I Start Fires

6 Sep

“And what do you do for a living?” she asked.

I chortled with joy, “I start fires!”

For as long as I can remember I have engaged people in conversations about their hopes and dreams.  I am insatiably curious, so questions come naturally to me.  I’m also optimistic beyond measure; I refuse to accept that people, especially young people just starting out, need to settle for anything less than that which would make them come fully alive.

What I have found is that most people have so suppressed, buried or diminished their hopes and dreams, it is difficult to give themselves permission to dust them off.  Instead of being exciting to talk about their dreams, they seem more concerned about getting their hopes up.  It’s as if the loss of the dream was too painful to bear, and talking about it, too vulnerable.

As uncomfortable as this makes me, I understand it.  I recognize that their mindset keeps them trapped forever in the shadow of what could have been.

While I don’t believe it is too late for these adults, I recognize the incredible impact I can have in working with young people who have not yet given up on their dreams! Even when their hope is already waning, there are embers left that I can ignite! 

Last summer as a culminating experience for my Graduate Certificate in Creativity and Change Leadership I had to articulate my philosophy, vision and strategic plan. My vision is

Stimulating change in education by challenging the status quo and making a ruckus; disrupting pervasive mindlessness and setting people free from self-imposed constraints.

In the future I plan to create a self-directed education alternative to provide an environment that will be more nurturing of the curiosity and creativity of children as they grow and learn.  This environment will spark dreams, ignite vision and provide the freedom for courageous young people to be the hero in their own story; a story that unfolds bit by bit as they choose what comes next.

Self-Directed Education is a growing movement and I want to support its advancement by mentoring and coaching start-ups in other geographical areas.  I spent over 12 years self-employed, so I understand the emotional roller-coaster of a start-up and I know how to meet people where they are and show them the way out.

Thanks to my professors and courses at the International Center for Studies in Creativity (ICSC) at Buffalo State College, I already have an arsenal of creativity tools to help shift people’s perspective and create breakthrough thinking.  ICSC alumni, students and faculty are a tight knit group of change leaders and I am honored to have access to these collaborators.

Last semester for my Master’s Project I completed an exploratory project on mentoring; I believe mentoring is the accelerant that will make the fires I start even more resplendent.


I have a dream that one day I will be surrounded by generations of people who have come alive and are burning with enthusiasm because they are living, working and loving their dream lives.   They will not be bound by self-imposed constraints nor will they settle for playing the games others impose on them (Torrance, 1983).  Their courage and curiosity will allow them to see the whole world as their oyster and they will live all their days experiencing the child-like wonder of learning through discovery.  And I will be content in the knowledge that my spark played a small part in this glorious inferno.


“Catch on fire with enthusiasm and people will come for miles to watch you burn.”– Danny Babineaux

Torrance, E. P. (1983). The importance of falling in love with “something.” The Creative Child and Adult Quarterly, Volume VIII, No. 2, 72-78.


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