From the desk of...


Just over a month ago my talented and inspiring friend Rose invited me to try something new – speaking at an ignite event. The rules were simple: 5 minute talk, 20 images, 15 seconds each – essentially the haiku of public speaking. Her topic suggestion: “something I am passionate about”. What am I passionate about? Many, many things… But the thing that has fuelled my many passions over the last year is you…

And so this is how it went…  


I’m Lara. I am a wife, a mother, a teacher, a student, an avid shoe wearer and an all around life enthusiast. Three short years ago I was asked to take on special education as a learning resource teacher.  


Being a resource teacher means a kind of isolation as you are essentially an island. It was this change that opened my eyes to new avenues of teaching and learning, and in particular the opportunities available through connecting with educators beyond my own school.


As I worked to understand the job I was encouraged to engage in this professional development. With cautious optimism (and led by the examples of some adventurous souls) I ventured into the digital world.


I joined twitter and began a blog with no idea how to do it. I started with no focus other than the two ideas that were most central to my daily life: joy and gratitude.


As a new blogger I took up the 100 day challenge. I began to write at the end of every day. Some days were easy, some days were hard, but every day I found I had something to reflect on or to share. The process helped me see things differently…


I have always loved to collect and arrange words and images. Creating the blog helped me see what was most important to me, and gave me a place to put it all together… I called it my digital collage.


Over that first 100 days I was amazed each morning to find comments and connections in my inbox. There was a huge community of people wanting to reach out and share…


Pieces of my family life began to work their way into the collage. We found ourselves seeking out new adventures in order to share them, and alternately finding great beauty in the tiniest aspects of every day life.


As I opened up my experiences I was amazed at the friendships and fellowship I found… As I documented our travels I saw the connections expanding both in life and online…


The blog introduced me to people all over the world seeking to share information and enthusiasm for learning. At last count it has been read thousands of times in (now over) 50 countries. All of this online living had resulted in human connection, celebration, more gratitude, more joy.


And yet. There is a part of human nature that can make some of us suspicious of joy in others. Some people feel that joy can’t be real if it’s sustained, and respond to it with skepticism. People can be negative for many reasons, and negativity casts a long shadow.


I knew when I undertook this journey that I was opening up to criticism, but still I’m surprised each time it happens. There are moments when even the most ardent joyful intentions can be battered by the opinions of others… and so I became discouraged.


I am not oblivious to the sadness in life – parts of my own story have been woven through darkness and difficulty – but in the shadow of doubt those memories were magnified…I started to let the fear of criticism stand in the way of what I wanted to stand for.


Who am I to talk about joy or preach gratitude to anyone? Feeling the fragility of my own exposed hopes, I let myself spiral into a pattern of disappointment that left no room for joy. I wallowed.


I don’t know if any of you have ever wallowed. If you have, you may have noticed that wallowing is lonely. I was allowing the discouragement of others to have power over my joyful life. That wasn’t right…

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I sat in front of my computer feeling unsettled, uninspired, a little bit frustrated and cranky in general, when a tiny little modern miracle occurred: A new comment on an old post popped up in my inbox. My personal journey had inspired joy in someone else.


Before responding, I scrolled through the images and began to see them differently. This collage of words and pictures had given someone else the courage to connect. In fact, I had made so many joyful connections that now there was a large crowd, standing together and waving me on.


When we speak with joy and gratitude we stand for the most essential part of what it means to be human. We are made out of love and for each other – and just like that, my courage was replenished.


In community, my hope for joy and gratitude was restored. With the shared courage of the connected my optimism was renewed. I found the courage to be joyful, in public, and in spite of occasional opposition…


Maybe my celebration of joy and gratitude will offer a tiny bit of light into the shadows for those who just don’t get it yet – I can’t be sure. But I will keep seeking the courage to share it. Because on this joyful journey I am absolutely not alone!


Post speech thoughts: standing in front of 80-100 people that you don’t or barely know, and talking about a moment that was emotional and challenging is a big event! I could have shared one of my much simpler passions (the ones you know so well from reading about them here – Family! Art! Books! Food! Travel!) but I chose to take the risk and share something deeper. I think I am all the better for it. This is absolutely a learning journey and it is worth the risks – but I couldn’t be doing any of it without you For reading along on this crazy adventure and adding your voice to the journey (with joy!) – thank you.  You make a great community…


8 thoughts on “#igniteyourstory

  1. As Robert Wicks would say: “Even when we suffer, it’s bearable when we’re connected to community.” And: when quoting someone else, whose name I can’t recall just now: “Courage comes and goes. Hold on for the next supply.” I’m glad this is posted. I needed more time to savor and digest it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reading! (Second quote is Thomas Merton – which I remember because I tweeted it! Hooray for Twitter…)Having gone through this transformative process I am feeling fortified. Ready for the next challenge?


  2. Congratulations Lara! You jumped off the “high diving board” (aka – public speaking) and did so with flying colours! Thank you for sharing your fears out loud – you inspire others to do the same and give them courage to face their own “obstacles”.
    “Optimist: Someone who figures that taking a step backward after taking a step forward is not a disaster, it’s a cha-cha” –Robert Brault


  3. Pingback: #CECVAN – Reflections… | martinistyle

    • I am honoured to think you are spending your time reading my wandering thoughts. Thank you for your amazing spirit. You are a gift! One of my greatest discoveries at sfds has been the support and opportunity to grow “in community”. Thanks for being a part of it!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Vulnerability and Change… | martinistyle

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