January 31, 2012

How a Traveling Bookbinder Can Inspire YOU to Discover YOUR Passion

::A Day in the Life of Rachel Hazell::

Rachel Hazell is a traveling bookbinder who believes “everybody has a story inside of them and she wants to travel the world to get it out.” The self-proclaimed bibliophile believes this so much, that she’s trottin’ across the globe to inspire people to dig deeper within to share their stories through the art of binding hand made books.

She hopes that you too, will be inspired to pause and earmark a page out of your busy life to share your story and find your passion – whatever it may be.

When I heard that Rachel’s latest stop was in San Francisco, I knew I had to meet her. We met at one of my favorite haunts, Café Sapore, in the charming neighborhood of North Beach (San Francisco’s version of Little Italy) to talk about her passion.
The sun broke through the chilly breeze as we sat outside this cozy café and sipped some beverages (I had jasmine almond tea and she enjoyed hot chocolate) and shared a coconut cookie. She shared her personal story about what led her to the revelation of her passion of bookbinding and why she’s dedicating her life to helping people tell their stories through her unique craft.

“My love for bookbinding was innate and came out of loss,” Rachel says in an energetic British accent. When she was eight, she remembers the neighbors in her countryside of Somerset would sell apples along the roadside. She was so fascinated with books and how they were put together, she taught herself how to make books and wanted to sell them on the side of the road, but wasn't allowed. “The little books were awful,” she admitted with a quirky laugh. But it brought her joy – a joy she wants to share with everyone she meets.

“When I make books and I’m teaching people, time stops. I am fully in the moment and don’t worry about anything else.” She says smiling.

By her early twenties, she endured two tragedies. Both parents passed away. She had an epiphany – life is too short not to love what you do. ‘Read make love books’ became her mantra. She went off to Edinburgh to study and live; and it was when she went on a bookbinding workshop that the eureka moment hit! ‘I want to do this for the rest of my life’, she thought and sure enough she did! the inspiration was passed on. “I started teaching four friends how to bind books around my kitchen table. They shared with their friends and then people started to ask me to travel to their hometown to teach workshops,” Rachel said genuinely.

I could sense Rachel’s zest for adventure, so I took her on a walking tour of the neighborhood for the next part of my chat with Rachel.

I learned that, like binding, the pages in books her joy comes from bringing people together. I started to see that the process allows people to delve deeper inside themselves to discover their own passion in the stories of their lives. What she loves most is the sense of community and discovery -- a sort of cathartic coming together – and the sharing of stories and materials during a bookbinding session. Her carefully thought out, hand made, detailed storybooks are as personal as the stories they imbue.

For the past few years Rachel has dedicated her time traveling to all corners of the world to teach others her unique craft. She brings small groups and communities together in workshops and teaches them how to extract their personal stories, telling them through a myriad of textures -- old torn out book pages, thread and every material and scrap of paper imaginable.

Why bookbinding? “When I’m doing it, it feels right. I don’t think of anything else. It is pure joy!” Like each page of a well-told story. There is a lot of satisfaction that comes from a personally made book. Rachel says it’s the personal journey and sense of community is what she enjoys most about witnessing schoolchildren and people working together, sharing materials and stories. “A mother e-mailed me and said her daughter came home to tell me how excited she was to learn about making books, and that she was never excited about anything in her life.”

Her latest project is “The Diary of a Travelling Bookbinder.” Starting in Hebden Bridge, UK and ending in Paris, you can catch Rachel in different parts of the world every month this year, teaching different types of bookbinding workshops, if you want to join Rachel on her journey check out Rachel's website.

The Diary of The Travelling Bookbinder from Rachel Hazell on Vimeo.

If Rachel can create opportunities for herself as a BOOKBINDER and inspire people to discover their stories (and also motivate people to help her set up workshops and make a living out of something as esoteric as the craft of bookbinding) anyone can take that risk, baby steps, towards their passion.

Here are some of Rachel’s tips on taking the steps to finding your passion.

1. One step at a time. Everything big starts off with a single idea and small actions.
2. Get creative with the resources you have around you like researching online and the local library.
3. Network – don’t be afraid to ask. If you don’t ask, people don’t know how to help.

Our final stop of our walk was to a hidden gem of the neighborhood, near the east steps near Coit Tower. This was our view:

We took a moment -- and took several deep breaths -- to take in the calm of the trees that surrounded us and the view of the Bay Bridge and the view of the water. This moment seemed to quiet the hum of the city hustle bustle. We exchanged our favorite meditation techniques. (Rachel practices the Five Tibetans. I simply like to focus on my breath going in and out of my body while focusing on different parts of my body, mentally feeling and scanning head to toe.) Rachel revealed that she doesn’t think she’s a spiritual person and that, figuratively, “her book isn’t out yet.” My hunch is that with each stop, each lesson and each person she meets, the chapters of her life’s passion are being bound by joy.

What’s your passion? Are you living it? If not, why not? Please share your story in the comment section below.

Photo Credits: Fawn Luu

January 25, 2012

GIG Giveaway: Share an Inspiring Story for a Chance to Win Deepak Chopra's Leela

Start the year off right by bringing focus, energy, and balance to your life using technology! Go Inspire Go is giving away 2 copies of Deepak Chopra's Leela for Xbox 360, generously provided by our friends at Intent.com.  The video game provides a unique interactive experience that helps you achieve a peaceful and focused flow state through relaxation, mediation techniques and the ancient theory of chakras. Created in collaboration with world-renowned expert on mind-body healing, Deepak Chopra, Leela aims to help you develop a healthier, harmonious and more balanced life. (For more info about the game, go to http://www.deepakchopraleela.com/

It's simple -- here's how to enter:
1) LIKE US ON FACEBOOK - A winner will be randomly selected from our newest "likers."
2) SHARE A STORY IDEA - After you liked our Facebook page, share a story of how you or someone you know did something small that helped others.  Post your story on our Facebook page or tweet it to @GoInspireGo.  We will review entries and select a winner to receive a copy of the game AND we will cover your story on our blog, as well as share it on our networks.

Enter our giveaway through this Friday, February 3, 5:00 PST. Good luck!

January 21, 2012

GIG SPARK: Spreading the LOVE is Easier Than You Think. (VIDEO)

Drum roll… and roll the music… In the spirit of Elton John’s Lion King tribute "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" -- our latest GIG Spark was crafted with lots of love by Kevin Schow, a senior at Huntington Beach High School near Los Angeles.

Kevin hit the busy streets of downtown San Francisco with one mission: To spread the love. How? By simply giving flowers to strangers.

Hope this video makes you smile, count your blessings -- things in your life that make you feel love -- and of course sparks a fire inside you to do what you can to make someone else feel loved.

Love this! Hope you do too…

Gigster: Kevin Schow
Where: San Francisco
Spark: Spreading the LOVE in San Francisco
Your Turn: It's simple -- think about a thoughtful deed and take action.


WHAT'S A GIG Spark & CREATE your own!

As a part of GoInspireGo's mission to inspire our viewers to discover their power, we've joined forces with Youth Service America (YSA), Lil' MDGs and Miley Cyrus' "Get Ur Good On" to bring you GIG Spark: A Lesson on Compassion.

A "GIG Spark" is a short 1-1:30 minute video that inspires viewers to take action and help others after they've watched the video. The video will feature you showing and telling viewers what you want them to do on video. It's simple, quick and can generate inspiration for others! The goal: a fun, easy way to inspire action.

We're inviting YOU and your community (school, organization, friends, etc.) to use your passion and creativity to produce a "GIG Spark" and inspire viewers with your story. This is for anyone who can shoot and edit short videos. Get Started on a GIG Spark now.

Inspiration can be fun and infectious! We believe in the power of small acts and using technology to crowdsource ideas, capture it on video, spread the word online, and inspire immediate action. We know that people (especially youth) care and want to do something good for others, but just don't know how. So why not teach compassion to kids and adults in your life? This is a quick way for you to use your power to spark civic engagement and inspire a small ripple of kindness that will create a domino effect…

We can't wait to see inspiring acts popping up all over the state, country, and world! What can YOU do?

* Follow us on: LinkedIn, Twitter & Facebook

January 13, 2012

Lotus Bloom Child & Family Resource Center - Closing the Achievement Gap

Go Inspire Go (GIG) is proud to share this month’s Social Good Spotlight, to raise awareness of individuals and organizations doing good in their communities in order to inspire others to take action and ultimately make real social change. GIG believes everyone can find inspiration in helping others, whether it’s through doing small acts of kindness or working at an organization dedicated to making a difference. If you know of an individual or organization that you think should be featured, please email Marcia and help us forward their stories to inspire the world.

GIG Social Good Spotlight:
LOTUS BLOOM CHILD & FAMILY RESOURCE CENTER – Uplifting Children and Closing the Achievement Gap
by Marcia Estarija Silva

"Often times, I see parents and children smile more, talk more, and playing together more.  These are indicators that our participants are gaining new skills and building on their school readiness skills." - Angela Louie Howard, Executive Director

What is Lotus Bloom Child & Family Resource Center?
Lotus Bloom is a multicultural organization based in Oakland, California that develops and provides a safe, loving environment for inner-city children and families, offering developmental play and art activities to children from 0 to 5 years of age.  Last year, the center served approximately 600 individuals, of which 144 children and 138 adults participated in its 0-5 year old multicultural playgroups.

What is Lotus Bloom’s mission? What big changes is it trying to make?
Lotus Bloom’s mission is to empower individuals to realize their full potential and transcend their dreams into reality. In education, the “achievement gap” refers to the differences in academic performance - academic grades, standardized-test scores, drop-out rates, college-completion rates – and is most often used to describe the performance gaps between students from low-income families and those who are better off. In Oakland’s San Antonio neighborhood, 86% of 3rd graders were not reading at grade level and kindergarten teachers reported that children entering school had no preschool or early care experience. To help fill this achievement gap, several local volunteers and social service providers came together to form Lotus Bloom in the Fall of 2006 to offer free access to playgroup and school readiness programs.

Counting and singing during circle time

How is Lotus Bloom using its power to help others?
Nationwide, the data is startling - 29 percent of 2-year-olds in poverty demonstrated proficiency in listening comprehension, compared with 39 percent of those at or above poverty, and 55 percent of those in poverty were proficient in expressive vocabulary, compared with 67 percent at or above poverty. The disparity increases in later years. Twenty percent of 4-year-olds in poverty were proficient in letter recognition, compared with 37 percent of their peers at or above poverty. Forty-five percent of 4-year-olds in poverty demonstrated proficiency in numbers and shapes, compared with 72 percent of their peers at or above poverty.

Dedicated to working with diverse populations and connecting people of different backgrounds to work collaboratively, Lotus Bloom promotes language development and early learning experiences through playgroups and classes, such as Asian Community Mental Health Playgroups, multicultural play groups by age, and Parent Child Yoga,. Many of these classes are free or offered or on a sliding scale of $1-$5 per child, per day.

Students learn about color mixing by blowing paint around on a canvas

What inspires Lotus Bloom to do this work?
"Seeing children and families make progress everyday inspires me to do the work, whether it is watching children play with other children, holding a pencil for the first time, or writing their first name," said Angela Louie Howard, Executive Director.

The majority of the families that go to Lotus Bloom come from low-income backgrounds and third world countries and the concept of learning through play is a new concept to them. "I love to see parents in our programs get acculturated, learn new skills, new songs, count in different languages, and make new friends," she said.

Getting their hands dirty on a field trip to Funk Town Farm, 
a local neighborhood farm in the San Antonio neighborhood

What is Lotus Bloom focusing on now?
Lotus Bloom is working on a licensed community kitchen in order to help incubate small catering and food services within the community. The San Antonio neighborhood is plagued with fast food restaurants, such as McDonalds and Churches Chicken, and the organization wants to help the local neighborhood make use of their own cooking resources and build healthy and sustainable food programs. Food is also a great way to bring people together to share knowledge and culture and strengthen the community.

How can GIGSTERS get involved and support Lotus Bloom?
•Purchase a NSF certified oven/stove for their licensed community kitchen
•Volunteer and help by:
--- Working on our backyard to build community garden
--- Providing administrative support
--- Starting and facilitating a parent leadership group
--- Participating on Lotus Bloom’s Board of Directors
--- Plan and administer two fundraisers
Donate and provide financial resources to support our work

To volunteer or get more information on how to support Lotus Bloom, click here to fill out their contact form.

January 11, 2012

Starting 2012 in a Funk? Diluting Your Inner Debbie Downer

There’s a lot to be grateful for in life. Just look around you. Look inside yourself.

Since the start of 2012, I've received several calls from friends - and met up with one who I will call JC - who are rich on so many levels, but live in a mental state of poverty. The complaints endless were endless - “I have no money” or “this job or project is all I have” and, my favorite, “I would be so happy if ______ (fill in the blank).”

This prompted me to post this FB:

As Byron Katie would say, “is this true?” I’m sure that the truth or reality is only as true as the energy you give it or believe it to be. What’s more accurate: a) I’m poor, b) I’m broke, or c) I’m destitute? If any of those are true, then why are you sitting across from me at this trendy café, sipping on a nice cup of coffee and eating an egg and cheese bagel? (Note to my friend aka JC: you know who you are!)

Many conversations I’ve had ended with this bottom line: Many situations are just a mind game. It is what it is. And what is, is.

Need to get out of that funk? Here are some things that have helped me stay present and circumvent mental misery in 2011:

1. Put it in writing. I love to write and even if you don’t, just try this easy exercise. Write down exactly what you hope to achieve or what you need. Then take action or baby steps to get to that goal. Beware: it might just manifest.

2. Keep a gratitude journal. I just bought a two year journal: Building the Best You by Caroline Harper. It asks you five simple questions on one half of the page, then next year, you will write on the same page on the same date – and watch your blessings multiply. Here's a picture of one thing I'm grateful for today. (Thanks Devyn Rush for the recommendation!)

3. Focus on the present moment. Don’t let the past define you. Likewise, don’t let the future dictate your happiness. All we have is this present moment. As a student at the University of San Francisco, I used to think that if I got a job as a TV News Reporter in San Francisco one day, I would be so happy. I did it. It didn't bring the happiness that I thought it would. I don’t do it anymore!

And if all else fails, be grateful for your breath, your life. Again, there’s a lot to be grateful for. Just look around you. Feel inside you – you may be surprised! By the way, after my meeting with JC at the coffee shop and telling him about the three aforementioned things I did to get me out of a funk, he turned over a new leaf and started to tell me about all the blessings in his life. I guess he wasn’t a, b, c or any of the above. In the words of my friend, “Thanks for slapping me around and telling me not to be a Debbie Downer.”

January 2, 2012

The Power of the Handwritten Word

This first blog of 2012 for Go Inspire Go was inspired by my favorite feature reporter, CBS's Steve Hartman and a story he produced that my multimedia consultant, Denise Poon sent me: Enjoy! I hope this inspires you to use the power of penmanship and gratitude in 2012.