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Sparking Action

Sparking Action

By Vera Ilnyckyj
This podcast showcases ordinary people creating extraordinary lives, through the power of inspired action. In Sparking Action, hear informative and inspiring conversations with people who have taken bold action to change their life, reach amazing goals, make a positive impact on the world, and create success on their own terms. The intent of Sparking Action is to create a supportive space that inspires, informs, and motivates, because learning from others can spark our own inspired actions to create positive change, reach our goals, and gain momentum for better living.
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Taking risks is rewarding

Sparking Action

Leading your life with your values
How do you live your values? And why is that so important? These are a few of the questions I answer and comment on during my first solo episode. My reflections are inspired by my twelve podcast guests who have been on my show to date. Each and every one of them is so clear on what is important to them. This clarity drives their decision making, inspires their actions, and enables them to live an authentic and genuine life that is true to them. Knowing your values, having that clarity, and living your values every day, allows you to live in integrity with yourself. Your values help you make decisions and take action in a way that is true and meaningful to you - even during times of chaos, uncertainty, and stress. Indeed, knowing what we stand for is especially critical during challenging circumstances. By knowing and living our values, we won't be swayed by our circumstances or by other people's opinions. We'll feel in alignment and on track to live our best life! Thank you for listening to my podcast. I value and appreciate your support. I also value your advice on my podcast and any suggestions you have for future topics or guests. Over the next few weeks I'll be recording solo episodes, sharing common themes that have emerged from my interviews, and also sharing my learnings and thoughts about a variety of different personal development topics. I hope you enjoy. I look forward to connecting with you on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram, or check out my website.
June 24, 2021
Make a difference in the world
One of my intentions with my podcast is to have inspiring conversations with people of all ages, backgrounds, and experiences, because I believe we can learn so much from different perspectives. My guest today is Linda Dudar, who has years of leadership experience and success as a teacher, administrator, professor and Dean of Education. Linda says she’s retired but she continues to stay active and focused on her mission of making a difference in the world. In our conversation we talk about so many things, including the importance of believing in yourself, having trust and being open to possibilities. We talk about faith, resiliency, and gratitude. Linda also talks about servant leadership, turning fear into love, and the knowing that when good people come together, great things happen. I was so inspired by this conversation, and I know you will too. Resources discussed in this episode: Servant Leadership - Robert Greenleaf Steven Covey - Time Management Matrix About Linda Linda’s story of leadership experience includes years of success as a teacher, administrator, professor and Dean of Education.      Her leadership vocation and commitment are to make a difference in the lives of others providing strength with faith, knowledge and service through Christ.   Linda’s doctoral research (PhD) work with the University of Calgary AB involved the development of an educational leadership model of time-sensitive organizational change. Her research, published works and co-authored book demonstrate how difficult changes may be implemented much faster than previously thought.   She has chaired the Association of Alberta Deans of Education and has presented her work nationally and internationally. Currently, Linda is an advisor and consults with educational institutions and organizations.  She volunteers her work with committees and boards related to faith, development and education.   Linda’s love of faith, family and friends finds enjoying time with her family, her church family, directing the church choir and composing music and celebrating her Ukrainian culture.    One of her favorite quotes? “With God all things are possible” Newest Publication: Emerald Publishers: Amazon (Canada): About Vera: To learn more about Vera, please connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram, or check out her website.
June 17, 2021
Effective Leadership
Leadership, especially in today’s ever changing world, is critical to ensure that people thrive and are able to contribute to the best of their ability. My guest today is Lia Bosch, a business coach and consultant, who discusses with me what makes an effective leader – someone who can create an environment for motivation, whether in a virtual, in-person, or hybrid setting. In our conversation, we talk about being intentional about building relationships, creating structures, asking for feedback, and the three psychological workplace needs - autonomy, competence and relatedness.  Resources discussed in this episode Good Leadership In a Zoom World (survey results by Thrive People Strategies) Self Determination Theory (Richard Ryan, Edward Deci) Myers-Briggs Type Indicator About Lia Bosch Lia Bosch is a seasoned business professional and entrepreneur with over 30 years of experience in people leadership, human resources, organizational change, training & development, business consulting and general management.  She is Founder and Managing Partner of Thrive People Strategies LLC, a consulting and coaching firm with a mission to make work a motivating and productive experience.  She is passionate about creating work environments where both the business and the people thrive. Lia holds a Master of Science Degree in Organization Development from Pepperdine University and completed her undergraduate studies in Human Resources Management at the University of Toronto. She is a published author on topics related to leadership, compensation, employee management, teamwork, fitness and nutrition. You can reach her at, by visiting, or on LinkedIn. About Vera: To learn more about Vera, please connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram, or check out her website.
June 10, 2021
Creativity as a Catalyst for Change
My guest today is Brooke Estin, an artist, designer, strategist and coach dedicated to bringing creative ideas to life. In our conversation, Brooke talks about how creativity builds resilience, the importance of shifting our perspective, and how following our curiousity can lead us to new opportunities. We also dive into the idea of being multi-passionate, getting over the “shoulds” in our life, and how to use art to reconnect with our most authentic self. There are a ton of amazing nuggets of information in this episode, so please enjoy! About Brooke: Brooke Estin refers to herself as a Creative Amplifier. She is a multi-passionate artist, designer, strategist, podcaster and coach dedicated to bringing creative ideas to life. Her superpower is in blending creativity, strategy and design to turn ideas into reality.  The questions "where are you from?" or "what do you do?" have always been tricky for Brooke to answer. Born in California, raised in Thailand, educated in the UK and the US, and currently living in the South of Spain, she has never fit into a box.  She spends most of her days working as a brand strategist and designer, where she creates brands, websites and digital products and experiences for creative entrepreneurs.  As an Therapeutic Art + Health Coach, she helps people heal themselves through creativity, nutrition, relationships, and lifestyle choices. As a professional artist, she uses creative arts to express and process experiences in order to reflect, heal, learn and grow. Her paintings have been shown in exhibitions in Europe, Asia and the United States.   When she isn't on her computer, she can be found in her art studio working on her latest painting collection, doing yoga, attending women's retreats and generally living her best life in the south of Spain. Resources discussed in this episode: The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, by Bronnie Ware The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela Debbie Millman's "Remarkable Life" Exercise About Vera: To learn more about Vera, please connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram, or check out her website.
June 03, 2021
From burnout, to acceptance
Season 1, Episode 9 - "From burnout, to acceptance" My guest today is Bethany Van Hecke, who is currently on a journey of rehabilitation and recovery after suffering burnout. We talk about what this journey is teaching her about stillness, acceptance, setting boundaries, and how knowing your limits can be a source of creativity. *** I’m enjoying having real conversations that connect me deeper with people, and provide sparks of inspiration, and I really hope these conversations are resonating with you too. Thank you for listening! *** About Bethany Van Hecke Bethany is an experienced professional with a contagious passion for business, personal development, and relationships. After 10 years as a small business entrepreneur, Bethany joined WATT Consulting Group, a multi-disciplinary engineering firm based in Western Canada, and the following year became the company’s first employee-owner under the Employee Share Purchasing Program. She brings 10 years of experience in business operations, project management, marketing, and location-independent team collaboration to her role in Marketing and Communications. During her career, Bethany has primarily worked in the realm of Architecture, Planning, Design, Engineering and Construction operations. Bethany began her career as a certified multi-disciplinary drafting technician. Prior to redirecting her work towards business leadership in corporate services, Bethany was retained in consulting roles for residential and commercial planning, design and construction on Vancouver Island and in Calgary, Alberta. Today, Bethany’s actionable leadership style, diverse experience and knowledge make her a confident advocate for positive change and inspired growth within the professional community.  You can connect with Bethany on her website. Resources discussed in this episode: Dare to Lead (Brene Brown) Living More With Less (Doris Janzen Longacre) Earl Nightingale If you or someone you know is going through burnout, please know that many resources exist to help you and that you are not alone. Your company's Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Google 'help with burnout' in your city/town Connect with a local hospital or mental health centre Call a friend, colleague, someone at your Church or a spiritual advisor (Priest, Pastor, Rabbi, etc.) Call or email me (403-803-0807 or To learn more about Vera, please connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram, or check out her website.
May 27, 2021
Pivoting to Design Your Life
Season 1, Episode 8 - "Pivoting to Design Your Life" I learned about today’s guest on LinkedIn, through a blog series he wrote about pivoting from oil and gas to the tech industry, during a pandemic no less. Kiran Somanchi received four job offers and landed what he calls his dream job. I was so curious to learn about how he achieved this, and in today’s conversation Kiran talks about being courageous, having discipline and focus as bedrocks of his life, and the idea of lifestyle design. He even managed to sneak in a few questions for me! Please enjoy this episode. About Kiran Kiran Somanchi is a community builder who has lived in Calgary for two decades. He recently pivoted from oil & gas into tech after 13 years in that industry. Along the way, he learned about what it means to design your life and living true to your values.  He can be reached via LinkedIn or via his website. In his spare time, he enjoys writing about his lessons learnt from pivoting into a new industry and career on his blog at Resources discussed in this episode: Shawn Achor (The Happiness Advantage) Brene Brown (Dare to Lead) Life Launch (Pamela D. McLean, Frederic M. Hudson) To learn more about Vera, please connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram, or check out her website.
May 20, 2021
A Personal Journey of Grief
Season 1, Episode 7 - "A Personal Journey of Grief" In today’s episode, my guest Jaye Pye, talks about his personal journey with grief. In February of 2020, Jaye’s wife Chrissy died at the age of 41, after living with cancer for 3 years. In our conversation, Jaye talks about how he is taking action to “live his life”, an intention inspired every day by Chrissy. Grief is part of the human condition and something we will all need to face at some point in our life; however its not something we talk about often or openly enough in our western society. Grief is also a very individual and personal process, and I’m so grateful to Jaye for his courage and honesty to share his thoughts.  About Jaye Jaye Pye is a finance professional. He spent the past 15 years in senior leadership roles for several not-for-profit organizations. Starting in the mailroom, Jaye worked his way up the corporate ladder at one of the world’s largest accounting firms, taking night and weekend courses while raising a young family. Jaye is currently working towards a Life Coaching certification, and actively building a new business - Expanse Life Coaching and Consulting. He will provide individual, team coaching, and financial consulting services to business professionals, empowering them to solve problems, supporting them in their personal and professional growth. Jaye’s passion in life is developing system enhancements and investing in the success of others. He currently volunteers a substantial amount of time as the Secretary on his condominium board, enhancing their website and improving the digital systems for their corporate records. His expertise lies in developing individuals and teams while driving performance through creative solutions in process development.  Balance is extremely important to Jaye.  Apart from work endeavours, he can be found enjoying all things Outside – topping the list are playing disc golf and enjoying a local craft beer with friends and family.  You can learn more about Jaye at his website - Expanse Life Coaching.  Resources If you or someone you know is facing grief, please know that many resources exist to help you and that you are not alone. Your company's Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Google 'grief counsellor' in your city/town Connect with a local hospital or mental health centre Call a friend, colleague, someone at your Church or a spiritual advisor (Priest, Pastor, Rabbi, etc.) Call or email me (403-803-0807 or To learn more about Vera, please connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram, or check out her website.
May 13, 2021
Using Hope to Spark Action
Season 1, Episode 6 - "Using Hope to Spark Action" Have you ever felt hopeless? Have you ever felt hope? What does hope mean? According to Lindsay Recknell, who is my guest today, hope means “the future will be better than today by taking action over the things we can control”. Lindsay is an expert in hope, and in our conversation we talk about the science of hope, how to take intentional action to move out of hopelessness and into a state of flourishing and wellness, and lots of other inspirational and educational nuggets. I hope you learn from this conversation.  About Lindsay Lindsay Recknell gets people talking, teaches self-awareness and brain science, and helps as many people as she can use hope to motivate positive change. Lindsay Recknell is a speaker, facilitator and mental health advocate who has experienced the power of hope firsthand and used it to create positive change in her life. Lindsay’s work is all about helping others rediscover hope amid challenge – and teaching us how to use it to create radical positive change in our lives.  As an expert in hope and a Certified Psychological Health & Safety Advisor, Lindsay works with organizations to increase their levels of psychological health & safety in the workplace using the Science of Hope – evidence-based, practical tips and techniques to increase levels of hope within organizations by increasing hope levels in individuals.  She empowers individuals, strengthens teams and transforms organizations through her Hope Motivates Action, Mental Health in Minutes and Burnout & Boundaries programs. Lindsay lives in Calgary with her husband and their two Golden Retrievers. You can connect with Lindsay through the above links, on her website, or through email -  Resources discussed in this episode: Positive Psychology (Dr. Martin Seligman) Mel Robbins - 5 Second Rule Making Hope Happen, Dr. Shane Lopez Hope Rising, Dr. Chan Hellman & Casey Gwinn The Book of Joy, Dalai Lama XIV & Desmond Tutu To learn more about Vera, please connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram, or check out her website.
May 06, 2021
Creating the life you want
Season 1, Episode 5 - "Creating the life you want" At age 32, Micheal McKay was outwardly successful. He had a profitable business, he owned a condo in a trendy part of town, and was engaged to be married. But, deep down he was unhappy. So, in 2015 he blew up his life and moved to Cambodia, where an opportunity to work had come up. He’s been in Cambodia the last six years and in today’s conversation we hear what he’s learned on his journey, his thoughts and advice on goal setting, happiness, privilege, and not waiting to do the things you really want in life.  About Micheal In 2014 I had everything. I was 32,  running my own company, owned a condo, and was teaching advertising one day a week. I was engaged to the “girl that got away” and we had two dogs together. I had everything I thought I wanted, but I wasn’t happy.  In early 2015 I blew up my life. An opportunity came to work at a Social Innovation Lab in Cambodia and I took it. I’ve been abroad for six years, and without reservation, I can say it’s the best—and hardest—thing I’ve ever done. I’ve visited thirteen countries, and met people from dozens more. My ideals about life, my values, my intellectual and emotional boundaries—all of it has been challenged. My ignorance of the world, bared, and my first-world privilege, shamefully exposed. I’m not the same person anymore. And I am so glad.  These days I am working on my MBA while consulting on various business, innovation, and behavioural projects. I’m also a business partner in a social enterprise that sells eco-friendly and ethically made toys, knitted by women in Cambodia. It provides them with fair, flexible employment, and products that people love. I love business and I believe it’s possible to do good for the world and make a profit. Connect with Micheal at Resources and information discussed in this episode Danielle Laporte - Desire Map Social enterprise Michael is part of - Beebee+Bongo To learn more about Vera, please connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram, or check out her website.
April 29, 2021
Make the decision to take focused action
Season 1, Episode 4 - "Make the decision to take focused action" In today's episode I talk with Dave Baldwin who entered the foster care system at age 14. This became an opportunity for a change in the direction of his life. In our conversation, Dave talks about taking positive action even when life hits him a curveball, his unique perspective on staying motivated, setting goals, making connections, and celebrating successes.  About Dave Dad, Friend, Co-Worker, IT Leader, Independent Technology Consultant  Ethos: Everyday wake and try to learn something no matter how small or big. A constant thirst for learning will allow you to grow as a person in every way.   David was born in Vancouver BC and lived across BC and AB. He left home at 14 and entered the foster care system in BC. That change of life was an opportunity for a change in direction of his life. He was able to pursue path to success that was supported by people and achievements. He met the mother of his children in White Rock BC and together they brought two fantastic children into the world. Once his son was born the family moved from Vancouver, BC to Calgary, AB where David raised a family and pursued a career in technology.   With successful track record in Fortune 500 companies, IBM, Microsoft, Suncor, David has now chosen to pursue a career as an independent consultant in technology helping companies mature their Digital solutions. David is enjoying watching his children grow into great young adults with a fabulous future in front of them.  David can be reached at or on LinkedIn. Resources discussed in this episode:  David Goggins - Can't Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds Thank you for listening. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, and leave a rating or review on whichever platform you listen on. To learn more about Vera, please connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram, or check out her website.
April 22, 2021
From rock bottom, to happiness
Season 1, Episode 3 - "From rock bottom, happiness" Sometimes failure, or hitting rock bottom can be the biggest blessing in someone’s life. My guest today is Yana Read, and in our conversation she shares her story of personal failure, that has led to a huge shift in how she defines happiness, how family has become her number one priority, and how she has deepened her friendships through opening up about her own struggles. We also talk about her journey as the founder and CEO of Pupper Select, a raw dog food company, and how her business has helped strengthen her relationship with her husband and daughter. I hope you enjoy the conversation. About Yana Yana is many things, but maybe most importantly—she's a dog lover. The many things: Yana graduated with a BA majoring in Psychology at the University of Calgary, also receiving a Broadcast Arts diploma. She jumped into the world of media, sales and marketing, and started her career with steadfast determination and a passion to share her ideas with the world. After launching luxury homebuyer magazine Retreat in 2005, and high-end local Bride & Groom Magazine in 2007, Yana went on to work for New Ad for a decade until 2019 when she decided to pursue her true calling: DOGS. Yana started Pupper Select in 2019 along with her husband, Daryl, when their families dog suffered from allergies & countless ear & eye infections. They tried everything from numerous vet consultations to expensive medications. Medication would bring some relief, only as long as they kept using them. But that wasn’t the worst part – the greatest adverse affect was the huge toll it took on their Puppers mental health.  After researching the underlying cause of canine issues, everything pointed to the fillers and chemicals that are in traditional kibble. Pupper Select is about helping to educate doggy parents about the difference raw food vs kibble can make for their pup's health, life, and behaviour. Through compassion and communication, sharing evidence & experience, and by providing the most convenient access to your dog's new diet, Yana & Daryl are  here to help your dog live its very best life. Connect with Yana on LinkedIn and learn more about Pupper Select on her website. Resources mentioned in this episode: ATB Entrepreneur Centre Alberta Women Entrepreneurs (AWE)
April 15, 2021
Be the writer of your story
Season 1, Episode 2 - "Be the writer of your story" Today's guest is Amy Woolf, whose goal is to help people gain strength and confidence, and allow them to see their physical and emotional potential and resilience. In our conversation, we talk about the importance of family, taking risks, trust, friendships, and coming full circle in your life. Amy's advice is that we need to be the writer of our own story in order to live the life we're meant to live. About Amy Amy’s journey has taken her from the UK where she was born and raised, to Canada and now Tel Aviv, Israel. Professionally, Amy worked for 10 years in Ecommerce and Digital Marketing for global corporations. She recently pivoted, and after completing her M.A at the University of Tel Aviv in Environmental Studies, she joined a Venture Capital firm who work to solve our planet's biggest challenges, and to improve people’s lives. Amy is also a Personal Trainer, qualified ski instructor and chef. She is a huge advocate of health, nature and connection and thrives on new experiences and opportunities. Her goal is to help people gain strength and confidence and allow them to see their physical and emotional potential and resilience. Connect with Amy on her website or on Instagram @wildasawoolf.
April 08, 2021
Taking risks is rewarding
Season 1, Episode 1 - "Taking risks is rewarding" Jessica Shumlich co-founded Highwood Emissions Management in the middle of a pandemic. Talk about taking a risk! In today's episode we talk about how there's never the perfect time to start something new, how self awareness leads to self acceptance and self love, and the importance of having difficult conversations. About Jessica Jessica Shumlich (P.Eng., MM) is the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Highwood Emissions Management. She has a decade and a half experience working for energy companies, governments, technology developers and various startups. She is an Engineer by trade, with a Masters of Management and has been involved in work spanning from Canada, the United States, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Germany. Jessica’s favorite word to describe herself is collaborative. She is a proven leader who enjoys challenges and demands top level results. She has worked with organizations, small and big, to develop, launch, and optimize technology deployments, projects, and programs. Her expertise lies in holistic greenhouse gas emissions management including evaluation of how to implement cost effective solutions that reduce emissions. Her skills in risk management and business strategy have led to implementation of best in class management practices, successful market positioning for energy transition, operational excellence, global and local policy revamps, and the reduction of millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. Jessica is an advocate for sustainable development, healthy living and vibrant communities. She volunteers for many organizations including Green Calgary, Bike Calgary and Momentum. Her passions include family and friends, travel, learning about different cultures, and anything that gets her outside including exploring the mountains at the doorstep of Calgary. Learn more about Jessica on her company website or connect with her on LinkedIn.
April 01, 2021