The Artist’s Way at Work

28 04 2013


I started a group in January based on the book “The Artist’s Way at Work”. I posted last week about the tribes in my life. This week I realize a new tribe has been created.

The Artist’s Way at Work is a 12-week process book that is divided into methodical steps to self-discovery. There are two keys to the book, one is to get up every morning and to hand write three pages of stream of consciousness. The other is to, every week; bring yourself on an artist date, to do something fun, just what you want to do. Take yourself to an art opening or to a movie or wander in a used bookstore, whatever interests you. Someone described the group as a creative Weight Watchers, that by committing to meeting as a group, we hold ourselves more accountable to reaching our goals.

The book focuses on your work life, but once in the process you’ll discover that your creative life is not limited to just your job, but to every aspect of your life. There is real truth to the sentiment that if you do what you love, then you’ll never work a day in your life. That journey, however, to learning what it is that you love is the road that most of us find ourselves on. The other reality is that we still have to pay our bills while we are on this road.

We realized no one wanted this group to end, as we met for our last official meeting and wrap party. A very real bond has been formed among the new tribe. Several have had big life events happen to them in the few months since the group formed—divorce, job changes and job challenges. This group has been there to support each other for our large and small, ups and downs.

We came together with some of us knowing others in the group, but no one knowing everyone. We formed because we all had a void in our work life that left our creative life unfulfilled.

We discovered that we could find our answers within, if we allow quiet time in our life. That we have to nurture ourselves if we want our spirit to thrive. That sounds so simple, but as we live busy lives, those simple things are easy things to let go of. We learned that we all have self-doubt, but that we can control that doubt. And we learned that when we look at ourselves and see our flaws, others look at us and see our beauty and strength shining through.

It is in these morning writings and doing something our heart desires that serendipitous things happen. Getting out by ourselves has led to meeting people and making connections that take our lives into new discoveries and often to new jobs and careers.

This Artist’s Way at Work group has officially ended, but it feels like a beginning for me. I know there will be future groups that I will facilitate. I envision this group of new and old friends staying in each other’s lives, with others joining us. I have learned over the course of this program that our creative journey is our own to forge and that we have the skills within us to find our way. But to have the support of others is truly having the wind at your back as we move forward on our creative journey.

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21 04 2013

“By understanding our shared tribal tendencies, we can help lead each other to become better individuals,” explains Dave Logan in a powerful TED talk.

Logan’s book Tribal Leadership (click here for a free audiobook) is a tool that transcends being just a book about business. It is a book that helps to understand the world and the tribal cultures that inhabit it.  He and his team have come up with five different tribes that each have their own world view.

5. Life is great
4. We’re great
3. I’m great
2. My life sucks
1. Life sucks

A tribe is made up of 20 to 150 people. Your tribe is who fills your phone contacts, your texts, your emails; it’s whom you spend your time with. I have several tribes in my life; my work tribe, my advertising tribe, my church tribe and my blogging tribe. While my different tribes are unique, they are all similar in that they all want to make the world a better place, which according to Tribal Leadership is a sign of a well functioning tribe. Being a member of these tribes makes me feel connected to my community and to the world. It makes me feel connected to something larger than myself.  While these tribes are filled with unique and diverse voices, we are all striving toward a common good.

Gangs and terrorist cells inhabit the tribes that believe “life sucks”.

All of this makes me wonder about those two young brothers in Boston who apparently murdered innocent people and maimed many others. I wonder if they were part of a tribe that didn’t see the world as a beautiful, diverse place filled with people striving to make it better. Or were they alone with no tribe to council them. Or were they sucked into thinking hate-filled strangers hiding in the dark crannies of the Internet were their tribe. If one believes “life sucks”, then does one believe life has little value and therefore makes it easy to take someone else’s life?

No one knows why these brothers terrorized a city that from all accounts had embraced them. I hope for justice, but not vengeance. I pray for compassion and wisdom for all involved. I hope their act doesn’t fuel the fear of others into thinking that all Muslims or immigrants are all part of terrorist tribes.

I pray that someday we will all see the interconnectivity of all our tribes. As Spring wraps its warmth and beauty around the world; as runners jog down our streets; as parents push their babies in strollers in flower-filled neighborhoods; I hope that we all see Spring as a time to heal and as a time of new beginnings. A time for all tribes to see we all need to strive to make the world a better place. May we all believe “life is great.”

Wordless Wednesday

17 04 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Stand Tall and Hold Hands

7 04 2013

I love Sunday mornings. I lazily watch TV with a cup or two of dark, rich coffee from my cozy bed. A story on Jackie Robinson and the upcoming movie about him made me reflect on my own life. The reality of hatred and racism seems so distant from the comfort and safety of my comfortable Sunday morning. It is unfortunately still an ugly reality. And it has touched me and shaped me into the person I am today.

I was in second grade the first time two brave little African-American girls showed up in my all white classroom. One of my white classmates told her mother, “Momma, we had two little maids in class today.” I can only imagine what those two little girls told their parents when they went home that day.

While I have no memory of any overt racism, I know that I’m looking back through the lens of white privilege. They were probably teased or bullied or taunted because of their skin color. Or they were simply left out; they are not in any of my pictures of birthday parties or Girl Scout meetings. I have no memories of running and giggling with them at recess.

Fast forward a few decades and I marry a man who was Chinese. He actually still is Chinese, but he is no longer my husband. He left his home in Malaysia to create a new life for himself in America. He was (and still is) a talented man and he received some local recognition for the paper sculpture illustrations that he created. The day after a newspaper article appeared about him, I started receiving phone calls at work and at home. The voice angrily said, “Why did you marry that Chink?! Move out of our white neighborhood, “ and then the voice would slam the phone down.

It was frightening, scary and it made me very angry. It was the symbolic brick in the back of the head. It made us consider moving away from our family and friends. It made us question whether we should ever have children. We never thought to contact the police; this was a time before caller ID. We felt very alone and on our own and vulnerable. The calls happened randomly and after six months they stopped as abruptly as they began.

While the calls did end, that brick in the back of the head feeling never entirely went away. Those hate-filled calls taught me a real life lesson in compassion for those who are victimised by hatred.  I do know that I am lucky and for countless others, their victimization does not go away after six months.  I know that hatred and prejudice can fester and literally kill, be it because of race or religion or gender orientation.

I can’t go back to the second grade and hold the hands of those scared little girls and ask them to run and skip and jump rope with me. Today I know that my gay and lesbian friends must be scared that they may never be able to marry the ones they love.

I want to hug them and hold their hands and tell them that the world is changing. I was born into a world where people with different colored skin could not marry. The world slowly changed and that seems a distant and long ago time. I have a beautiful multi-ethnic daughter who has friends of all races, religions, gay and straight. This upcoming generation doesn’t see the difference that others saw a generation ago. The world continues to slowly, oh so slowly, change. As Jackie Robinson’s widow said on this morning’s interview, “We stand on the shoulders of those who come before us.“  May we all stand tall and hold hands.

My beautiful daughter and me

My beautiful daughter and me

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My Guilty Pleasure

3 04 2013

SSSsssshhhhhhh…don’t tell anyone…but I sometime…okay…more than sometime…watch…I hate to admit this…okay, here goes…I watch reality shows.

I don’t know why I have this compulsion. It started out with just an occasional Real World. I tell myself it’s not that bad because I don’t know what station they’re on or even what time they’re on. Something will just catch my attention when I’m surfing around. I don’t DVR them, okay I don’t have a DVR, but even if I did I wouldn’t. I know it’s mental masturbation, but dammit; sometimes my mind just wants a trashy release.

If I want to learn something

There are some shows that I can watch in front of people. Project Runway is about fashion and the designers are so talented and Tim Gunn is just so very fabulous. There’s also real talent on Top Chef, and who wouldn’t want to hang with Tom Colicchio and the other judges. I’m a foodie and I want to go to all their restaurants and eat their special dishes. Anthony Bourdaine combines food and great travel, I’d love to do what he does, except he does eat some things that I wouldn’t touch. If I want to learn something, there’s always Pawn Stars, which is just a low brow Antiques Roadshow.

If I want to feel better about myself

Then there are the shows that I have to watch behind closed doors. All the Housewives of Where ever shows. I think I watch because most of these women are just so horrible and crazy, even though they have tons of money they are such trashy examples of women. When I watch these entitled, privileged, awful people, I feel so much better about myself and my life. A few—very few—are not that horrible and I was actually sad to hear that Bethany was splitting with her husband—as are most of the women on those shows. Maybe those freshly divorced single women should go on Millionaire Matchmaker.  I also watch how the rich and famous have fallen with Dr. Drew’s Celebrity Rehab.  Dr. Drew appears to care, but with so many of those celebrities literally dying off from overdoses, I’m guessing this show won’t be back next season.

If I want to watch a train wreck

If I’m putting off housework, I can always watch Hoarders. No matter how messy my house gets, it would still be clean compared to the ones on those shows. Then there’s My Strange Addiction, with people eating light bulbs or foam rubber. What’s my three or four cups of morning coffee after this.

I do have standards

I never watched Jersey Shore, though I do know who Snookie is. I can’t watch anything with a Kardashian  or a Trump. I don’t watch Honey Boo Boo. Maybe it’s because I live in the South, I don’t find the redneck shows entertaining. I don’t need the subtitles because I understand what they’re saying. Or maybe it’s just because I shop beside people like that at Wal-Mart. Recently while at my favorite dumpy pizza place, I think I sat next to someone from Duck Dynasty.

I hate to admit that there’s more I could list, but I’ve got to go…Long Island Medium  is on.

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