Meet sisters, Lindsay Clarke and Leah Stodden – Advocates, Writers, and Artists, whose mission is to shift perspectives and inspire potential.
In their words, “It is our passion to leave the world a little brighter and more united than when we arrived.”
Tell us more about the Lindsay and Leah, the Upside Down Sister…
We are Leah Stodden and Lindsay Clarke. We are sisters. We are different in many ways, yet the same in all of the important ways.
Our work focuses on inspiring the potential of all individuals, regardless of circumstance. We aim to encourage others to shift their perspective in situations when upside down just might actually be the right side up.
Leah is a 38-year-old adult thriving with Down syndrome. Her passions include playing the piano, performing, American Idol/The Voice/Any competitive show in the creative field, spending time with her forever love, Mark, and creating special memories with her family.
Lindsay is a 32-year-old who is fueled by all things creative, working with children, and connecting with all different types of people who expand her outlook on life. She is a writer, painter, pianist, wife, sister, daughter, friend, and most important of all, a believer.
How did the Upside Down Sisters get started?
Leah and I have been advocating for the inclusion and acceptance of all people, regardless of their circumstance since 1995. Together, we presented to my entire elementary school, one grade at a time, educating the children and teachers on the potential that lives inside of all individuals.
I spoke and Leah performed piano for each class. It was the spark that fueled a passion that has informed our work together ever since. A passion that is still blazing strong over 25 years later.
We launched our blog, Upside Down, in April 2016 when we entered Live Your Legend’s “Start a Blog” challenge. Our blog was selected as the winner out of 3,000+ participants, landing us tickets to the World Domination Summit (WDS) in Portland, Oregon.
This served as a springboard for many projects that followed, including being awarded a WDS Grant for our work in 2017. Writing our blog has brought us closer to our current project, co-writing the book Upside Down: Shift Your Perspective! We are hopeful to have the book published by the end of 2021!
What is a challenge you’ve faced since beginning your organization? How have you overcome it?
We first had the vision for our book, Upside Down, in 2009 – over 10 years ago!
The greatest challenge we have faced is being patient and trusting God’s timing. We have overcome this by embracing the journey and being open to pivots along the way. Although our long-term goal has been to publish our book, it became clear that the first step to realizing our dream was to start a blog. This not only has given us the writing practice that we’ve needed, but it’s tested our content and is serving as the foundation for our Book Proposal and Outline.
Additionally, in reflection, it was not time for the book because much of the story still needed to be written. Life experiences that will enhance the book’s content still needed to unfold.
Trust in timing while showing up each day and being open to adjacent opportunities along the way!
How does your organization help women?
Leah inspires the world to always give people the chance to surprise you. The ripple effect of this is massive and long-lasting. Leah’s “disability” is actually her “ability” to view life through a unique lens. A lens that is often hardened by the world for many other people.
This “Upside Down” perspective has the power to pour so much good into the world and highlight the immense potential in all individuals.
Our current work includes but is not limited to:
1. Publishing our book, Upside Down: Shift Your Perspective
2. Guest writing inspiring articles
3. Sharing our story on podcasts, in publications, and more
4. Piano Performances (currently all-virtual)
5. Speaking Opportunities (currently all-virtual)
6. Virtual Conference Exhibitions
What message would you like to leave with The Brave Collective community?
You have the opportunity every single day to give each person who crosses your path the chance to surprise you. You never know where that connection might lead you or what that person might teach you.
The last sentence of the presentation I gave in First Grade rings just as true today as it did in 1995: “the next time you see someone who looks different than you, try to be their friend. You might be surprised at how nice they are.”
Leah always wants to make sure people feel the gratitude she has when they learn about her story. She wrote the below paragraph for your readers:
“I hope you enjoy our story to read and to look at it and to learn about the things that we have done together between me and my little sister Lindsay. There are things that each of us have done all through our lives that we want to share to all of the people to show you how two sisters grow up together when one has Down syndrome and the other has no Down syndrome. And how it feels to be in our family and the things we learn together. Thank you to spend the time to connect with us as friends together. If you want to learn more about me, I’d love to and be happy to talk with you.” -Leah
Be patient. Be welcoming. Show up. Believe. The best is yet to come.