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Good places to find wisdom and answers during these dark uncertain days

 

Despite the New Year and the change in presidents coming, the world may feel dark and uncharted and full of questions right now.  It’s unclear when covid-19 will disappear or when a good job will appear. It’s questionable when we will be able to get together in person again safely.

We know you likely have some questions you’re pondering.  (If you don’t have any at the moment, you may want to read our beautiful questions post or our start-the-year-right questions post to rev up your creativity and curiosity.)

Good questions are important. Yet they must be paired with the right people or resources to answer them. And as wonderful and generous as Mint Artists Guild is, we are a small nonprofit and are not equipped to answer all of yours. We try to answer some in this blog  and in our FAQs section; others at our workshops and in our Creative Summer jobs.

Now,  we will give you places where answers are found – many places and people. We would be foolish if we didn’t mention family members and close friends as important sources of insight and information.  Grandma Judy or Uncle John are wise and care about you.

But they may not always feel right, or have the capacity to answer. Sometimes starting with an independent, anonymous source is easier. A general internet search may offer reasonable answers, especially if your question is factual or fairly simple. Sometimes a trip to the public library to select some books works well and librarians may guide you.  Or head to your favorite blogs or podcasts and search for insights. 

If you want to pose the question, here’s a few options:

Seek the caring elders.  Go to ElderWisdomCircle, which provides intergenerational advice to all kinds of questions about covid, career, relationships, finances and more. ElderWisdomCircle.org brings youth together with older adults – almost virtual grandparents – to “provide empathetic, caring, and supportive advice based on their own life experiences.” Advice is emailed back, and youth may choose to have their question shared on the site or kept confidential. It is a nonprofit organization based near San Francisco that has a clear privacy policy.

Questions upon questions. Search Quora, the question and answer site, and you’ll find thousands of questions from serious to silly to sexy. Quora has lots of questions about how the world works and what’s changing, and plenty about sex and relationships. It also has a section specifically for teens, called TeenTalk and a few sections on covid-19 including one on the human impact. It also has a robust section for visual artists. Quora is a company based in Mountain View, CA, and the site does have more ads that in the past.

Chose another answer site.  You may find your question works well on Reddit, which has many SubReddit areas including ArtistLounge and other creative spaces. Or head to Snippets if your question and answers are short and easy to answer,  which is another of the question and answer sites in this LifeWife post.   Yahoo. Answers and may other sites are available with everyday people and well-known experts sharing insights and nonsense. Choose one that seems right for you and the questions you’re bringing. Or you may even find it interesting to post on two or three sites simultaneously and see which one yields the most valuable answers.

Where do you go to search for answers and insights? How do you find wise people to help you? Please share your ideas and resources in a comments!

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More questions to cultivate as the new year approaches

 

“Fear is a question. What are you afraid of and why? Our fears are a treasure house of self-knowledge if we explore them.” – Marilyn French, author and feminist activist

Fear of the unknown can be powerful, painful and plentiful, especially in a pandemic.

Not knowing what lies ahead may seem like it’s a new problem in the covid era. But in truth, we often are caught by surprise by events and changes we don’t anticipate, whether it’s being fired unexpectedly or a distant relative dying and leaving us a sizable inheritance or the popularity of an exhibit like Heroes: Now and Then

With New Year’s just around the corner, it’s a good time to ask and answer some questions to light our paths and make our creative journeys easier to travel.  Increase your curiosity and you will unearth something valuable about yourself. Here are three we especially like – building on the beautiful questions we posed in the fall:

What did you learn about yourself and your dreams and aspirations in the last year?    Take time to understand how this pandemic year affected your goals and aspirations.  Perhaps you’ll do this through looking back at a vision board made a year ago and creating a new one. Or maybe you will talk to a trusted mentor or friend about this or pull out a journal and draw or write some new dreams.

What one big audacious thing do you wish to complete by Dec. 31, 2021? This question will help you think bigger and bolder about your plans. Chase away caution and triple or quadruple your goals.  Then narrow it down to one wonderful huge, meaningful remarkable goal.

“You’d corner me in your conformity but even in dormancy i’m sleeping with enormity, stretching the belly of the earth & everything i was born to be.” 

– Curtis Tyrone Jones, author and coach

Who do you need in your tribe to grow and thrive?  Everyone needs a tribe or a “kitchen cabinet” of advisors and close allies. Who is in yours? And who do you wish to invite in?  And how are you engaging one or two new people for this near year ahead? These questions invite you to create a circle of supporters, and to connect with teachers, former bosses or family friends who may be able to help your career or your education in the year ahead.  Perhaps you want one of Mint’s leaders to join your tribe. Ask us or join us.

If you want to reflect further on 2020 with timeless questions, turn to these 20 inquires from the Art of Simple, a blog about embracing a slower, less complicated life.  Or if you long for still more questions to answer as you look ahead, read the list of 19 from Brands for the Heart or head to LifeHack for questions to consider the kind of life you want to build. 

“The greatest gift is not being afraid to question,”  said actress, playwright and civil rights activist Ruby Dee.  So we end with another question that drives us:  How will we collaborate to develop more creative opportunities for children and youth and make a bigger difference in Detroit

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Great questions for creative verbal self-defense

Leadership coach Laura Khalil (photo from Khalil’s website)

 

Artists may never have the most admired or respected profession; that goes to doctors, lawyers and engineers, according to the Varkey Foundation.

Yet emerging artists do not need to be berated or disrespected, at an art event or anywhere.  Mint Artists have experienced this, just a couple of times, in what obviously was an illegal and discriminatory hazing based on race or religion.

So they must learn the art of verbal self-defense.
Recently, we heard leadership coach Laura Khalil share her approach to fending off dismissive statements or comments that belittle, sexualize or undermine us.
She has two immigrant parents; “I’m the whitest Arab you’ll ever meet,” Khalil told InterMitten conference attendees. So she may have experienced commentary that minimized her talent or marginalized her.
Her verbal self defense technique is simple, and requires the artist or young person to remain outwardly calm and collected. “When you are stunned by a statement…. Ask a question in response,” Khalil said. Questions such as these:

  • “Did you really just say that?”
  • “Would you speak to your daughter that way?”
  • “Do you know how that makes you sound?”
  • “Why are you so emotional?” (Or judgmental or whatever it is the person has just accused you of being.)

Her approach is simple, direct and worthwhile – and aimed at anyone. Here’s some questions developed by Mint that are specific to emerging artists’ denigrating comments:

  • “Where did you earn your Ph.D. in visual arts?” Say it with a smile.
  • “If you’re going to give me a lecture, could you wait until I enroll in your class?”
  • “When are you moving along to quash someone else’s dreams?”
  • “When you dismiss my work, how do you think that reflects on your attitude and outlook?”

Address the comment head on, and attempt to de-escalate and disarm the person who is saying unkind things, Khalil said.

And count on Mint and the artists around you to build up your courage and confidence and appreciate the beauty of your work.

© Vickie Elmer 2019