The Gift of Creativity

Today marks the start of a new offering here at Starcat’s Corner. From time to time, I’ll be presenting a Tarot card and then taking a look at a related topic through the lens of that card.

I’ve been working with the Tarot since 1997, and I find that it shines a different kind of light on a topic, problem or situation than we’re able to grasp with the rational mind alone. I invite you to take a look at the card, read the post, and then come up with your own insights and questions. I’d love to hear any that you care to share in the comments, below.

The first card we’ll be working with is the Ace of Wands, which invites us to look more deeply at our creativity. One of my favorite images of this card comes from The Sacred Circle Tarot by Anna Franklin and Paul Mason.

Here, take a look (click on the image to see a larger version):


I love how vibrant and passionate the creative spark is in this image! The wand, which is made of oak, has been cut, severed from the tree. It is flawed and imperfect. Yet green leaves still bloom, and a powerful light emanates from the wand. To me, this shows how, despite the fact that we are each individual beings, mere humans, separated from our Source, we are nonetheless powerful creators. Whether consciously or not, simply by existing, you shine your bright light into the world. That light of your creative energy moves outward in concentric circles, affecting not only those around you, those who interact directly with you and your work, but also people and situations unknown to you.

And the separation itself is an illusion. Look how the wand stands upon the grassy plain, its tip buried firmly in the ground. You are part of the ground of being that encompasses the entire cosmos.

In the Tarot, the aces represent gifts. The gift of creativity that flows to you from this card comes with a new beginning. It is dawn in the image. Each day, you awaken from sleep into a brand new day, one in which you have the power to choose to create the life that is most meaningful to you. Sure, you can create in the traditional sense, by writing a book or painting a landscape. But whether or not you choose to do that work, you are already creating your own life, moment by moment, a work of art.

Sometimes we are unaware of this power that we hold, but it waits there for us in each new day.

The suit of wands, as is quite evident on this card, is associated with fire. Creativity is action. When you allow it to flow through you, warming your body, mind, and spirit, you come up with amazing ideas, inspired creations, and delightful connections. Fire can be scary, but it is also an essential part of life. Other ways to symbolize this type of energy would be sunshine, heat, electricity, or fuel. Think about how you fuel your own creative explorations. Do you block the flames, or feed them with your attention and time?

Here are some further questions for you to ask yourself, as a starting point on your own journey with the Ace of Wands:

What type of life am I creating for myself? What energies am I emanating? How do I share my creations with the world? In what ways can I enhance my connection with the cosmos, grounding myself more firmly in the all? What choices can I make each day to increase my creativity and contribution to the world? How am I feeding or smothering my creative fires?

If you’re excited to enhance your creativity and spiritual connection, subscribe to my brand new e-newsletter, Starcat’s Notebook. Just type in your name and e-mail on the toolbar to the right, and you’ll receive a monthly e-mail with creative musings, inspiring quotes, whimsical stories, fun and funky projects, and seasonal challenges. Join the creative revolution!

Creativity, Spirituality, and a New Notebook

This week I’d intended to write a post for you about the connection between creativity and spirituality. In my experience, I’ve discovered that the two are delightfully entwined. When I focus on my creativity, it expands my sense of connection with the entire cosmos. This increases my personal joy and my sense that I’m doing meaningful work. The converse is also true: when I take time to become connected, whether through meditation or taking time in nature or practicing mindful presence, I find that my creative flow is ramped up, almost exponentially.

While I was pondering this post, rolling the ideas around in my mind, BlackLion and I sat down to work on one of my goals for this month. I wanted to start an e-newsletter for my readers (that’s you, dear one), a way to have a more personal connection to those who choose to go in depth with what I share here. I took a look at what I write about most here on the blog: yup, the answer is spirituality and creativity!

I decided that the newsletter will focus on how you can add more creativity and imagination to your everyday life, thus automatically increasing your own joy quotient and lending more meaning to what you do. Sound good?

starcatsnotebookStarcat’s Notebook was born! Tah dah!

So, here’s the deal. If you’d like to get in on the fun, just sign up over on the right side of the page. The newsletter will come out once each month, and will include lots of fun and creative goodies. Like creative musings, inspiring quotes, whimsical stories, fun and funky projects, and seasonal challenges. AND, in addition to that, you’ll receive (as soon as it’s finished) a Creative Inspiration Pack, which is a spunky little e-book by yours truly (with artwork by BlackLion) that is your special gift for joining us.

Today I’ve been polishing the outline for the Creative Inspiration Pack, and I’ll be working on it for the next week or two. That’s why this post on creativity and spirituality got a bit, well, side-tracked. Don’t worry, though, the whole concept has been expanded on and infused with a slew of fun new ideas, and you’ll be able to read it before too much longer!

If you join before the Creative Inspiration Pack is finished, I promise that it will be delivered to you as soon as it’s ready, wrapped up in a virtual purple ribbon!

Whether or not you sign up for Starcat’s Notebook, I always appreciate you reading these words, and I love to hear your feedback. Blessings!

Starcat’s Favorites: Warming Trend

WP_20150408_003Guess what?! I just looked at the forecast for my neck of the woods, and all the high temps for the foreseeable future start with fives and sixes! Woo hoo!

I took a walk earlier this week, even when it wasn’t quite so warm, and saw other signs that Spring is finally arriving here in Maine: robins, melting snow, and the rushing of the brooks and streams.

Yay! I’m so happy! I mean, I was happy before, but this provides an extra boost of joy. Add that to the fact that I finished writing the first draft of a novel last week, the one I started in November as part of NaNoWriMo, and life is really good indeed. I’m so thankful.

How was your week? Are you enjoying the weekend thus far? Is it warm and sunny where you are? If you’re looking for something fun to read, here’s a sampling of my recent favorites.

I’m really feeling like this lately in regards to my writing. What’s your passion?

Taming your inner critic. And how to stop over-thinking things. It might also help to contemplate the notion that there are really no mistakes.

I love this article about finding inner freedom.

25 ways to be kind. Pay it forward!

Want to be more productive? Check out these tips.

This article, while not really meant as humor, cracked me up. I may have been a bit like this myself when the kids were little…

I find this really fascinating. Actually, I’m in the process of learning about green burials and home funerals.

Have a wonderful week and enjoy springtime!

Leaving Space for the Mysteries

fd140716faesunset3Sometimes it seems like we live in a world where everything that isn’t completely rational has been either brushed aside or ridiculed. If there’s no research proving it, forget about it. It’s kooky. If it doesn’t involve making or spending money, it’s not important.

I used to listen to the NPR news all the time. Now it often seems two-dimensional. Journalism, even good journalism, follows a formula. Here’s a problem. This side says blah blah blah. The other side says blah blah blah. The facts and figures compiled by so-and-so say this. Cut and dry. Kind of boring.

What about the mysteries? The unknown? Dreams and visions? Seeing ghosts or angels or alien spacecraft? Communicating with nature spirits?

Leaving space for the mysteries in your life is like finding pleasure. Different people find joy in different activities, although we collectively have plenty of ideas about which pleasures are Good and which are Bad. Video games, for example. Mostly seen as Bad. But you might play a game where you’re hanging out with your friends, or mastering a particular maneuver, and you come away from it with a big smile on your face, feeling inspired. You might play because you like games, but get so upset about losing or not having mastered that trick yet that you curse and fume, and the whole household gets into a funk just from hearing your rage. That feels pretty icky.

What about bicycling? Good, right? Fantastic exercise for your body, and much easier on the environment than a car. But what if you ride so often that you need a double hip replacement by the time you reach your mid-40s?

One more example: enjoying a piece of cake. Homemade pound cake with raspberry jelly and perhaps some whipped cream. You might come away feeling bloated, with a sugar headache. Or you could brew a cup of tea and savor every bite of cake, then feel refreshed from your nurturing break.

This is when you might be thinking: no way. Sugar is always bad. It’s a poison. No good will come of this. You know those times when you feel that absolute about something? Watch out for that. Really. You don’t know anything for sure. None of us do. Hanging onto absolutes might be as unhealthy as eating candy bars for breakfast.

What if we’re wrong about sugar? What if everything is made of energy? What if our beliefs about the food we eat are more important to the outcome than the food itself? What if our very reality is composed of beliefs, which are simply thoughts that we think repeatedly?

What if it’s not?

For years now, nutritional science has told us to be healthy by minimizing fats. Now it’s saying, no, it’s the carbs that are bad for you. Bread, the “staff of life” our agricultural civilization was built upon, is a huge no-no. Why? Changing agricultural and food-production practices? Evolution of our physical bodies in a more sedentary modern world? Our collective beliefs?

None of the above? All of the above, and more?

If you prefer the absolutes, and enjoy scientific rationalism for that very reason, check out quantum physics. It’ll blow your mind.

Even religion relies on these absolutes. What does it say about us that the very discipline that is presumably all about the sacred mysteries relies so heavily on old dogma? My son Dryst, a self-described atheist, feels that our world would be much better off without religion. We had a great conversation about it the other day. Spirituality is fine, although it’s not his thing; it at least usually doesn’t cause people to want to kill or oppress groups of other people.

He feels that religious groups that take the Bible literally are ridiculous. He said, “It’d be like some modern general reading the Art of War and being like ‘Okay, get out the horses!’ ‘But sir, we have tanks…’ ‘Nope, this says horses.'”

So I asked him, “You mean, you’re looking at a scientific civilian society like Star Trek?” “Yeah, pretty much.”

I’ve been watching Star Trek: The Next Generation, and I can go with that. Even in their super-sciencey universe, they leave room for the mysteries. They make plenty of time for music,art, and stories. When they encounter something that doesn’t make sense, they use both their rational minds and their gut feelings to figure it out. They have a ship’s counselor, to empathically sense what other beings are going through internally. Captain Picard is such a successful leader because he doesn’t hold to the rules, but rather follows the flow of the situation.

And what do these guys eat? Whatever they want, because it’s all made in the replicator and will nourish their bodies. Uh huh.

Some people feel that the things we ridicule as new-age goofiness now, like telepathy, astral projection, and channeling, are simply the science of the future. What if consciousness is much more complex than we know? What if our physical world is a thin strand of an infinite web of interconnected probable realities? What if guardian angels really do watch over each of us? Or not. Who knows?

Leaving room for the mysteries in daily life isn’t foolish, or a waste of time. It’s healthy to realize that there’s so much we just don’t know. It doesn’t have to be scary. It can inspire you to begin new creations, take risks, or follow your heart’s deepest longings.

Use your imagination. Be inspired. Let your dreams, stories, and insights wash through you. Notice the synchronicities that pop up in your life. Play more. Seek out pleasures that lift you up, and forget what others say about it. May you be blessed with mystery.

Decisions, Decisions

oliverWhy can it be so hard to make decisions? Not just those life-changing This Is A Big Deal decisions. I find it can be a challenge sometimes to make the daily decisions that form the shape of our lives.

I’ve always been one to feel the lure of many different paths. I’ve evidently collected quite a few souls around me who feel the same way. What should we have for dinner? What do you want to do tonight? Which project should I work on next? These are some of the simple questions that give me – and my family – pause.

The astrology involved might add some insight. I’m a Virgo with Libra Moon (and several other planets in Libra), married to a Libra. Decisions? We must weigh all the pros and cons. We don’t want to commit to one thing, because it might negate another. Let’s make a list! Oh boy. Our first child, a son, was another Virgo. When we had our daughter, and found she was to be a Capricorn, we thought, that’s great! She can be in charge of what to do!

It didn’t work out that way. It turns out that Capricorns – or at least this particular feisty red-headed one – don’t waste their decisive superpowers on the little stuff. She’s right there in the thick of “I dunno…” with the rest of us. I added a Leo partner to the mix, but he’s an easy-going type and would mostly rather go with the flow.

What the heck, people? Why does the Mom automatically get to be the leader of the family, the organizer, the one who knows What’s Up? Does anyone else have this issue?

It almost makes me miss my bossy friends, the ones I stopped hanging out with because I grew in a different direction. There was a time in my life when I went along with their ideas. Because, why not? Let’s write a vegan cookbook! (this when I was very timid in the kitchen, a devoted recipe-follower). Let’s go on a silent meditation retreat with people we’ve never met! Let’s start a new scouting group for our kids! I learned a lot from all the things I did that I probably wouldn’t have tried, left to my own devices. It was nice to be a follower. Until it wasn’t.

When I was younger, I preferred the known. The world was intense and overwhelming, and keeping my own ducks in a row helped me to feel safer. But now, in my 40s, having freed my creativity and released it into the world (yeah, watch out!), I’m learning to be okay with leaving things more to chance. To flow. To – dare I say it? – spontaneity. I don’t need to make these pesky decisions way in advance, or if I am faced with a choice, I can randomly pick one that sounds good and go with it as far as I choose.

These days, when decisions are tough, I listen deep within. I trust my heart. I jump in, feet first.

At the prompting of the amazing Play Nexus faeries, in one of their workshops, I created “My Heart’s Bucket List.” It was cool to be really surprised by some of the items that showed up there. The last thing on the list?

“Feel free every day.”

I’m getting there.

Let Go Of the Need to Be Mean

I recently read an article titled “Could You Go 40 Days Without Being Mean?” (thanks to Spinster Jane for the link). At first I was thinking, sure, no problem, I’m a pretty kind person in general. But the article has been rattling around in my mind, and I started thinking about the various aspects of being “mean” that the author explores. I’ve noticed how I do some of these things, especially in groups of people, without really thinking about it.

The most interesting part of the article, for me, was the idea that we (often unconsciously) use sarcasm, complaining, and criticism to gain attention and bond with others. The same with gossip. When you deliberately set out to let go of those behaviors, you notice the reason why you’re using them to begin with. The author of the article observed that it’s often when we feel awkward or vulnerable that we’ll start being flip and critical. By the end of her experiment, “instead of trying so hard to be fascinating, I was forced to be more fascinated, to ask a lot more questions, and to listen more.”

The same holds true for practicing the Law of Attraction (LOA). I’ve been working on staying focused on what I do like and desire, rather than what I don’t. In the process, I’ve noticed how much we as a society focus on our troubles.

When a group of people sit down to chat, they seem to naturally focus on their problems, concerns, and what’s going wrong in their lives (and the lives of others). It makes sense to have that type of conversation when you’re actively seeking support for an issue, but what I’m talking about is when it becomes an ingrained habit. Going against the flow of conversation and trying to focus on the positive can make you feel awkward or boring.

I don’t think that has to be the case, though.

“Evil is boring.  Cynicism is idiotic.  Fear is a bad habit.  Despair is lazy.  Joy is fascinating.  Love is an act of heroic genius.  Pleasure is our birthright.  Receptivity is a superpower.” – Rob Brezsny

If you want to let go of the need to be mean or negative, then what takes its place? Here are some ideas on how to relate with others when you’re working on uplifting your vibes and attracting more joy and positivity.

Be a better listener. Even if your friend is in complaining mode, listen carefully, without trying to change the direction of the conversation. Look for the glimmers of passion and desire in what she’s saying. When you respond, reflect those aspects back to her. Don’t try to give advice, unless that’s what she’s seeking. Just observe what she’s truly seeking, behind the habit of complaining.

Look for the joy. If you’re in a group of people at a party or event, look for those who are having a fun time. You can tell the difference between genuine laughter and the mocking kind. Find the people who are really enjoying themselves and go start a conversation with them.

Do fun things together. Invite your friends to go hiking, take an art class, or plant a garden with you. When you’re engaged in a fun activity, it will uplift everyone’s spirits and keep you in the moment. You’ll have a shared experience that will encourage more bonding than gossiping about the neighbors.

Talk about your passions. We tend to avoid talking about what we love, because we feel like no one cares. But passion is infectious! Tell your friends about that new song you’re learning, or the plot twist you came up with for your novel. Talk about your marathon training, or the new recipe you tried. Tell them the cool things your kids have been up to. Sure, you don’t need to ramble on and on until their eyes glaze over. But don’t be afraid to share what you love with those you care about.

Release the need for approval. Yeah, this is a big one for many of us. But if people don’t like us because we’re too positive, well, too bad for them! Seriously. Screw that. If you’re not cynical or hip enough for your group of friends, it might be time to find some new pals. Don’t ever feel bad about having a good life. That’s just silly.

Could you go 40 days without being mean? I think I probably could. I might take the challenge. Or maybe I’ll just continue to work on being more positive in my life in general, and see how it ripples outward.

Starcat’s Favorites: It’s Official!


Flowers in March? I wish. This was in May…

Well, it’s officially Spring! The vernal equinox was yesterday, so in calendar terms at least, we’re entering the warmer part of the year. I’m so glad! Today, I’m even willing to wait a while for the true blessings of spring to show up: flowers, green grass, baby birds, and walking barefoot. With daytime temperatures still generally hovering in the 30’s where I live, it’s gonna be a while…

Here are some links to keep you amused in the meantime, or to enjoy in the hammock if you live in warmer climes.

Check out NPR’s list of the top 100 sci-fi and fantasy books. I was surprised that I’ve only read 43 of them. How about you? Lots of books to add to the wish list!

A new way to look at money, savings, and expenses. Intriguing.

This is a very helpful post about how to stop food cravings. Kris Carr is amazing. Here’s another one from her, on getting your writing mojo going – even if only in the privacy of your own journal.

Here’s an article about the power of solitude. If you’re already well aware of its blessings, you’ll probably identify with many of the things on this list. I know I did!

This cracked me up. There’s a bit of swearing, but it’s well worth a read, especially if you work for yourself.

The Value of Saying No

As spring begins to peek its head above the snowbanks, they begin to arrive. Squelching through the mud. Swarming, seemingly out of nowhere, falling like snowflakes, or maybe apple blossoms. Moving in and making themselves at home. What are they?

Ladybugs? Migrating birds? Nope.


In just the past two weeks, I’ve received invitations via Facebook to belly-dancing classes, a Spring Equinox celebration, a late-night dance party, a spring cleanse workshop, several festivals, performances, and concerts, not to mention birthday parties and fundraisers. Some of them fall on dates when I already have plans, or might be too far away to travel to, but that only accounts for a small portion of these invitations. Yet I’ve said “no thanks” to all of these, even though they sound like fun. I said “maybe” to an intriguing spiritual tea in early April and a housewarming party two hours away in late May.

The only Facebook invitations I’ve answered “yes” to lately are a surprise milestone birthday party, trampoline-jumping with homeschoolers (my daughter’s friends are going), and a couple of recurring events I enjoy attending and helping with each year. Invitations from my family and close community often come by phone or e-mail, and I try to say “yes” to as many of those as possible without eating up all my writing time in any given week.

And those are just the in-person events. It doesn’t count the scads of online courses I see each week, many of which cost little or nothing and look really interesting, fun, and useful. I truly don’t have time for all of them, or even a fraction. But they can help me master social media marketing as an introvert! Build my brand as a soulful hippie chick with wisdom to share! Expand my business while helping people grow spiritually! Sigh…

I’ve written before about how saying no to events can mean saying yes to your priorities. That doesn’t mean it’s easy.

One of the pitfalls of being easygoing and interested in a wide variety of subjects is that, well, everything looks like fun. It’s the “ooh, shiny…” syndrome. The problem is, if I tried to do all the things that catch my eye, not only would I be a stressed-out mess from having no down time, I also wouldn’t get any writing done.

And writing, let me remind you (by that I mean, remind me, too) is my passion. So is reading. Meditation. Yoga. All those things that are for the most part, solitary pursuits. When I’m doing them, they transport me. I am so in love with novel writing lately! I daydream about my characters, and already have ideas for making the story better, even before the first draft is complete. It’s a blast.

When I sit there in the morning with my chai tea, opening my e-mails and looking through Facebook notifications, I need to remember the value of “no.” I love exploring the world, and I do take time to travel and socialize. But I really need to balance it with plenty of creative time. It’s my soul work, after all. Writing, creativity, spirituality, these are a huge YES to me, and I need to protect them from all the shiny distractions.

So if I decline your event, it’s nothing personal. I’m just in love with the writer’s life.

Banishing the March Blues


The view on my walk: spring sun on piles of snow.

It seems like every year around this time I go through some kind of emotional struggle, or even a physical illness. It’s an old familiar pattern. Even when I start the year off with exciting goals and intentions, March is when things seem to crash. Here in northern New England, while there are some signs of spring, it’s still really cold out. Seasonal transitions can be hard, and this one really kicks my butt.

But I’d rather not live inside an old story. So this month I’m purposefully being mindful. I’m doing some extra self-nurturing, and trying not to have unreasonable expectations of myself. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve talked to quite a few folks who also go through this sort of pre-spring downturn. I put up a query on my Facebook page and received a lot of responses. There was plenty of commiseration, as well as some ideas for helping ourselves get through this tricky stretch of time. I love what Sue L. said: “This time of year kind of reminds me of those last few weeks before childbirth, when you’re just uncomfortable.” That’s it exactly!

Thanks, everyone, for your contributions! Here are some suggestions from the community, which I’ve compiled into seven tips. I hope they help you to thrive as the seasons turn toward the much-awaited Spring Equinox.


Cabin fever cat goes crazy over sunshine. Watch your feet!

Accept what is. So, it’s not yet spring. Why not just enjoy the last bit of winter? I don’t mean winter sports, unless that’s your thing. Maryanne J. recommends “embracing the darkness and letting it flow.” Remember the spiritual activities of winter? Dreaming, reading, introspection? Hibernating in the creative cave? Enjoy your time doing quiet indoor work before the sun and warm breezes call you outside to play.

Be playful. Amanda W. writes, “I stay positive by infusing my life with joy and play – laughter yoga, hula hooping, dancing, playing games with friends and family.” Find playful activities you enjoy, and immerse yourself in them. I like to dance around the kitchen to my favorite music, or make an art journal page of things I love.

Understand your emotional context. Jenn B. says that her own emotional funk tends to happen in the fall. “For me, it corresponds with loss I’ve experienced over the years. It’s a type of emotional anniversary. I don’t know if this applies for you, but thought I’d share my experience.” It’s true that my much-beloved grandmother died unexpectedly on the Ides of March, when I was a teenager. Could this loss still resonate after so many years? It’s quite possible. If you struggle with a particular season, think about what subconscious feelings might be tugging at you. Let them flow, and feel free to express yourself in your journal or to a close friend.

Add more color to your life. Several folks suggested buying bouquets of flowers, to add some brightness to your day. Outside, the snow is dirty and yards are turning into mudscapes. Brighten up your indoor space. It can help lift your mood a bit. Start some seedlings, and observe the bright green of new growth. Make sure all your winter decorations are put away – even those paper snowflakes on the windows. It’s almost time to decorate eggs.

Nurture your body. “It’s called cabin fever,” writes my cousin Billy. “Very similar to scurvy. Eat an orange and think spring!” Maybe its time to put away the soup recipes and make a spinach salad or a fruit smoothie. Jannine G. writes, “The change is season is when I tend to get sick again, so I am back to loading up on elderberry syrup, and not letting things slip like wearing my hat and gloves.” Getting plenty of sleep is important, too. Take good care of yourself.

Go outside. This week the temperatures were a bit milder, and I got outside for several walks. Even when you still have to bundle up, just being out there in the elements feels good. Exercise is a plus, too, and helps regulate the emotions. Take a walk and look around at all the changes going on right now in nature. As Jen C. reminds us, you can’t really notice the change in sunlight or air from inside your house.

Live in the moment. Maryanne J. says “I felt really springish…until the snow fell again…that was a real moment to embrace! A clear reminder to remain in the moment.” When things don’t go as we wish they would, we can use it as a trigger to be present in the now. Take a few deep breaths. Release expectations. Just be.

I’d love to hear your suggestions for weathering the change from late winter to early spring. I wish you warm days and a peaceful transition. Blessings of approaching Spring!

Starcat’s Favorites: A Slow Transition

March is here! Which is great, because it’s the month that contains the official start of Spring. And not-so-great, because it’s a month where I tend to struggle along. This particular seasonal transition seems to really leave me feeling “meh.” I’ve started a conversation about the March blues over on Facebook, and I’ll be summarizing and sharing some of the community’s wisdom here on the blog this coming week. Leave a comment if you have experiences or ideas to share!

In the meantime, here are some fun and interesting links to read while you’re curled up in your PJs with a cup of chai, dreaming of warmer weather. Or is that just me?

In the previous edition of Starcat’s Favorites, I posted a link on resilience. I’ve since encountered this article and also these tips on the same topic. Apparently resilience is important to pay attention to just now…maybe to help us get through this last bit of winter?

Perhaps some delicious metaphors and the questions they bring can help, too.

I love this little rant on the folly of righteousness.

As Spring does come along and there are more invitations and fun things going on, it’s good to remember not to do too much.

Are you ready to share your piece of the puzzle? (swear word alert). You might also want to examine your intentions and see how they line up with your daily life.

No matter how much it might feel like it, you’re not doing life wrong. Really.

Teens, and in particular unschooled teens, are such creative, vibrant, and fascinating people. I love this TED Talk where one teen shares her passion and where it’s led her.