Drawing Solutions: How Visuals Will Change Your Life
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This week I had to get picked up at the airport for an event that was about two hours away. I admit I was a little worried about being in a car with a driver I didn’t know for two hours – would he be talkative? Would she be quiet? It would be rush hour when we left the airport, was this person going to be bugged by the traffic? I caught myself going wacky in my head and took that ball of worries and threw them out the window. Then I decided in advance I was about to have the most amazing experience.
Then of course I did.
My driver Tony wasn’t ruffled by the traffic, and I found out he and I shared a passion for cooking and food. We swapped recipes and favorite meals, then we moved on to share secret vacation spots and stories of jobs we’d had. And we got down into some nitty gritty stuff too – wonderment over human kindness or lack thereof. He confessed he had Googled me before picking me up and watched my Draw Your Future video, then he softly shared his dream for his own life.
It was lovely. AND it was the shortest two-hour drive I have ever experienced. That’s how amazing the world is and all it asked of me was to be open. To rid myself of my worry or preconceived notions and just show up - fully present.
In exchange I got a contact for vacation homes in a beach city I’d never been to. I learned a new way to make lasagna that I am definitely going to try. And I got to hear someone’s story – how he had immigrated to the USA from Brazil and started off working as a dishwasher, desperately trying to learn English. Not too long afterwards, he had worked his way into knowing anything and everything about the kitchen and became the main support for the restaurant’s head chef.
When we parted company he looked me right in the eyes and said, “It’s been a pleasure.” I agreed.
While I may never see Tony again, in our “chance” (hah!) meeting, I made a new friend. We may or may not connect later on Facebook or swap food photos on Instagram, but we connected on our drive together and I know I left that experience better for it.
This week, look for opportunities in your interactions, be present and be open to making a new friend of your own. Your conversation might not go very deep (in fact, it really doesn't need to be!), but you too may enjoy that feeling of the world getting that little bit smaller. Go out, look for the good and let yourself be surprised by who and what you find out there, CreativeGeniusYOU.
So many people showed up to march on January 21stin cities around the world! (3.3 million in the US alone!)
In our city, and in many other, it was the biggest march in history. Wow. What a powerful day. I admit I recorded the televised section of the march in DC so I could go back and watch it again and again. (Especially the Alicia Keys performance!)
WE ARE ON FIRE.
It was a great reminder to all of us of how powerful our voice can be. When we are at work, or in relationship, or in our communities, we sometimes forget that our voice matters.
I was talking to one of my collaborators at a big company here in PDX yesterday. She’s internal and I’m coming in to help with a change initiative. We discussed what happens to people in massive organizations like this, how easy it is to stop hearing and sharing the voice of your creative genius. She said, “Their ideas get beat down so much that they aren’t willing to put it out there anymore.” Embittered, they shut down and just do the work.
Fear is a great catalyst for silence. Governments and employers have all kinds of tactics to help you lose your voice.
A recent article in Fast Company looked into whether it was better to try to stand out or fit in. Research shows that success comes with a little but of both - being a part of the culture, but not getting lost in that network. Being connected but remaining strong and innovative are the best tactics.
Women are relators. We are wired to work together, but we know this strategy doesn’t always create movement for ourselves. Sometimes we need to stand apart. We need to stand up for our ideas or leave some of our work environments. The number of small businesses by women and particularly women of color is growing at an astounding rate. These women are not afraid to be independent, but also understand the importance of being connected. It's a fine line, but if anyone can tread it, we can.
Let's be a part of one another's cultures, whether they be female, LGTB, Muslim, African American or other. Let's hold one another up because we are #strongertogether. Let's not get swayed by rhetoric, fear, and misinformation. Let's not allow our ideas to be beaten down. Let's remain curious, critical and innovative. Let's stand apart but remain open, cooperative and kind.
Whether your work happens in the office, the great outdoors, or with your babes at home, your voice matters. So don’t let it stop with the march.
The organizers of the women's march are still organizing. They've come up with a list of 10 actions for the next 100 days. Check out the link, and get involved. Make it fun! Some friends of mine are hosting parties for each action. See what you can do to get people working together in your community.
The world needs Creative Genius You, so stay involved and I’ll be standing right beside you!
P.S If you're finding this week to be too draining, check out this awesome article on some self-care actions you can take to avoid burnout.
I read an interesting study recently about a factor that contribute to our sense of belonging: people.
I know, I know. You're like "Duh." And yes, we've known for a long time that our social circles influence our happiness and sense of belonging massively, but this wasn't talking about friends and family. It wasn't even talking about colleagues and teammates.
It was talking about that fleeting "Hello" when you pass a distant neighbor, and that "Have a nice day" at your local store. It was talking about the vacation stories you swap with your hairdresser, or the smile you give your regular barista. Turns out, all those seemingly superficial relationships can be really important. Together, they contribute to our shared sense of community, and a strong sense of belonging. Barista Joan won't come in the middle of the night and help you out of a pickle, but her smile of recognition in the mornings is a comfortable reminder that you belong here.
So this Holiday Season, don't take those superficial relationships for granted. Give your barista an extra tip, help your grocer pack the bags, give that distant neighbor an extra big smile and a wave. Charge those connections and set your intention on building your community in 2017.
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Yesterday a woman that I work with mentioned she was starting a group to help bridge the divide between us. Since the government can’t seem to do it, she felt it was up to us to begin the dialogue that will help to bring us together. “We live in the city of bridges”, she explained, “Doesn’t it make sense to start here?” There would be t-shirts that said, “I’m With Us.” I love her idea.
The world around us is so polarised. When we watch the media, everyone appears to be for or against everything. We avoid dialogue and deliberation and instead, just try to find a forum to shout out our opinions, especially on social media, as if none of us feel heard. The frustration people feel on all sides is palpable.
It’s fascinating to me the level of distress and disruption. Many people were shocked by Trump winning, but just as many people were happy. The gaps in who voted for whom were wide in some demographics - race, educational background etc. What does this tell us? Here we can clearly see the width of the divide.
And what keeps widening that divide? Fear. Our fear of the other, our desire for a better life without a clear route to get there, our constant comparison to others who have or have not. All this set in a culture of blame and lack of empathy. Right now it feels like a hot mess out there.
But we vent and cry and take a deep breath. We pick ourselves back up, we carry on, and we try to shift our perspective. "I’m With Us.”
We can choose love over fear.
We can choose to look beyond the surface of our beliefs and examine the perceptions we hold of others to imagine what it’s like to stand in their shoes.
Why does this new President strike fear into the heart of an immigrant? Why do mothers of black sons lie sleepless at night? Why would someone choose this President? Ellen DeGeneres said on her show, “If we take away the labels, we’ll find out just how alike we really are.”
We are love at the root. Have compassion for yourself and those around you this week. Then dig down for the love.
You will hear bad news this week. You will hear stories of violence and bigotry. Don't let them scare you. There are bad people out there, but the vast bulk of people (Yes, even Trump supporters) are good people. They are people who are afraid for themselves, and for their families. And yes, they may have voted for a person with disgusting views on women and minorities, but they were scared. Many voted for him despite his views, not because of them. Remember that. And remember we are love.
"Good and bad are mixed. If you don’t have both, you don’t belong with us." — Rumi
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Yesterday I was speaking at PSU Women’s Forum in Portland, and everyone there was really amazing – speakers, participants, panelists. One of the morning speakers was Victoria Lara, and she told a story that stuck with me.
Victoria said that some years back she had been under a lot of stress and was working all the time. One day she passed out due to exhaustion and stress, and had a mild heart attack. During the time she was unconscious she had a near death experience. In her experience she saw a long, long line of all the people she had ever known, helped or connected with. It went on and on. There were all kinds of people from her work world, from her personal life, from her community advocacy and service. In that line were her two children, and her brother who had passed.
The people were in that line because they were waiting to get on a scale. A love scale. One-by-one, they would step up to this scale, and it would tell her how much love they had given to her and how much love she had given to them in exchange.
The love scale. That powerful image reminded me of what we're measured for in life.
What she learned from this - and what she shared with the audience - is that it's so, so important to connect with those around you. Not that fake, “How you doing?” “Oh just fine,” kind of connection, but to really take the time to fully experience another human being, or living creature, or just the world around you.
You have the capacity to be a powerful vehicle for love. This week, step onto the love scale and see how much love you give to yourself and how much love life gives to you. I think you’ll be surprised at how much there is to go around.
It’s fall and when the weather starts to change here in the PNW, I notice a few people around me commenting about the feeling of melancholy.
While SAD (seasonal affective disorder) doesn’t affect everyone (especially you Virgo/Libras whose birthdays are coming up) other people are affected, and find themselves eating more bad food and carrying around a deepening sense of gloom.
So how does this happen to us? Is there some brain reaction to the change in weather? I did a little digging...
A little brain backstory…there are two parts to the autonomic nervous system, which work together to control bodily functions. The sympathetic system stimulates body processes, while the parasympathetic system inhibits them.
According to George Wilson of the University of Tasmania in Hobart, SAD could be a "programmed reaction to shorter daylight hours in winter."
Before an animal hibernates, their parasympathetic system works to decrease body processes like temperature and metabolic rate. A colleague of Wilson - Margaret Austen - looked at SAD in humans, and found a similar response.
"Animals prepare for winter by fattening up and then sleeping though it," says Austen. 'In humans that is not practical." Instead of hibernating, we #CreativeGenius humans gain weight and move less in winter - it's part of a natural adaptive mechanism that conserves precious energy.
This watered-down form of hibernation is part of our genetic encoding, and it’s natural to feel its affects, so why not embrace it? Sleep deprivation is becoming a bigger and bigger problem in society, so why not use this natural process to nudge you in the direction of more naps?
Here’s a few hibernation to dos:
Get ready to get some sleep! Make some new pillows or find a deal on new sheets for your bed – if you are going to sleep more, make sure it’s comfy cozy! Then organize a “sleep in” date with yourself to get more than the usual shuteye. Woohoo!
Refresh your winter stores with quick, healthy, satisfying options. Make it easy for yourself to resist the temptation to order more Domino's!
Germinate some of those good ideas. When visiting a friend who is working on a new book, he mentioned he was going to put it away for the winter and look at it in the spring. This might seem illogical to some people, but sleeping on your ideas can give you excellent insight!
Why not embrace the fall? Go pick up leaves and press them into books, or use them to decorate a space in your house. Pick out some pumpkins and litter your porch with them. Light some candles, pull out your warmest, most snuggly blankets and prepare your space for that long winter’s nap. You earned it #creativegenius!
*SIDENOTE: Have some extra blankets, coats, towels or canned food you need to clear out? Skip the trash can and donate them to a shelter! Both human and animal shelters need just this kind of thing in the Fall. Have a Google around to find your closest drop-off point. Everyone deserves to be warm and well-fed this winter.