Welcome to the first issue of my blog, Follow Your Spark! Thank you for reading. So, what does that mean anyway – follow your spark? What I’m referring to when I use that phrase is the idea that permeates your brain as you try to fall asleep at night. I’m not talking about the items on your daily to-do lists like laundry, make the kids’ lunches, make your lunch, pick up anything edible for dinner, etc. I’m talking about ideas that thrill you late at night that cause your stomach to clench in excitement, and, oftentimes, anxiety. But I couldn’t very well call my blog “Follow Your Stomach Clench.” Spark has a better ring to it.
Maybe you haven’t had those thoughts in a while. Maybe you are stuck in a rut. Maybe you are here for words of motivation. Last year at this time I was insanely addicted to sugar. I would “be good,” as we tell ourselves about dieting, for three days or so, and then binge in the car, isolated in shame, on the way home from work. I would hit the Culvers drive thru within a mile from work and get a large order of fries with a side of cheese sauce (duh) and a large concrete mixer with extra cookie dough and extra Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Pause to reflect on the deliciousness.
After that, I would often stop at Panera for multiple Kitchen Sink cookies, Dunkin Donuts for four, five, or six donuts, and/or Oberweis for a three-scoop ice cream sundae. Then I would pick up my kids and have dinner with them at home. I was an addict. I am proud to say that, at this writing, I am 212 days clean. That is, I haven’t eaten added sugar in that amount of time. I will pepper my blogs and Instagram (Followyourspark handle) postings with no-added-sugar (NAS) stories from time to time, but I bring it up now because it is relevant to the beginning of my blog.
Adopting a NAS lifestyle benefited me in multiple expected and unexpected ways (Culver’s profits probably went down, #sorrynotsorry). One of the biggest side effects was that it kicked off a personal growth journey that I’m still on. To make a short story long, I’m following my own spark.
I wrote a book on my NAS experience and am pitching agents, became an entrepreneur and started a side business (I’m an Independent College Counselor), began posting on Instagram, and dreamt up this blog. I trust my instincts to lead the way.
And now I’m passionate about encouraging others to pursue personal growth. The thing is, I’m not an expert or a celebrity. I’m a normal, everyday woman who is a wife, mommy of two, and 10-year School Counselor. I’m evolving just as you are. So, when I encourage you to push yourself, I’m in the passenger seat next to you. We are normal people growing together.
But what does that look like? When it comes to personal growth, people tend to fall into one of three categories: 1. They are super overwhelmed with life and don’t consider this a real option, 2. They are disappointed with their lives, want more, but don’t know how to pursue it, or 3. They are happy with their lives and want to be inspired (I was in that category).
What if you don’t know what your “spark” is? Like I said at the beginning, maybe you haven’t had inspired thoughts in a long time. Maybe you weren’t taught to “dream.” If you polled 10 random people at the grocery store right now and asked them what their goals or dreams are, I bet few would have responses. We get sooo caught up in the daily hustle and bustle of life, that we don’t make the time to still value ourselves as individual people.
So back to the question – What if you don’t know what your spark is? Let’s start with some basics. What do you enjoy doing in your free time? If you don’t “have free time,” what would you do if you had some? What did you enjoy doing when you were a child? No, I’m not suggesting we eat Wendy’s Frosties and color as a career (or was that just me?), but what excited us when it was respectable to be excited? We often roll our eyes about people who looove their jobs and have no problem getting up in the morning, but come on, we know that’s because we are secretly jealous.
Here’s the thing: If you enjoyed sketching or painting as a child, I’m not saying you must give up your current job and become an artist. If you enjoy writing, I’m not saying you have to switch gears 100% and pursue a Creative Writing degree. And if you destress by baking, then come to my house. Haha See what I did there? In all seriousness, if you destress by baking, I’m not saying you must start your own catering company. Unless you want to. I’m suggesting that we inventory what excites us and figure out a way to incorporate it into our lives in some capacity. My dream is to be a full-time writer. I have no idea if that will come to fruition, but I can write my blog for as long as the spark is there while working full-time as a school counselor.
Have you ever read something or heard something that is wildly popular or successful and thought to yourself, “I could do that?” Well, if it’s something you are interested in, then why not? That doesn’t mean you have to be as successful as the originator, but truly, the sky is the limit. Just because someone else has already invented something, written something, or plastered the internet with a certain idea, doesn’t mean that you can’t add your own twist to it. Many entrepreneurs insist that if there is an existing audience for an existing successful idea, then that’s even more reason to pursue your interest. That means there are plenty of people who want what you are selling (or whatever it might be in your case).
Ideas are precious. How many times has you had an idea and thought to yourself that you should do something with it? Then life intervenes, and you forget about it, only to hear about someone else publishing it, inventing it, or marketing it six months or a year later? Stop minimizing yourself and get to it! Not everyone has ideas in the first place, so if you have them, you owe it to yourself to pursue them. Because if you don’t, they will eventually abandon you and find a new owner.
And, well, not to be morose, but life is finite. We don’t know how many days we have on this earth to live our best lives. Who are we to take life for granted? Every day can’t be Monday because we don’t know how many Mondays we have left. Why don’t we deserve to feel inspired? Why don’t we deserve to pursue more? When was the last time you forced yourself out of your comfort zone? We all have that friend of family member who does what they say they are going to do – whether it be run a marathon, book a vacation and make out under a waterfall (just my fantasy?), or transfer jobs to an exotic locale.
Be that person. You might not know what your spark is yet but stick with me. We will grow together, ok?