Conspiracy Theories

They seem to be everywhere. Nearly a day passes without one or more media outlets reporting on the latest political conspiracy theory as November nears.

Among the hyperbole and vitriol, one conspiracy theory appears to be suspiciously missing – yours.

What might your life and career look like if you decide, in this exact moment, to conspire with yourself?8466905745_a09e5c91fe

Might you make that first mark and then another and another until the painting in your head begins to take shape? Or, perhaps you might revisit those lyrics you scribbled in your journal to give voice to the voiceless. Crazier yet, you might tender your resignation from a job you’ve disliked for a decade and start shooting that film you storyboard each night.

The greatest conspiracy to have ever been conceived is just waiting for you. Eagerly anticipating that glorious moment when perfectly perfect you, with all of your magnificent imperfections, reaches down deep inside to honor and bring to the surface your extraordinary gifts and talents – for you to conspire on behalf of you.

That’s a conspiracy theory worth reporting.

photo credit: Partitura_02 via photopin (license)

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Cheep Seats

Sitting on egg shells

Sitting on egg shells

If the chair you’re sitting in – whether personally or professionally – feels like you’re sitting on egg shells, it’s time to take a deep peep into your own heart.

As you look to determine if you’re sitting in a cheep seat, here are some thoughts for consideration:

  • Are you doing the work and living the life that is the greatest expression of all the love you have to give to the world?
  • Is it the work and the life that fills you with exuberance?
  • Is it the work and the life that can power you through the most challenging times?

You deserve to be seated in the seat that is the most magnificent reflection of your perfectly, perfect gifts and talents.

If your current seat feels like you’re sitting on egg shells – get crackin’! It’s time to move along and cozy into a new seat!

 

Art:  Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) student

Just a nano

Touring a creative complex today I was exposed to new work, new thoughts, new ideas, and new technology that included words like nano.

FullSizeRender-65In one area of the complex, amongst the energetic whirr of laser cutters and 3-D printers, I noticed the Get Excited and Make Things poster.

You know you’re honoring your perfectly, perfect gifts and talents when you make things – whether it be art, conversations, music, presentations, films, math equations, food, or community – and you’re excited about making your work.

Take your excitement and make things that matter!

Target obsessed

When you begin that big project at work, one of the first and important elements to identify is the target audience. Who is this project being made for? Who will this project be important to? Who will this project reach?

FullSizeRender-49As you begin contemplating and developing your big dream, what role and how important is the target audience?

Are you pursuing your big dream or idea because of the target audience?

Or, will you pursue your big dream in spite of the target audience?

Seth Godin, best-selling author, entrepreneur, marketer, and speaker offers a point-of-view about target audiences. He frames thinking about your work, or as he refers to it, your art, in a refreshing and humbling manner. Seth says, “Here, I made this. You may like it. You may not like this.” Or, “Here, I made this. This may be for you. This may not be for you.”

His point is, make the art, do the work, that is important to you. Pursue your work, your art, not because you’re going to become famous or even make a living once your dream is reality. Rather, do the work, make your art, because it matters – even if it only matters to you.

In reading singer and songwriter Grace Weber’s recent journal entry entitled, “Create. Release. Repeat.” I believe she shares a similar point-of-view about making art that matters. Grace writes this:

“In contrast to our current beliefs as a society and to my own past recurring thoughts, I need to believe that the role of the artist is not to attain fame or ‘greatness.’  The only goal is to create. I am seeing more clearly now that an artist’s true role is to release creations into the world and let them do what they may, to throw their pebble into the pond and hope it might create a ripple or two. At times, that pebble can create a tsunami of change. Other times, it may only resonate in the bones of a few fish swimming by, but either way, we still throw our pebbles in. I believe the artist must accept a life of creating and releasing, creating and releasing, without the attachment to what may come of the work. If we can accept that, I think we can welcome whatever life and our art may have in store for us.”

Do the work, make the art that only perfectly, perfect you can make in spite of the target audience.

Why?

Your voice. Your work. Your art.

You matter.

 

 

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/53477219@N02/9154709399″>_DSC3105</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Fri-ta-da!

Art.

Thinking of everything you do as “art” is a concept I’ve learned from Seth Godin, author, entrepreneur, marketer, and public speaker. In his newest book It’s Your Turn, Seth introduces this idea of making great art no matter the medium.

It’s amazing how differently your work and life feel when you start to think about them through the lens of creating art.

For instance, that rote weekly report due at 10 a.m. on Monday mornings – when was the last time you really thought about the data reflected in it? Are there ways in which it could be visually enhanced to improve its readability and in turn its usefulness? Or, perhaps, is the report no longer relevant? Is it time for a complete overhaul that more effectively addresses the company’s needs? What might need to happen so you can confidently say “ta-da look at my art” when you submit your weekly 10 a.m. report?

My perfectly, perfect brilliant sister-in-law with Sunday morning art: fri-ta-da!

My perfectly, perfect brilliant sister-in-law with Sunday morning art: fri-ta-da!

Or what about the dozens of emails you send and respond to everyday? If you thought about them as art what changes? Might you format your correspondence in a way that is easier to read? Might you include some additional resources that could be helpful? Would you take an extra half moment to cheer someone on who is knee deep in a project and panicked that they won’t meet their deadline? What might need to happen so you can confidently say “ta-da look at my art” when you hit the send button?

Your perfectly, perfect brilliant self has the opportunity to make exceptional art that is important and useful. Art that has meaning and is in service to your own personal intention, dream and vision.

Ta-da! Look at you creating the art that only you can!

Art Kids

An objective of Voices of Pearls is to feature voices who are making a difference in the world. The perfectly, perfect brilliant voices that surround us each and every day. Sometimes we just have to take a pause, engage and listen to the voices that are right here, right now.

Tonight I did just that. As an almost weekly volunteer at a local high school’s art department, I am fortunate to be surrounded by the brilliant voices of the young women and men who identify as “art kids.”

Meet Maddie – a 17-year old artist who is brimming with wisdom and inspiration driven by her desire to use art as her voice in the world. I’m excited to share Maddie’s powerful voice with you and some of the topics we discussed this evening.

Maddie with her art

Maddie sitting amongst her art; her newest piece reflecting freedom of expression sits on the floor – très bien Molly!

Maddie’s most recent art piece

At the core of her newest piece (see photo) is the power of stories and how they are expressed. Maddie shared that the magazine wrapped pencils create stories about people – from healthcare workers battling Ebola, to marchers in Ferguson to celebrity. The pencils also represent how quickly important stories are erased from public consciousness and awareness. At the same time Maddie cautioned that we can become chained to our stories. She believes that these chained stories hold us back from reaching our greatest potential. Chained stories become the ones that define and prevent us from continually stretching ourselves to write our very own best life story.

Thoughts about her big dream

Maddie wants to inspire others through art while also teaching about the power of art. She shared that words can be hard. Art, however, provides the medium in which she can authentically express and represent her ideas, opinions and values.

Thoughts about the change she wants to be for the world

To inspire and encourage others to accept where they are in life, embrace it and understand that you don’t have to live in a box that someone else gives you.

Best advice

Don’t be impulsive. Think about your actions because they affect yourself and others.

What she’s listening to

Take Me to Church by Hozier

Maddie’s closing thought

I’m just a girl trying to find my way in the world.

 

Thank you perfectly, perfect Maddie for sharing your inspired voice. Keep on creating, keep on being you, keep on making a difference!

 

Coffee Makes You Black

In terms of context, this post was written in the early evening hours of Saturday, July 13 prior to the Trayvon Martin case being decided.  My original plan was to have posted Sunday morning after a final proofing.  Other than some minor proofing changes, below are my thoughts after attending Kwabena Antione Nixon’s “Eye Write What Eye See” book event.

On Saturday I hurried to finish my chores and errands so I could attend the debut of Kwabena Antoine Nixon’s first book, “Eye Write What Eye See.”  Kwabena is best known for his advocacy work among African-American youth and as a powerful spoken word artist.

Kwabena's first book

Kwabena’s first book

Kwabena’s book signing was only a few miles from my home.  Sadly, I needed to plug the address into GPS.  You see, my destination, Coffee Makes You Black, was beyond the not-so-imaginary line that makes our city of Milwaukee one of the most segregated in the country.

During my short drive, I listened to radio reporters detail the Trayvon Martin case as the jury deliberated behind closed doors.  The media speculated on what the jury may or may not be discussing as I crossed the line between predominately white and predominately black.  My thoughts though were on the violent end of Trayvon’s life and the risks associated with being young and black in our country.

With Trayvon and his family on my heart, I walked into the coffee shop.  I sat down and listened to Kwabena tell his story of growing up as young black male on Chicago’s west side… his father murdered when he was 11, his mother strung out on drugs leaving him in the care of his grandmother, his aunts, uncles and cousins.  He talked about the constant fear of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  The very real prospect of being killed… the continual sadness of another friend or family member being gunned down.

In contrast to his untenable circumstances, Kwabena was surrounded by the grace of his family, friends, teachers (both good and bad) and his beloved grandmother who always put her family first.  Together their voices supported his big dream:  to become a poet and a writer.   He spoke of how important his grandmother’s voice was in shaping his path and her examples for walking it boldly.  Today, despite a path riddled with danger, Kwabena is living his dream and is a published author, poet and activist using his words and his voice for the greater good of all.

While the energy, love and excitement that filled the coffee shop were palpable, I walked out feeling despondent.  Throughout the telling of Kwabena’s story, I tried to comprehend the life that he and so many others in the room had experienced under the same sky that I call America and Kwabena writes about as AmeriKKKa.  A country where the rules are different if your skin isn’t white.  A country where being young and black is an unforgiving and unsafe place.  A place where running out for Skittles is a death sentence.

Coffee Makes You Black.  Despite the coffee shop’s name, coffee will never make me black.  I will never know what it is to be black in our country.  And I will never know what it is to be a black mother and raise a black child in this country.

What I do know is,  I want to strive for peace and understanding to help bridge these imaginary dividing lines that exist in communities across this globe because as my mother taught my sister and me from an early age, “we are all God’s children.”  I want to do this because I believe and have faith in an America where everyone has a fair shot – no matter what.

While coffee won’t make you black, white, brown or any other color, it can be the medium in which we begin to build peace and understanding one cup of coffee and one brother and sister at a time.  Just like Kwabena is.