Whether it be a young child in elementary school struggling to fit in or an incarcerated military veteran that lost hope somewhere along the way, being involved with the people in my community has always been important to me. It doesn’t matter what someone has been through, how they look, or the decisions they have made—everyone has a SPARK inside and everyone has something valuable to offer this world. I am lucky to have this awareness, but not everyone has had the chance to learn this yet. I have always been passionate about helping people, but I didn’t always know how to help. Once I became aware of my own SPARK and understood how my thoughts and feelings worked, I knew I needed to share with others. Every human needs to know! Everyone deserves to know that they have well-being, resilience, and potential already inside them. I am so grateful that I get to continuously share SPARK with so many different populations and witness the impact it has on them, but I am also very grateful for the impact that SPARK has made on me as a facilitator in my community.

A few days ago, I came across this video that Ashley and I made in early 2018. When I first watched it, I just laughed because I remember that day so well. I used to be so anxious about teaching classes. I always wanted to make sure that my classes went perfectly and that I covered every single thing in the curriculum exactly how it was written. All that anxiousness and overthinking was taking me away from being present with my students and trusting my SPARK. It sounds so simple to me now, but before I truly saw what it means to trust my SPARK, I would innocently get in my own way. After these classes that I spoke about in the video, I saw the importance of being present in the moment. When I am completely present, that is when my SPARK naturally shines the brightest. I’m not paying attention to all the unhelpful thoughts in my head. I’m not self-evaluating. I’m not worried if everything is going exactly as planned (or not!). I’m just being my true self and speaking from the wisdom that comes to me moment to moment. That is what trusting your SPARK looks like! It took some time to break my old habits like listening to my anxious thoughts or dwelling on my mistakes. There have been times when I slip up, and of course I still get nervous at times, but my understanding of how I work as a human has grown so much with the grace I can now easily offer myself.

When I enter a classroom now, I don’t even look at the curriculum while I’m there; I might write down a few key points or activities that I want to share that day, but that’s it. I speak from my heart and share my experiences. This week, I recognized a need for a lesson on confidence in my women’s class at our local jail. Our Insight to Well-Being curriculum doesn’t include this lesson, but I felt this particular group needed to participate in this conversation. I trusted that feeling and it ended up being one of my best classes with the group. I continue to surprise myself with how capable and creative I can be as long as I choose to trust my SPARK! Learning from my SPARK mentors, being a mentor myself, and engaging with so many different people in my community has helped me to be the best version of myself. The person that I am now in 2024 feels completely different from the person in that 2018 video in the very best way.

-Jena Travise