About the Project

Clean Sneakers = Life with few risks & few rewards
Dirty & LIVED IN Sneakers = Life with more risks and many more rewards!

First of all, hello! I’m Lisa, the creator of The Sneaker Experiment©. So, what IS The Sneaker Experiment©?

Let me start at the beginning…

I compiled a list of items that intimidated, and, yes, scared me. I called them Sneakers (to find out why, keep reading). These were not rational “jump into a pit of snakes” fears; these were irrational situations that I had spent my life avoiding. We all have them, right? For instance, you may find getting a pedicure or giving a toast at a wedding anxiety provoking and you probably have great reasons for avoiding them.

I had gotten very good, throughout my life, at talking my way out of things I didn’t want to do. So good, in fact, that I was the only one left I couldn’t convince. So I FINALLY took matters into my own hands and forced myself to participate in and tackle each one of these situations that were terrifying to me. The funny thing is, to most people, many of my items may seem as if they were pulled from an awesome “to do” list! And yet to me, they were debilitating.

My goal was to stop worrying so much
get past my anxiety about trying unfamiliar
and intimidating things,
… yikes!… MESSY!

My hope was that when other parts of my life got shaken up and then settled back down, I would be able to put my own desires, dreams and ideas before those of others…even the others whose opinions meant the most to me. Those were my reasons for taking this journey.


I was always the kid in the white sneakers. It wasn’t a fashion statement (far from it), my mom didn’t clean them for me every night, and I certainly didn’t buy a new pair as soon as the old ones got dirty. Fact is, they never got dirty. You probably played in the dirt and ran right into puddles — at least once in a while, right? Me? Never. I can’t recall a single time when dirt, mud, paint, pizza sauce, marker — substances that routinely adorned other kids’ feet — appeared on my shoes.

I was careful with my choices, rarely taking blind leaps. And while it’s possible I could have “followed” other people’s beliefs and actions, which might have led to some exciting opportunities, I chose instead to march to my own drummer which gave me a sense of strength and confidence.

You probably know that many people can act with great confidence in front of an audience but are crippled in real life from doing things that others take for granted. That was me. And chances are it is you — even though you may not choose to perform improvisation in front of strangers; for you, it may the ability to ski any hill on any mountain.

Confidence couldn’t alleviate the anxiety
that kept me from getting my sneakers dirty.
And I’ve come to recognize that those pristine sneakers
represented years of missed opportunities.

What I’ve come to realize is this: You need immense strength to be your own person against the crowd…and you can use that inner strength to change. It was my strength, my ability to march to my own drummer, that allowed me to undertake a campaign to get my sneakers dirty, to make changes in my life.

If you desire change, too, completing the steps
in The Sneaker Experiment © will encourage
your inner strength to kick in.

And finally…WHY A LIST?

How many December 31st’s, at 11:59 PM, have you found yourself thinking, “Crap! I need to figure out what I want to achieve in the next year!”? And how many December 31st’s, at 11:59 PM, have you found yourself thinking, “Crap! I didn’t do anything on LAST year’s list!”?

Me too!

I don’t know why, every year, we convince ourselves that this year is going to be different, that this is the year we’re going to get healthy, get a better job, start dating someone cooler, get a promotion, start saving money — you know what I mean. And when the clock is about to strike midnight, our gut gets a swift kick as we realize we failed our list. However, how many of us stop to think that MAYBE OUR LIST FAILED US???

Do you ever go to the grocery store with a list that says, “Get groceries”? No! You go to the grocery store with a specific grocery list — items you can find and cross off as they’re added to your shopping cart. So, what makes us think we can put “Get healthy” on a list and assume it will happen? That kind of list is just begging to be unfulfilled.

Smaller goals are better! For example, if your goal is to “get healthy,” and you write a list that says something like, “Look up local gyms on the web, make appointment at selected gyms, discuss personal training with gym staff, buy book on nutrition, stay out of center aisles when grocery shopping, park a little farther away than needed, etc.,” wouldn’t that be more effective than just saying, “Get healthy”? Now there is a list you can follow, and getting healthy becomes doable.

The same idea applies here. If I went about my day just thinking about a vague goal, I would probably get even more anxious, and I’d never let go! So, I decided to take my grocery-list theory to heart, and created a specific list of individual “Sneakers”, which would take me progressively closer to my goal.

Here, in this supportive Sneaker community,
we’ll put on our sneakers and take these baby steps
toward becoming who we always wanted to be.

Your Sneakers will be true to you and many make sense only to you. And that’s okay. While you may find that some of my Sneakers are also yours, your list will be yours, alone –your own chance to mess up your sneakers.

Your Turn!

So, what are YOUR goals? Work backwards — choose your goal, then create a Sneaker List of baby steps to get you more comfortable with the idea of tackling that goal. By the time you make your way through your list, that BIG goal won’t seem so insurmountable anymore.

We need tools to fulfill our dreams. The Sneaker Experiment© puts the tools in your hands, and not only teaches you but shows you how to use them!


This is not an advice blog, nor is it a blog that is all about me and my thoughts about life. The purpose of this blog is to connect a community of people who are all taking part in The Sneaker Experiment©, and who will benefit from reading about each other’s experiences while participating or preparing to participate in this movement. It is a home to return to again and again as we continue to blaze through our own personal Sneaker Lists.


Lisa Gilbar, a therapist specializing in dealing with anxiety, spent 15 years working in film, television, and on Broadway. She has a Bachelors in Theatre from Smith College and a Masters in Social Work from New York University.

Lisa has studied human behavior in different forms, and now works to help others reach their full potential. To that end, several years ago Lisa founded Actors’ 1-Stop, LLC, a business that focused on helping actors manage all the tools and training they require in their stressful profession. Lisa also started two support groups, one a goal-setting and motivational group, and the other a creative outlet and support system for entertainment professionals. While both groups started out small, they eventually grew into a larger community.

Lisa knew it was time to expand her work to reach an even larger audience, while at the same time focusing on growth in her own life.  The Sneaker Experiment© was born out of Lisa’s desire to push herself outside of her own comfort zone and really live life, rather than continuing to view it from the perspective of a cautious observer. The more of the experiment she herself completed, the more Sneakers she could check off her own list, the more Lisa realized that this is a valuable tool for many others. As Lisa told her friends about her Sneaker Experiment©, they started making their own Sneaker lists. It wasn’t long before Lisa knew she was on to something that could reach far beyond her group of friends.

Today, while not totally anxiety-free (who is, really?), Lisa has the tools with which to tackle her worries. She incorporates those tools in her work in private practice in Los Angeles and is thrilled with the results that are shown in those she works with and herself. She couldn’t be happier that her idea of taking these little steps toward getting her own sneakers dirty has become a nationwide movement — dirtying up “Sneakers” everywhere!

Lisa hopes you find completing your own Sneaker Experiment© as fulfilling and life changing as she has!



While The Sneaker Experiment© is wonderful for tackling anxieties and pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone, it is always advisable to work under the guidance of a licensed therapist for severe anxieties, phobias, depression, or any other mental illness. If you ever feel like harming yourself or someone else, always contact your therapist, call 911, and go straight to your nearest emergency room.

One response to “About the Project

  1. Katie

    I can totally relate to your story. My mom made me take off school clothes immediately after coming home from school. I wasn’t going out to play in the mud!! I developed the same ” play it safe, take no risks” lifestyle. Always doing what was expected of me. I’m fighting that every day as I attempt to “step out of my comfort zone” more.

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