Show Up For Your Life

Show Up For Your Life

Annie lived in a refugee camp for more than 20 years in Burma before receiving asylum here in the United States. Through community, she met Veena Prasad of Project Feast and now works as a chef preparing catered meals. She prepared a meal and shared her story, thanks to Veena Prasad’s vision of Project Feast. As Veena spoke, the following struck a chord deep within my soul:

“It takes a lot of courage just to show up.”

And as I tried to imagine how Annie spent 20 years in a refugee camp, I applauded her for sharing her story. Could she have imagined that 20 years ago she would be at the University of Washington preparing a meal for 75 communication leadership professionals? And of course I tweeted:

Takes a lot of strength just to show up. @projectfeast Veena Prasad #commlead #quotes

And as it happens through our powerful connections I was turned onto Whitney Johnson:

Jessica Esch@jesch30 Jan 25

@AnnieCrawley Scratch a bit with @johnsonwhitney #BIF9 talk: http://businessinnovationfactory.com/iss/video/bif9-Whitney-Johnson … #HSBARS

I just finished listening to her powerful talk on the importance of showing up. She quotes T.S. Eliot

Do I dare disturb the universe?

Each of us are on a mission of greatness. I truly believe this.

Motivational genius Les Brown is one of my mentors and I have listened to his talks over and over again on “Showing Up For Your Life.” Yet I realize that showing up for our lives takes commitment. Just as we are being asked to explore and cultivate both the artist and leader within, we also must cultivate how we show up.

We can be awake and walk through the doings of life, yet can we commit to showing up in all of our magnificent greatness?

And I reflect on what I ask others to do. What my company stands for. Am I willing to dive into my own imagination, dream, and show up? Most people do not fail in life, most people’s dreams are too small and they succeed.

It really does not matter what has happened in any 20 year section of our lives as Burmese Chef Annie can attest to that, what matters is how we learn, grow, and share ourselves with our community and our world each and every day as we show up for our lives.

Creating Moments of Connection

In order to be a leader, you must have a team to lead. In order to create a team, the first steps are connecting your team and committing to the larger picture.

Whether I am the facilitator, a student attending a conference, running a company or leading a team, I’m always focused on finding engagement strategies. When I read the following passage in Redesigning Leadership by John Maeda with Becky Bermont,

“She opened the meeting by throwing it [an orange] to a participant while asking the question, “Tell us all why you are here in one sentence.”…The orange went back and forth around the room…They were all connecting with each other.”

I highlighted it and made a note to self to always carry an orange to toss. This is a great icebreaker and one I will use in the future, yet the more important question it raised for me was why are you here?

I am working through the Communication Leadership program to learn the tools necessary to take a vision of the future, leverage storytelling, multi-media, and technology to engage and build a community to create connections and change.

Inspiration lifted off every page Maeda scribed, not only from a leadership perspective, but as an artist as well. I found myself unleashing my imagination, visualizing creations of art to connect in a different way to the communities I serve. Maeda has taken chances throughout his life and shared them with honesty, humility, and lessons leading up to his Presidency at the Rhode Island Institute of Design, RISD, to his new endeavor in with design and venture capitalism. He embodies a phrase embedded upon my soul:

“It is important to have an end to journey toward, but remember it is the journey that matters in the end.” –Ursula Leguin

When I consider what we are exploring during the next ten weeks, I cannot help but consider how to make sure that I continue to look for stories of engagement, inspiration, and leadership everyday. I like what the power of imagination unleashes and to know when to walk away and create a new moment of connection in a new venture.

Creativity and the Digital Age

Reflections Inspired by Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit

“The artist is a receptacle for the emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spiders web.” – Pablo Picasso

Twyla Tharp walks into a white room to begin her process of art; I’m face to face with a keyboard and white space of the chapter of a new book I’ll create in 2014. Anxiety sets in. The first time I read Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit was back in 2004. My brother Ron and I like to share meaningful and inspirational books, he shared her inspiration with me. We write our thoughts in the margins with different colored ink pens, pass it onto the other to read and make comments, then pass back. Receiving the reading list, I instantly downloaded the iPad® eBook version, yet I couldn’t get past page eleven on my electronic copy. It felt so cold and uninviting because it was missing the color and creative typography of the original printed copy. My muscle memory kept triggering my mind. I wanted to know what we each thought was important nearly a decade ago and discover how things may have changed. Did I learn it and use it for life?

As I consider that question, I realize the irony of what is happening. As soon as technology caught up with my imagination of being able to add photo galleries and videos to books, I became a publisher on the iBookstore®. It’s the eve of another release of one of my eBooks and I still find myself torn between the paper of yesterday and the technology of the future. The Texas bookless library made international news. Yet in the end, I realize no matter your preference, the story remains the same, the creative life must combine passion and skill. This is a great reminder from Twyla and whether book or eBook, chapter 9 has been bookmarked!

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
― Harold Whitman