Just make it through the day. Just make it through the day. Just make it through the day.
It’s a sad mantra but a lot of times, it’s the only thing getting us through. We live in an age where everything is coming at us so fast. We are reachable 24 hours a day 7 days a week. We’re already behind when we wake up in the morning. So is something other than survival mode even possible? What is the secret of people who look like they’re always either coming or going from a beach vacation? Today our intent is to learn what it means to thrive instead of just surviving.
Today is International Women’s Day and we honor the bravery and courage of lady thought leaders who have done much to affect culture through science, literature, arts, mathematics, design, parenting and beyond: Continue reading →
America is home to inventors, artists, scientists, activists, freedom fighters…
The list could go on forever and it is something we’re very proud of.
We’re celebrating today with words of wisdom from Americans who overcame amazing odds to make history that changed us all.
We are not makers of history.
We are made by history.
-Martin Luther King, Jr., Civil Rights Leader
I freed a thousand slave.
I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.
-Harriet Tubman, Abolitionist Continue reading →
Do you have a case of the winter blues? It’s spring but the weather around most of the country isn’t acting like that. That makes it a little bit difficult to get into the warmer spirit of Spring – we get it. But the grey coldness is ending and there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. To help you reach it, we want you to get warm. Not just temperature wise, but indulge in your favorite activities. Reach out to your favorite people. It’s time to get close to the things that make you feel the warm fire in your heart.
That also means getting in touch with your passions. What makes you vibrate with energy? What gets you out of bed in the morning? What makes you feel like your best self? If you aren’t sure here are a few quotes to inspire you to find what you’re passionate about and ignite it in time to stave off the last of winter and propel you into Spring.
A hero can come in all shapes and sizes – from 91 year-old grandmothers to 7th graders standing up for healthier school lunches. Sometimes they wear costumes and uniforms, at other times they blend in right next to us and we never know they were there. They save us from burning buildings, or maybe they save us from ourselves. Heroes are the people that are selfless enough to put the needs of others before their own and they are there when we need them most. Every person picks their heroes for different reasons, but there are certain qualities that appear in many of those we look up to. Do any of these quotes describe someone you think secretly hides a cape under their day clothes?
Who is your hero? Do any of these quotes describe them? Share your stories of people that save you or inspire you on a regular basis! Let us know what makes them so special to you in the comments below.
One thing you should know about me, if you haven’t gathered it already: I’m a bit of a famous-quotes junkie. My Facebook timeline is riddled with the wisdom of Elizabeth Gilbert, Melody Beattie, songbird India Arie, and other people whose words resonate with me as though I spoke them myself. Words, both positive and negative, carry a certain power that’s entirely unmatched.
Maya Angelou talks about this when she explains her fierce objection to hearing words like “bitch” used to describe a woman. When I hear that word and others like it, I find myself cringing right along with her. Suddenly, it seems I’m no longer able to listen to all of Robin Thicke’s unbelievably catchy yet controversially degrading new hit “Blurred Lines” without my stomach turning. Words have done everything from inspiring me so much that I finally started this blog to pissing me off so passionately that I turned into a feminist. Yes, I just said the F-word: I’m a feminist.
‘When did that happen?’ I asked myself just a few days ago as the aforementioned tune blared in my car, catching me somewhere between dancing and flinching. They say we finally decide to change when whatever it is we’re doing is finally more painful than not doing it anymore. Was it the same with no longer caring what was being said about women (or any other group of individuals for that matter) on the radio? Was it finally no longer possible for me to feign ignorance when so far from ignorant? It certainly seemed so.
I’m under the impression that a large percentage of society still believes there’s something particularly un-dainty about a woman commanding the same respect and achieving the same success as a man. My mom always proved to be a huge exception to that rule: she always had a killer career and a life of her own, and I never questioned that I would have one too. For goodness sake, I didn’t even know what a glass ceiling was until she explained it to me when I entered college. To her, that very fact was proof that her and her cohorts had finally skyrocketed through that glass ceiling in a very significant way. I simply didn’t understand the idea that less would be expected of me just because I was female.
But I have to say, I found myself pretty fed up earlier today when listening to songs on my very own iPod telling me “I knew I wanted it” and other similar sentiments. I usually write to a rather positive tune, but this time is different. This time, I’m fired up. While I’d love to blame it all on Mr. Thicke, he isn’t the only one responsible for my sour mood:
It happened yesterday as I was walking into the hospital to visit my grandma on my lunch break. As I hustled up the front steps near the entrance, three men in scrubs stopped me, each telling me their own interpretation of how great they thought I looked in my dress –clearly not a one of them straining too hard to keep it PG. I stopped after they walked passed me and took a minute to digest that, to them, I was just an object. I was someone they could gawk at and drool over under the assumption that I had dressed up solely for their drool. I was horrified, but still no rookie to this ridiculously common situation that women find themselves in all the time. In fact, there was even a time when I dressed down just to avoid it. I soon realized that this was me letting them win (while simultaneously realizing that, as the daughter of a fashionista, I’m really bad at “dressing down.”)
It can no longer be held as an acceptable occurrence that a woman walks down the street and expects to be whistled at, gawked at, or ogled over as though she dressed up solely to be ogled. As I watched my best friend and out-of-the-closet feminist get married this weekend, I knew in my heart that we are traveling in the right direction…
But there is still plenty of work to do.
I sincerely hope that there’s a day when someone stopping me like that on the street makes other people stop and ask me if I’m okay. Anyone near me in moments like those usually just keeps walking, and I don’t blame them because I would probably just keep walking too. That’s human nature:
We walk by things that happen in front of us almost every single day.
Ah, summertime. Tis the season of lemonade, weekend picnics, and lazy afternoons. For many, summer also signifies a departure from the routines of the rest of year, when the thirst for adventure takes hold and young and old, alike, pack their bags for a dip in the unknown. Whether “vacation” for you symbolizes reclining on a hammock by the sea, trekking over rocky cliffs, or pondering art in chic galleries, now is the time to give those fantasies center stage. Let these 10 quotes inspire your wanderlust this summer season, and go have some adventures before the sun gives way to autumn!
1. “For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
2. “When we get out of the glass bottle of our ego and when we escape like the squirrels in the cage of our personality and get into the forest again, we shall shiver with cold and fright. But things will happen to us so that we don’t know ourselves. Cool, unlying life will rush in.” – D. H. Lawrence
3. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
4. “To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” – Bill Bryson
5. “A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” – Lao Tzu
6. “Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” – Maya Angelou
7. “To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.” – Freya Stark
8. “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” – Helen Keller
9. “We travel, in essence, to become young fools again – to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more.” – Pico Iyer
10. “The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” – St. Augustine
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If I could choose one quote that defines the ethos of our youth today, it would be, “When you learn, teach. When you get, give.” Simple but sweet words carefully crafted by my favorite poet, Dr. Maya Angelou.
This is a bold statement, I know, but hear me out.
Boy, was I wrong. Or as my students would say, “You got moded.”
Reality Check #1: A few years ago, I was given the rare opportunity to build and teach a high school summer bridge program at AAU. I thought that my students would be excited to execute the final I had prepared. “You are going to create a short video on ‘hot spots’ in San Francisco. It could be a cool place to hang out, shop or eat.” I instructed in a sure tone of voice. I thought hands down, students would be stoked.
Instead, hands eagerly went up. The questions they asked changed the trajectory of my stereotypes toward the youth.
One student raised her hand and said, “My mom was so excited that you were teaching us because she follows Go Inspire Go (my nonprofit) on social media.” Another student said, “Yeah my friends follow you on Twitter in Sweden.” A third student said her friends who live in the Midwest follow our stories. Their collective wish: “Can we do our video on a story for GIG and if it’s good enough, would you post it?” My heart skipped a beat. Chills ran from head to my feet.
I was taken aback.
Julian Cohen, a high school junior from Jersey City, N.J., saw an article in his local newspaper about a reverend who wanted to build a high school in Grande Saline, Haiti, following the devastating earthquake in 2010. Cohen was sad that there was no high school in Grande Saline and was inspired to make a video to engage action. This led to two youth movements that eventually sent 32 kids to school for one year in Haiti.
This led me to create a GIG program called GIG Spark, Lesson on Compassion. Students think about a problem and how they could be part of the solution. They create a short 90 second video and send it to us to multiply their message.
Reality Check #2: I’m exited to announce that Go Inspire Go partnered up with The Bayview Hunter’s Point YMCA, YouTube, the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation and National Youth Radio to create GIG Sparks with youth at the Bayview Hunter’s Point YMCA. They wanted to make videos that inspire compassion, change and a shift in perspective.
If you watch the local media here in the San Francisco Bay Area, you’d think that this area is only known for its crime, violence and destitution. I found that there was so much hope for the youth living in this area of the City.
Photo Courtesy: Oscar Nilsson/ Interview with Betty Sells-Asberry, YMCA Teen Services Director
When I spent an afternoon training six of these young YMCA change makers, I was filled with pride. Kier Wilson, Tajae Hill, and Jonkia Davis were amazingly inspiring. They were so proud to call the Bayview Hunter’s Point their home, but were deeply saddened their neighborhood is viewed as “the ghetto.” They wanted to do something to change the negative perception of their community.
Thank you to YouTube and the Mayor’s office for inviting us to share our “GIG Spark” as an innovative, organized and fun way to inspire the YMCA kids to accomplish this mission.
* This video was created by four of my students at AAU — youth — who asked to come along on the shoot. Thanks Oscar Nilsson, Marcus Pettersson, Eva Broman, and Hugo Albrektsson for your great work!
Reality Check #3: At the University of San Francisco, my alma mater, I was asked to design and teach a Blogging for Social Change course. On the first day, I asked students, “What is your passion?”
With optimism and determination, one student said, “I want people to get out of their bubble and do something to help the people in their community.”
‘Nuff said! Amen to that.
As a kid, I felt insignificant. I thought I didn’t matter. I didn’t feel like I had a voice. What would a Chinese immigrant boy, growing up in a rough South Sacramento neighborhood, say of any importance? Why would anyone care?
I wonder how many youth feel like that today. What if adults took a moment to listen to the youngsters in their lives and hear them out. With a little guidance, support and inspiration, we too could be a part of inspiring a new generation of people who teach what they learn and give what they get!
* * *
Take Action: * Check out “I LOVE Bayview” on Improve SF! * Share their stories on social media and by word of mouth. * Volunteer at your local YMCA
The theme: Community Heroes. I’ve been invited to speak in front of prestigious crowds of adults, but never this many children. I’m proficient in public speaking, but worried if the presentation Kala Shah, a mother of a Sun Valley student, and I put together would hold the attention of 500 little people for 30 minutes. Would they pay attention? Would they get our message? Would they take action?
Words can’t describe the tingles, endorphins and excitement – the chills – that I felt during that presentation — inspiring the children to “Use their POWER to help others.”
It is one of my most memorable experiences as a journalist, public speaker and inspirator
We created a video to share the experience in hopes of inspiring you to share this blog with at least one young person in your life and perhaps spark your own GIG Spark:
During the presentation, I showed them two video examples. The first video we showcased was a GIG original feature (of regular everyday heroes). This video exemplifies GIG’s goal: to inspire viewers to discover, see and share inspiring stories, then to use their power to help others. Naturally, we shared Part 3 of then kindergartener, Phoebe Russell’s story of how she inspired her community to enable the San Francisco Food Bank to dole out more than 150,000 meals. It all started with five-year-old Phoebe’s letter writing campaign to collect aluminum cans to help feed the hungry in her community:
The second video featured a GIG Spark example. Mini Rasekhy, 14, wanted to inspire smiles, so she and her mother took to the streets and used her voice to spread cheer:
I’m impressed with Julie Harris, Sun Valley’s principal, parents like Kala Shah and the faculty and staff at this special school that goes beyond teaching the basics of arithmetic, science, literature, etc. They inspire good citizens with the three Rs: Respect, Responsibility and Ready to Learn.
Sun Valley Principal Julie Harris getting students ready for the assembly with 3 Rs
I still wonder how this presentation will resonate within them in the future. As my university lit professor, Carolyn Weber would say, “I am shooting arrows out into the world, I wonder where they will land.”
This experience taught me a lot about children. I learned never to underestimate the potential and capacity of a young mind to grasp concepts of compassion and action. I learned that if you have a positive message that inspires goodness, you can captivate the audience of any age.
I am honored and amazed that we captured their attention for 30 minutes!
I can’t wait to see how this presentation will resonate with them through their GIG SPARKS and actions of compassion that they’re learning through this experience.
Many parents tell me they want their child to get civically engaged, but don’t know how. Likewise, many of my students tell me they want to do better for their community, but don’t know how. Well, GIG SPARK is your answer. Join us in making a video on this LESSON ON COMPASSION.
I believe kids are naturally in tune with kindness, giving and service. Wouldn’t it be great if we adults paused right this minute and channel our inner child and do one kind thing for another person?
Kala Shah, Toan Lam, Erin Sitt, Akina Chargaulaf
As Maya Angelou said, “If you know better, you do better.” Now you know, please help our youth do better.
What can YOU do?!
1. Many adults tell me they want to inspire the spirit of service in their children, but don’t know how. Here is the answer. Show our presentation to at least one young person in your life and send us your GIG SPARK: firstname.lastname@example.org
2. This presentation inspired Kala Shah to create a new “Community Heroes Club” to brainstorm service projects. She will share the GIG SPARKS that are ignited from the club via GIG. Make it your gig to start a Community Heroes club and let us know about it.
3. Be kind to one another. Let us know what kind things you’re experiencing via our social networks: Twitter & Facebook