With his big smile, genial presentation and propensity to laugh at himself, Ryan Esbjerg is a compelling and entertaining speaker. During his two hour presentation last week at Lund’s residential treatment program for pregnant and parenting women and girls he told stories about cows, dirty camels, and a senior citizen who did not want to jump out of a plane. All of which, believe it or not, related to his story of overcoming addiction and now spending his time at the center of a community of positivity.
There seem to have been many defining moments for Ryan in his journey through alcoholism, all of which he shares honestly and openly – his parents’ divorce, the suicide of an uncle, deaths of friends from overdoses, sharing a broken down Volvo behind a car dealership with a nest of bees, moving to Florida on a whim, stumbling out of a Colorado emergency room with a broken foot and one shoe…the list goes on. But it eventually comes down to one moment. He was lying in a hospital bed at the UVM Medical Center and realized that he had absolutely nothing left but the air in his lungs. He took a deep breath and started there.
Some months later he printed his most beloved catchphrase – Flex Your Face – on a T shirt and a new chapter of his life began. The concept of Flex Your Face is simple. It just means ‘smile’. The principle behind what has now become an international community is simple too – ignite your life through celebration of small moments in your day. It started with the small moment of just being able to feel the breath in his lungs and now takes Ryan all over the world promoting positivity and bringing people together in a community of happiness and hope.
During his presentation at Lund, Ryan was very quick to admit that he had no idea what it’s like to be a mother with a child. But he did know that everyone in the room had the capacity to make a choice every day to choose positivity and that as you make this choice again and again, negativity fades away. He encouraged the audience to find their passion and to embrace community, to recognize the positive in every day and to celebrate the amazing thing that they are doing as at Lund working hard to make better futures for their children.
Ryan’s ebullient speech swings quickly between humor and tragedy. He uses his whole body to embrace and elucidate the point he’s making. He connects with each person in the audience and makes sure that they know that his message is for them too. That morning in the Dining Room at Lund, there was plenty of loud and genuine laughter but it came between moments of reflection on the stark and lonely reality of living with an addiction.
He promoted his latest ideas – daily motivational talks on Facebook and a Flex Your Face University that seeks to give members of the Flex Your Face community the opportunity to share their knowledge with the world. Both were interesting and well executed ideas. There is no doubt that we will see more and more of Flex Your Face over time.
Ryan left the clients with one thought – find the positive in every day, however small, and celebrate it.
Thank you to Ryan Esbjerg of Flex Your Face for coming to Lund to brighten the day with his message of positivity and redemption. Learn more about Flex Your Face here.