Book Review: The Lightmaker’s Manifesto by Karen Walrond

I learned about “The Lightmaker’s Manifesto” a couple of years ago while listening to Brene Brown’s podcast “Unlocking Us”.  The podcast wasn’t even about the book specifically, but I quickly learned that there were previous podcasts with Brown and Walrond about the book that I have listened to more than once now.  After listening to the podcasts, I knew that I needed to read this book.  I have owned this book for a while now, but I kept putting off reading it because I kept getting caught up in the word “activism”.  While the book is about activism and tells the stories of some people doing great work, the book is so much more than that.  The book really is about finding purpose and joy in your life and by doing that, how it can bring you to activism. 

Walrond talks about this in one of the podcasts when she describes being asked to write this book.  She didn’t think of herself as an activist and then talks about how activist is a “scary word that bring judgement”.  She describes activists as people that do “big things”.  Which makes the activism seem like something unattainable to many of us.  What Walrond wants us to learn from this book is that “activism grows out of joy”.  In this book she shows us that finding our joy, which comes from our meaning and purpose, will help us “begin to see light everywhere” and “learn how to become makers of light”. Her complete definition of activism is, “being led by your values to do something that helps other people and makes the world brighter for other people”.  When I think about this definition I start with finding my values and the importance of helping others and how these two things can work together.

Walrond tells the stories of several activists and their work throughout the book.  The book is broken into four parts. As you read the stories and move through the book you begin to see how, by starting small you can begin to find the joy in your life that could move you to activism.  

I will admit that the book started slowly for me.  I read the first chapter and put the book down for a long time before coming back to it.  When I did though and intentionally moved through the first section of the book, I got to the point where I was having a hard time putting it down.  Throughout the book, Walrond gives you tips on activities that you can start doing in your daily routine to help you figure out what your joy is.  It is not really an “aha”, although I guess it could be, but a process to help you really start to understand your joy and purpose.  

She starts with listening to your “whispers” and using those for journaling purposes.  Journaling is one of those things that I have done on and off over the course of my life.  Currently I am in a journaling phase. Walrond’s purpose for journaling is a little different from mine but I like her ideas and plan to start incorporating some of her journal prompting into my practice.  She also gives the reader ideas for setting a daily intention. Her questions for this are: “What will make me feel healthy today? What will make me feel connected today? What will give me a sense of purpose today?” She includes activities to help you identify your values, come up with a “spark statement” a personal mission statement of sorts and then use these to make a map that can lead you to some kind of action that you are comfortable with.  I think a key here is to remember that your action is what you are ready for no matter how big or small. One of my favorite components of this book is that Walrond doesn’t just talk about finding joy and purpose in our lives, but she ends the book with a step-by-step guide that you can follow which can help each one of us individually find our purpose.  

The overall premise of the book is that if you find your joy you will be moved to activism in a way that will keep you from burning out.  Finding your purpose will keep you motivated. But again, she doesn’t just talk about finding our purpose she gives us concrete ways to help us identify our skills, values and actions that bring us joy.  Everyone has times in their lives where they need to stop and reevaluate their priorities.  Life changes in big and small ways for all of us and this book is a good read that could help you when you find yourself faced with those changing moments.

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