So many emotions run through my heart and my mind on our final Bridging Day at Sunflower Creative Arts, but this is the first of many bridges we will cross I’m sure. Sunflower has meant so many things to us since we first discovered this community.. this family.
For some, Sunflower is a safe haven. A space to go where no matter what else is wrong in the world, it can be made right, right here. On this safe playground ALL feelings are allowed, ALL opinions are respected, ALL people are welcome. When the world’s playground doesn’t seem fair, the lessons we all participate in daily at Seedlings have a way of making it much clearer and easier to understand. There aren’t any distractions, there won’t be any sugar-coating. All feelings are met with loving arms, listening ears, compassion and grace. My the things we can achieve with hope, kindness, and an open heart.
For others, Sunflower means a second chance. A chance at a childhood lost too soon, the remembrance of play for those who’ve forgotten. A safe place to land after the world has chewed you up, and spit you out. When dancing to someone else’s tune hasn’t yet worked for you, and you need to remember your own song. Here is where you go to realize what you’ve been missing, or rather, remember who you are.. Maybe you never knew yourself, but on this playground, it’s impossible to ignore.
For a select few, Sunflower is simple. It’s all you’ve ever known in your home life growing up, and you couldn’t see living any other way. You’ve seen what the world looks like, yet it doesn’t quite make sense since you already know how compassion and community truly work. It’s a way of life that is familiar, and necessary.
Sunflower has meant all of this and much more to me. The lessons we’ve learned here have shaped us as a family, and we will forever be indebted to the kindness that was shown to us. It reminded us how to live, and how to love. Now that we have these roots, it’s time to use our wings. We have the opportunity to spread this message of community, and bring it with us wherever we go. Using the skills we learned on this playground to change the world, one seed at a time.
Well done Sunflower, you haven’t just prepared our family for Kindergarten, but prepared us for life. You prepared us to change the way people see the world.
Sunflower Creative Arts is located at 227 N Dixie Blvd in Delray Beach, FL. You can visit their website, or call them at (561) 501-6615.
I just recently received news that I have been invited to ShiftCon 2018! If you follow me on Instagram, you know I pretty much geeked out on my Insta-Stories. I went to ShiftCon 2016 in NOLA this past year and fell in love! This is THE conference to go to if you are a) a blogger, journalist, social influencer; or b) a human being who cares about their food or this planet. I am pretty much obsessed with this platform and just had to share my top five reasons that ShiftCon is the must-attend conference!
The food at ShiftCon is without a doubt the best I’ve had at any conference. Not only is every meal organic, but mostly sustainable, responsibly farmed, or locally sourced. Did I mention delicious? In a room full of media, we all couldn’t stop talking about food. I mean, I cover food on my blog at all times, but I was wowed by the selection and presentation of the food at ShiftCon 2016. They were also able to make sure and really add some local flair to the prepared food. We dined on some of the finest N’awlins Oysters from the infamous Dre’s, and I tasted my very first gumbo!
Which ever way you slice it, the ShiftCon attendees and community are some of the most supportive I’ve come across. I truly found my tribe in NOLA last year and have been talking about it ever since. It wasn’t just the media, but also the brands. They were completely engaging, and I’ve made some very real connections in a fast-paced industry where it’s easy to get “lost in the sauce.” The Expo hours were separate allowing brands to sit and dine with media during keynote speeches, or learn alongside each other in various workshops. The connections made were very real and organic. Pun totally intended!
ShiftCon is structured in such a way that there is plenty of time to experience the local culture. They’ve also made it possible to include a bit of the local culture in workshops, scheduled tours (I was able to enjoy a local ghost tour in the heart of N’awlins y’all), and special guided activities. All putting you in touch with your surroundings, and the good folks trying make #ShiftHappen in these cities. It’s both inspiring and eye opening.
There is so much education at ShiftCon. These folks are passionate about the cause and have lined up an array of educators to help you to spread the good word. They’re fighting the good fight all over the nation and have come from far and wide to share it with all the ShiftCon Shifters. These are some of the most passionate and engaged educators teaching us about anything from soil degradation, agricultural news, and farming practices, to social media growth and SEO courses. A wide range of all things “shifty” if you will. The ways and means on how to report your news and the most effective way to get it to the masses. The panel’s were jam-packed with CEO’s (not marketing reps) from major organic brands answering some tough questions about their practices, and future plans for remaining authentic in a consumers market. I left each session feeling as though I’d learned something new, and feeling more connected to the brands that I use and write about.
If you’ve ever spoken to someone whose attended a ShiftCon conference, then no doubt you’ve heard of their infamous swag bag. I kid you not, I couldn’t begin to even go through it all. There was something inside from every beloved (albeit pricey) organic company I could think of. The swag alone outweighs the cost of the ticket, and is well worth it. I actually had to ship it home to myself because it was way to much to haul in an airport all on my own. The swag bag is given to you on the first day you arrive (perhaps so you have time to figure out how to get it home), and it doesn’t end there. Each day / night there is a new raffle or opportunity to win a new prize. This year, there will be an awards ceremony for the media that is attending, I can’t wait to see what they get to take home!
Either way you slice it this event is a “gotta be there” kind of event, and this year it’s returning to its roots in the OC. Yours truly will be there getting all of the scoop and sharing with all of the other “shifters” via social media. You can join the #ShiftHappens movement by getting your very own tickets here.
See you in California!
This post was written in partnership with Be The Match. Real patients like 11-year-old Kamryn are currently searching for a life-saving marrow donor. Learn more and sign up for the Be The Match Registry® at www.join4kami.org.
There is no bond like that of a parent and child. From the moment they are born, the overwhelming love is unmatched by any other experience in life. We do our best from the very start to ensure we are doing our best to keep them from harm, keep them healthy, and protect them at all costs. I can’t begin to imagine what it must feel like to not be able to protect them from a debilitating disease that is attacking their body. We count our blessings each day that we have two healthy and active boys. Although, that just doesn’t feel like enough at times.
I remember being a young teenager and feeling helpless, watching the doctors scour our family members asking for blood. My dad was involved in an accident, and desperately needed transfusions. At the time, I didn’t know my blood type, and I was unaware that I was a match for his rare O-Negative blood type. This has always been a deep regret of mine, and has always effected me. My father would eventually succumb to his injuries, and our lives were forever changed.
The moment I turned eighteen, I made a few very important adult decisions. One of those key decisions was to donate blood as quickly as I could. I wound up donating platelets as well. Seeing the need for my blood type and having been through my own experience with my father, I began to dive more deeply into donating in different ways. Changing the lives of real patient’s like 11-year-old Kamryn, suddenly became a possibility.
Joining the marrow transplant donor list was one of the most profound decisions I could make as an adult. Be The Match makes is possible for donors like myself can have a profound life-changing effect on people’s lives like young Kamryn. Marrow transplants can provide life-saving treatment for over seventy diseases. It may be hard to believe but most marrow transplant patients don’t have a match within their own family, and rely on organizations like Be The Match to help connect them with their donor match. While I am older now, I am glad I signed up when I was young. The younger a person, the healthier their marrow, which means they will more likely be a match for more patients, and change more lives.
Signing up is as simple as a three-second cheek swab to get you in the system and see if you are a match for anyone like Kamryn, who currently doesn’t have any match just yet. The procedure can be simple and painless, or require a bit of recovering in a few cases, a small price to pay for saving a young life, like Kamryn’s. You can learn more about her story and sign up to join the registry at join4kami.org.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.