Use Your Imagination to Increase your Influence

A Slice of AnnyWorld:

MAKE YOUR MARK: to have an important effect on something (Or someone)

Unfortunately in this country, many girls are raised to be afraid, very afraid, to make their mark.
Maybe because before you make your mark, you may fail–a lot. (Walt Disney went bankrupt three times, and got fired a lot before Mickey helped him make his mark. Your teacher may have gotten bad feedback on some of her lesson plans before she was able to make a great one, and leave her mark on you.)
Stepping out on that limb takes courage, and you won’t bother unless you’re driven by something dear to your heart.  Your imagination can reveal the  things that are worth the risk to you.
My buddy Eti Berland is a librarian/teacher at the Blitstein Institute.  She decided that she wanted to make her mark this year by helping her students discover their hidden inner gifts, a lost engineer, or wandering poet, or absent minded mathematician, or ?  Once they embraced these forgotten talents, they could use them to leave many marks.  (Not bruises…but achievements.) 🙂

Thus, she proclaimed the theme for the 2014-15 school year to be “make your mark and see where it takes you.”  This line is a quote from Peter Reynolds’ picture book, The Dot. The book encourages its readers to be brave by trying something new, especially something they think they can’t do, and see what happens.  
To start the year off right, Eti turned her library into a safe, creative space where students were encouraged to explore themselves through dot-making, poetry and other International Dot Day activities.  In addition, playing together encouraged the girls to express their beliefs, dreams, and fears–allowing them to see all that they had in common. Thus one of Eti’s first marks on the year was building a closer knit community.

To further inspire her students to boldly go where they hadn’t before,(Star Trek motto), she used “Celebridots.” These dots expressed the faculty’s thoughts about making their own marks, and allowed them to put their spin on the theme and dot making. It also put them out on the same limb with the girls.

Here’s Eti’s Celebridot, which expresses her joy about being on the Newbery Committee this year, and the fun she had attending the ALA (American Library Association) Summer Conference 2014 as a committee member. (The Newbery Awards are The Oscar Awards for kid’s books. And like the Oscars do for movies, The Newbery influences what gets read, including bringing visibility to books that may have been overlooked. As I write, Eti’s committee is selecting this year’s winners now.  For a librarian, is there a bigger mark one can make?)
Eti Dot
I hope Eti will keep us posted on her students’ discoveries, as well as her own, and the marks they all leave due to their new paths.

As for me, these letters represent some of my dots. I also intend to make my mark this year as a children’s fantasy writer.  A writer who provokes girls to dig out their inner imaginations, and claim their power, so they can use these gifts to change their own stories, and inspire those around them to do the same. 

And let me tell you, making my mark on children through writing was not something I saw coming!

Which is why I want to share two things I’ve learned about making your mark:
1) It doesn’t always manifest the way you think it will.  For ex. You discover you love dance, but you don’t have a dancer’s body.  You’re bummed until you realize you can design costumes for dancers, or lighting, or you are great at math so you can handle the dance company’s budget!
2) Don’t judge a dot/mark by its size.  (I can be guilty of this.)  Every mark matters. And we leave marks wherever we go, whether we realize it or not.

Describe some marks you’ve left recently.



anny:TorontoStrange and Beautiful



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