Monday, November 5, 2012

Speak It Out Loud.

At the Powerful Voice's annual luncheon last month PV alumna, CurDesia' Hudson, spoke about her experiences with Powerful Voices and read an original poem entitled I Found It. "CurDesia' (fondly known as Deezy) spoke eloquently about her search for self: "when I finally did find her," she writes, "she was in a dark corner all alone." What makes Deezy's poetry beautiful, what makes Deezy beautiful, is her ability to identify her own strengths and her own vulnerabilities--and to celebrate both, by speaking her truth out loud.  

Charhys Bailey (previous Powerful Choices Coordinator), is someone who, as those of you who know her can attest to, drops wisdom on the daily. "Art," she once told me, "is a way of seeing into the core of someone where no judgment exists."  It gives us a window into our authentic selves. I blame a couple of decades of traditional schooling in successfully cementing my doubt in my own creative power. I love to write. And write often. But I write as documentation, quietly observing and noticing my life as it happens. But I have secret dreams of writing more publicly, like Deezy--writing to speak truth, to imagine possibilities, and to simply and powerfully claim my own space in the world.  

And so I am writing to you about risk: the risk of speaking authentically.  The risk we take every time embrace and act on our own creativity and trust that our voice matters. 

Weekly, I have the privilege of facilitating a girls group at Asa Mercer and Denny International Middle School in collaboration with my co-facilitator, Shavon Hayes. Every week, we ask girls to take risks. One week, we might ask them to introduce themselves and to act out something they like to do or to make the craziest sound they can think of. Every week, we ask them to question and challenge us and each other when we are not holding ourselves accountable to our collective community agreements.These risks may seem small--but they're not. Because what we are asking is for girls to let go of how they think they should act, and to let themselves be goofy, creative, and to share a piece of themselves with a group of people that is neither their family nor necessarily their friends. Even at 26, when I stand in a group, in this case a group of 8th grade girls, I still feel painfully aware parts of myself that I think are "cool" and the parts I think are best kept under wraps. We are all capable of dividing ourselves up into parts--some we consider worthy, some worth hiding. So, each week, the risk we take and that we ask girls to take is profoundly challenging:  to be our authentic selves and to trust that that person will be accepted and celebrated. 

"When I found her," Deezy writes, "she was lonely the pain reflected in the mirror shook her to her core, knocked her off her feet and forced her to love herself." Taking creative risks has the power to  knock us off our feet and off of whatever preconceptions we have over what we think we should be and how we should act. Whether the risk you take is reading a poem in front of a group of people, or writing your first blog post, or singing along to your iPod and acknowledging that you definitely sound a little like Whitney Houston. 

So here's a shoutout: to Deezy, to Charbaby, to Molly, and to all the girls in our girls group, who remind me of the power of not just loving yourself, of knowing "you are enough," but of sharing that authentic self with your family, your friends, everyone whose life you touch, however briefly. Because that risk you take, makes it a little easier for the rest of us to do the same.

Several weeks ago I had a friend ask me, "what would you do today if you could not fail?"

I told her I would write something. And share it with someone I didn't know. 

What would you do? 



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