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JANUARY’S THEME IS PROMISE
A promise is doing something “because I said I would.” Promises can come in all shades, depths, and forms: appointments, acts of kindness, creating and quitting habits, agreements, and resolutions. Thanks to life’s unpredictability, we make and break them all the time.
But what is the value and impact of being individuals of our word?
In the Albanian culture, the word “Besa” means a code of honor and faithfulness. It exceeds the meaning of merely keeping a promise, thus becoming mythologized in its divinity as a solemn oath.Promises that are made and kept are exchanges of power
We invite you to make and keep one promise to yourself and one promise to others this year. When applied towards positive impact, even the smallest fulfilled promises can create meaningful ripples of change.
DECEMBER’S THEME IS BIOPHILIA
Appreciate living things.
Commune with nature.
Bring the outdoors in.
Coined in the 1960s by Erich Fromm, “biophilia” refers to a beautiful idea: Whether it’s a human, an animal, a plant, or in the wild, humans have an innate desire and instinct to want to connect with nature and other living systems.
The increasing hum of busy neighborhoods and cities, heavy traffic, and superficial reading on our devices can numb our natural senses. However, even in the most urban environments, we express our biophilia by placing a newly potted plant in the corner or allowing greenery to grow organically up concrete walls.
Every day, we have the opportunity to grow into relentless stewards and protectors of our living environments, and not just lovers and beneficiaries of it all. Together, we exist. CreativeMornings speaker Missy Singer DuMars aptly said, “The nature around us is the nature within us.”
NOVEMBER’S THEME IS RADICAL.
When we embrace radical ideas for positive change, we must be willing to reconstruct what we see and act otherwise. Better doors and realities can only open when we collectively start to move differently.
“In the space of ‘ideas’ is where we can radically change systems,” explains artist and cultural organizer Favianna Rodriguez. “And that is, how do we completely re-envision our society?”
Being radical can also be as simple as exercising a new level of hospitality and generosity. Entrepreneur and activist Tanya Torp shares, “It’s radical when you let other people lead, and you get out of the way. I define radical hospitality as ‘transformational connections through welcome.’”
This month, we encourage you to quiet your mind and think about a few areas you’re willing to shake things up. Together, let’s create more radically profound, kind, and welcoming rooms.
OCTOBER’S THEME IS TRANSIT.
How can we make space for new ideas and creative energy while staying in place?
While cars, trains, boats, planes, and our many modes of transportation may take us where we need to go — taking note of our inner worlds and soaking in the details around us can often be the best vehicles of renewal.
Your search might lead you to long strolls in nature, cooking to your favorite tunes, gazing up at the sky, or getting lost in an immersive process. Finding your calm and filling your cup first will help you become a fuller version of yourself — not only for you, but also for those who might need you.
Make a list of activities you can turn to when you need to get from point A to B. Leave it somewhere you can easily access and turn to it when things get tough.
SEPTEMBER’S THEME IS SPECTRUM.
A band of colors, expanding definitions, a broad array of identities — we all live within multiple spectrums, colliding and intersecting with one another. Like the diversity in our foods, styles of music, and the skills we exercise, our needs are distinct with no one size fits all solution.
Understanding and championing other realities normalizes saying: What I experience, feel, and notice may not be what you know to be true. “Design for the spectrum and not the mean,” said Michael Kaufmann in his CreativeMornings talk. “How do we move beyond courteous hospitality to courageous inclusivity?”
As individuals committed to artfully living, we can paint refreshing possibilities that are not just for ourselves but also for others. Assemble your tools: Listen, look within, embrace the weird, and take the prism and flip it on its head — you’ll likely find a breathtaking blend of opportunities to make a difference.
August’s theme is STRESS.
Stress, in its most basic form, is a response.
The feeling of stress can often manifest as a palpable tension flowing through your body. Stress can creep into the corners of your thoughts and decisions — eager to cloud your clarity and take power away from you.
As a popular saying goes, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom,” What can you do when stress manifests itself in your body, mind, and spirit?
Create your own mantras, get fresh air, meditate, write, play music, sleep, or stay still. Push away from the habits that add stress to your life. Get more familiar with the feeling of calm, so that when stress arises, you can gently guide yourself toward it. As Shannon Lee teaches us in her CreativeMornings talk, it is possible to “create and restructure life,” for yourself, based on how you’d like to live.
In the space between the stimulus and response, take some of the spotlight away from stress by calling in your breath — and ask it to walk out the door.
July’s theme is Underdog.
An underdog questions and expands what’s considered possible.
When others expect them to lose, underdogs must lean on their self-trust and hard won experiences to envision and fiercely assert new realities. They do not dwell on what’s expected of them, but instead focus on what’s not expected of them.
In “A Letter to My Nephew,” James Baldwin writes, “You were not expected to aspire to excellence. You were expected to make peace with mediocrity […] Take no one’s word for anything, including mine, but trust your experience. Know whence you came. If you know whence you came, there is really no limit to where you can go.”
Whether you’re an underdog yourself or you know someone who is, you can help raise the bar. Recognize that every day is an opportunity to participate in life-affirming problem solving and to, and that every moment is an opportunity to engage creatively with your sense of what is possible.
Call in and deploy your experience, your intuition, and your voice. The arena of change is calling.
June’s theme is Insecure.
Insecurity shrinks our optimism, beliefs around potential, and blinds us to how things really are or how they could be. We project our greatest fears when we succumb to the negative ways we are conditioned to react.
How can we start to overcome insecurity and strengthen ourselves?
According to author Leo Babauta, we can begin with a small dose of courage: “A bit of courage. Just in small doses, to start with, but it means a willingness to set aside all the distractions for a little bit, and just focus on what you’re struggling with.”
By observing and seeing, we can catch the early moments we allow our insecurities in. Pay attention to when you are being driven by insecurity and notice what exactly makes you contract. The secret is that the path out can be found in the patterns we have repeated thousands of times.
Ignite a small dose of your courage and fiercely protect its flame. Commit to breaking one limiting belief at a time. With good work and focus, you’ll soon be able to spread your wings and fly higher.
May’s Theme is Nature.
What can nature teach us about living with strength, vulnerability, and grace during these challenging times?
In the book Emergent Strategy. by Adrienne Maree Brown, Naima Penniman reflects on the decentralized strength of oak trees: “Amidst the whipping winds and surging water, the oak tree held its ground. How? Instead of digging its roots deep and solitary into the earth, the oak tree grows its roots wide and interlocks with other oak trees in the surrounding area.”
It’s natural to be feeling alone and scared when storms come our way.
But nature, in all its forms and stages, shows us time and time again that resilience comes from adapting, collaborating, and leaning on the support systems around us. By moving away from the idea that we need to be strong on our own, we open up possibilities in our lives and build our collective resilience.
Whether it’s in person or from afar, find the networks you can interlock with and ground yourself in them. Lean on those branches of support and hold on tight. Surviving and thriving in hard times requires us to bind together even while apart.
APRIL’S THEME IS PURPOSE
You are here. Being here means you are alive, that you exist, and the mere fact that you exist means you have purpose.
“Purpose" does not have to be something grandiose. In fact, it can exist in all sizes and dimensions, separately, or even all at once.
Author and coach Martha Beck once wrote, “The ‘track’ of your life’s purpose has a unique character. It often shows up as a sense of joy and lightness in the body […] It may also appear as fascination, a strong desire to pay attention to certain topics or phenomena. More than anything, it’s a sense that what we’re doing is meaningful.”
Your purpose is made up of both the literal and the abstract, and its power is unmistakable. Those moments, memories, ideas, and conversations that you find yourself circling back to, with great fondness, make up the fabric of your purpose.
What makes you light up inside? What brings you peace? What are the big ideas that bring meaning to your days? And what are the specific details about each of these feelings that you’re drawn to?
However big or however small, draw your strength and inspiration from your purpose. Give yourself permission to approach your decisions with your purpose in mind. The more you do things in line with your purpose, the less you’ll default to what you’re conditioned to do.
When in doubt, take the steps you need to follow the path of your own joy. This path is your purpose.