Creative mornings

If you have not checked out the lecture series “CreativeMornings,” I highly recommend it. 

They happen in almost 200 cities around the world, once a month, always in the mornings. They begin with a free offering of coffee, tea and a small snack, while you chat and mingle with other—often—very friendly attendees. Then there is a talk. Topics are chosen for each month before hand. Examples of topics include: compassion, pioneer, genius, and equality. 

The series promotes community. Local community members can come up before the talk and give a brief 30 second pitch on something going on in the area.

CreativeMornings is not just for artists or those with creative talent. The message of the series is: “Everyone is creative. Everyone is welcome.” 

DEATH

This month, the topic is “death.” My husband James and I attended the talk in Portsmouth, given by Barbara Bates Sedoric, who works as a paralegal and founded the organization Lasting Matters. She wrote a book to help people organize themselves for the inevitable impact of their death. It’s not just a good idea for those who are older or dying, it’s helpful for anyone. Because we are all going to die and there will be questions. What do you want done with your body? Your stuff? Your story? Your memorial service or funeral?

I came away with a lot of practical tips, and things I need to talk to my family and husband about. I know I want to write down my own wishes and ask loved ones to write theirs. 

COMPASSION

One of the talks we attended earlier this year was given by Judy Ringer, speaking on the topic of compassion. She covered how to manage conflict using a form of physical compassion. She specifically uses the teachings and practice of Aikido, which is both a metaphorical and physical manifestation of using the energy on both sides of a conflict. It’s the push and pull of conversation, of what Aikido practitioners call “the way of blended energy.” It promotes neither pushing and pulling to win, nor giving in to win, but using a third, blended way.

In conversation, that would be using your curiosity and going along with someone’s thinking, rather than cutting off discourse or insisting on our own ideas. As we know now, the most effective leaders are curious ones; the ones who ask questions rather than dictate. It’s not about giving up ground, but being respectful to all who are present.

It was a very good reminder of the skills I learned as a coach. My coach training instructor asked students to read a book from another Aikido instructor named Wendy Palmer, who works with organizations to teach leadership presence and to respond gracefully to pressure and stress with greater confidence and compassion. It resolves the question of: how do we regain ourselves, and our presence, in the middle of conflict? Centering is a mindful action that comes with practice and we are continuously reminded to embrace this, as coaches.

INVITATION TO SPEAK

James and I spoke with Geneve Hoffman, who runs the Portsmouth, NH CreativeMorning series. James is interested in being a future speaker, and Geneve let us know that the spirit of the event is to allow regular, ordinary people to speak about something that others would be very intrigued to learn about. 

Anyone can be a speaker, she said. As long as the topic is one that has wide interest and is helpful for the audience. It made the offering quite appealing. 

The benefits go both ways. Although CreativeMornings is completely run by volunteers, and speakers aren’t compensated, the visibility of these talks is almost on par with TED talks. 

And as an attendee, not only do you learn something new, you also get to meet new people, and connect with your community in a very meaningful way. I have enjoyed all the talks I’ve gone to, so far, and the people I have met.

In conclusion, I can second these testimonials from others: 

“I always learn something new and it’s a great networking event.” 

“I leave CreativeMornings feeling inspired and ready to tackle my day. It is an exciting way to blast through a problem I’m facing or to unearth an idea I didn’t realize was there.”

How can you start your day with creativity?