Remembering Self


Reverb10 Day 07
Prompt: Community.
Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010?
What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?


For four years, now, I’ve taught a course at Stanford Continuing Studies on Creativity and Leadership. I teach the Creativity part, and my colleague teaches the Leadership portion. The two topics intertwine throughout the ten weeks.

The course is based on a course from Stanford Business School called Creativity in Business. It’s highly experiential, as a course in creativity needs to be. Creativity can’t be taught. Yet, it can be facilitated. Exercises, guided visualizations, and great theory all combine to open students to their deepest creative resource within. This course helps guide students to begin to trust their creativity.

Community of Students

What really deepens this trust, though, is the community that’s created over the ten weeks. It’s created because students are willing to share about themselves, about their experiences with the material, and about how they are changing as the course progresses.

Each week we do experiential exercises. After the exercises, the students share with each other, and then share with the entire class. Not everyone is comfortable sharing, but many are, and the class is richer for it.

In addition, each week the students have a ‘live-with’, which is a practice for the week that helps them bring the course to their daily lives, both personal and professional. The ‘live-withs’ are ways to be in the world. For an example, the first week the live-with is “Have No Expectations.” They spend the week living the practice, then come back to class and share their experiences.

Last night, the ninth class out of ten, we covered the topic of Prosperity and Self-Worth. In our class, we see Self as Essence, as the source of one’s creativity. This Self is perfectly ordinary, not special at all. We each have a unique essence that is ordinary, and at the same time, totally extraordinary.

In this particular class, we do an exercise that allows each student to really be seen, seen for who they are rather than the person they think others want to see. You know what I mean there, right? That person you pretend to be, the one that you think others want to see.

An important part of this exercise is to see others with your heart, rather than simply with your eyes or your mind. Seeing with the heart awakens compassion and soul.

Last night, as this exercise was taking place, I could feel the energy in the room grow more vibrant, more alive. As each person was being heard and seen, their own unique qualities were being reflected back to them, and their inner light began to radiate out. It was very palpable and completely amazing to behold.

The students left happy and joyful. Some even sat around talking to each other for quite a while, even after my colleague and I left the room.

We need to connect.

This is what community does. True community, where each person is seen through the heart of the other, allows for connection, for remembering Self. Community creates a place where fragmentation can heal, both collectively and individually.

We are meant to be in community, to be in relationship. We need community to know ourselves, by way of the reflection through another who is open, attuned and present to us.

We need to be connected. Our souls wither when we’re not.

As humans, we suffer from the illusion that we are separate beings. Living in a culture where we’ve been taught to do it on our own, to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, to ‘man-up’, we’ve suffered greatly. We’re vulnerable in life. We’re vulnerable in our human state. We need each other. And, we women truly need each other right now to re-discover our true nature and the gifts we’re here to give.

In 2011, I long to create a community of women to teach this same curriculum to. I envision combining the creativity work with discovering the wisdom of the body. It will be a community of women gathered together to discover this true nature as souls in female bodies.

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7 Replies to “Remembering Self”

  1. Julie, what a beautiful post. I can honestly say that I know exactly what you are speaking about. I just wrote my reverb post on community – and it was about my masters degree cohort. We spent 10 months together – just the 11 of us – going through an incredibly intense program, but also sharing ourselves and learning about one another in the process.
    Your class actually reminds me of my Leadership course – we really dug deep on who we thought WE were as leaders, and how OTHERS (who we’ve led or have seen us lead) thought we were as leaders. The day of our presentations transformed into what some of us joked as a therapy session, but we had broken down ourselves into raw forms. It was inspiring that we could be that open with one another.
    Thank you again, I loved this.

  2. I love what you write here about community creating a place where fragmentation can heal.

    The course sounds amazing. I’ve felt that kind of connection on two or three day courses but never really had a longer course of this kind, where that was truly possible. It feels so good and as you say, healing, then it’s gone.

  3. I was already thinking before I got to the end of today’s post that I would *love* to do a course like that!

    I’m also so glad that you made the distinction between teaching and facilitating. I consider myself a facilitator of learning in both my university work and in the home education of my children. I hold the space for learning to take place through discovery and sharing, which is very different from teaching which I see as an ‘outside-in’ process.

    Yeats once said that ‘education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire’ – isn’t that fabulous? Because, I suppose, it’s around the fire that community gathers…


  4. Ahhh, in reading Amy’s comment I remember Plutarch who said, “A mind is not a vessel to be filled, it is a fire to be ignited.” That’s what I tell my children’s teachers in the beginning of the school year: ignite my child’s learning.

    You ignite so many, Julie. What a blessing you are to your local community and the world community as well.

    So many loving kudos, dear one.

  5. I have a similar dream, Julie…what I and others call embodied creative leadership….how we bring our full selves – heart, mind, body, beingness – into leading, learning and living. As a life and leadership coach-mentor, and process consultant-facilitator, I’ve been intent to bring that fuller experience of one’s beingness through creative process, breath, movement, yoga to my professional practice. For now it’s been my personal practice and soon to find more spaces and ways to weave it “out there.”
    However I’ve had the great joy of “holding space” for a team of women educators (who draft policy recommendations for our special needs students) who accepted my invitation to to make dolls at their year end retreats, as a way to celebrate their work and honour their community. I sit offside, gently guide, scribe their comments, and photograph their process, to create a movie as artifact-gift after the event.
    Purposeful and poignant, creative and energizing, it tells me that we in organizations are ready to work together in these ways…

  6. Hi Julie,

    Thank you for a great story/post. I would love to find out more about the 2011 course! Curiosity, creativity, community and connection are important themes for me as well.

    Kindest regards!

  7. This is a profound reminder to try always to see people’s hearts, through my heart: “An important part of this exercise is to see others with your heart, rather than simply with your eyes or your mind. Seeing with the heart awakens compassion and soul.”
    Thank you, as always, for your beautiful wisdom.

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