Share your voice
In case I needed a reminder for how incredibly powerful personal stories are — especially stories of perseverance and survival — this morning I had another opportunity to receive not one, but two.
Everyone is creative
I love attending CreativeMornings, an in-person and online platform for connecting with your community around the theme of creativity.
Their slogan is that everyone is welcome, because everyone is creative. You don’t have to have a title of artist, writer or story teller. You could have a vision, be thinking about the world in a different way, or doing things to improve and change your world. You could simply be open to connecting with people, which is also creative: it creates community.
Anything that is expressed is creativity. We are born with this ability.
This was brought home to me once again by the talk given this morning at our local CreativeMornings chapter in Portsmouth, NH.
A Belief in good
Abdi Nor Iftin is a survivor, refugee, interpreter and author from Somalia, who arrived in our country in 2015 after striving for years to come here and find freedom. His country, still at war today, is the site of some of the most horrendous human rights violations in the world.
He taught himself to speak English early in his life from movies he watched in Mogadishu before foreign movies were banned and theaters were destroyed. His role model was Arnold Schwartzenegger and he had no idea that everyone in the United States did not speak with a German accent or were muscled like him.
What he saw in those movies was a man who was strong, took his destiny in his own hands, and kicked ass. He thought if he could live in a place where that was possible, he would find a home that is similar to the Muslim image of heaven.
Today he said that in spite of what the current US government is doing, he believes in America. He sees how our government is dealing with immigration issues and refugees, hurting their chances of finding a home here. He knows how our government’s stance is playing into the hands of America’s enemies, causing even more hatred towards America and “democracy.” His experience, however, is that the regular American people are welcoming, caring, and good.
The talk received a standing ovation and I personally felt heartened by the message that there is still a chance for the US to be a positive force in the world, in spite of a few bad apples. If someone who has experienced repression and violence from his own people can still believe in the good that resides in society at the human level, then who am I to be skeptical?
A phoenix rising
After the event, I met with Jane, the owner of janegee, an independently owned store in downtown Portsmouth that makes and provides natural and handcrafted items for skin and hair. Jane believes in the inside-out approach to health and healing, as I do.
I was deeply inspired by her own personal story of starting her business as an immigrant from Australia with next to no resources at the age of 51. Her story is not mine to tell, but she calls it her Phoenix Rising story and it truly is. She let slip that she is writing a book about her journey, which I’m so excited about.
Use your voice for good
So here I met two very different people, with two very different stories to tell. Yet both are living far from home and are finding their path to full expression.
Jane’s store has now been in business for 15 years and is continuously growing. Her goal is to provide security for her daughter and to pass on her vast amount of knowledge onto the next generation. Abdi has enrolled in a political science program at the University of Southern Maine. I believe he will be a great spokes person for refugees who came here from war-torn countries. As many of them don’t speak English, they need a voice.
This is what I mean by the power of telling stories: share your voice, use your voice for good. What you know and what you have experienced is unlike what anyone else has. When we hear your story of overcoming the odds, what Joseph Campbell calls “the hero’s journey,” we can all relate to that. You will inspire others to do the same.
[Photo by Matthias Wagner on Unsplash]