Personal Writing

It’s not the size of your Spark that matters

I’ve gotten useful feedback about Spark work recently from people, those who’ve formally done the work and those who haven’t.

Of particular value:

  • I’m not ready to go “there.”
  • How can I (re)Discover something I’ve never Discovered or maybe had in the first place?
  • Some people are scared to do this work. It feels too big.

I’m grateful to those who shared their thoughts. They’ve helped me talk differently about Spark work ever since.

But it’s more than how I’m talking about it.

Yes, I talk about building a Spark Empire, and I’m going to continue that because that’s MY lifetime’s Spark pursuit, but…

Professional talks, online events and more are all part of my grand Spark Empire plan.

The disconnect, as I now see it

These conversations also got me thinking about my day-to-day Sparks. The little, seemingly insignificant ones that actually play an important role in my life.

Am I talking enough about those to help others see how this work fits into their life?

Do you see how Spark work fits into YOUR life?

Or have you read posts, watched livestreams and said, “Wow, that’s amazing, but it’s not for me.” or “I don’t have that kind of Spark.” or “I’m afraid of what I’ll discover (and maybe have to change) if I go ‘there,’ so I’ll just stay in my ok life and miss the opportunity for more.”?

Tiny, everyday Sparks—aka, The Sparks that truly matter

I represent the arts sector in my day job (for a few more weeks, anyway). When people hear the word artist, they almost always assume visual, so I’ve spent nearly 13 years explaining that I’m an actor and definitely NOT a visual artist. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve said, “I can’t even draw stick people.”

I recently read Creative Confidence by brothers Tom and David Kelley; I loved it. They talk about another book, The Back of the Napkin by Dave Roam, and they included these:

I love these little people so, so much.

As I looked in amazement at these quick drawings of people, I thought (for the first time I could remember), “Maybe I could practice getting better at stick people.”

So I did it. I drew one. Then another. Then more. And I’ve been doing it here and there for over a month now.

I’m particularly keen on the little girl with the super curly hair and the happy boy with the baseball cap, Top R.

The first ones I drew, on the white paper, were rough. I mean, look at that poor little guy running near the bottom. He has three arms because I put the one on the left in the wrong spot initially. And his front leg would be broken if he were a real boy because I couldn’t figure out what angle would show running.

Until I looked at Mr Roam’s drawings, I had never thought about the placement of the face: put it near the top to show joy. Place it near the bottom and close to an edge to show fear. Use lines around the head to express volume, action or emotion.

The ones on the pink post it note, later attempts, are better.

Not amazing, but better. At least none of their limbs are bent the wrong way or coming out of their rib cages.

I became a little obsessed, and in talking with an artist friend, she suggested I order the book Step-By-Step Drawing People.

It’s of note that this book is for artists age 4+. The description says, “Complete beginners can discover how to draw lots of different people.”

I’m only 45+ years older than 4, but you know what? I don’t care about that. The simple joy I’m taking from these little drawings is impossible to explain. I mean, come on, how unbelievably cute are these?

And I DREW them!

I’m not going to become a professional visual artist anytime soon; that’s not at all the point. The actual point is that these drawings, which only take 10-15 minutes, are a Spark that has come completely out of the blue for me. COMPLETELY.

Or has it?

When my mother saw the fairy, whom she immediately named Sparkle (Isn’t that the best???), she reminded me that when I was really little (you know, about 4 years old), I loved nothing more than coloring and creating art. I’d set up a small table and chair in our kitchen with a Royal Dansk cookie tin filled with crayons, construction paper and torn out pages of items I loved from the latest Sears and LaBelle’s catalogs, scissors, Elmer’s glue and other creative materials and happily create.

I’d forgotten that. And I have no idea when that joy stopped for me, or why.

But for whatever reason, it did. I’ve actively avoided creating anything that felt like “art” almost all my life. I’ve always loved standing on a bare stage, preparing to create a whole new world, but looking at a blank canvas makes me break into a cold sweat.

Occasionally, during these past 13 years, I’ve forced myself to do something with visual art because it felt important to have a basic understanding of what the artists I work with do. I’ve never quite understood the visual artists who find it relaxing, joyful and freeing. That has not been my experience for decades.

But I can tell you this new-found interest in creating drawings that 4+ year-olds can master is making me relaxed, joyful and free.

A time-lapsed video of me drawing a little girl. This tickles me to no end.

My Spark to draw these little figures and to include stick people in various places isn’t going to make me a single dollar, it’s not going to grow my Empire, nor is it going to change one other person’s life. This is Spark work just for me, for the shear joy of creating.

That has immense value.

For the greater part of my entire life, that Spark has been basically extinguished.

Basically, but not absolutely.

I don’t know why, at age 50, I looked at those stick figures and was motivated to try drawing them for myself. All I can say is my Spark flared when I saw them, and that was enough to illuminate a new part of my path I chose to take.

(re)Discovering that Spark has actually been incredibly easy, and it’s made my day-to-day life better, richer and more joy-filled in such a simple way. As has baking more bread, planting flower pots for our back yard, going for bike rides with Dr Marry and on and on. Those Sparks are each extraordinary, and they all came from getting quiet, being curious about what I found interesting and trying them out.

Maybe you don’t want to build an Empire of any kind, but I bet you want to have a better, richer, more joy-filled life.

Trust me, doing the work to Discover Your Spark will give you that and so much more.

Spark work IS for you. You simply need to trust that you have one/many and say yes to the journey.

It’s now or never

I’m removing obstacles around my Spark to hold retreats/courses. For whatever reason, I’m being led away from leading this work. Something could change, but I don’t plan to hold another retreat or course for the rest of the year and possibly longer.

So if you’ve been waiting to Discover or (re)Discover Your Spark, April 22 & 23 is your final chance. The deadline to sign up is Friday, April 14.

Post Script

I realized while writing this that the stick figures actually weren’t the first flare of this Spark. When I wrote this post in February, I went looking for an image to use. For some unexplainable reason, I thought, “Gosh, I guess I could draw what I want.” So I did. I had to color with markers because there wasn’t a single crayon or colored pencil in the house. After drawing this, I went and bought a pack of 24 crayons, for reasons I couldn’t absolutely understand. Well, when it came time to draw Sparkle a few weeks later, I was thrilled to have them.

Spend some time today thinking about the little Sparks of joy that come to you and consider how you might incorporate more of them into your life. And if you’re ready to find more, sign up for the retreat and let’s get discovering together.

Top photo caption: A “drawing” I was compelled to make to try to express how I was feeling during my two-week writing retreat in Sept 2020. A Christmas card I made in 1978, right before turning 6. The new book I just ordered that has brought me such joy and Spark.

Dayna Del Val is on a mission to help others (re)discover the spark they were born with through her blog and newsletter, her professional talks and the (re)Discover Your Spark retreats she leads. Dayna works with people to help them not just identify and articulate their dreams but to develop a framework to get going on the pursuit of those dreams—today, in the next few months and for the years ahead. She's at the intersection of remarkable and so, so ordinary, but she knows that pretty much everyone else is, too. She's excited to be sharing this extraordinary journey with you.

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