Tag Archives: smile

Spreading Hope, Love and Joy to the Hopeless

Operation Spread Hope, Love & Joy, Part II


Point to Ponder:
How do you view the homeless or those on the street asking for help?

iGnite Neissa

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Sadly, in Austin and in most cities it is common to see homeless, desperate or hopeless people standing at busy intersections asking for help. Despite being advised by law officials and professionals to not give them money, if I have cash, change or any unopened food I always give what I have. And, when I do not have anything to give I get embarrassed and avoid eye contact. Ugh! Definitely not a mature and or compassionate response! I realize that by giving money I could be enabling their pursuit of getting a job or supplying funds for their next possible drug fix, but I don’t know their life story or history so to judge seems wrong and unfair.

Shamefully, there was a time when I didn’t feel this way and my heart was filled with judgement. While I didn’t voice it, when I saw someone asking for help my thought was that they should have more pride and work ethic than to lazily ask for my hard earned money. After all, I grew up with limited financial resources yet managed to work my way through college and make it. Why can’t they? However, several years ago I attended a Caritas luncheon where the co-authors of the book, Same Kind of Different as Me spoke. This experience changed my heart and perspective.

If you haven’t read the book, I encourage you to. Or if you wait until April 2016 it will be out in the theaters. In summary, through volunteering at a homeless meals program in Fort Worth, the co-authors Ron Hall (a wealthy Fort Worth art dealer) and Denver Moore (a literal modern-day hobo) developed a unique friendship. An intense bond was formed and both lives were changed– with Ron’s heart experiencing the greatest transformation. As a result of the book’s message and success, the two men traveled to speaking engagements, with Austin being one of them. Towards the end of the luncheon, Denver, the modern-day hobo and former prison inmate spoke. While he had no formal education, he understood life, the spiritual world, and had a connection with God like I had never seen or heard before. The room was silenced by his compassion, faith and wisdom and while I clung to every word he spoke, it was his advice on whether or not to give the homeless and hopeless money that I will never forget.

Having lived a life of homelessness, desperation and having people look down on him, Denver passionately urged the audience to bypass judgement towards the homeless, as we will never know what they have experienced in life and why they are in the situation they are in. Furthermore, he acknowledged that we’ve all been told not to give the homeless money, however he pleaded that we give what we can, and in doing so respectfully look them in their eyes and smile. Ultimately, he reminded us that we will never know if it will be our dollar, our smile or our words that will be the difference in their life.

After his sincere message, rather than look down on the homeless or beggars, I began to view them, their situation, and people in general with more compassion. I contemplated how I would want someone to treat me, my children, my family, and friends if we where homeless, desperate or falling on hopeless times. Or, if we were just in need of some help, support or encouragement. In doing so I realized how self-righteous and judgemental I had been. Then recently it was upon reading Matthew 26: 34 – 45, verses that I have listened to many times before, that I finally heard and realized how much more I can and need to do:

On His right, he will say; (Jesus) Come here, you beloved, you people whom My Father has blessed. Claim your inheritance, the Kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of creation. You shall be richly rewarded, for when I was hungry, you fed Me. And when I was thirsty, you gave Me something to drink; I was alone as a stranger, and you welcomed Me into your homes and into your lives; I was naked, and you gave Me clothes to wear; I was sick, and you tended to My needs; I was in prison, and you comforted Me.
Even then the righteous will not have achieved perfect understanding and will not recall these things.
Righteous: Master, when did we find You hungry and give You food? When did we find You thirsty and slake Your thirst? When did we find You a stranger and welcome You in, or find you naked and clothe You? When did we find You sick and nurse You to health? When did we visit You when You were in prison?
Jesus: I tell you this: whenever you saw a brother or sister hungry or cold, whatever you did to the least of these, so you did to Me.
And then He will turn to those on His left hand.
Jesus: Get away from Me, for I was starving, and you left Me with no food. I was dry and thirsty, you left Me to struggle with nothing to drink. When I was alone as a stranger, you turned away from Me. When I was pitifully naked, you left Me unclothed. When I was sick, you gave Me no care. When I was in prison, you did not comfort Me.
Unrighteous: Master, when did we see You hungry and thirsty? When did we see You friendless or homeless or excluded? When did we see you without clothes? When did we see You sick or in jail? When did we see You in distress and fail to respond?
Jesus: I tell you this: whenever you saw a brother hungry or cold, when you saw a sister weak and without friends, when you saw the least of these and ignored their suffering, so you ignored Me.

Despite your faith or belief, the idea that we should treat others as we would want to be treated says it all. And, we have all been given a conscious that guides us and gives us valuable information, which is why I am unable to make eye contact when someone is asking for help and I don’t have anything to give them. I know it’s not right or respectful to not show someone respect and give them the dignity they deserve by simply looking in their eye and exchanging a smile.

As a result, several months ago I began creating baggies of crackers, rice crispy treats, and breakfast bars. And, as of last week I added our printable ‘iGnite spread hope love and joy’ note cards. I keep the bags in my car so that I can have them with me at all times and it truly has made a difference! Therefore, as we continue to focus on spreading hope, love and joy, I hope you will consider doing the same and making care packages that you can hand out when needed. While the person you give the goodie bag and smile to will appreciate your generosity, I promise that your heart will be the one filled with hope, love and joy.


Goodie Bag Basket

Action Item:
Create goodies bags and fill them with helpful items and the printable iGnite note cards. Keep them in your car and with a smile and eye contact, hand them to the homeless, hopeless or someone in need.

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Operation Spread Hope, Love & Joy

makesomeoneslifebetter 2

Point to Ponder:
Where does spreading hope, love and joy fall into your Christmas festivities?

iGnite Neissa

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Each year and upon entering the Christmas season I always set out to be more intentional and purposeful than in the previous years. Inevitably, my goals are always the same: don’t overspend, stick to the Christmas list, avoid perfection, resist shopping for myself while I am shopping for others (how does that always happen?!), and most importantly to live outside of myself by giving and sharing the spirit and meaning of Christmas: to spread hope, love and joy.

I cringe to think how extra self-centered my holidays would be without my attempted annual goals. Frustratingly, I always spend more money that desired, I get caught up in materialism and commercialism, and I exhaust myself by trying to make everything perfect which in turn stresses me out! Shamefully, beyond my immediate family members, friends and neighbors there is very little thinking outside of myself, no extra sharing of love, hope and joy and therefore no additional lives impacted. Really, it’s nauseating that I live in this perpetual state of insanity (setting the same goal and taking no additional action yet expecting a different result), therefore to end this ridiculousness and attempt to really spread hope, love and joy and make a difference in at least one life during the Christmas season, I’ve come up with a plan of action entitled “Operation Spread Hope, Love and Joy”, and I hope you will join me!

The goal of Operation Spread Hope, Love and Joy is exactly as it sounds: to spread hope, love and joy by putting a smile on someone’s face, being a source of encouragement and light and continuing to express gratitude which will in turn positively impact lives.

Starting today and throughout the next four weeks leading up to Christmas I will announce the weekly action. For this week, the suggested action is to print the provided note card printable, cut out the individual notes and give to as many people as possible. If you are like me, you will experience some fear and hesitation when handing out the cards, especially to a total stranger. You may likely make an assumption that the potential recipient isn’t going through anything, doesn’t need a pick-me-up and/or will think you are weird. Repeat these words: Nonsense! Everyone is going through something, everyone can use a little light and iGnite in their lives and if spreading some hope, love and joy by means of positive note cards make us weird, I gladly welcome the label! After all, the worst thing that can happen is the card gets thrown in the trash, but what if it makes somebody else’s life better?

Finally, share how you are spreading your hope, love and joy note cards by posting pictures via your favoritie social media outlets, using the hashtag #spreadhopeloveandjoy and tagging iGnite. This is not at all to be braggadocious or draw attention to your or iGnite’s actions. Instead, it’s an opportunity to let social media do what I believe social media has the greatest potential in doing, which is to be a catalyst for uplifting messages, positive change and spreading good around the world.

Action Item:
Print the provided note card printable, cut out the individual notes and give to as many people as possible. If you are able, share how you are spreading your hope, love and joy note cards by posting pictures via your favorite social media outlets, using the hashtag #spreadhopeloveandjoy and tagging iGnite.

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Member Spotlight: Nancy Dacy

I grew up in Midland, Texas. I came to Austin in 1975 as a Junior in college to attend The University of Texas as a transfer from SMU. I have been here…wow…40 years.

Family Life:
I have been married to David, an Austin native, for 35 years. We met here at UT. We have 3 children: Catherine, 29, Christopher, AKA “Cricker” 28 and Alexis, 24. And as I am sure everyone knows, we have 2 grandchildren: Grayson, 3 1/2, and Madison, 4 months.

Current/Previous Occupation:
I taught Kindergarten a LONG time ago. I have done a little health coaching but primarily I have lived my adult life volunteering in many different capacities. My focus now is the Helping Hand Home for Children.

Biggest lesson learned through iGnite experience:
I have gained so much from iGnite, but I think the biggest lesson is that I/we are capable of doing so much more than we think we are. We just need to take advantage of opportunities and with encouragement, all we need to do is step out of our comfort zone and give things a try. You never know until you try. As I have said, I never dreamed I would be surfing without a rope on my 60th birthday. That was 100% iGnite and Kathleen.

Best advice given and from who:
Not sure where I heard this but it has stuck with me ever since: Everyone takes responsibility for their own happiness. Happiness is a choice that comes from within. Being happy doesn’t mean everything is perfect. It means you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections. There are choices you can make every day to feel the effects of happiness. Choose to do something meaningful. Choose to take care of your body. Choose to be around the right people. Choose a good attitude. Choose to express gratitude. Choose to forgive. Choose to focus on what you have, not on what you haven’t.

In my free time…
My first choice is to be on the lake. It is truly my happy place. I love to travel – just need to do more of it. I am working on a needlepoint stocking for Madison, my granddaughter. So, more time than usual, is spent in front of a LifeTime movie stitching. Otherwise, I am with Madison and Grayson a lot.

Who is your celebrity look alike?
Well, for some reason, people are ALWAYS telling me I look like someone they know. It is really the oddest thing. But, for many years, everywhere I went (and I am truly not exaggerating), people told me I look like Cindy Brooks who used to anchor the Channel 5 news here in Austin. I had no idea who she was because I didn’t watch that channel. Finally, I did. Of course, I didn’t really see the resemblance. Many people said it was the smile. And…again, I don’t see it, but many people have told me I look like Jane Fonda. All I can picture is Monster In Law.

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What If vs. What Is?

A Father’s Day Tribute

iGnite - have funPoint to Ponder:

How can you change your thoughts regarding a “What if?” that has been on your mind recently?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

With Father’s Day upon us, I would be remiss not to share some of the best pieces of wisdom my father, Don Brown, has passed along to me, which is:  Put a smile on my face, don’t worry and have fun. 

There was once a time in my life when I worried about everything and with that came a ridiculous amount of “What-if’s.”  It’s funny because now I can’t even specifically remember what all I worried about or what-if’d about, but it happened regularly enough for my Dad to impress upon me that worry and what-if’s would not only ruin my day, but were a complete waste of my time and energy.

Even though I knew my Dad was right, applying the “don’t worry, smile and have fun” philosophy was much easier said than done.  Then, before having children I vividly remember ‘what if’-ing and literally freaking out about my future–wondering how balancing a family and career was or wasn’t going to work out.  My mind meandered down a million unnecessary paths. Amongst all of the worry, of course everything worked out great.  In fact, it worked out much better than I could’ve ever planned or imagined. Not only was my Dad right, but the majority of the time the things I worry about and what-if over never become a reality.  I also realized that I could never get back all of the time I’ve wasted on worry.

Along the same lines, but spun slightly differently, my husband Russell recently shared this wisdom he learned from the University of San Diego head baseball coach: “If you are going to spend time on the “What’s,” spend time on what is vs. what if.”  I love that!  What if we replaced the imaginary “what if’s” with the facts of what actually is?  To me, this changes the whole situation, because when we stick with the facts only, we can apply logic and reason.  We’d save ourselves a ton of mental, emotional and even physical anguish and stress, and a ton of time — something I am certain all of us can use more of.

I am thankful to admit that the amount I worry and what-if over the years has significantly decreased, but when they do start to creep back into my head and get me emotionally charged, irrational and threaten to sabotage my day, I recall my Dad’s wisdom and strive to not worry, smile and have fun.  So, please join me in making it a goal to ditch the worry and what-if’s and focus on enjoying life and having fun!

Action Item:

Focus on the what-is rather than the what-if and enjoy the difference it makes in your daily living.

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How to Make a Day

Be THE REASON someone smiles todayPoint to Ponder:
When was the last time you paid a total stranger a random compliment or kind gesture?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Over the past two months I’ve had the sweet opportunity to go on two dates with Durant, my four year old son. Along with my husband’s influence and modeling, I am personally trying to teach him how to treat a lady and what women like.

For example, our first date was attending the Austin High Red Jacket spring performance. It was an easy sell, as he loves music and dancing but more than that, he loves young women. So combining the two was a win/win. Our date started at Thundercloud Subs where I let him open the door and pay for our meal. Then, before we sat down at our table I let him pull out my chair. Finally, while eating I informed him that it’s always nice to offer your date a bite of your meal or maybe share dessert. I have no idea if anything I said resonated with him, but it was fun!

Our most recent date was last night in Dripping Springs. A young woman whom I babysat during college got married (that’ll make you feel mature. I refuse to use the “o” word.), and since Russell was out of town I thought it would be a great opportunity for Durant to experience a wedding. In addition, one of the things we do a lot of in our house is dance, and I preach that women love men who will dance with them. (Can you tell I am married to a non-dancer- ugh!?!?!) All in all, between the beautiful young women, chocolate cake and Sprite I let him drink while I had a glass of wine, he had a great time. We even made it on the dance floor which made us both happy.

As I mentioned in the last two paragraphs, Durant loves women and gravitates towards young ones. He’s been like this since he was two years old, and one of the things we talk openly about is how every women wants to feel beautiful, and that a beautiful heart is much more important than a beautiful face or body. In addition, if he sees someone he thinks is beautiful, I always encourage him to tell her, which is what happened a few weeks ago at the restaurant, Hopdoddy. The long of the short is that while waiting at the bar for our to-go order, he noticed a young women he thought was beautiful. When he told me this I encouraged him to tell her, but he became timid and asked me if I would tell her, for him. I explained that if I told her for him it wouldn’t be the same, but it sure would make her happy if he told her how he felt. And so, he confidently climbed out of his chair, walked over to her, tapped her on the arm and told her she was beautiful. As you can imagine, I was one proud mama, but more than that, the young women beamed and gave him a giant hug. Meanwhile there was a random man sitting next to her who gave Durant an attaboy thumbs up and wink – ha! As you can imagine, Durant’s day was made because he got a hug from the beautiful girl, and my day was made because I was so proud of him for being brave and kind. As for the beautiful young lady, I don’t think she ever stopped smiling. In fact, before leaving she came over to us and gave Durant another hug and thanked him for making her day.

The intent of this journal is not to showcase my parenting style or my son, rather it’s to be reminded of how easy it is to make someone smile and even make their day. I realize that children have a gift of making people smile and can get away with saying a lot, but after Durant’s Hopdoddy experience I thought I’d give it a try and pay someone a random, yet sincere compliment. Brene Brown would call this being vulnerable and daring greatly. So, while in Whole Foods the other day I noticed a women’s gorgeous full eyebrows. I caught myself staring at her and finally said, “You have the most beautiful eyebrows”. She lit up and said, “WOW! Thank you! You have the most beautiful face!”. Totally taken aback by her comment, I lit up and said, “WOW!, Thank you! You are so kind!” I would’ve been completely happy with her accepting my compliment, but I found myself walking with an unexpected spring in my step and a smile on my face.

Action Item:
This week, make an effort to dare greatly and put a smile on someone’s face by perhaps paying an unexpected and sincere compliment or extending a kind gesture.

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Why We Share

“This life is for loving, sharing, learning, smiling, caring, forgiving, laughing, hugging, helping, dancing, wondering, healing, and even more loving.”   -Steve Maraboli

Point To Ponder:
Do you view your obstacles, successes, struggles and experiences as an opportunity to share and be a gift to others?

Action Item:
Continually share your life and gifts with others and view them as an act of service.

About Neissa

by Neissa Springmann

This weekend I had the fortunate opportunity to speak at a Christian women’s retreat called Soli Deo Gloria. It was a created and facilitated by a young woman named Jen Ferguson. Jen contacted me in February and shared her vision of the weekend, which was to highlight that life is an adventure and that sometimes God asks us to step out of our comfort zone and take risks so that we might grow and be challenged. She said plenty of other wonderful things about her plan, but outside of her first description I was not interested in additional information as her theme was right up my alley!

So, on Saturday, from 11:15 a.m to 12:15 p.m I spoke on the importance of honoring our temples. From regular exercise, eating a nutritious diet, the people we surround ourselves with and the information we read and listen to, all of these things pertain to honoring and keeping our temples healthy so we can live our best lives and ultimately be a gift to others. I also explained our iGnite philosophy and the blessings that occur from predominantly exercising outdoors and with positive, encouraging and fun women.

I thoroughly enjoyed sharing my opinions, however my favorite and most memorable moment was when questions began coming in, as having women share and open up about their experiences and struggles is like icing on the cake! Witnessing the bold and courageous act of standing up in front of others to comment, ask questions and express fears is very inspiring.

During this time, one of the women posed the following question, “What if I wasn’t feeling confident enough to exercise with a group and chose to exercise at home, alone?” I explained that exercise is very personal, and done in any fashion or environment is great; however, the bigger question is her lack of confidence and if not dealt with it will continue to show it’s ugly face and inhibit her from being her best and living her best life. Then, in the midst of our dialogue the topic of isolation arose and Jen eloquently interjected some of the most Biblical profound wisdom I’ve ever heard. She said, “Iron sharpens iron and we can sharpen one another, however when we’re in isolation we cannot be refined or strengthened. Therefore, when we share ourselves, our stories and our lives, not only do we have opportunity to sharpen someone else but we too will be sharpened in the process.”

I knew I would enjoy my speaking experience, however; I must admit that I was sharpened much more than I sharpened the women attending the retreat. Therefore, I encourage you to be iron for those around you, and guaranteed you will be sharpened in return.

Watch this week’s video and be sharpened!

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Easier With A Smile

Spring has sprung and the azaleas, bluebonnets, and buttercups are among the many beautiful reminders of what we have to look forward to everyday and why it’s so easy to smile.

The world always looks brighter from behind a smile. (Anonymous)

Action Item:
Start off each day with a smile and watch the butterfly effect ensue. Clear out the negative clutter and make space for happiness to bloom.

By April Black

By April Black

I have been trying a sort of social experiment lately. I am not a huge runner, but appreciate jogging the trail on a beautiful day, especially with friends. When I set a time to meet a friend, it motivates me and holds me accountable to actually go. And then, instead of getting bored and glancing at my watch every couple of minutes, the time flies by as we chat while we work our way around the loop. I have actually been enjoying the trail and Austin’s huge run community instead of being completely intimidated by it.

It doesn’t matter that we’re not the fastest or running the farthest – it’s a way of sneaking in exercise and appreciating the outdoors while catching up. As much as I enjoy grabbing a glass of wine after a long day and chatting with friends, this is another great option and way to get in my much needed time with friends, with the added bonus of some exercise and the healing powers of Mother Nature. Friends, exercise endorphins, and fresh air. It’s like free therapy! Everything is easier alongside friends.

A few other times recently, I have grabbed my iPod and even motivated myself to go for a run solo. I don’t view myself as a runner, and as I mentioned, am intimidated by all of the incredibly fit people in Austin and intensity surrounding the fitness community (thank goodness for iGnite and the balance it has provided for me!). Even though I may feel some resistance as I take my initial steps, I have tried to take a deep breath, clear out my negative thoughts, and smile as I run. You would not believe the difference!


At iGnite we cherish the positive attitudes and motivated women who lend us a smile whenever we need.

Almost everyone on the trail smiles back when I smile at them. Some people have even waved, as if we are great friends passing each other (I have never met these people, mind you). Even when someone looks serious or super focused, when they glance at me and I’m smiling at them, they crack a smile. Suddenly, I am a “runner” on the trail actually enjoying herself and her run. I look the part, out there in my running clothes with my iPod, and it’s as if I’ve tricked myself into enjoying it. And I actually do! The Weekly Intention Guide will help you think through how you can apply this to your life this upcoming week.

Additionally, the people-watching on the trail is fascinating. I am definitely not the fastest or thinnest out there, and even though I do have moments where I find myself staring at the women sprinting by in their sports bras with the rock hard abs, I shift my focus back to whatever upbeat song is playing and slap a smile on my face. It’s hard to stay negative when you’re smiling. Even activities you don’t love to do are far easier with a smile. Everything is easier with a smile.

Then on Thursday, when I showed up to teach the Low-Impact Cross Training Class while Delaine was out of town, people were using the space to film something at the Northshore Overlook and we had to improvise. I was incredibly thankful for everyone’s flexibility and spontaneous spirits as I tossed aside my class plan and we hit the trail for a 3-mile power walk infused with some body weight exercises along the way! We stopped at the “voo doo pew” to admire the lake and do some tricep dips. The purple flowers blooming all around made us stop in our tracks. We found several nooks and crannies to stop and breathe the morning in (and sneak in some pushups!). There is nothing better than friends and smiles on a beautiful day. My morning had been off to a rocky start, and these wonderful women turned that right around for me. Could you use a group of motivated, balanced, and compassionate women in Austin to workout with? Check out our home webpage to sign up for a free week trial!

While this is just one example in my life recently, these same rules can apply to all areas of life. You can go through your daily tasks and the motions of your life dragging your feet, or instead, you can sweep aside the negative thoughts and voices in your head and add some pep to your step, enjoying what you are doing as best you can. Sometimes even when you don’t feel like it, when you start smiling and even fake it at first, often times it really will lift your spirits and turn into a genuine smile after all. And the best part is, while trying to help yourself, you are inevitably helping and touching the lives of those around you, which makes you feel even better!

There are butterflies all around. You just have to make the space and open your eyes to see them. Grab a friend, find a smile, and practice a spring cleaning within yourself. It will improve your health, and can even make your friends friends friends happy! Watch and learn…

JOIN THE DISCUSSION- Who are your most uplifting friends? 

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