Alumni Speakers Series: Christine Castigliano

May 2012 was the first ever Ignite Bainbridge, and 14 brave souls pioneered the way for this inspiring event. But what were their motivations and why did they do it? What did they learn and what advice do they have for future Igniters? Those questions and others were asked of these three Ignite Bainbridge first-timers: Alex Sanso, Tom Leurquin, and Christine Castigliano.

This post is a compilation of Christine’s answers. Christine is a writer, singer and teacher of Sparkology, which is her term for the process of awakening and uncovering the divine essence within, and welcoming the many facets of our wholeness. She may be reached at 360-598-3846 and

Why did you participate in Ignite Bainbridge? Christine: Ignite Bainbridge is about stories, passion and community, and I love all three. I’d been working with my personal story to fuel a midlife career transition. Turning 50, I woke up to the fact that I don’t have forever. What matters most? What am I here for? What are my gifts, my challenges? How can I make a difference, help the world become a better place?

These questions clarified my purpose and passion. I love to sing, although years had gone by without much singing. I’m also good at uncovering the Spark within a story, organization or individual, and help it shine. While there’s a Spark in my primary career, web design and writing, I’m most passionate about helping others grow, to overcome fears and blocks that stop us from doing what we really love.

Preparing my story for Ignite Bainbridge, I had to grapple with some very real fears and habits that often get in my own way. I certainly wasn’t that great at following the Spark. In fact, I’d often felt paralyzed with nerves. Wouldn’t people think I was weird, singing spontaneously? If I showed my authentic self, would they turn away? Ignite Bainbridge was the perfect opportunity to hone and develop a deeply personal story, and to develop the courage to share it within a friendly community.

Why did you choose the topic that you did? Christine: I first wrote about Spark – that chunk of the divine in all of us that motivates our desires and longings – in 2007, for the NPR series This I Believe. Although my piece was not chosen to air on the radio, the writing experience was inspiring.  I’ve blogged on the idea of Spark for several years.

What was hardest and easiest part of the Ignite experience? Christine: The hardest part was getting my life story down to five minutes. I also wrote a version of Spark Story as a 10-minute play for the Island Theatre contest, performed at BPA in August. This winter I’m developing Spark Story into a full-length one-woman show with original songs.

The most surprising part of the process came afterwards. After sharing my story, I was very excited about next steps. Where else could this story go? But I didn’t take action right away. Instead I slept in, avoided taking risks. I wanted to curl up in fetal position and protect myself. Surprised that the old demons and dragons at the edge of my comfort zone still made an appearance, I recognized what was going on, and was able to move forward. Dr. Brené Brown, an expert on vulnerability, calls it a Vulnerability Hangover. The need to connect deeply, to share our real selves, is often followed by feelings of regret and fear. Glad I’m not the only one! But, it was well worth it.

What did you learn from the Ignite experience? Christine: I learned how short 5 minutes is, and how long it takes to create something that works in that timeframe. I took a big stew of life story, and boiled it down to what I hoped was a flowing, juicy taste of the ideas. I learned to craft an engaging beginning, middle and end. I learned a lot about myself: discovering that I feel entirely comfortable in front of an audience, building confidence to take on more public speaking in the future. Mostly I felt thrilled to connect with people on a topic that means so much to me.

What words of advice or encouragement do you have for future Igniters? Christine: It’s very beneficial for anyone to sit with the question: what is my passion? What do I really care about? What needs fixing? If I had just five minutes, what would I most want people to know? It’s a very clarifying and rejuvenating experience. The team is supportive and the connections with your fellow presenters are rich. You’ll learn a lot about storytelling, an essential skill for anyone who wants to connect and inspire others. And sharing your vision with a live audience is a thrill that’s simply not to be missed.

Tom Leurquin is the volunteer lead for supporting Ignite Bainbridge 2 speakers, and he conducted this interview.