Creating Safe Places


Our choice is between feeling the sharp pains of self-discovery or enduring the dull ache of unconsciousness that will last for the rest of our lives. Suppressing our pain isn't ending our pain, it's simply displacing it. - Marianne Williamson

A little brutal honesty today. Since before the election the idea of safe places has been on my mind and heart. Our world, our nation, our community is facing some incredible challenges. We have become divided and siloed. We surround ourselves so often with people who think and look like ourselves, that many of us have lost the ability to have a thoughtful conversation with someone who views the world differently than us.

Many have come to believe that if a person doesn't have the same value system as us, then we can't have relationship with them. But isn't that exactly what we all get so upset about when we look at the injustices which have happened throughout history? How could they have such a lack of acceptance, how could they not see how they were hurting people? Yet we persist in punishing those who think differently than us. It has become acceptable to berate and demonize them, treating them as though they aren't human.

Every tree, therefore is valuable in the community and worth keeping around for as long as possible. And that is why even sick individuals are supported and nourished until they recover. Next time, perhaps it will be the other way around, and the supporting tree might be the one in need of assistance. - Peter Wohlleben, The Hidden Life of Trees

Some of my fondest memories have been intense conversations with people who had drastically different viewpoints than myself. They forced me to learn to articulate my thoughts and feelings. Just the other day I felt that my brain was tired (our brains are muscles, it happens!) after spending a whole afternoon trying to communicate with someone whose mind just worked and saw things differently than mine. When I walked out of the meeting I found myself rather frustrated, but a couple of hours later I realized that situation was teaching me something. That person was showing me how to communicate better.

Quite frequently the people who have provided a safe place for me to process my thoughts and feelings were those who came from utterly different and sometimes even polar opposite backgrounds and mindsets. We grappled together with viewpoints and struggled to have patience with each other. I can't begin to say how thankful I am for the people who didn't hold my words against me - because if we do not allow each other room to learn and grow, to change our minds, then we bind people to their past in a way that we would never want to be bound ourselves.

A safe place does not require us to speak everything perfectly. Quite often it is the place where we are allowed to work through our thoughts and there is grace when we stumble and find ourselves falling short of the words needed to articulate our heart. Conversations have this amazing ability to hold up a mirror to us, are we looking to see what is revealed?  What happens if we look through the lens of love. Try to understand that there is an untold story which has shaped every person's life. Try to not view them from a place of condescension. Rather come to the conversation curious, with a child-like wonder, hoping for good. Be the one who helps others to speak their best.

Unfortunately, sometimes we have to go through the hard stuff in order to have greater understanding for others. The pain of our past can either fuel our opposition to another, or cause us to be a conduit of tenderness. It is when we have looked deeply within and felt pain ourselves that we can be of most service to love. We have the power, each of us, to provide safe places and peaceful havens, for those who need to share, to be known and to be loved regardless of their past, present or future. You never know if perhaps today will be the day that we support someone whose life intersects with ours, and then tomorrow they end up speaking just the words of encouragement needed to heal our weary hearts.

Each and every person is a priceless living wonder. Perhaps not every moment we spend with them will be rosy and beautiful. But the fact that we try to understand and be there for each other even through our differences, our individual highs and lows, that can be the change this world longs for. Yet if we come to a place where all effort has been exhausted and conversation is no longer possible, let us say:

May he be blessed. May he be happy. May he be loved.


Ps: I know this was a LONG one, and can you believe only one photo? These kinds of posts are rare, but I am thankful you stuck through to the end :)

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The 25 Hour Experiment


From sunset on Friday until stars dot the sky on Saturday night, I disconnect from the digital world.. For 25 hours a week.. Pollution from information overload and carbon emissions are stopped cold on the day of rest. - Mel Alexenberg

I recently stepped into a local apothecary and began to the proprietor a series of questions. I was curious what people typically came to see her for, I guess it to be the common cold. She said I was mostly correct, but that people in my generation are dealing with anxiety and insomnia. This wasn't surprising to me, but when she mentioned that she was the crazy lady on the corner telling people to turn off their phones it really got me thinking.

The challenge in this era of globalization - for countries and individuals - is to find a healthy balance between preserving a sense of identity, home and community and doing what it takes to survive within the globalization system. - Thomas Friedman, The Lexus & The Olive Tree

Technology has pretty thoroughly saturated my life, I run social media for companies, as well as consult individual creatives and small businesses on how to level up on marketing. Though I value my connectivity, I am someone from strong family roots where dinners were spent together and deep community was treasured. My mother is German and part of what she passed down to our family from her culture was a passion for sitting around a table for hours conversing about art, religion and ideas. In addition to rich conversation, I grew up in a household where TV was limited and I was encouraged to spend time in nature though if it was too humid (ohh Arkansas) then there was a library stocked with books. All of these things greatly fostered my imagination, my curiosity, and my hunger to delve deeper into areas which I knew little about.

I have a growing concern that as this new economy increases pressure on us all to adapt more quickly, constantly be growing our skill sets, etc. we are losing our depth. Our ability to look deeply at ideas, to converse, to see connections and strategic positioning at the intersection of the arts, business and technology. And you know what the crazy thing is? I am fairly certain this depth is the key which will greatly differentiate us in the new economy.

Artists in the postdigital age also function as researchers and teachers. Artists - researchers - teachers inhabit and explore the borderlands between art, science, technology, and education, integrating knowing, doing and making through aesthetic experiences that flow between intellect, feeling and practice to create and convey meaning. - Mel Alexenberg

As efficiencies increase and the economy transitions to more of a "gig economy" we need to make sure that we are intentionally directing our lives, instead of them running us. Did you know that Rembrandt was known not only for being an artist, but also an entrepreneur and business man? His successes in the art marketplace brought him great honor. Today more than ever before we need to allow ourselves time to unplug and to think deeply, not only for personal wellness but for competitive advantage. So this weekend I am launching a 25-hour experiment, from sunset on Friday till the stars dot the sky on Saturday evening, I will be unplugged from my computer and unavailable by cell phone. Whether you decide to be this extreme, or test your own variation - perhaps not looking at your phone for 1-2 hours, I am curious to see what happens. Many of us have been pushing for breakthrough and seeing areas where we need to pivot, so let's give ourselves some time + space to focus.

Your Dream Defender,


To Learn More About The Gig Economy Check Out: