TEDx: It’s On Us

TEDx: It’s On Us

A week ago I was at an Engaging Speakers conference and someone mentioned that Naperville was looking for speakers for their TEDx talks. I immediately took action. I looked it up on google. I opened the application and called to ask about a deadline. They said just apply it may be for next year and they still have one or two spots open now.

Then it hit me, are you crazy. It is the wrong time, The Creative Activist isn’t’ done….the fear took over and old coping patterns returned with a vengeance. There is not enough food in my house to numb the feelings of terror and overwhelm. Shopping on HSN and QVC did not alleviate the “not good enough” messages that were looping in my head.

I talked with my coach and she that is good your recognizing your patterns. So I began to write and write and write. I have 39 pages scribbled in in my journal. I keep waking up at three AM with another download. My friend Sarah came over and she did some energy work on me. The lump in my throat, the hairball from hell, needed to move or there was no way I was going to be able to do this three minute video application. The burning in my throat and chest eased but it was still tight so she suggested start talking and I did. I felt better.  Expressing my truth, sharing it with another person is healing. Creative expression in whatever form is powerful medicine.

Then I asked, Kathy Eldon, of Creative Visions http://www.creativevisions.org/ who has given two TED talks what she thought. She said tell your story….they are looking for a heroes’ journey. So more panic, more food, numb myself with television.  I have shared my story of healing from childhood sexual abuse in numerous places but not on a big stage. I worry about how much I divulge. There seem to be two philosophies among speakers; just mention you were abused or paint a picture and experience.  Will my art work distract people or help them understand? It is so much easier to talk about the people I interviewed then myself.002

So I went back to my three year mission and vision statement that I wrote a few months ago.” Last month Hillary Clinton introduced me at the Clinton Foundation and I shared the “best creative expression practices “including Bajalia jewelry http://bajalia.com which employs women in India and Pakistan only if they agree to educate their daughters. One man came up to me afterwards and said I am going to change my business model. I can see the changes that are happening in churches and synagogues. They are creating safe spaces for people to share their stories of abuse or being an abuser. It is a community concern now not just a family problem. I have to tell you I had the biggest grin on my face last October when I saw football players’ wearing purple for domestic violence awareness. We are blessed to be living in a time where it is freely talked about and so many are committed to making a loving, peaceful, respectful and safe world for women and children. This or something better.”

Child abuse and domestic violence are all over the news recently. In a speech yesterday, the president announced “It’s on Us,” a nationwide public service campaign aimed at urging young people to do more to prevent campus sexual assaults. Mr. Obama called for a “fundamental shift in our culture” in the way women are treated and in the response to victims of sexual assault.

Commissioner Goodell said that effective immediately any N.F.L. employee or player who is found to have engaged in assault, battery, domestic violence or sexual assault will be suspended without pay for six games for a first offense. Second-time offenders will be banished from the league for at least one year.

It is time for me to step forward on whatever stage I command (hopefully TEDx: It’s On Us) and talk about the things that matter to me; creative expression and service which nurture self-esteem, resilience and healing.  We need to create more engaging education and awareness campaigns. We need to bring together community leaders, service providers, creatives and business people to create new initiatives that spark conversation.  Develop best practices that encourage safe, loving supporting communities where it is OUR collective problem. It is time for football players to wear blue (child abuse awareness) and purple (domestic violence awareness) and when someone asks what does this mean. What does this have to do with me?  We will have the answers. IT’S ON US.

Here is my first take for the application I would really like your feedback and create a talk that speaks to you where I can really be of service. Thanks so much

 

Creativity For Social Change

 

Creativity For Social Change                                                                                                                                                                    be the change

 

 I came across this powerful video today, that is the epitome of using creativity for social change. Some brave individuals risked their lives to document human rights atrocities around the world. Because of them things have changed in their countries, some of the worst offenders have been prosecuted..stories have been told that we needed to hear and see. Everyone has the ability to make a difference. Instead of complaining and whining why doesn’t someone do something about a problem… become part of the solution.  Create a legacy that you will proud of. Please take the time to watch this short video and pass it on. You are more powerful then you think.

 

upworthy.com

I would love to hear about other projects that use creativity for social change.

Creative Leaders Spark Change Around The World

Creative Leaders spark change around the world.

In my last blog I introduced the concept of the creative edge. It is the way you live your life. It is the way you parent, solve problems, and make a difference in the world. It is being resilient, inventive and original. It is supporting your unique visions and going to the creative edge. The  qualities of a  creative leader are:  Courageous, Resourceful, Enthusiastic, Authentic, Tenacious, Inspired, Vibrant, Empowered.

Meet Jonny Imerman

 

  imerman

Jonny Imerman was a typical college graduate, working in real estate during the day and attending classes at night for his MBA. Jonny played basketball, worked out at the gym and hung out with friends. Then at 26 his life changed.

 Jonny was diagnosed with testicular cancer. After doctors surgically removed one of his testicles, he underwent five months of chemotherapy and was declared clear. But almost a year later, four tumors popped up again near his spine which required another surgery, an 11-inch incision and three months of recovery.

Jonny has been cancer-free since 2003. He left the business world behind and began Imerman Angels a not-for-profit organization that connects a person fighting with cancer with someone who has survived and beaten the same type of cancer. The mission is to provide a big brother or sister to help inspire, provide tips and knowledge. They have created a global healing community of over 4000 survivors and 1500 caregivers . The service is available to anyone touched by any type of cancer living in 60 countries around the world for free.

Rae: What inspired you to create Imerman Angels?

Jonny: “I had made a vow to myself during the time that I was battling cancer. I had looked at others in the oncology clinic and realized that I was different. Each day, my mom was there.She was there every step of the way.  My room was filled with family and friends. As I walked down the hall with my chemotherapy IV-pole on the way to the bathroom, I saw other people fighting cancer alone. They were lying in bed, motionless, watching television or staring in space.  I knew this was not right. It really upset me. So I started chatting with other cancer patients.I’ d say hi my name is Jonny. We could talk about our emotions, our experiences, things our family couldn’t get like sucking on lemonheads to get the metallic taste out of our mouth.

“I wondered: “What if every cancer fighter could talk to a cancer survivor who was uniquely familiar with their experience; who not only had beaten the same type and stage of cancer, but who also was the same age and gender as the fighter?” The cancer survivor would be an angel- walking, living proof that the fighter could win, too. What an amazing connection. “

“Let’s say a 19 year old girl at University of Richmond get’s sick, she is alone and afraid. She can go on facebook and talk to an angel  to find out know what is going to happen to her,” how sick will I get, will I be able to have kids?   Also cancer caregivers, family members and friends also benefit from one-on-one connections with other caregivers and survivors.

 Rae: How would you define courage?

 Jonny:  Courage, when you reach a certain point where you absolutely have no fear of failure.You don’t listen to other people saying others have had that idea. Ultimately courage is listening to your own voice and believing that you can do it.

Rae:     What are the qualities of a great leader?catalyst of change

Johnny:   I think a great leader, number one is focused on a mission. A great leader believes in the service for the product that they’re delivering.  They believe in their soul, every part of their body, everything about them screams that they get it. They’re so fired up to build it and that’s what creates a movement. They have unwavering passion.

Rae: What is your definition of success?

 Jonny:” For me it’s really simply we’re changing lives, we’re improving lives in cancer, we’re making a difference.  I think the most successful people in the world are the people in social enterprise that are building a for-profit company that has a social component that makes the world a better place or nonprofits that simply make the world a better place. 

Rae: What continues to drive you?

Jonny: I love people. Everyone’s got a story. Everyone has been through challenges. I always say that if you talk to somebody for five minutes there’s always something that you don’t know that they do. You can learn from their experiences.

Rae:  What would you say to somebody who said they don’t know how make a difference but would like to?

 Johnny:    I think what you need to do is to dig deep and you think about what your family  has been touched by. It could be diabetes or cancer. Get in touch with one of the groups  that serve people in those arenas and start volunteering.  Be part of the solution.


If you want to be part of the solution visit www.ImermanAngels.org for information on how to support or join the network of cancer fighters, survivors and caregivers.

Cancer used to be said in a whisper. Now we have football players marching down the field in pink. How did that happen? We have people sharing their story or their families challenges. We have  creative leaders like Jonny Imerman  who brought to light the problems young adults face with cancer and did something about it .

If you know a Creative Leader who I should feature…please write me.

 

 

What is the Creative Edge?

desert island

During one of my workshops I asked the participants to close their eyes and imagine they were suddenly stranded on a desert island. You have nothing with you. No family, friends, home, car, job or possessions. What would you have left?

They were stunned, they grumbled nothing. But I asked is that really true? One lady raised her hand and said. “I have lots of things. I have my health, memories, my intellect and my senses. With a new way of looking at the situation, one of the gentleman in the group said ” I have courage and faith.” One of the women wearing a t shirt that said inspired on it shared” I have talents and I have my creativity”.

We are so much more than we realize. We are not defined by our “things or toys” or our status at work or even our physical bodies. When we can see beyond our current thinking, when we can change our habitual patterns of behavior and thoughts, we can make our life and work a winning adventure.

 I think two celebrities did just that. Christopher Reeves, best known for being Superman, was paralyzed after a riding accident. Sitting in a wheel chair, head supported, aided with a ventilator he made movies, spoke about the need for spinal cord research. He was an inspiration for millions. Then you have Michael J. Fox with Parkinson’s disease …he didn’t silently disappear. He now uses his tremors as part of his humor and acting on his new television show.

Marcel Proust said “The real voyage of discovery lies not in finding new landscapes but in having new eyes.” That is the essence of being creative.

Being creative is a mindset and an attitude. It is a skill set that can be learned. It is a willingness to play, explore and experiment. You don’t need to be a genius like Albert Einstein or Leonardo da Vinci. It is not about being a great artist like Renoir or Frieda Kahlo. It is not about being a writer, photographer, musician, or dancer. It is the way you live your life. It is the way you parent, solve problems, and make a difference in the world. It is being resilient, inventive and original. It is supporting your unique visions and going to the creative edge.

When you reach your Creative Edge you will be more:

       Courageous

       Resourceful

       Empowered

        Authentic

       Tenacious

        Inspired

       Vibrant

       Enthusiastic

I would like to introduce you to one of the people I interviewed for The Winning Adventure who has gone to the Creative Edge.

Meet Sue Ellen Allen who found her passion and creative edge in prison.Sue ellen Allen

Sue Ellen Allen is a former University of Texas grad, former educator, former business owner, former community leader. Having spent 7 years as an inmate at Arizona State Prison she now serves as Executive Director for GINA’s Team, an organization that brings educational programs and speakers into prison to inspire and empower inmates to strive for a better future. She says that “watching her  cell mate Gina die from medical neglect was the” defining moment” of my life. It gave me a new passion and purpose.”

Sue Ellen walked into prison battling advanced breast cancer. She told me she knew she wanted to make a difference. “I asked the deputy warden if we could have our own cancer walk during National Breast Cancer Awareness month. Surprising everyone they said yes. So one sunny Saturday morning in October dressed in our bright orange uniforms we walked around our track. The first year we raised $10,000 for breast cancer from inmates who make about 25 cents an hour on average. There were so many women touched by breast cancer with family and friends they were excited to participate. I’m proud to say that walk is now held in every state prison facility in Arizona and has raised over $100,000 for the American Cancer Society. It’s a huge event inside.”

Her inspiring story, The Slumber Party from Hell shares her journey of prison and transformation. Her legacy continues in prison with Toast Masters and a 14 week life skill class she designed which is now taught by other inmates. She inspires others to triumph in the face of adversity, to go to the creative edge and be unstoppable. Get involved with Gina’s Team or to get in touch: http://sueellenallen.wordpress.com/.

 

Make your life and work a winning adventure. Go to  the Creative Edge at http://thewinningadventure.com/services.php.

Who do you know has gone to the creative edge?

 

 

 

Have the Courage to Follow Your Heart

                                                                                                                                                        have the courage to follow your heart

When I heard the whisper that said you need to interview 100 leaders. I was terrified. “What do I know about leadership” Why would people speak to me? All the doubts and fears popped into my head. But I felt this calling. So I tapped into my courage. I felt the fear and did it anyway. I have this passion to hear other people’s stories of inspiration and courage. I believe that we all have a back story that is intricately woven into our calling. It tells us what wounds may be waiting to be healed. For artists and writers it can dominate their work. It is often the catalyst for our destiny and legacy.

 I was always interested in other people’ story to the embarrassment of my children. No matter where I was, the football game, the grocery store I would talk to the people in line, the cashier. I would have their life story in ten minutes. Too often we don’t share what is important to us because we are embarrassed and ashamed. I know I did not share my past. You did not talk about sexual abuse. I was afraid if you knew the real me you would reject or abandon me. “Go running for the hills” But I learned through counseling, 12 step work, personal development, that is was imperative I share my truth. I understand now everyone wants to be seen, heard and understood. That is the basis of the Winning Adventure: Change leaders, lead the world. To create change you need passion, purpose and a profound desire to make a difference.You need to tap into your courage and share your unique vision.

The first person I interviewed was Connie Lee. We met on the internet. Linkedin is a wonderful tool to find like-minded people doing inspiring work. Here are some excerpts from our interview.

Rae: I would love to hear about your winning adventure.

Connie: I grew up in an abusive home.  I married a very nice guy but he ended up being an abusive person. We divorced and then 25 years later I put my kids though school and put myself through college. Then I had this dream.  I woke up at 1 am with this vision for FACSA, doing an NBC show and writing petitions to change pedophile laws. This is how the FACSA Foundation began.

The FACSA Foundation (Family and Friends Fighting Against Child Sexual Assault) is an all-volunteer organization. At home we provide attorneys and counselors for children of sexual assault and their families, we provide guidance and resources, we provide a support group and we do a lot of community education and prevention as well. We have some programs called the “Good Touch-Bad Touch Program. We have created a virtual art exhibit highlighting different artists and musicians. We call it the Holocaust of Innocence Wall. It is part of our Shattering The Silence Tour and Documentary Project.     

I was honored to share some of my own personal healing art work.

keeping secrets

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Keening my Lost Innocence

At the time of the interview they were going to visit 25 cities in the United Stated and Canada. Since then they have visited 115 cities.  They have been filming a documentary on survivors stories from across the nation, conducting research on how child sexual assault is affecting our local communities, and hosting free public education conferences across the nation on prevention of child sexual assault and human trafficking. To find out more more stories of courage go to

http://youtu.be/4ny6eWshhbg

 

Rae: How do you avoid burnout?

Connie: You are going to face many obstacles and if you don’t have the passion and the drive for this, you’ll get burned out really fast and then you’ll want to stop. You must have a vision, know where you want to go, know the things you want to accomplish and the dreams and the lives you want to change. You must have love in your heart. Do it for love.

 Rae: What kind of legacy would you like to leave in terms of your family, career and community?

Connie: The legacy I would like to leave would be having safer environments for children, for them to be able to grow in a happy, healthy home and to fulfill their dreams. My ultimate dream is having two FACSA Foundation shelters in each state. There will be huge shelters, they will have chapels, they’ll have child screening, self-defense classes and they’ll have apartment-sized houses. We will have on-staff doctors, nurses, security and then they will transition to a home where they can rent or buy. That is my ultimate goal and that will be my greatest legacy.

If you want to get involved with FACSA  go to http://facsafoundationvirtualexpo.ning.com/ 

 

Do you have the courage to make your dream a reality? May I suggest you begin by looking at your back story.  It does not have to be an exhaustive account of your life. You can narrow the focus based on developmental areas of childhood, adolescent, adult and “senior” living. You can create a time line and look at what took place in areas of schooling, spirituality, relationship, creativity and work. What wounds have been part of your life? How has that made you the person you are today? When have you been courageous and followed your intuition? When have you had the courage to listen to a whisper?

I would love to hear from you. Please join our facebook community. https://www.facebook.com/winningadventure

Rae Luskin is an artist, author, speaker, mentor.