I am not exactly sure how to put what I experienced yesterday into words. I am going to give it my best effort because I want to remember it forever. 

Listen HERE, or read on my friends.

Taking a Risk

I saw Brad Montague’s Instagram post about The Wonder Workshop months ago. Like so many, I find joy and inspiration in pretty much everything Brad does, so the opportunity to spend a day in his presence had great appeal. What’s even more appealing to me about Brad, more appealing than even the Kid President ‘Pep Talk”, is that Brad is the definition of real. He has shared many things about his insecurities and anxiety that are genuine and make him even more relatable. I get caught up in the ‘popularity’ race of social media too, and to hear that someone like Brad experiences that same self-doubt helps me feel better.

So, I signed up. On my own. Even though I wasn’t sure what to expect. Even though I am very wimpy about driving and I knew I would have to drive myself to Chicago. I wanted to do this for me, to spark creativity and to feed my soul. I told everyone I could think of about the workshop, and it turned out that two people I have gotten to know through Twitter and Voxer registered too. What a bonus!

I made plans to spend the night at my cousin’s house in Chicago the night before the workshop. It was such a treat to be able to spend time with her. We had a delicious dinner, yummy wine, and a great conversation. It was one of those beautiful times where years melt away and you catch up right where you left off.

The Wonder Workshop

The morning of the workshop, the first thing I wrote in the cute little notebook they gave us was a message from Harris III, who hosted the event and kicked us off with some inspiration and illusion.

Don’t crush wonder with how.

His message was that all too often we dismiss our own wonderings or the wonders of others by trying to figure out the ‘how’ too quickly. Allow the wondering, simmer in the wonder, let all the wonder happen first, then figure out the how.

Before Brad went to the center of the room to speak, I went up to him and said hello. I am guessing that he recognized me from one of the countless posts I tagged him on about the workshop because he thanked me for coming and said, “So you’re on Spring Break?” Another tally in the positive column for Brad–he really does pay attention. (BTW, there is no “negative” column for Brad).

The workshop was in a really cool industrial space, and there were about 100 participants, so it was very intimate. As you can imagine, Brad surpassed any expectations I had for the day, and I left with tears in my eyes. I was so grateful for the opportunity to learn from Brad, to be inspired by him and to have a spark lit within me. As I looked over my notes from the day, I synthesized Brad’s messages into a list of six.

“There is an entire world out there who desperately needs what you bring. This is your time. Rise up! Join the joyful rebellion.”

Smiling, I am thinking about what Brad said about ‘likes’. Don’t worry about likes, share what you like. Share what fuels your soul, what brings you joy. Create an oasis for people, a place they can go to fuel their own soul. Celebrate not only your own success, but the successes of others.

“Connect to your inner child. The world is plenty childish, be childlike.”

I have the fortune of working with children every day. I see their excitement and awe, I see the sparkle in their eyes. I turn and look at what they are looking at, and sometimes I just see an ordinary stray cat on the playground, or a simple piece of paper. They see our school mascot who loves us so much he keeps coming back to visit. They see a magical creation that they made with their own two hands. Brad encourages us to remember the awe we experienced as children and connect back to that. Get your sparkle on!

“Make your own party and invite everyone to it.”

I especially love this about Brad, everyone is welcome to join his party. He not only invites you, he thanks you for coming. Be a party, be a joyful rebellion, and welcome everyone to join you.

“Live in daily awe. Bring out the magic all around you. Celebrate the ordinary, make it extraordinary.”

When Brad shared this, I thought about cleaning the kitchen after dinner every day. It can be a boring, mundane task that I need to survive to get to the fun stuff…or it can be a dance party that just happens to be productive. We get to choose how we move through life, every step of it. There is not a moment to waste because this life is fleeting. Take that walk in the woods and stop in awe to watch the squirrels. Lift your face to the sun and feel the magical warmth of the rays.

“Work with imagination and intention. Define your own compass unbreakable by setting your purpose, define your success, figure out where you are now, and what is it that you need. Then, set sail!”

I spent time throughout the day thinking about what defines success for me. Here is my working definition: Be a model of joy for everyone I meet, help them feel strong and positive as we all move toward becoming better every day with an open heart and an open mind. That is where I will set my compass.

“Be here. No, really here. Notice the sparkle in someone’s eye. Ask them about it. Really listen and share their awe.”

This is great advice for me as a mother and as a school principal. Sometimes we get busy and do the half-listening (well…half might be an exaggeration) head nod and say, “Oh yeah honey, that’s great.” They deserve better, both children and adults. Listen to them, notice when they have a sparkle in their eyes. Ask them about it. Share their joy.

To Be Continued

If you ever need further proof that Brad is the real deal, you just need to meet his wife Kristi, who absolutely glows with positivity and joy in such a peaceful way. If she loves him, he must be something very special.

The day was extraordinary–from meeting Brad and Kristi, to seeing their children enjoy the day with us, to my tweet-ups with Karen and Megan, to meeting many other incredible story-tellers. There were only a few educators in the room, and it was lovely to connect and collaborate with such a diverse group of people. It was one of the best days of my life.

That’s it, for now. My story of The Wonder Workshop is to be continued as I reflect on the experience and integrate Brad’s messages into my life.

Let’s get this party started!

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