Igniting Your Life: What Started as a Photographic Series is Now So Much More
By B. Root
Sarah Gish is a Houston-based artist who created the art project and community campaign Ignite Your Life! in 2013. Ignite Your Life! came about after Gish’s brother, Geoffrey, died of alcoholism. “I wanted something good to come out of that horrible experience,” Gish says, “so I created Ignite Your Life! for two reasons: to memorialize Geoff and to inspire others to be ignited for their lives so that they would hopefully not go down that same path.”
With Ignite Your Life!, Gish wants to discover what ignites people’s lives and what makes their hearts sing. According to the project’s website, the goal of Ignite Your Life! is to inspire people to “light a fire to their own passions and to create connections among people.”
Ignite Your Life! initially began as a photographic series and short interviews in which Gish asked people how they ignite their lives. The project has since grown into more of a community-based project with: workshops, talks, classes, and retreats based on the Ignite Your Life! concept; bracelets made with sober teens; T-shirts, greeting cards, and playing cards that help spark conversation about art and igniting one’s life; two songs commissioned for the project; “free hug” marathons; giving flowers to strangers; bus stop dances; and road trips in Gish’s art car, Phoenix Rising, that foster new connections and relationships.
The Ignite Your Life! project revolves around Gish’s “12 Ways to Ignite Your Life Daily.” She wrote these concepts after being inspired by the hundreds of stories and photographs she gathered while working on the project. They also draw from what she has learned throughout her studies of addiction and psychology.
1. Trust in spirit.
2. Take care of yourself.
3. Meditate each morning.
4. Commune with nature.
5. Listen to your heart.
6. Be of service.
7. Connect with love.
8. Always be grateful.
9. Allow forgiveness.
10. Explore your creativity.
11. Learn something new.
12. Enjoy life.
The Ignite Your Life! campaign kicked off in July of 2013 with an inaugural road trip taken by Gish and Houston filmmaker and musician Amanda Smith. Gish and Smith traveled from Houston to California, with many stops in between, to discover how people ignite their lives. This summer, Gish will be hitting the road with Houston singer and songwriter Ellen Reynolds for another Ignite Your Life! road trip to Michigan and Canada, which will include pop-up exhibitions of the photographs along the way. New photographs taken during the trip will be posted to the project’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages. Gish will be fundraising for this summer’s trip by hosting screenings of road-trip movies at MECA.
Following this next road trip, Gish will focus her efforts on writing a book about the project. The book will include tips on igniting your life, as well as accounts of the first and second road trip—the people she connected with on the trips and the stories heard. Gish says, “When I interview people about how they ignite their lives, their stories inspire others to ignite their own lives. And when we set this inspiration in motion, we can change the world. Imagine a place where everyone lived from their heart! That’s what happens when you ignite your life.”
Gish wants to create an “Ignition Revolution” around the world so that people start waking up, listening to their hearts, and following their dreams. “Happy people make a happy planet!”
For more information about Ignite Your Life! film screenings, photos, and donating, visit igniteyourownlife.com.
B. Root is a regular contributor to OutSmart magazine.