Why I Founded Shine Your Light
– Laurie Gardner, Founder/Executive Director
“So many of us settle for less in our lives – but how can we live more fully?”
This was my burning question as I sat high on a desert cliff one blistering summer nine years ago, fasting alone on a vision quest. At age 37, I was in a stressful, workaholic job where I wasn’t feeling valued, anxious I would never find true love, unhappy with my body, and living in a place where I had no real friends. On the outside, I was cheerful and successful, but under the mask, I was dying inside. But it felt too scary to make the changes to have what I so desperately wanted.
As I opened my leather journal to do some reflecting, a book unexpectedly came pouring out, charting a clear, three-part roadmap of how to make the most of your life. Shortly after returning from my vision quest, a major New York publisher expressed interest in what I had written and urged me to share my personal journey through the three stages. Filled with adventure stories, life lessons, and a good dose of humor, The Road to Shine is an inspirational story and practical guide to courageously claiming your life.
Realizing how important and powerful the book’s message was, I quit my high paid position as an international school reform pioneer, broke up with Mr. Almost, moved back to the town I loved, and set off on a new path, inspiring others to find the courage to shine. For the past several years, I have been speaking, coaching, and writing on topics such as “How to Be Happy When Life is Crappy,” “The Buck Stops Where?” and “When Your Faith Goes Postal,” helping as many as I possibly can to take an honest look at themselves and their lives and to find the courage to live a life that’s more authentic, joyful, and fulfilling.
As someone who always ends up in a leadership role, I felt a special affinity for those who care deeply about improving not only their own lives, but also the lives of others. Being a leader can be scary and hard, as you hang yourself out there, people counting on you, often with no support. When I was a rock-climbing guide, we called it “being on the sharp end.” (If the lead climber slipped and fell, everyone on the rope behind would plummet down the cliff as well.) Training and supporting leaders became a huge part of my life goal.
Then one evening, while doing laundry at my local laundromat, I got another huge tap on the shoulder from the Universe, telling me it was time to expand my efforts by creating a non-profit corporation. Through this vehicle, I could not only continue my individual teaching and writing, but I could also spearhead even greater social impact initiatives, such as offering free personal and leadership development coaching for those who can’t afford it, using the fees from my organizational services to help communities in need, and forming the Leading Lights, a collaborative of the top personal growth and leadership teachers of our time to work together in ways that would help the world more powerfully than if we worked apart.
It is with both great humility and tremendous excitement that I have launched Shine Your Light. But I cannot do this alone. If you feel called to join me in my journey to help others to shine, I would be honored and grateful to welcome your brilliant light.