LifeSPARKS Books Provide Inspiration and Tools for Lifelong Learning

LifeSPARKS Books at

Who are the LifeSPARKS books  for?

These books are for you if you want to shift your mindsets and approach to learning in order to joyfully navigate the circumstances, surprises, and transitions in life –whether you are a parent, teacher, caregiver, or young adult in high school or college, or nearing retirement and wondering “what next?”

Read on to see what each book includes.

Read moreLifeSPARKS Books Provide Inspiration and Tools for Lifelong Learning

What’s the Formula for Forgiveness?

What''s the Formula for Forgiveness?

I’m weepy today. 

13 years ago today my father passed away.

Dad loved to joke, to dance, to party. To have a good time. To bring home treats.

Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, the Twist.

My math brain comes from him.

Sadness and loss.

But of course, there’s more to it.

Good memories and also plenty of hard ones.

Today’s grayness and rain today echo my melancholy mood and set the perfect stage for curling up with a cup of coffee to reflect.

If I’m  honest, I’ve been weepy and out of sorts for the past week and a half.

There are regrets.

I start to write then fidget. My brain wants to run from the discomfort. I get up and start to clean. Flip on the radio and hear,

And all those things I didn’t say, wrecking balls inside my brain

Rachel Patten, pre-chorus Fight Song


Then I turn the radio off and sit silent again. Sometimes it was things I said, or that were said, which caused regrets and hurt.


MLK Forgiveness Quote at

Even more that what others did, intentionally or unknowingly to me, it’s so much harder for me to forgive all the things I’ve done or should have done.

How do I forgive my judgements of other people and myself –for making mistakes, not being perfect, being human and not being able to live up to my own standards, or follow my own advice?

And perhaps trying always to look on the bright side doesn’t work if you deny that there are things that hurt. There are things I thought I “dealt with”, understood and didn’t need to forgive from long ago that are still swirling inside, and are part of feeling stuck and the unexpected tears.

So what’s the formula for forgiveness?

Here is the formula I’m trying: Acceptance + Gratitude = Forgiveness.


There was hurt; there are regrets.  I feel them. Dad was doing the best he could at the time. Things I wish I could do over. I was doing my best at that moment, too.

Accepting that:

Our parents are not perfect.

Our children are not perfect.

We are not perfect. 



 How can I be thankful for the experience?

What were the strengths?

Joie de vivre, laughter, joking, how to get along with people, time with friends, giving presents, hosting parties, unconditional love.

The opportunities for learning?

  • Being honest
  • being happy with what you do have
  • responsibility
  • drive
  • how to cope with stress and disappointment
  • how to deal with sorrows instead of drowning them
  • how to reach out
  • patience
  • choosing a new perspective
  • staying true under pressure to conform to medical decisions
  • negotiating
  • empathy
  • feeling instead of denial.

Acceptance + Gratitude = Forgiveness

Does that equation work? I can think it. I can do the math.

BloedlReserve Forgiveness quote

Now, to work on feeling it, and proving a new equation.

Forgiveness – Shame = Peace + Moving Forward


Minus the shame: I’m human and make mistakes, even though I don’t want to.

As a kid.

And as a parent.

In relationships.

I am learning all the time.

Now it is time to breathe in peace and take the next step.

I wasn’t sure about sharing these raw, first-draft thoughts with you today since forgiveness is not what pops to mind when thinking about self-directed learning and helping our kids grow and learn.

But then I thought, maybe it would help if we did pay attention to forgiveness.

Maybe it is some of those hidden unforgiven hurts that interfere with how we help ourselves and our kids move forward.

And maybe I’m not the only one struggling with forgiving myself, maybe I’m not alone?


So, over to you.

How do you think forgiveness, or lack of forgiveness, impacts your parenting? Your learning?

What is your formula for forgiveness?

Do you find it harder to forgive others or yourself?

Do you have a tip or resource to share?

I’d love to hear your thoughts,  Lisa.


Don’t Forget to Go Outside!

Go outside at

Here is one of my core beliefs: to improve parenting, learning, and taking care of yourself, make sure you go outside each day.

Let nature nurture.

Fresh air, sunshine, feet and hands in the dirt help cure a lot of what ails us.  

Need help with stress? Sleep? Moods?

Take a walk.


“In beauty may I walk.
All day long may I walk.
Through the returning seasons may I walk.
On the trail marked with pollen may I walk.
With grasshoppers about my feet may I walk.
With dew about my feet may I walk.
With beauty may I walk.
With beauty before me, may I walk.
With beauty behind me, may I walk.
With beauty above me, may I walk.
With beauty below me, may I walk.
With beauty all around me, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk.
It is finished in beauty.
It is finished in beauty.” 

― Navajo Blessingway

Play in the dirt.

Lie on the ground and look at the sky.

Breathe deeply.

Smell the flowers, the air, the soil.

Open your eyes wide and look into the distance.

Look for patterns.

Listen for birdsong, insects, the wind.

Let the raindrops wash your tears away or inspire you to dance.

Dale Stephens and his grandpa on a hike. Sond't Forget to Go Outside at Photo copyright JP Stephens
Dale and Grandpa hiking.


“ Nature holds the key  to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive and even spiritual satisfaction.”  E. O. Wilson


No matter whether you go to the backyard, the local park, or the great untamed wilderness, do yourself a favor.

Do your kids a favor.

Go outside.


I always love it when research confirms my beliefs and experience.


How well does taking a walk in the woods, up a hill or just in the  fresh air work for you?


Want more about nature as a learning resource? Check out  this post.


be Honest

When I first wrote the ABC’s of Learning Beyond School I used Help as the defining word for the letter H. But as I have talked with more people about parenting, self-directed learning and how to define success for themselves, I changed my mind.  I realized there are some core beliefs that are the bedrock of my approach to parenting, learning and life.  This is one of them, H is for be Honest.

be Honest original artowrk by Carrie Svozil

 be Honest.

Yes, be Honest in all you do

Be radically honest  so you can build trust.

Be Honest when you look at yourself , even though it is hard and takes courage and integrity.

Be Honest about who you are, your biases and your expectations.

Be Honest about your blindspots, your strengths and your weaknesses.

Be Honest and dare to clearly see who your child really is.

Be Honest about  and celebrate your child’s strengths, talents, weaknesses, foibles,  and quirks.

Be Honest about why you do things and why you don’t, no excuses.

Be Honest about your choices.

Be heroic by spreading honesty and hope

Help  yourself, your family and the world by making honesty a habit.

Help others be honest and true to themselves.

When we honestly see ourselves and others, then we can trust and  bring our truest selves to the world. We can build confidence and connection.

When we  give ourselves and our children the gift of honesty, acceptance  and unconditional love,  we have the power to help ourselves and others heal.

be Honest.

How do you keep yourself honest?  

How do you help those you live with be honest?

Please pass it on!