March 23, 2015

Three Life Lessons Mother Nature Taught Me

I’ve been fielding many calls from friends lately who needed to talk because they felt like their lives and experiences weren’t "going the way they’ve wanted them to" and because "their lives were off-balance." All of these challenges are merely opportunities for us to spread our wings when we’re ready to fly.

I love to be in nature as much as I love analogies, so how natural of me to want to use nature to explain what I’ve learned about the art of going with the flow and being in your flow.

Since I left my day job and started to be in tune with my passion, which I express through my nonprofit, Go Inspire Go, I’ve started to be more in my flow. I’m sure it’s exactly where I’m supposed to be.

I’ve faced many challenges — still do — and continue to learn how to deal with them and learn from them. I’ve poured all of my life’s savings and most of my time and energy into this platform that uncovers everyday heroes so that you can find your inner hero to help you help yourself and others. I’ve flexed my physical, financial and spiritual muscles through tough times and joyous times. No matter what I’ve faced since the inception of Go Inspire Go, I can truly say that every night I can say, "Today was a day well lived."

If you’re going through challenges, just think of these three lessons Mother Nature has taught me:

1. One of my favorite plants is a fiddle-leaf fig tree that I bough six months ago. I was excited as more than 12 leaves grew anywhere from 5 to 11 inches in about two months. The leaves — so big, green and rubbery — bring me joy.

Just about a month ago, it stopped growing. Concerned, I went to a local store and talked to a plant expert. After a quick diagnosis, he told me that the plant hibernates from about December to March. It knows that it needs to be in reserve mode during the colder season. How amazing is that?

I wondered, how does this lesson apply to my life? Then it clicked. I used to get freaked out when emails, inquiries and opportunities slowed down during December. A flurry of thoughts crossed my mind and I started to worry.

My spiritual friend, Terrie Crowley, told me, "Honey, God is giving you time to rest. Be in the now and be grateful for it. You’re going to get plenty busy soon.”

I realized that I didn’t need to stretch myself thin and take every meeting and call. I needed to just do "nothing" and get some R and R. Things will grow as they should. Just like the fig plant, I too needed to rest and just be…. What about you?

2. Did you know that a butterfly needs to struggle in its cocoon before emerging? If it doesn’t struggle, the fluids don’t push through the body into its wings and it won’t be strong enough to break free and fly.

Think about the struggles you’ve been through in your life. Release the expectations and just stay in the present moment. In time, what should happen will happen. How did they help you spread your wings? Talk about metamorphosis!

3. While on a walk with a dear friend, Suzanne Lettrick, we talked a lot about the idea of flow — being in your authentic "zone."

I told her that I was in alignment with my true self and that nothing makes me feel more alive than helping people discover and use their power to help themselves and others. Most of the time, I’m in that space and don’t let the ego get in the way by way of thoughts of doubt and negative self-talk.

She heard a writer once say, “If you look at a swan walking on land, it waddles and walks funny. But once it rests upon the lake, it flows.” Are you going through something that is knocking you off balance? It’s OK, go through your human emotions, cry, work out and talk it out if you need to. Just know that you can and will find the effortless flow that only you know how to find.

In the past two weeks, a half a dozen people told me, “You’re glowing.” I believe they meant that I am radiating inside and out — the feeling of joy.

So now, when I freak out when my expectations don’t turn out the way I want them to, I think, "Are you flowing?" For me, exercising, writing and talking to trusted people in my life help me remember to get back in the flow.

I know that we are not alone in this. You aren’t either. The key is to find what helps you be in your element so you can go and flow. Are you glowing and flowing? We’d like to know. Comment or get social and share on our social media channels.

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March 6, 2015

A Day of Giving — And the Magic of Collective Giving

By Kala Shah

When I first started the Community Heroes program nearly three years ago. I was hoping my own three boys would learn the value of giving back in the beautiful bubble of Marin County, Calif. I suspected that if we were able to get their friends and peers involved, “service” might even become fun and if I dared to dream, addictive? I invited Toan Lam, founder and Chief Inspirator of Go Inspire Go, to help launch the program at Sun Valley School (San Rafael, Calif.) and now in our 6th semester, we’re still going strong, helping build a stronger culture of empathy and giving in our community. Something magical has happened as the kids’ compassion and kindness has billowed out on campus and beyond, and as our ambitions have grown to do more. We’re now in four Marin County schools with others lining up to join us.

This past Sunday, more than 250 kids and their parents took the Marin area by storm, giving back to their community. Four schools, participants of the Go Inspire Go Community Heroes program, embarked on the second annual Day of Giving, with 12 unique service projects including:



-Cooking an elegant meal and preparing shelter kits for Homeward Bound of Marin
-Gardening at the Canal Community Garden in San Rafael
-Cleaning up with the Downtown Streets Team San Rafael
-Weeding and trash pick-up at Marin Civic Center
-Planting 150 plants and clearing non-native plants at Terra Linda/Sleepy Hollow Open Space Preserve
-Making superhero capes and blankets to benefit patients at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital and Rooms that Rock 4 Chemo
-Multiple bake sales to help pay for expenses


That’s an incredible amount of good to come from one morning! The joy and excitement was palpable before and after the event. People were glowing… and happy! Why? I truly believe there’s a hunger in this community to try and keep grounded amid our picture-perfect scenery and weather, our gadget obsessions and the super-charged environment fueling the latest tech boom. Disparities are widening and the growing masses of homeless are being shuffled around. You see them out and about more — as local parks shut their gates, and as it gets even tougher to find affordable housing with rents and home prices through the roof. All these Community Heroes CHOSE to spend their Sunday getting their hands and hearts busy to help others. Our secret sauce? We make it FUN and aim to INSPIRE with our videos and our ENTHUSIASM, which I’ve been told is rather contagious. :)


Top heartwarming quotes from kids who took part in the Day of Giving:
-“The people we cleaned the streets with don’t look homeless. They’re just like us.”
-“I can’t wait to see the smiles on the faces of the people we cooked for!”
-“The Day of Giving was the best day of my life.”

Whoa, how’s that for compassion in action. Magic indeed!

The ask….

As Sun Valley School’s program has been going strong, word has got out and we’ve recruited three new local schools to join us this year: Kent Middle School, Dixie Elementary and Mary Silveira Elementary. More are lining up — and at this point, we need your help. Despite what it may seem from all we’ve accomplished, this program is 100% volunteer-run. Aside from a few grants, including a coveted LinkedIn Innovation Grant, we’ve come to the point where to keep this program growing and sustainable, we need to secure funding. This requires support for a full-time coordinator and Go Inspire Go infrastructure to create videos to grow the curriculum, operate our website and help run an organization.


The Community Heroes program has been teaching kids about compassion and action for close to three years, and we’ve been proving that what we’re doing WORKS! We’ve been getting kids and adults EXCITED and ENGAGED and have gone out there and done A LOT — collection drives, fundraisers and service projects to support local charities. The most exciting aspect of our impact is how kids have felt empowered by the program; they understand how they have the power to make a difference. Who knows how these young philanthropists and social activists will exercise their powers throughout their lives?


I believe there’s no greater gift we can give our kids than to grow their sense of compassion and responsibility to help make the world a better place. Don’t you agree?

Three ways you can help:

1. If you think this program is valuable, and can support us with a contribution, please donate here. Funds would help develop a toolkit, expand to new schools, train facilitators and coordinate among partners and the non-profit network.
2. If monetary contributions are a stretch, we could always use more volunteers and connections to those who might be willing to help. Just drop us a line with your ideas!
3. Spread the word about Go Inspire Go’s mission — to inspire people to find their power to help others! Please forward and share this blog. Use #ComHeroes and tag us @goinspirego. You can also email Kala Shah.


Kala Shah is Go Inspire Go’s Chief Innovation Officer and Program Director of Community Heroes, a service-learning program that is now in four Marin County schools.