Creating Community-Imagine a World Fulfilling our Unique Life Contribution

For the last 15 years I have been taking an interest in the welfare of healthy communities, and before that my parents raised me to give back. I have learned that with the principle of creativity, we can reclaim our souls, our families, and our communities from the corroding disease of apathy and address our own ambivalence towards change once and for all. Creativity is not the end all principle. We will continue to need to lead lives of character, but creativity is an incredibly powerful catalyst in the fight of change and improvement. Creativity is also the key to discovering our personal vision and voice. In order to build communities in “wellness,” we will need to consider the following points:

  • Taking care of yourself and your family is the FIRST priority.
  • Understanding the difference between the scarcity vs the abundance mindset will unblock creative community processes.
  • We are a world divided by politics. We must break free from the “either or” mindset that is spoon fed to us sometimes on a minute by minute basis.
  • Realizing the amazing, powerful creative potential dormant within our communities.
  • Life in community can be positive and productive. We will receive the energy that we are sending forth.
  • Do we have an obligation to the greater community? Discovering and labeling the reasons why we should all care.
  • Once set in motion it is easier to stay in motion. Get to work. Do good continuously.
  • Being a part of community means that we have a responsibility to nurture and care for us. Self-care.

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Getting out and throwing ourselves into improving our communities will feel like a small accomplishment if our own families are suffering and unhealthy. As a social worker I have seen over and over again the difference a social support system can make within a person’s life. Without a support group an individual is at risk of needing already taxed governmental systems to fill in the gaps. This would not be a big deal if the number of people needing such a safety net was not on the rise. Family dynamics can be beyond difficult and for some even dangerous. For those people, seeking safety is of utmost importance–that is what the system should be there for. For the rest of us, we can delve deep within to ask is there something more that we can be doing to strengthen ourselves and our own families.

I feel blessed to have been taught from a young age that there is enough. Scarcity thinking creates fear. We worry that impending doom is right around the corner. We are taught that there is only so much money to go around etc. We should not live in fear of running out. I see every day the resilience of families facing tough times. Resources are everywhere. This does not mean to be wasteful or foolish in our stewardships. It is quite the opposite. Abundance means that we find gratitude in simplicity. Abundance is available to each one of us, but we need to be open to that energy. This is ever so true within our communities. This is not some kind of socialism principle were each person is obligated to put all they have into a government pot to receive back their share. It is quite opposite. It is a principle as free flowing as the wind. It must be allowed to move with free will and intention.

Speaking of politics, now more than ever we need to become aware of the little thingy called an agenda. When it comes to our platforms, our leaders, and our media they ALL have them (agendas). We are living within this illusion of divided-ness. This is a lie. We are all connected. We are all part of the same life, the same planet, the same universe, and we are on the SAME team! When we quit buying what they are selling individually and collectively we are going to do amazing things together.

Have you ever stopped to consider what percentage of the population within our communities is living a life tapping into a high level of character and creativity? What does such a person look like? Perhaps we could agree on folks from the past such as Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Albert Einstein, & Martin Luther King Jr. These may feel like unreachable marks to hit for role models, but are they not individuals who lived lives of integrity coupled with high levels of creativity? Okay, so maybe not each one of us has the IQ to be another Einstein, but rest assured, by tapping into these powerful principles we can be, we can LIVE lives so much more than we are at the present. Considering the possible difference we could make if we only were able to increase the creativity in say 25% of our communities is exponential.

Okay, so this is when I hear the grumbling starting. A common complaint that I hear is “Nobody will listen to me.” They are basically torn with inner turmoil asking, who am I to make change happen or to work with those difficult people there? This is at the point that we need to stop and remember our experiences are a reflection of our personal beliefs and personal energy. You are incredibly important in the process of progress and change within your community. Search within to understand deep seeded beliefs about your personal worth and relationships with others and heal. While healing do whatever you can. Let go of judgment for yourself and for others around you. Be open to new experiences. Be open to the now.

After we address that we are in fact invaluable in our communities and so, so needed sometimes, may times the apathy sets in. We experience ambivalence to change. We may ask what good is it really going to do any way? I am busy. My family is busy. I have a whole lifetime. We possess a litany of rationalizations. Only deep down within our hearts do we know the answer to the question of responsibility and stewardship. My point would be a lot more of us are than are letting on. Perhaps we do not know where to start. Perhaps we are living to capacity already. The question, “Is the health of our communities our personal responsibility?” If the answer within our soul is yes, we can be asking ourselves what is our next step.

Once we figure out our “next step,” we must get in motion. With the study of cell in human biology we learn that a catalyst will come along to start a process. When that process begins to happen it takes less energy to continue. This is the same in life. We sometimes need a catalyst to come along to move us to action. This may come to us in the form of an idea (creativity). Once we act on that idea and begin work we must endure by feeding the cycle of receiving more and more creativity. Our catalyst spurs us to action just as enzymes will within a cell function. Creativity can and should be continuously nurtured to remain pliable and active. It is like any other skill that can be strengthened through practice and habitual use. If you want to super charge your creativity use it in conjunction with a higher vision/purpose like community welfare. The energy for using our time, talents, and lives for the better good are powerful and sustaining.

We have come full circle. We are back to self-care. While doing all of these great things for the collective, it is not about losing our personal identity in the process. When we let go of taking care and nurturing ourselves, we surely will be the losers. The danger will be allowing the gaping needs to overtake and overwhelm you. It is about keeping perspective. Imagining yourself as part of a relay team is a good visualization to stay or become healthy. You do your part. You take a rest. Your part will come again. Do it again and rest again. Make it a point to find healthy outlets that you love that strengthen and relax you as a person. For some this may be crafting, art, gardening, running, walking, singing, journaling,etc. You find what feeds your soul and participate in it frequently.

In conclusion, our communities need the individual talents and strengths of each of its members. We are responsible. We will not find wellness within those structures through government agendas, but through our own pure motives for wholeness and unity. We have amazing and powerful untapped talent and creativity all around us and great things will happen when we begin to utilize the human potential many times lying dormant. Furthermore, it is time for all of us to look within and see what we could be doing differently and then go out and actually do it. All the while, we must continue in our personal quest of creativity. In that we will find joy and wellness. We will reach closer to living a life in a world were more of us our fulfilling our unique life contribution.

(Originally published early 2013 on Habitat Earth)

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Once again I am coming home too late to work on any art. I always feel a little sad when I have more than two days between writing, drawing, or painting. It has become a line of sanity for me (maybe I’m being a little dramatic. It is my favorite form of self-care. It is like extreme self-care.)

I had the most remarkable experience the other day that I put on the back burner (so to speak) to write about once I formed a complete thought about it. Tonight I believe the thought came together. It happened as I was telling my own daughter not to listen to her parents about everything. That each person must find their own path in this world, and that YES her mom and dad are flawed and working with the set of circumstances that we came into. She looks up to us both because she feels we have good, practical jobs. She overheard her dad telling her big brother that his college choice was not realistic and that he wouldn’t be able to support a family. My heart broke a little as I heard this. I told her emphatically that just because your parents are stuck in survival mode, you don’t have to be and won’t be happy (because yes, this young lady is a dreamer in the biggest way) unless developing her talents and discovering her passions. It really hit me that these kids can do things differently. I shared with her that she doesn’t need to wait to be almost 40 to pursue her art.

So, back to the remarkable experience. I had taken my daughters to the doctor and while one was waiting on labs etc, A young man in his early 20s complimented my Papaya tote from a beautiful Flora Bowley painting. This is pretty common because the bag is unique (I found it at my favorite home decor store and couldn’t pass it up). Once in a while when someone presses I will tell them more about her and how she is a Portland artist who teaches her intuitive painting process online. This man asked more questions and wanted to know more about her as an artist as well. He said that he is also an artist and shared his work that he shares on his personal Facebook profile. I let him know that I was also an artist and shared my artist page with him as well.

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We turned out to have quite a bit in common. For example, he was going to the same university that I graduated from my social work program from. He also had the “helpers” heart. He also deeply cared about the youth and felt that so many of his generation were lost and “robotic” as he put it. He said that art had literally saved his life. He had not had an easy high school experience due to losing friends to suicide. He had not even had a smooth childhood. Things had been pretty rough for him and he had struggled with his own depression. Which after telling me these very personal things, said again that he is resilient because of his love of art. He said that he works on it in every bit of free time he gets. He gives it to those he feels need a lift or to feel a part of things. I got the impression that he cares and he is sharing with an open heart. Our conversation went on for so long that my daughters started feeling restless and I could tell that they were ready to go.

It really isn’t every day that I get to talk with the up-and-coming generation outside of my own children, so after meeting this remarkable young man, my heart was lighter and my hope levels raised. People can say what they will about artists all day with their perceptions of us being to airy-fairy or whatever. Creativity is hope. It is what connects the artist to their higher source. It is what becomes a symbol of a lesson or a concept understood that the artist then shares with whoever sees that art. Take Flora’s painting. It being on a bag sparks curiosity in those who see it. They must stare at it. Even comment on it. Question it. This level of mystery is a teacher. Creativity is what makes the practical possible, but that is the subject of another day.

I’m also learning that those opportunities to touch peoples’ lives will present themselves even if I am not able to do as much art and writing as I’d like to right now. The universe has its own agenda. I will watch for that.