First off, who here know the secret to success?

I was asked to be a speaker at the inaugural Sparkle Project event and fundraiser. This is what I said:

First off, who here knows the secret to success?

Me neither.

A matter of fact, I don’t have the answers to most of the big questions and sometimes that really freaks me out.

But I find comfort in what I do have, and those are my stories and the lessons I've learned from them during my short time on this earth - about 9,500 days. By the way, that’s what I’m going to start doing from now on: instead of telling people how old I am, I’m just going to say how many days I’ve been alive and hope they are too lazy to do the math. 

I don’t have much time up here to talk to you and I want to make sure I get to the important things like atoms, and overcoming doubt, and why following your dreams is easier than you think. 

Let’s get started!

Some of you here know me, some of you don’t, and one of you has definitely given birth to me. My mom, she’s right over there. Hi mom, and thanks for coming.

Every time I get asked to speak in front of people, the same thought crosses my mind: why me, what can I offer? And the more time that passes the more I realize it’s not actually about me. I don’t need that kind of pressure! 

This is about you.

Yes, I'll share a bit about what I’ve learned, and through that, hopefully light a fire under you or maybe say something that will help you overcome the fear that’s stopping you from taking the next step in your life. But ultimately, it’s your choice what you do with what I say. These words could live and die here, if you choose to do nothing. 

So here are some of the lessons I’ve learned during my 9,500 days: 

Each day I start from where I am with what I have.

My god isn’t it ever easy to wake up, roll over, and compare our life to others? That gripping panic that you aren’t doing enough can be debilitating! Someone is farther ahead in their career, maybe they have more money, a better house, their relationship seems easier.

But I’m telling you that each day you wake up, you have a few things that are all yours, things that no one can take away from you. 

Grit: Your ability not to give up.   

Instinct: The feeling that guides you, and only you. 

And something I call magic, which is a few things wrapped up in one. First, the willingness to fail.

Think about that: the willingness to fail.

To actually put yourself in a position to jump and have it all go wrong on the way down. More on that later, trust me. 

Next, your magic is your ability to selflessly help others succeed. And finally, the belief that things will always, always get better. Go on and have your bad days, but always believe it will get better.

You know, I had a really bad day recently.

I applied for a full-time position at one of my jobs. A matter of fact, I thought I was going to get the job because I had already been filling in periodically for the past year. I even called up my girlfriends and said, “Friday night, we’re going out to celebrate!

I didn’t get the job.

And not only did I not get the job, but I helped train the girl who did. I did it graciously. I did it willingly. I did it because I want the women around me to succeed. But man was that a hard day. Afterwards, I went home, I got back in bed, I cancelled all my plans, and I didn't move. It was 10 a.m.

And that’s the funny thing about working in morning television, a lot can happen before most people wake up.  

So, I took that day to be sad, but that’s it. The next day I woke up, I stopped feeling sorry for myself, and things slowly got better because I believed they would. 

I ended up getting some great feedback on an article I wrote.

Later that week I got not one, but two, job offers.

As days went on, I felt a sense of clarity because I knew that was no longer my path. Sometimes eliminating an opportunity can be just as liberating as getting one. 

The next lesson I have for you is not to do this alone or selfishly. 

Start doing things for the sake of doing them, not because you are seeking praise. Help others for the sake of being compassionate, not because you want something in return. 

Next: Go outside of your comfort zone.

And before I continue, I know you have probably seen this embroidered on some pillow at your friend’s house. Live, Laugh, Love and life happens at the end of your comfort zone – or whatever. And you are like, okay yes, but what does that even mean?!

I want to tell you a story that I heard once, and to me, this is what "going outside your comfort zone" really is.

Prior to Cortez, several adventurers had come to Mexico, attempted to conquer it, and failed. 

When Cortez came to Mexico, he burnt all the ships in the harbour. His reasoning was that if his men knew that there was no other option but to move forward and conquer, they would do so. 

Other men had always had it in the back of their minds that if things didn’t work out, they could always run back to the ships and sail away.

Now, I’m not encouraging you to literally burn things down, like gee, I want to lose weight so I’m going to set the fridge on fire – no. I’m encouraging you to step so far outside your comfort zone that there is no other way but forward. 

Whatever ships are holding you back or making it easier for you not to move on, burn those. 

Next, and here’s that crazy truth about following your dreams: it is the easiest thing you will ever do.  

Remember how I mentioned instinct? I know you know what it takes to get to where you want to be, it’s just a matter of coming up with a plan and actually doing it.

That doesn’t mean it won’t take hard work. What I’m telling you is that when it does get hard, you will be ready. And when you start to think: there are people way farther ahead than me, there are already so many fashion bloggers, fitness bloggers, better writers, better photographers, and on, and on, and on – you will be able to draw from that reservoir of belief that you are meant to be on this path.  

This is your life. This is your story. Wake up and do something about it.

When doubt creeps in, and it will, when you start to think that maybe you shouldn’t, maybe you can’t, maybe it’s already been done, think this instead: Five years from now is going to happen no matter what. Where will you be if you don’t try?

Begin to see your work in terms of progress, not perfection. Read, learn, find mentors, and don’t ask permission to get started. Don’t even ask permission from yourself, you can’t be trusted not to talk yourself out of it. But that thing, that voice, listen to that when you feel lost or intimidated. 

I’m actually starting to run out of time up here. I was going to tell you a story I recently read about why you should be more like Genghis Khan but there are lots of children here, ya – looking around this is basically a room full of young people - so I’m going to skip that. But parents, if you want to go out for coffee I'll tell you my theory why your kids should be more like Genghis Khan. 

So this next lesson might be my favourite: 

Never stop learning. 

Every week I write down six things that I’ve learned from Monday to Friday. You would be surprised how incredible it is just to see that progress week after week. Becoming actively aware of what you learn by writing it down will make you feel full of ideas, invigorated by the world around you, and it will give you confidence in conversations. 

A matter of fact, I want to close by sharing something I learned recently about atoms. 

Basically, atoms make up absolutely everything around us. They are the basis for everything in the universe since the beginning of time.

You are made of atoms.

And because atoms are so long-lived, it’s believed that every atom you possess has most likely passed through several stars and millions of organisms on its way to becoming you. Isn’t that incredible to think about?

You are made of the same matter that makes up the entire universe, and in turn, the universe is made of you. Because of this, I do believe you attract what you want from the universe from the core of your very being. 

Now, depending on what you believe – and I’m in Abbotsford so I have to be really careful with this – but depending on what you believe, when we die our atoms will move off to find new uses elsewhere – as part of a leaf on a beautiful, tall tree, another human being or animal, perhaps, a drop of dew. 

When I am at my family’s cabin in 100 Mile, the one my Opa built with his own hands before passing away from cancer, I can feel him all around me.

Because atoms go on forever, it has even been suggested that the atoms that make us now, might once have belonged to Shakespeare, or Buddha, or Genghis Khan. 

I tell you this as a reminder of how amazing you are, how powerful you are. And how you should never, ever doubt your ability to do anything that you want to do. You are made of sparkly stars.  

Each day that you wake up, start from where you are with what you have. Because what you have and who you are, is enough.

Thank you.