Tuesday, December 30, 2014

#BlackStorytellersSpeak about #BlackLivesMatter Movement

The recent highly publicized homicides by police of unarmed black men Eric Garner in Staten Island and Mike Brown in Ferguson, MO have sparked protests around the globe. The issue of systemic racial inequalities is widely debated on news outlets and on social media. Many have proclaimed it the #BlackLivesMatter Movement.

The feeling that this country has once again reached a precipice in race relation seems undeniable. The activists of this movement are much like those of the past: every day folk who will no longer stand by and let the injustice continue. Artists are using their art form to illuminate the issues and possible solutions. The National Association of Black Storytellers (NABS) has launched a video project, #BlackStorytellersSpeak, to capture the current and past stories to advanced the #BlackLivesMatter movement. On NABS' website they state,
"The National Association of Black Storytellers will be joining other artists and concerned activists by lending our voices in solidarity to movements fighting against racial injustice, inequalities in the judiciary system..."
Carolise Frink Reed, chairperson of the NABS Education Committee, is spearheading #BlackStorytellersSpeak says this project allows their members to join other artists "who have transmitted their artistic energy to this just cause."

To that end, I offered the following story.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Black Poets Speak about #BlackLivesMatter

The nation has taken to the streets to protests the sustained and continuous murdering of Black people by law enforcement. The spark THIS TIME was the killing of unarmed teenager, Mike Brown, in Ferguson, MO. Just like in countless times in the past, those leading the protests are young people. To use the words of one of the most influential women of the Civil Rights Movement, Ella Baker,
"I believe young people come first. They have the courage where we fail."
For months my internal struggle has intensified, as I struggle as Black person, as mother, and artist to find what it is for me to do. As I grapple to find a way to add my voice to this critical conversation and protest, a dear friend and fellow storyteller, Emily Hooper Lansana, told me of a movement by Black Poets. Black Poets Speak has galvanized and organized poets to submit videos of poetry recitations that speak to the continued injustice in this country that seeks to dismiss black lives and perpetuate white supremacy.

Each video opens with the poet stating, "I am a Black Poet who will not remain silent while the nation murders Black people. I have a right to be angry. I have a right to be sad. I have a right to express my feelings." Below is a video from one of the poets, Natasha Ria El-Scari.  May her words serve you.

Ella Baker's words once again seems fitting.
"Not needing to clutch to power. Not needing the light to shine on me. Just needing to be one in that number to stand up against tyranny."

Monday, October 27, 2014

Four Hats Thriving Artist Wear

Want to be an accomplished artist? Wear these four hats.

To be an artist you must make art. Sounds like an obtuse statement; but you may be surprised at how many artists do not spend regular, consistent time creating. Here is how to ensure that you make art:
  • Schedule it. We make time for things that we plan to make time for. Put your art making time on your calendar. 
  • Go on Artist Dates. Julian Cameron in her brilliant book, The Artist Way, "The Artist Date is a once a week, festive,  solo expedition to explore that interest you." Carving out this time fires up your imagination which is what every artist needs to create.
Be a promoter and defender of your craft. Be active in your community of artists. Serve on the board for your state art council or join organizations dedicated to your art form. Your service to these organizations will enable you to:
  • Stay abreast of happenings in your industry. 
  • Be a part of a community. So often working as an artist can feel very isolating.
  • Be of service. You have to give to get. 
Share information about what you know best: how you create art. The public loves to hear about how artists do what they do. What inspires you? What is your creative process? Who do you admire in your field? Share these insights on your social media timelines. By sharing, you position yourself as knowledgeable (which you are!) and you become a resource.

Publish what you know. (You really do know a great deal!) Even if writing is not your gift,  you can publish. For example, if you are a photographer you could publish some of your pictures. If you are a dancer, you could share your audition horror stories.  Today there are a plethora of ways to get a byline, such as starting a blog or writing your own e-book.

Wear those four hats and you will create a fulfilling creative artist's life.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Purpose Economy

"Each of us has within us a gift to give.  Your gift is a unique set of talents, skills and abilities, which were given to you by the Creator to respond to a need in the Universe. It is your contribution. In a word, your contribution is your PURPOSE."
So begins my book, Journey to Purpose: A Simple Guide to Discovering Your Life Purpose.  My goal in writing this book in 2004 was to share the tools I used to discover my purpose. 

A decade later, I am hearing more and more about how the economy is shifting from an information based to purpose focused economy.  As Millennials become a larger part of the workforce, greater attention is given to finding a career that satisfies a need greater than simply acquiring wealth. People are seeking personal growth and experience in their work and want to be involved in work that benefits the whole, as well as the individual.

Long gone are the days where you get a job with a company, remain there for decades, and retire with a pension.  While that was certainly the model of the Baby Boomers, the Millennials have no such model, and regard that model as a complete illusion; and for good reason.  Graduating with mountains of student debt and experiencing periods of unemployment that can easily span several months and some time even years, few workers believe in patriarchal employer offering salvation.

More and more people are wanting the 8 to 10 hours spent at their jobs to mean something.  Aaron Hurst, author of Purpose Economy writes, “We believe in a more humane world where by better understanding our purpose we are able to unite to better solve the world’s problems.”

Imagine a society where the majority of us are making a living doing what we love and feel passionate about. Imagine a society where most are seeking work that enhances relationships and builds community. Do you believe such a society is in the realm of possibility? Do you want to be a part of such a world? Do you know your purpose?

If you are seeking to know what your purpose is, I encourage you to get my book. If you want a free excerpt email me. For more information about the shift to Purpose Economy, check out this video:

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Making Your Life As An Artist

Occasionally, I come across a tool that helps me as storyteller or as a business owner or as a human being.  Rarely do I find one that helps with all of the above. Until now...

Making Your Life As An Artist, a book by Andrew Simonet, has value to me as an artist, entrepreneur and human. If it has value to me, it may have value to others, so I must share.

Making Your Life As An Artist is a concise, clear and simple guide for artists seeking to have a sustainable and balanced life. (Two primary goals of mine.)

[If you already heard enough and know you want this book, download the ebook version absolutely free here.]

Sustainable Artist Life

Simonet writes, "Sustainable means your life can work over the long term."

I set out as an artist to carve a life for my daughter and myself where we were not simply surviving but thriving.  This book validated my perspective as a full-time artist. From the beginning until today, I encounter so many artists who have a starving mentality and work ethic.

"You have to do free gigs until you build a reputation then you can charge." I rejected this well-meaning advice I got when I first started as storyteller 21 years ago.

Coming from a decade-long career in the for-profit world, working for free, was alien to me.  I set out to study, train, research and practice until I had skills that were worthy of remuneration.  Then I sought out gigs that could compensate me in an equitable way.  My first gig was at Borders Bookstore and I was paid in books (a valuable commodity for any storyteller).

Balanced Life

Simonet encourages you to "have things in your life other than work." One of my many epiphanies while reading this book was realizing I am always working.  My work is so enjoyable to me I don't know how to turn it off some times.  My work is so rewarding I don't even realize I am working.

This book helped me see the value in real down time.

Your Art & Your Career are Not The Same

This statement is the other AHA moment I had.  "Your career is not your work: your career supports your work," Simonet purports.  To further clarify this distinction, he encourages you to write out separate goals you want to achieve personally, professionally and artistically.

What an eye-opening exercise!

Don't Starve. Make Art.

If you want to be a prolific artist...
If you want an art career that provides financial security...
If you want to live an artist's life that is full and balanced...