Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Power of Sparkle

A sparkling view from my home.

You’ve heard of Personal Power, PowerBars and The Power of Now, but have you ever heard of The Power of Sparkle?

Neither had I, until I stumbled upon it a few years ago.

Five years ago, a book I had co-edited that would help me launch a business, was released.  The only problem was, I couldn’t decide in which direction I wanted to take my business.  There were at least five possible directions, all with different target markets, products and services, but every possible direction was filled with an infinite number of unanswerable “What if...” questions.

It was impossible to know the answer to any of these questions without first taking enough steps in one direction to begin unraveling the “what if’s”, but I couldn’t even decide on a first step.

I was stuck.

One night, while looping around in my head with all the possible choices, I thought back to all the biggest decisions I had made in my life and put them into one of two categories: Good Decisions / Bad Decisions.  Both lists were short.  On the surface, there didn’t seem to be a difference between the two lists.  Even the Good Decisions had times that were unpleasant, super-challenging or unrewarding. 

But, I noticed that even during the bad times of the Good Decisions, I was still happy with the choice I had made.  Not so with the Bad Decisions. 

With the Bad Decisions, I could recognize some of the good learning and character-building that came from those decisions, but, looking backwards, I wished I had made a different decision.  Though I didn’t want to admit it, the Bad Decisions contained a tiny twinge of regret.

Knowing that I didn’t want to make another big decision that years later became known as a Bad Decision, I thought about what was different when I actually made the Good Decision vs. the Bad Decision.  I realized there was only one thing:


Every Good Decision felt “sparkly” to me as I was contemplating the choice.   I was drawn to it.  Just thinking about the choice made me feel alive.  It wasn’t that I didn’t have doubts or questions or what if’s, but the idea of saying no, was too painful to even consider: it had a power bigger than me.

Not so with the Bad Decisions.

With the Bad Decisions, there was nothing on the surface that seemed wrong or bad about the choices. They seemed practical.  Acceptable. Solid.  But, I didn’t feel “sparkly”.  I picked the Bad Decisions because they seemed like the right thing to do.

So, I decided to use this as my guide.  I decided that for one year, my theme word would be Sparkle. I would experiment with every business idea by speaking at various conferences and I would pay attention to the events that felt sparkly. I decided that I'd move closer to everything that felt sparkly, and away from things that didn't.

I spoke at twelve conferences over the course of eleven months on topics like: workforce analytics, employee engagement, employee retention and strategic HR.   Each was interesting, but they all landed a little bit flat.  No one asked me for more information.  No one wanted to continue the conversation.  Everyone just thanked me for my time and politely walked away. 

By November of that year, I was tired and disheartened, and I was beginning to think that starting a business would be a Bad Decision.

By December, I had one conference left: a coaching conference.

I had never spoken at a coaching conference before and I had no idea what to expect. On a whim, I had completed the application to speak at that conference earlier in the year.  I remember randomly completing the application and I was even surprised they invited me to speak.

When I got to the room where I was speaking, I discovered I’d be up on a stage. With a microphone. On a podium. And, a giant screen behind me. With a few hundred people in attendance. 

First, I had a brief freak-out moment.

And then,…. I found it.  My sparkle.  During my talk, I could tell I was giving the attendees information they wanted.  I felt useful!  I felt alive! And, we were all having fun together!  At the end of my talk, there was a long line of people waiting to talk some more.  I collected business cards. Lots of business cards.  And lots of requests to continue the conversation.  I couldn’t stop smiling.

But, just to make sure I got the magic universal message this was the direction I was meant to pursue, after nearly everyone had left the room, one person approached me and asked me to sit down and talk. First, he invited me to speak at an international conference in Europe. And then, he offered me my first consulting project…. In Italy.

That’s the power of sparkle: it lights the way you should go and makes it impossible for you to say "no". 

© 2014 Lisa Ann Edwards 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Journey Home

Morning View at Home. August 31, 2013.

Some of my favorite stories are the ones about heroes and heroines who embark upon a life-transforming journey filled with mystery, romance, challenge and redemption such as The Wizard of Oz, Star Wars and Big Trouble in Little China.

In those stories, the hero ends their journey by returning home with the profound realization that there’s no place like home.  With that in mind, I was curious about how I would feel this week when I traveled more than 2,000 miles back home to the region where I grew up.  Would I, too, feel a desire to move back home?

It had been 11 years since I’d spent much time back home, but it didn’t take long before I felt at home with all that was familiar: the hearty food, the straightforward culture, the flat Midwest accents and the community values.  The Midwest values are simple: work hard, be good, follow the rules, make self-sacrifices for others and you will be rewarded.  Salt of the earth people live in the Midwest and I enjoyed reconnecting with my heritage.

But, what I hadn’t expected is reconnecting with how I felt while I lived in the Midwest: Alive, but not really living. Getting by, but not really flourishing.  Fitting in, but not really doing anything remarkable.  At times, I felt as if I couldn’t breathe.

At that time, I had known I wanted to change my life to something different, I just didn’t know to what.  It took me years to finally take a step forward because I thought it was selfish to pursue a few vague dreams and desires of something greater, some place else. The funny irony is that in pursuing my dreams and desires, I have transitioned into a career where I spend my days helping others.

Since I left home, the years have been filled with struggle, challenge, mystery, success, victory and romance.  Throughout those years, I had forgotten how far I had come and I had lost sight of why it was necessary for me to leave.  Why couldn’t I make my new life happen while I lived at home?  It didn’t all become evident until my journey back from the Midwest.

When I arrived at the airport gate for those headed to Seattle, I saw people who appeared to be musicians, artists, environmentalists, ocean explorers, software designers and developers, entrepreneurs, mountain climbers, writers, poets, photographers and yoga instructors.  I realized I had chosen to live among the creative, independent spirits, but it wasn’t until the next morning, when I woke up in Seattle that I understood why.

Upon rising, I walked down to the lake and as if for the first time, I felt the fresh sea air hit my skin, my nose took in the undeniably delicious fragrance of the most recent blossoms, and I watched a person serenely practice Tai Chi while a great grey heron, the symbol of independence, gently flew overhead.  It was a feast to my senses and I wanted to eat the moment.  

Then I realized.

Living here nourishes my creative spirit and gives me the sustenance I need to contribute to the world in a greater way.  There’s nothing selfish about that.  Living here is my personal oxygen mask!

It feels good to be home.

© 2013 Lisa Ann Edwards 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

I got your back.

My cousin and me at painting class.
She says mine is better than hers, but I think hers is better than mine.

Last fall, my cousin and her husband moved to my part of the country. My cousin and I haven't lived in the same city since we were kids and since neither of us have siblings, it means a lot to both of us to live near each other.

There are a lot of things I love about my cousin... she's fun and funny and so entertaining, but one thing I hadn't remembered about her is her selflessness.  Whenever I'm with my cousin, I'm reminded that no matter what, she's got my back.
     I left a book in the car?
       "I got it!" she says.

     I forgot to pick up something for us at the store?
       "I got it!" again.

     I just said something embarrassing?
      "You're good!" with a wink.

It feels so comforting to have someone who is looking out for my best interests-- someone I can trust who isn't going to set me up to be hurt or disappointed or later blamed for something that goes wrong.  I know that even if my feelings get hurt, it's just a misunderstanding because in her heart, she's got my back.

That's the thing about getting comfortable with people.  We don't always know whether we can trust someone, especially when we start to feel vulnerable. All of our fears come up, we get confused about what they really meant and it feels safer to shut down. It's always a risk to open ourselves up and trust that no matter the outcome, we will be okay.

But, if you and I are friends, there's one thing you can count on. I'm sure we will have a lot of fun, and I know I will make some mistakes, but just remember, in my heart.... I got your back!

© 2013 Lisa Ann Edwards

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Moment

Robin and Me: In a moment.
Have you ever experienced a time when life pushed you in a direction you weren’t prepared to go?

I have.

I’ve lived in Seattle for eight years and in those years, my career has flourished, but my personal life languished. Somehow, I struggled to build friendships that grew beyond an occasional lunch.

So, nearly two years ago when a series of circumstances conspired to make it necessary for me to sell my home, on the surface, it seemed it was a blessing: A cosmic kick to move to a new city where I could start fresh and make the deeper friendships I so desired.

But, as I was just beginning to start a business, it seemed far too risky to pull up roots and disrupt my life while my business was still fragile.  Instead, I decided to rent an apartment for a short period while I got my business up and to give myself time to gain more clarity about where I wanted to go from there.

What I hadn’t planned on was how a simple move, eight blocks from my home, would change my personal life.

People started accepting my invitations to happy hours, dinners, and slumber parties in my new apartment.

My cousin and her husband moved to the area.

And, I met Robin.

I still have a picture memory in my mind of the second I met Robin. We met one day while squeezing our cars into the parking stall we share.  Both dressed in workout gear, both holding a Starbuck’s coffee and both starting our introduction by apologizing to the other about the amount of space we were taking in the stall, we had an easy way in our connection.

Nine months later, it seems I’ve known Robin forever. In a lot of ways, we feel like sister-roommates.  I work from home and Robin is home during the days, too. Robin lives directly below me and she can hear my every move, though I try not to make too much noise for her.  And, we check on each other every day. 

“Do you need something from the store?”

“Want to watch a movie tonight?”

“Can you come up for tea this afternoon?”

Robin and I make each other laugh and we have a lot of fun. And not having this feeling of community since living in Iowa more than 10 years ago, it’s comforting. But more than that, I recognize it’s special.

It’s easy to meet lots of people and go for lunch or coffee, but it’s hard to find friends with an easy connection.  To know you can let down your guard and you will be accepted.  The relief of being seen and feeling understood.  And, to have that kind of friendship one flight of stairs away… well, that is pretty rare.

But it’s bittersweet, too. Robin is looking for a home to buy and I will be living here less and less.  It’s clear this time is temporary.  Yet, instead of wistfully dreading the moment when it will end, we are relishing in the moments we still have.

© 2013 Lisa Ann Edwards

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Oh, Summer

              Photo credit: Patrizia Saolini

Oh Summer,
You make me feel dumber.

‘Cuz when you’re in the air,
I haven’t got a care.

It’s your sunshine haze,
Lulls me in your gentle, warm daze.

Dreams of watermelon slice,
Or a juicy tomato, diced.

With your sunscreen smell,
That my nose knows so well,

Life feels grand,
And toes are diggin' the sand.

Watchin’ kite boarders sailin', oh
My mellow mood’s prevailin’.

Now, the music keeps blarin’
And, I don’t care who’s starin’.

‘Cuz your big waves are callin’
So, I’d better stop stallin’.

It's time to get my prize,
Of your dizzy, giddy high.

And then, oh! I remember,
How the story does end here:

A fated ocean water slurp,
Followed by a saltwater burp.

© 2013 Lisa Ann Edwards 

Monday, February 25, 2013


Total Penny Count: 61

I have exactly one special talent: I find lucky pennies.

I don’t mean that I find lucky pennies every once in a while.  I mean that I find them a lot.  Like, at least once a week.

Sometimes, I find more than one penny at a time.  For example, last week, I found 61 pennies.  All at one time.

My talent wouldn’t be so special except for one thing…. Every time I find a penny, something good happens. And, not like a little thing, but a really good thing. 

For example, one time I found ten pennies. The next day, I found my new home with an incredible view of the lake, which I never dreamed would be possible.

Another time, I found three pennies and the next day, I got exactly three new client projects.

And another time, I found a one Euro coin!  Later that afternoon, I lost my cell phone in Barcelona, but lucked out because someone found it and returned it to me.

So, you can imagine how I must have felt when I found the 61 pennies.   Whoaaaa!!!

If I didn’t know there was a wishing well down the street, I would have skipped back home, but I realized that the pennies were probably taken from the wishing well.  There was no way I could keep the wishes of 61 people, so that night I took the pennies to the well. 

As luck would have it, I found yet another penny on the sidewalk while walking home from the wishing well.  In fact, I have found four more pennies since I found the 61 pennies last week. 

With all those pennies, I kept expecting something good to happen.  But, nothing!

I love making connections and meaning out of the most mundane things, like the pennies. For me, it makes life fun, but I was starting to get really annoyed because nothing good was happening, ….and after all those pennies!

And today, it finally dawned on me. 

In the last month, I’ve been so focused on work and business and results and doing and getting things done and schedules and agendas and timeframes and proposals and meetings and presentations and phone calls and deliverables and outcomes and on and on and on and on….. that I had lost my sense of wonder.

Luckily…. It seems it just found me.

© 2013 Lisa Ann Edwards

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Yesterday, I closed the sale of my beloved home and moved into an apartment.  I had never intended to sell my home, but nearly a year ago, several circumstances conspired that made it necessary for me to sell it.

I wrestled with the loss for a long time before putting my home on the market.  For me, my home was everything.  I loved it so much. It was the place to feel settled and content and where I felt I belonged.  I cried for months.  And months. And then, I cried for a few more months.  Nothing would stop the crying…  except traveling.

When I traveled, I felt terrific. I felt solid, stable, confident, light hearted and just like my regular self.

Then, I would come home, and cry again! I started to dread coming home.

As the time to move out drew near, I had to find an apartment.  One Saturday morning, I went online, found one apartment, called up the leasing office, visited and signed the lease.

The apartment was nothing like my home. It felt like a four-star hotel, and that’s what I liked about it.  If I felt good while traveling, maybe I would feel better living in a place that felt more like a hotel rather than trying to replace my home.  “It feels like The Fairmont,” I would tell people, matter-of-factly.

A week before moving out, in-between tears, my friend asked me for my new address, noting that my unit was Unit F.  I hated that it was F.  After all those tears, why couldn’t it be A?  Or, at least B+?  But F?!

“F is for Forward,” she said.

“It is?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said. “And, Free and Fun and Fabulous.”

“And Fantastic and Family and Feminine and Feisty!” I added.

“Exactly!” she acknowledged.

“Oh, Faaaaank you!” I sighed.

Maybe things would be okay, after all.

Yesterday, after the movers had moved everything out of my home, I went back to do a final clean up of my home and leave my key locked inside for the new owner.  I braced myself for what I expected would be a torrent of tears.

As a last momento, I bravely took a picture and waited for the tears. 

And, I waited.

But… nothing. 

“Huh,” I thought. 

I looked around the room and realized, “This isn’t my home.  This is just a boring, empty place.”

I left my key inside, picked up the last of the mail that had arrived that day, closed the door with the key inside and skipped down the steps, taking my home with me and happy to be free of the tears.

Sorting through the mail on the way to my car, I found a postcard.  From The Fairmont.

“Of course,” I thought as I rolled my eyes.

“F is for Fairmont!”

© 2012 Lisa Ann Edwards 

p.s. You can’t make this stuff up.  Here’s a picture of the postcard from The Fairmont.