The Charlotte Teen who Started the Foundation to Nurture the Leader in Every Girl (repost via @clttales)

“Although Foundation For Girls is work, it’s something I love to do. Helping these girls brings me so much happiness. When I go after school on Thursdays to volunteer with refugees at Ourbridge for Kids or on Saturday’s with the Homeless at The Relatives Crisis Center. I’m just filled with joy and always leave with a smile on my face. So when I am not busy with school or volleyball, I spend my free time doing what I love and helping at-risk girls.” ~Shreya Mantha, Co-Founder, The Foundation for Girls

In 2013, Shreya Mantha reached out to me via the Global Girls Project, unaware that we lived in the same community. Drawn to the stories that emphasized the importance of character and core values in realizing one’s own leadership potential, she shared her vision with me for creating a non-profit organization that supports and empowers at-risk girls and youth in the Charlotte region and beyond. Four years later, working in collaboration with incredible volunteers, partners, and community-based organizations, Shreya and her younger sister, Sahana, are realizing their dream.

Click on the link below to read more about her inspiring leadership journey (via @clttales):

Source: The Charlotte Teen who Started the Foundation to Nurture the Leader in Every Girl

What Inspires Your Soul?

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 2.16.45 PMThose who know me well and/or are connected with me on my personal Facebook page, know that at my core, I’m a nature girl. I am energized by the city, but it is time in nature that ultimately soothes my soul. It is the heart of my creative energy and where I draw inspiration for much of my writing and creative work. Nature, after all, is a wonderful teacher if we’ll take the time to listen to Her secrets.
Just as nature invites me into a deeper, more contemplative conversation, so, too, does the energy of people, new places, and the problems of the world draw me back in to engage in life in a larger way. Honoring these two equally powerful dimensions of my life is as essential to me as breathing air, and I’ve learned over the years that to live entirely in one domain without honor and attention to the other, is to live a diminished and divided life.
Knowing what inspires and influences our energy, whether positively or negatively, is a big part of walking our heart path. Being mindful and intentional about who and what we give our energy and thoughts to is equally important.
Consider the image for this post. Part of a creative series inspired by nature, just beyond the view of my lens and the once tranquil green I traverse on a near daily basis, is farmland that is rapidly being bulldozed to be replaced by more housing that will permanently alter the landscape of our little town. It is a reflection of our times — landscapes changing that challenge each of us to adapt and change with them, whether invited or not.
Still, though we cannot always control or change those landscapes or events in our lives that threaten to disrupt the status quo, we are free to choose what we focus on, acknowledging that mindful intention has the power to influence more than just the moment we’re in.
I could choose, for example, to focus on the unsightly bulldozers, allowing my peace to be disrupted by the physical and emotional noise and subsequent negativity that arises, or choose instead to be deliberate about what I focus on, disciplining my senses to tune in to the beauty and peace that remains in plain sight, if only I’ll pay attention.
So, too, is it with life.
At a time of tremendous turmoil and upheaval; during times of uncertainty, crisis, and the threat of constant change, it can be tempting to be distracted by the noise; to allow ourselves to become consumed by anxiety, negativity, and fear. While we cannot ignore the realities of our world, where we choose to focus our energy and the way in which we move through these things is entirely within our control.
It’s a matter of mindfulness and adopting a daily discipline of intentionality about how and with whom we choose to show up and spend our time, energy, and talents. And it is the sum of these daily choices, that ultimately create the legacy we will leave behind for others.
I’m curious to know…
How does nature speak to you? What gives you energy and/or feeds your soul? Are you intentional, mindful, and deliberate in your choices, or do you allow the winds of change and uncertainty to toss you about and throw you off course? 

The Best Teacher

Thought for the day:

The best teachers in life are not the ones who presume to have all of the answers, but the ones who can help us find our own.

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What Gives You Hope?

I believe in the power of hope.

Just as purpose provides a sense of meaning and direction in our lives, hope, like faith, enables possibility and the strength to endure, without which we cannot live. An essential ingredient in resiliency, to be hopeful is to not only believe in our capacity to overcome, but to open ourselves to new possibilities in the future. Hope expectantly empowers, engages, emboldens and encourages. A gift to ourselves and others, hope helps pave the path to our collective potential.

But where do we find hope? How can we cultivate it within ourselves? How can we share it with others?

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all. -Emily Dickinson

Recognizing the power of stories to inspire, uplift, engage and empower, Gary Doi, a retired school superintendent in British Columbia, recently brought together 42 VIPs (very interesting people) from different parts to the world to create a stimulating anthology of startlingly honest stories focused on the eternal question: What gives you hope?

Inspiring Hope, One Story at a Time“The stories are as varied and compelling as life itself,” said Doi. “They stir the imagination, ignite your courage and invite reflection. They inspire hope. In today’s world, that’s a resource in short supply. Yet, we can’t live life without it.”

Doi believes that hope creates resilience which in turn provides the strength to face life’s many challenges. Examples from the book include a California mother who shares her heartfelt story about raising an autistic child and how that experience brought fulfillment, love and gratitude. A teacher in Dubai describes how her bucket-list adventures opened up fascinating opportunities to learn and discover. A retirement coach from the United Kingdom explores a common question facing retirees: What will you do with the rest of your life? And, a university professor writes about the heroic efforts of a sixteen-year-old student in Tokyo who mobilizes community members to raise funds for a small fishing village affected by the Tohoku Earthquake disaster.

A global book launch is scheduled for November 25 – December 13, 2013 with various events and activities to draw attention to the book and its cause. All net proceeds from book sales will be donated to provide resources for the Asturias Academy Library in Xela, Guatemala, a private, non-profit pre K-12 school serving vulnerable students in the community.

Books are available as a hard copy or ebook at Amazon.com (ca/uk).

A second book in the series (Inspiring Hope: One Image at a Time) is planned for next year. It will feature inspirational photographs, artwork and stories from around the world.

Note: For those who are regular followers of this blog, I am pleased and honored to share that two of my posts, George the Cabbie and Clearing Out the Weeds (In the Garden of Our Life) were selected for inclusion in this wonderful book on hope. I hope you’ll consider spreading  a dollop of hope by purchasing your own copy today!