Last week, I received an email from a name I didn’t recognize. M said he was a student at Ralston Middle School. He thought I had done a presentation at his school and was writing to let me know that he planned on counting the number of times


i get called a bad name, get a rumor spread about me, have unwanted physical contact, get excluded, called gay, made fun of for my clothes or made fun of because of my body for a week


My heart dropped. I didn’t know what to think. Was this for real? Was it a prank? Spam? Or was this a real kid reaching out for help. I looked him up online and found nothing. So I wrote him back a note telling him he had me confused with someone else but I was sorry he was being called names and hoped he had a grown up or teacher to confide in about it.


But I still didn’t feel complete.


So I looked up Ralston Middle School, which really did exist, across the country in California. And I called them. The secretary connected me to Jon Sanchez, the dean of students, and I told him the story.


“I don’t even know if M is a student at your school, but I just want to make sure that if this kid is getting bullied, he gets some help.”


“M is a student here,” Jon said, “I was his history teacher for 2 years.”


Sigh of relief.


“M is a good student and a member of student council. He participated in a skit last week at a class assembly about bullying, so I wonder if he was just trying to be a champion. I will bring him in for a chat and make sure everything is ok.”


This moment made me so proud to be a human. M was a real kid at a real school, and suddenly there were two people on opposite coasts who cared about whether he was OK. And did something about it.


“Please tell M that I was extremely touched by his email,” I said, “and that I just wanted to make sure that he was safe at school.”


As I hung up the phone, it dawned on me that this is what The Enliven Project is all about. It’s about not being a bystander in life. In less than 10 minutes, I connected with a kid and his teacher and sent the message that the world cared about whether he was safe. It doesn’t take long. It just takes intention and a willingness to stand up for your own values. It takes a belief in the power of connection and community. Every day is filled with moments that we could be more alive. We just have to seize them as they arise.

Get Practical Insights to Support Your Work.



Sign up for my newsletter to receive: 

- Advice and skill-building exercises to break the silence habit at your workplace and prevent sexual harrassment. 

- Learn where and when I'm speaking next

- Be the first to know when the book goes on sale!

Thank you for subscribing to the list!