Avoiding Destructive Creativity

I had the privilege of speaking to a group of young professional women and their mentors recently. I have been mentoring with the Young Women’s Alliance YWA Connect Program for a few years now, and I addressed mentoring through emotions and pointed out some concepts from Social and Emotional Learning (Taught in our local Austin ISD classrooms!) that can be used when dealing with strong emotions in the workplace.

In addition to these “tips from the playground,” I shared some wisdom that was both personal and hard-won.

I asked the room full of women if they considered themselves to be creative. The nods and smiles indicated to me that most of them did.

I said, “Creative people need an outlet in their lives. Whether it is creating, performing, or appreciating, the creative person who does not allow time and energy to practice, produce and perform their talents will see that need for expression come out through their relationships with other people. It may be constructive, but more often, when the drama in your soul is not being let out in positive ways, it manifests itself in negative ways.”

I will never know how many of my audience took this to heart and whether it will be on their minds until they see how it might affect them.

Have you ever had a craving to bring some drama into your life? Maybe you have picked a fight…maybe you have shunned someone as part of a group or as an individual…maybe you have found yourself nagging and nitpicking your closest friend or your partner…the list is endless when it comes to creating drama. What can you do about this urge that may have grown slowly over time and seems so irresistible or inevitable? Continue reading

Mentoring and Entering LC’s World

LC-KaliI met LC, my latest Seedling Mentee, last year when she was a kindergarten student at a school not too far from where I live. Her kindergarten teacher was kind, sweet, and a redhead like me, and I think that may have eased my way in starting this new mentoring relationship.

Seedling Mentoring is for children who deal with the trauma of having an incarcerated parent, and although the parent may come out of prison, Seedling does not end the mentoring relationship.

You see, they know that the trauma has already occurred and that a parent’s reentry into the child’s life can often be one more change they must deal with, emotionally and academically.

When I met LC, we immediately talked about my father and I disclosed that he went to prison. Seedling requires that Mentees are aware that their Mentors know about their situation and that there is no need to hide or be ashamed.

She was not able to express much about her experience and feelings yet but she could draw them. In the beginning, she drew many pictures, even a few that were a bit disturbing, but I schooled my reactions and encouraged her to keep drawing how she felt so that those things were no longer just in her head. Continue reading

A “Dad-Shaped Hole” in My Heart

Father’s Day approaches, and although I rejoice in the wonderful Dad that my daughters have, I take no such joy in my own.

He was an unsolvable mystery to me. He married my mother when she was seventeen and they had me when she was nearly nineteen. My only impressions of him as I grew up came from family members who shared stories of his selfish, immature treatment of Mom during their short marriage. He seemed unable to connect emotionally with others, and from an adult perspective, I wonder if he may have been somewhere on the autism spectrum.

Soon after my birth, my mother divorced him and married her next husband. He was the one I would think of as “Dad” until that marriage dissolved when I was about six or seven years old.

My father checked back in briefly when I was fifteen; traveling from Memphis to Tulsa to sue for my custody when my mother temporarily gave my guardianship to my manager. I was a professional singer living in Oklahoma with my manager while my family stayed in Washington.

He strode into the courtroom, acting as his own attorney, and seemed totally oblivious to the realities of the situation (no, my mother was not giving me away) or any emotions I might have about meeting him for the first time. He lost his case, but my manager graciously invited him to her home to meet with me. I sang for him for the first and last time in my life, and tears came to his eyes.

Silly me; I thought we might have connected. Continue reading