Archive for January, 2009
Last week I encouraged you to write a 25 word sentence about yourself that didn’t include your roles or your apperance as your definition. It is the sort of exercise that I think you can do more than once– and, in fact, you could probably do it every day as a journaling workshop for some pretty thought-provoking results. I did it again recently and here is what I wrote:
I am a woman who is suddenly aware that I can control my destiny by creating the day that I most wish to have.
I love that sentence and I am going to remind myself of that sentiment often.
I mentioned a few days ago that I went on a personal retreat a few weeks ago. While there, I met with a business/life coach and as we talked about the ways that my career and life are unfolding this year, it struck me that it might be time to make some plans.
When I first started as a freelancer, I wrote a mission statement:
I specialize in encouraging individuals to explore, integrate, and solidify their voices through well-developed workshops and speeches, well-researched articles that offer information, and thoughtful essays that provide truth, generate confidence, inspire hope and motivate action.
Creating a long term vision plan seemed like what I needed to do after talking with the coach, but, first, I felt like I needed to revisit my mission statement for some tweaking. It was helpful a few years, when I was first starting out, to talk about the work that I would do specifically but, now, it feels like I can be more focused on the way that I want to organically be as I work, live, and grow.
I didn’t spend a lot of time tweaking, maybe 10-15 minutes, but here is what I came up with for now:
My mission is to encourage individuals to explore, integrate, and solidify their voices in order to empower them with their own truth, confidence, hope, passion, and action.
With this mission in mind, I want to think about what’s next for me, what my vision is professionally and personally short term and long term. I love the work that Eve Ensler does– taking words and putting them on the stage, empowering people to become possessed by their voices and their truths, making activism out of art. I also love Alice Walker’s quiet but diligent work and Anne Lamott’s. For a few months, I think I will just pay attention to what I read, think, and see and figure out what resonates and go from there. In the meantime, I have these books that I already know that I want to write and essays that are percolating. Begin there, I think. But only after teaching a baby boy that we’re his, how to sleep through the night, and that our love for him is infinite.
If all went right, we welcomed an almost six month old baby boy into our family yesterday (more on all that later). Having him and his country in my heart, I wanted to share the following with you.
Africa has fiercely resonated with me now for almost two decades. It so resonated with me as an undergraduate that I designed a major in Africana Studies. As life would have it, the continent will now factor even more prominently in my life. As I prepare to parent and love a baby boy whose ancestry and ethnicity are African, I want to be the best possible steward in developing his love and knowledge of his country and continent. Recently, I learned about an effort to support Africa in a very personal way and I signed us up– inspired by and in honor of our boy.
The Mocha Club’s vision is to provide a way for people who don’t have hundreds or thousands of dollars to make a difference in Africa. We do this through a community-based website where members can start a team and invite friends to join them in giving $7 a month – the cost of 2 mochas – to support a project in Africa.
I’ve started a team specifically to provide orphan care in Africa.
The details of the orphan care project: HIV/AIDS and disease have taken the lives of so many parents in Africa, and that has left orphans for us to care for. First of all, we provide the children with proper shelter and nutrition. Then, we will make sure they are getting a proper education. But this is only the beginning, as our goal is to develop these children into future leaders in their own communities. Take, for example, Felix (pictured in the center above), who in 2003 we found sleeping on the floor of one of our elementary schools with 14 other boys. Just four years later, through our orphan program, he will be going to college to study law. This happens because your contributions equip local leaders to teach these children the life lessons they need to move productively back in to society.
I want to invite each of you to join Team Inspired. Every team member is given a t-shirt in honor of their contribution and the $7 monthly commit can be as short as 3 months. Thanks so much for considering!
Creating a positive sense of self requires a multi-faceted approach. One tool that I think is indispensable on your journey to positive and healthy self-possession is a journal. I taught a journaling class last week and thought I would share some of the prompts with you in case you want to do them on your own. Hope you’ll give them a try!
Answer these questions with one sentence. Do all three of them every day for a week.
What did you learn today?
What did you love today?
What do you need right now more than anything else?
I have always wanted to…
I don’t do it much but I enjoy …
The greatest joy in my life is…
I am most proud of…
Someone I turn to when I need inspiration is…
I will not criticize my…
I can’t wait to…
I am growing into…
Two Fridays ago, I went on a pretty cool assignment. My job was to go experience No Agenda Day, a once a month retreat at a local private retreat house that is set up in a way that allows participants to do whatever they want as a personal retreat in a beautiful setting. What I wanted was to work on a book project, read, and meet with a business/life coach. Mission accomplished. One of the most interesting parts of the day was getting the results to the Paths Element profile, a quiz I did to determine which one of four elements– earth, water, wind, and fire- am and how that impacts what I do and how I do it. When I initially heard about each element, I could see how there was something about that one that was true for me. I’ve bolded the things I identified with for each one below.
Earth: EARTH tends to do particularly well in accomplishing tasks and getting results. Motivation is based on a desire for an orderly process that leads to accuracy. Likes to stay focused in order to “get it right.” Tends to move slowly and good at maintaining projects. An Earth’s behavioral style reminds us of the traits of Earth: steady, predictable,foundational, solid, secure. Earth’s strengths include stability, predictability, a sense of the long term, grounding, and orderly movement. Earth’s challenges include a tendency to be stubborn, being unyielding and locked into old ways of doing things, and an unwillingness to move.
Water: WATER is sensitive to the needs of people and enjoys building lasting relationships in which it can play an encouraging and supportive role. Motivated by stability and harmony A Water’s behavioral style reminds us of the traits of Water: reflective, transparent, life-giving, easy-going, capable of “going with the flow”. Water’s strengths include its vitality, life-giving properties, flexibility, and easygoing nature. It brings balance, is a problem solver, finds solutions, seeks harmony, and is a team player. Water’s challenges include its tendency to quickly lose its identity in others and to absorb without discrimination the good and the bad. It has difficulty saying no. It is a people pleaser, can become stagnant without an outlet, and takes on the toxins around it.
Wind: WIND is also motivated by interaction with people but prefers a fast and changing pace. Initiators who enjoy networking with others in order to get things done and gain attention. Thrive in variety. A Wind’s behavioral style reminds us of the traits of Wind: restless, unpredictable, invisible, quick to move, needs to see things in motion. Wind’s strengths include spontaneity, energy, forward motion, and the ability to supersede all boundaries. It is the element most capable of moving all others. Wind’s challenges include restlessness, unpredictability, and impulsiveness. It loves to stir things up and then leave. It is invisible and hard to pin down. It doesn’t weigh the consequences of its actions, and it has trouble following through and focusing for long periods of time.
Fire: FIRE is motivated to undertake challenging tasks in order to get results. Seek power and control in order to achieve their goals. Tends to move quickly and enjoy initiating projects. Fire’s behavioral style reminds us of the traits of Fire: hot, passionate, all-consuming, uncompromising, gives itself 110% to the task at hand. It has no fear of confrontation. Fire’s challenges include the tendency to burn out quickly and the inability to set its own boundaries. It can destroy as well as purify, it may lack social skills, it may be unbalanced, and it may be insensitive to others’ needs and weaknesses.
So, anyway, I was curious as to which element would end up being my guiding force since I couldn’t figure it out for myself. Well, wouldn’t you know it that it turns out that I am a fusion– a representative of all of the elements and, as it turns out, a perfectly balanced fusion– I scored 49, 51, 50, and 51 points on the different elements.
Here is just a tiny bit of what my profile report said about me as a Fusion:
You have ability to adapt yourself to work well in almost any environment. You are versatile and can be a solid team player, able to tap into many of the strengths (and experience some of the challenges) of each style as situations require.
This doesn’t give me the clean-cut insight I was hoping for but it does explain a lot about my personality and inner monologue. I’ll use the rest of the report to help me better understand my tendencies (and to try to outsmart them!) as I work and live.
So, given what I’ve shared above, what do you think your element is? And if you are interested in finding out for sure, check out the web-site to learn more.
I cannot wait…
to see his smile
to smile back
to hear his laugh
to have him make me laugh
to learn his preferences
to like what he likes
to wipe his tears
to see his joy
to read to him
to listen to him
to show him that we’re here for him
to sit in awe of my love for him
to count his fingers
to kiss his toes
to experience his country
to teach him everything I know about his country
to learn even more about his country with him
to teach him how to throw a ball
to teach him how to catch
to watch him grow
to measure his height on the wall
to show him how to tell time on his Africa clock
to watch fireflies with him
to stargaze with him
to dream big with him
to tell him how much I love him
to tell him how much his birth mother loved him
to begin this life,,. this journey… now
Wednesday’s theme is The Writing and Creative Life. For today, I thought I’d give a quick update on what’s going on in my writing/ creative world.
Freelance/ Magazine Writing
1. Just this week, I am wrapping up a flurry of articles that I was hoping to get done before baby arrived. The topics range on everything from taking a personal retreat to sustainability, tips for an affordable wedding to recycled/reclaimed goods for the home. I hope to write more essays this year (and to find homes for them!), and there are a few articles that I would really like to be able to write and find homes for this year.
1. I continue to receive wonderful notes from readers of Hijas which is just so touching. Thank you.
2. I have two non-fiction book proposals complete on two entirely different subjects, and I am hopeful that I’ll find a home for either or both of them soon. One deals with body image and the other with activism.
3. I have 73 pages done on a fiction project that has been fun to write do far and may continue to be just that– for my own personal fun. I’d like to get into it more this year and see where it goes. I’ll keep you posted.
1. I am so happy to be visiting a few different campuses in March for Women’s History Month– what an honor to be able to celebrate women, our history, our present, our future, our possibilities on various college campuses. I have a condensed travel schedule that month because I want to take February and the beginning of March off from big travel, but I am really looking forward to the events that I am able to do. I might be somewhere near you so I’ll share details on locations closer to it.
2. I am back to doing local one-time workshops– something I put on hold to travel for Hijas– and enjoying them tremendously.
3. I am planning to do just a handful of events through the spring and summer. If you need a speaker or workshop leader for April, May, June, July and/or August, be in touch (see the contact page). We’ll see if we can work something out!
1. I am looking at some grant opportunities that might allow me to do some mixed medium productions that fuse writing, the arts, activism, and education. The grant that I am looking at right now is due in March so it’ll just depend on how life unfolds in the coming weeks.
Much how I love that Inauguration Day exposes all of us to beautiful music, I also love how it exposes us to poetry. And exposes a poet– writers who most often are in the background and whose books are not swallowed enough– to the world. My heartbeat huge for Elizabeth Alexander as she approached the podium and then looked out over the crowd. Many poets have just a handful of audience members at readings because poetry isn’t appreciated the way that it should be and so this big audience is wonderful for Alexander and for poetry.
My favorite line of her poem, Praise Song for the Day? “We encounter each other in words.”
Obama is speaking now. I am just ready for some political poetry, jealous writer and civic engagement junkie that I am. Lots of inspiration to be had, I am sure.
From his speech (probably not perfect quotes but clost quotes):
Our schools fail too many. The way we use energy strengthens our adversaries
Know this America: we have chosen hope, unity of purpose, an end to the petty grievances. The time has come to set aside childish things.
Greatness is never a given. It must be earned.
Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.
They have forgotten what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose.
We reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.
Our patchwork heritage is a strength not a weakness.
We can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to affect.
What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility.
This is the price and promise of citizenship.
Let us mark this day with a rememberance of who we are and how far we have traveled.
Beautiful musical arrangement– what a gorgeous piece– and I love that it introduces a wide array of people to this type of music. PS- I could never make the clarinet sound like that when I played. Holy cow. I wonder if that is why my band director switched me to oboe.