Storytelling

Giving Thanks When You Don't Have Much to Give

Shiquita Yarbrough is a single mom, which isn’t too unusual these days. What makes her really special is her incredibly generous spirit, and commitment to not only being a positive and active community member, she’s committed to helping her children see the importance of being a productive and kind member of your community.

30 Minutes Can Change Your Life Plans: A Library Story

A Thoughtful, Persuasive Leader Can Change Your Life in 30 Minutes

He had no intention of working for public libraries when John Spears walked into an interview with George. His plan as he worked through his Masters in Library Science had always been to find a cushy job in an academic library, where funding is rarely an issue.

But in that 30 minute interview, his perspective about public libraries was permanently shifted. George was ahead of his time; he knew the role of public libraries was growing dramatically in the age of mis-information, and that public libraries would be serving community needs in completely different ways in the very near future.

That 30 minute conversation pushed John in a different direction than he expected, and he has spent his entire career in public libraries - and never looked back.

John isn't what you might think of as a typical librarian. The challenges he has faced in life might just be the stories that make him so approachable, and such an incredible role model for perseverance, self-reflection, and personal growth.


John Spears is the Chief Librarian and CEO of Pikes Peak Library District in Colorado. He has been making waves in that community, and finding incredible opportunities to contribute even more to the community by sharing his story.

A Spark of Inspiration is Only as Good as Your Response to It

The Spark that Started a Story of Innovation in Education

It was a TED video that caught Don Wettrick’s attention during his lunch hour. He’s always looking for inspiration through reading and videos, and as a teacher, he’s used to fitting that inspiration into little boxes necessary to keep administration happy. But this was different, partly because he had switched schools and his administrator was more open to changes and innovation, and partly because he really wanted to see his students find something they could get excited about.

When his students came to class that afternoon, Don showed them the video. They were not as impressed as he was, it seemed a little dry to them. And yet, as the discussion continued, an idea emerged. Students had often complained that if they were just given some freedom, they had all kinds of interests and projects they’d want to dig into.

“What if you had 30 minutes every Friday to work on whatever project you wanted?”

Don expected students to jump at the opportunity, and some did, but what he found was that a lot of students were so driven by grades and being pleasers, that when it came time to take those 30 minutes, he heard things like: “Well, Mr. Wettrick, what do you want me to work on?” And he’d answer, “whatever you want. What are you interested in?”

Many of the students had a really hard time thinking through that question, sparking an even greater desire for the idea of an innovation class, and curiosity about what would drive students to think more about what they liked, what they were interested in, and what they were good at.

Fast forward a few years after that spark of inspiration, and we see Don making waves all over the country with his work in bringing student innovation to classrooms everywhere.


Don Wettrick is the Innovation Coordinator at Noblesville High School, and is the author of "Pure Genius: Building a Culture of Innovation and Taking 20% Time to the Next Level." Wettrick has worked as a middle school and high school teacher; educational and innovation consultant; CEO, and podcast host. He is also the founder of StartEdUp, an organization dedicated to help transform the school culture toward innovation and enable student-led entrepreneurship. 

In the podcast, he speaks about his great kids, particularly Ava and her podcast, redefining (thank goodness) influence and mentorship on younger generations.

It Can Take Decades to Process an Experience

It Takes a Long Time to Realize How Some Stories Impact Our Lives

Ronan had been dating his (then) girlfriend for six months and hadn’t shared a huge story from his past. Not because he didn’t want to, or was keeping anything from her; he simply didn’t see the relevance.

Stories of Outdoor Adventures Color Our Lives with Gratitude

Returning From an Adventure with No Toilet Paper Makes You Grateful for the Little Things

Stories of Outdoor Adventures Color Our Lives with Gratitude.png

Kevin Strauss wasn't born into a family that was outdoorsy. He didn't grow up in a place where it was common to hike for miles, or to go camping in the wilderness over the summer. But at some point in his life, he realized he wanted to reconnect with nature, to explore his adventurous nature and stretch out of his comfort zone. He did something he never thought he'd do, and that experience set him up for a future full of extreme outdoor adventures.

Your Comfort Zone-2.png

When we think about our lives and how we live each day, we have three concentric circles of our activities and behaviors. The innermost, smallest circle is our comfort zone, and most of us stay in there in the majority of our daily activities. The next circle is about double the size of the comfort zone, and that's our stretch zone. The majority of us spend about 5 percent of our time there on a daily basis. And then there's the huge, outermost circle - our "oh shit" zone. That's the place we avoid as much as possible, totally out of our control and beyond our imagination of our own capacity and drive.

When we take a leap like Kevin did, we stretch that comfort zone out a bit, but more importantly, we stretch our stretch zone out dramatically. What we thought we'd never do, suddenly becomes an option, a possibility.

Being in nature, really out there, beyond easy access to an escape route, we realize a) how little control we really have, and b) how little, in terms of "stuff" we need to survive. Being out there with no toilet, no toilet paper, and no access to prepared food leaves us with a complete understanding of exactly what is a necessity, and what is simply luxury.

 Mount Helena City Park, Helena, Montana

Mount Helena City Park, Helena, Montana

That's when we can connect deeply with ourselves and the world around us. The best part of this kind of adventure is the return to "real" life, when we get to apply the lessons we learn on our adventures. We realize that gratitude changes our lives, improves our relationship with ourselves and others, and helps push us to try new things and set our priorities.

As promised in the podcast, here are a few resources for you, just in case you are inspired to step out of your comfort zone in an outdoor adventure:

  • Local REI and MeetUps often have trips for beginners, as well as classes

  • Backpacker.com is a great magazine to get you started and thinking about trips and gear

  • Backpackinglight.com has a plethora of articles, webinars, podcasts, etc.

  • Cottage shops for gear often have great articles and resources on their websites, as well as “real life” experiences. Gossamer Gear, Six Moon Designs, ULA, Mountain Laurel Designs, Zpacks. You won’t find this gear at REI or other major sporting goods stores, but you’ll learn about real gear that works.

And here's the other promised link to Kevin's blog post about toilet paper.

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Kevin Strauss is a 17-year, injury-free Ironman Triathlete and Coach. If you have any question or need help with your endurance events, including backpacking, or if you want to get started and run your first 5K and do it right, visit his website. Learn more about Kevin and his products, Family eJournal and Corporate eJournal, and connect with him on LinkedIn.