOPPABLE CONFIDENCE for TEENS: Choosing ME Challenge!

Valentine’s Day brings a LOT of pressure for teens (and, quite frankly, for adults too!)

There is pressure to show your friends that you care, by giving them gifts of chocolate, or a thoughtful card, or supporting the leadership club’s Valentine’s Day fundraiser by having a flower delivered to their homeroom. (While you hold your breath and hope that they did the same thing for you. Is your BFF really your BFF?)

There is pressure to ask out your “crush”, or to tell your friends who your “crush” is (or to be constantly wondering if it’s safe to tell your best friend that your “crush” is someone of the same sex)

There’s pressure to ask someone out because the other kids are dating, or at least telling stories about dating.

There’s pressure to take the relationship you’re in to “the next level”.

There’s the constant worry that the relationship won’t work out, or maybe it will, and do you really want that?

Let’s take some of the pressure off, and focus on the TRUTH:

The ONLY relationship that you will have for your ENTIRE LIFE is the relationship you have with yourself.

So, how’s that going for you?

If you’d love to build UNSTOPPABLE CONFIDENCE in yourSELF

AND

Have a chance to play on Facebook and Instagram to win some cool prizes

Then I have the perfect opportunity for YOU!

CHOOSING ME 5-Day Instagram Challenge for teens (and adults too!)

In this FREE challenge you will receive

  • Daily video lessons to build your CONFIDENCE so you can TRUST yourself to make good decisions
  • Access to our EXCLUSIVE Gratitude Lounge Facebook Community
  • Daily strategic action items for you to do to figure out what it means to LOVE YOURSELF
  • The opportunity to WIN big prizes that will help you to nourish your inner life

Authentic CONFIDENCE happens when we know how to give ourselves what we need at the deepest level.

 

You have nothing to lose, and so much CONFIDENCE to gain!

I would LOVE to be your guide in this 5 day Choosing ME challenge to help you become your own best friend. The challenge begins on February 10th, so go ahead and

CLICK HERE to get started!

With love,

Deanne

 

What new possibilities await you in 2017?

Are you declaring 2017 to be a year for YOU?

Are you ready to step into your life in a way that is deeply aligned with your values?

Is a part of you feeling guilty that focusing more on YOU will mean focusing less on your teens?

I know that adults who are focused on their own growth and development are MORE aware of how they can support their teens in ways that are sustainable and lasting.

Go ahead- make this the year that YOU step into your own life, and get clear on your role in your teen’s life.

I’m here to help.

Happy New Year!

Deanne

Show your teens some LOVE

I know you love your kids. I also know that sometimes you pour so much love into your kids that it hurts. It hurts because you’ve sacrificed  a lot of your time, money, and life force energy to support your kids.

It hurts your heart when you feel like you should’ve done more.

It hurts your heart when they don’t seem to appreciate all that you’ve done for them.

It hurts your heart when you give and give and give and feel so depleted.

This kind of giving is not sustainable.

So how do we figure out how to show them that we love them without depleting ourselves?

How often do you give YOURSELF the time, money, and life force energy and support that YOU need?

Even more than showing our teens that we love THEM, we need to show our teens that we love OURSELVES.

We need to love ourselves to model for our teens that they can love themselves.

The sooner we’re able to teach our children that it’s their job to figure out what they need, and to find a way to give it to themselves, the stronger our teens will be.

Teens who can fill themselves up are more confident and make healthier choices because they’re not looking for other people to give them the feelings they crave.

So, how can YOU start to show YOURSELF some love?

Let me just say it,

Self love feels selfish.

Whenever I schedule in some time just for me to do something that I enjoy (like have a long bath, or go for a walk by myself, or drink a cup of tea and look out the window), I feel like I’m taking time I could use to work, or be with my family, or run some errands. Once I realised that if I feel like I’ve been deeply nourished, then I can be more playful and present with my family when I’m with them, then I no longer felt like I was TAKING time, instead I was GIVING my family the best version of myself.

CAUTION. If you haven’t been taking some quality time for yourself, you will feel like you are a bottomless pit. After one blissful hour to yourself, you’ll feel like an hour isn’t enough. It will feel SO GOOD that you’ll worry that you’ll need more and more time away for yourself.  You’ll feel like you could just check in to a hotel for a few days and then…just…never…go…home.

Don’t worry. That’s just a signal that you need to schedule more time for yourself, and once you get the hang of incorporating time for yourself into your schedule, you’ll realise how NECESSARY this time is to be at your best. Once you’ve started giving yourself the time, and space, and emotional availability to listen to your deepest needs, you’ll have a greater sense of clarity around what YOU need, and what your family needs.

Of course, you will go home, because you’ll start missing your family. You’ll remember all the quirky and wonderful things you love about them and you’ll be interested in what they have to say. What an amazing gift for your family to have you back with them with love in your heart for yourself, and for them.

When we give ourselves love, then giving love to others is no longer depleting, it is sustainable because we have a better sense of clarity around how to best show our family that we love them.

With love,

Deanne

P.S. What would really nourish you on a deep level? Jump on the phone with me for 30 minutes and we can create an amazing plan that will have your LOVE levels so high, you’ll have love to give! CLICK HERE to connect with me!

JOY Detective

What makes you jump for joy?

When we told our 3 and 5 year old kids that we were going to get our Christmas tree, they literally jumped for joy! They jumped, and giggled, and looked at each other, which kept the jumping and giggling going for a few minutes, and my partner and I smiled, and laughed too. Joyful enthusiasm is contagious!

The opposite is also true. Sometimes it’s not “cool” to show true joyfulness. It’s as if JOY is a hallmark of the childish, ignorant or unintelligent.  Sometimes it seems that the only acceptable use of JOY in the teen world comes out as, [sarcasm] Oh, JOY! [eye rolling]

Even for adults, Joy might be remote. I’ll admit, Joy isn’t one of the emotions that I experience very often. I am often content, pleased, and grateful, but joy comes in such erratic bursts that I have to really take note when it happens. I’ve become a bit of a “joy detective”; I’m always on the lookout for what brings me a moment of joy. I have a “Joy Jar” on my kitchen counter. Whenever I have a joyful moment, I write it down on a slip of paper, and stuff it in the jar.

 

Here are a few moments from my “Joy Jar”

  • Dancing in the living room with our kids
  • Riding my bike on a beautiful fall day
  • My son playing with his toys as he sings “Everything is awesome”

These are the simple, sweet, wonderful moments that make my life worth living. Not only are those brief moments of joy so wonderful, but I can actually re-live them by writing them down and savouring the memory. When I’m feeling low in the joy department, I take a few papers out of the jar and read them over, a smile crosses my lips, and I know that I can continue on. Not only that, but I have a clear image of what actually brings me joy.

The old adage “what you look for, you will find” is so very true. When I’m planning my day, or my week, I’m wondering how I can create an opportunity for joy, instead of just letting it happen (or not). I know from experience that I’m more able to feel joy I I’ve spent some time taking care of my more uncomfortable emotions like anger and resentment. If I’ve given myself some time and space to process those emotions, I am more able to be present in the moment to experience JOY.

You don’t need to let your emotions happen to you. You don’t need to wait for joy to come along; you can create joy. I’m not talking about pumping yourself up, I’m talking about creating the conditions that will bring you joy. If you feel like joy is too much of a stretch, think about moments in your life that you’re grateful for. Make a list. Notice what qualities these moments share. Then ask yourself- how could I make these moments BETTER? Teens are great at this!

What would make a long car ride better- my favourite movie soundtrack!

What would make an obligatory family dinner better? If I could choose the restaurant!

What would make going to the grocery store better- if I could drive, the car, Mom!

Whether you’re a teen or a parent, become a joy detective in your own life. If joy feels too big, become a gratitude detective. Start noticing the moments that bring a smile to your face. When you really dig into what brings you joy, you’ll find ways to create those conditions more often.

What brings you joy?

 

With tidings of comfort and joy,

Deanne

P.S. If you’re serious about cultivating JOY in your life, and you’re excited about the idea of becoming a JOY DETECTIVE, I am here to support you! Book a call with me today to create you very own JOY DETECTIVE treasure map to find up what really lights you up inside!

 

Teens finding HOPE amidst despair

Does your teen dare to hope?

Teens are reporting higher levels of anxiety, stress and overwhelm each year; despair looms larger than hope. Many of my students feel like everything has already been thought, it has already been said, and they wonder what they could possibly contribute to the world. In this disconnected and isolated space, hope becomes a radical proposition. I’ve heard from many parents who are worried because their teen DOESN’T have any hopes or dreams.

So, how do we nurture our children’s hopes and dreams? How do we hold open the door of possibility?

Hope is all about having a new perspective. It is about seeing the evidence in the present moment that good things are on their way in the future. My students who have been involved in service projects or community groups all see evidence that that their presence is valuable.  Whether they volunteered at a Senior’s home, spent time babysitting small children, or volunteered at a community event, they all report feeling connected to the people they serve, and knowing that their presence makes a difference. Teens need to see evidence of their efforts being worthwhile. If they can see the face of a child or a senior light up, they have the undeniable instant feedback that THEY MATTER. This is just one way of providing our teens with the HOPE that their life will continue to matter.

Another powerful way of nurturing dreams and cultivating hope is through inspiring stories. In October I have the incredible honour of interviewing Mark Black for the LIT FROM WITHIN speaker series.

Mark Black is a man who knows about hope. At age 23 Mark faced an unimaginable challenge; His doctor informed him that his heart was failing. Without a rare and dangerous heart and double-lung transplant he would not see his 25th birthday. Three years later, after receiving his second chance at life, Mark ran his first marathon. Since then, Mark has gone on to run more marathons, develop a successful career, and raise a family. Mark Black, CSP (Certified Speaking Professional) is a Heart and Double-Lung Transplant Recipient, 4-time marathoner, resilience expert, speaker, and coach. Mark helps people “Thrive in Challenging Times”.  A Certified Speaking Professional, Mark has inspired more than 100,000 people in more than 350 presentations. CLICK HERE for the interviews

Not only is telling stories of hope about other people important, but as you’ll see from Mark’s interviews, the stories we tell ourselves are also critically important. One of my favourite take-aways from these interviews was Mark’s question about “which bucket are you rummaging around in?” which is really his metaphor for asking which stories we are telling ourselves, about ourselves, most often. One of the most powerful themes of the LIT FROM WITHIN speaker series is the importance of training your mind to focus on thoughts that are helpful and life-affirming. When we can tell ourselves the best version of our story, we can dare to dream about a compelling future ahead.

CLICK HERE to enjoy this video encore with Mark Black. My hope is that you’ll be inspired to dream a bigger dream.

Expand.

Open the door to possibility.

Think bigger.

HOPE