Watching The Light Flicker On (One Of My Favorite Things In Defy Ventures Washington!)   by    Ruth Utnage

Have you ever watched someone’s face light up when you give them a present they never thought was possible? You know that impossibly expensive thing they drop in the list? When they get it as a surprise their eyes get bigger and glossy, they lean in, a smile cracks across their face and you can see that their energy is about to leak out like electricity finding a ground? Like watching a light flicker on.

I got to see that last Wednesday night at Defy…

We’ve reached the part of the curriculum where resumes and cover letters have to be done, a notoriously difficult section. Most guys have never had a job outside of illegal and illicit activities, furthermore, they believe they have no marketable skills. I remember going through this part. I took the course already prepared to use my prison experience to leverage as an asset and this is where I started connecting to my peers because I showed them how to frame their experiences too. It felt good to see this happening again.

Watching peoples face light up with hope. I could watch that all day. I think there should be a channel that just shows peoples faces lighting up with hope 24/7. I would keep it there. It brings me so much joy.

Something occurred to me late last night. A life lesson, if you will. Before going to Defy I was going over my checklist of “todo’s”, which, is extensive and has people’s livelihoods and hopes on the line. I was thinking “I really need to get this stuff done, people are counting on me.” I was also thinking “I could really use a good week of no obligations.” In the midst of that I have a duty to my friends and community. Also of importance is my sense of gratitude to those who show up, as sponsors. I know how challenging it is to have to fight through bureaucracy just to bring a little hope. What occurred to me last night, as I layed in bed, I’m glad I went.

We cannot experience life if we don’t participate, if we don’t bring ourselves to the arena. Last night I sat in the arena with other gladiatorial candidates fighting for their second chances (and some their first) in life and I got to see that certain something flicker on. Hope. I helped give hope. You know what else? It was so easy. I listened. I thought. I spoke. I gave each person I could feedback on how to turn their mistakes into leveragable strengths.

How wonderful.

With Love
Ruth Utnage

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Behind every lie is an insecurity. Behind every insecurity is a fear. Behind every fear is an excuse. Behind every excuse is a self-imposed limit. Behind every self-imposed limit is a reason why you shouldn’t show up.

With one short electronic application you could be sitting across the table from me enjoying a cup of coffee and eating the best vending machine food this great country offers getting to know me for real. I’d love it. Let’s laugh, a lot, together.

But you have to show up…

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