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Haas & Hahn: How Painting Can Transform Communities

Here’s an example, on a big scale, of the transformative power of art! In a TED talk, artists Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn demonstrate how they built community and transformed neighborhoods by through painting — and by throwing neighborhood barbeques.

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More anon,

David

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A poem about her triumph over adversity from a reader:

I could write to you about a grown up run away child that really … Loved to love-
Got beat up by a man that I loved
That was 2009
I went to Kauai
Walked and swam
Looked at beautiful things
Transformed
I returned to the scene of the crime
Took my power back
Did 9 ceremonies on some land
Then I moved to the city
By the river
I love my life!

I love my children who are men now- I love the choices I made as a younger woman- healing is provided when sought

Jana Livingston

Thanks for sharing this, Jana.

How have you, out there in cyberspace, dealt with adversity? What have you learned from it?

I hope you’ll share your experiences and insights either here, as comments, or by emailing me your stories. If you send a story, please let me know whether you’d like me to post it with attribution or anonymously.

More anon,

David

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A few days ago I was talking with another friend about misfortune. She did what she called a “quick scan” of the misfortunes in her life and concluded that if they were transformative, the transformation must be slow. That’s often the case, and because transformation can be slow, it may seem as if it isn’t happening at all. We may give up.

Most of the time, the transformation brought on by misfortunes happens only if we decide to look for the opportunity to transform. Until then, we may feel like victims or losers. For instance, an architect friend of mine spent the first 20 years of his career constantly being fired from jobs and, consequently, felt like a failure, wondering if he had chosen the wrong career. Then he realized that being fired was telling him something: he ought to be in business for himself. Now, he’s quite successful as a solo architect. Had he not come to that realization, learned the lessons of his misfortunes, he’d still be struggling. In my own life, it took me 10 years to recognize the transformation in a serious brush with death in a hospital in Albany, NY, 21 years ago. There were many losses associated with what happened there. But those losses — misfortunes — also led to my becoming a therapist, which has felt like a calling.

The growth opportunities in Really Bad Things may be difficult to discern because we are swamped by the negative impact of what has befallen us. But I think they are almost, perhaps even always, there, and we will find them if we keep open to their possibilites.

I wonder how you have dealt with adversity, and what you’ve learned from it. I hope you’ll share your experiences and insights here.

More anon,

David

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Sometimes, like Ray Charles I find myself feeling that “if it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all.” I think a lot of us feel that way. In a discussion with a friend earlier today, a woman I’ve known for 34 years, we realized that there is no boundary we can cross where we leave behind — become free of — our “stuff.” We carry it with us wherever we go. Whether it’s illness, accident, financial troubles, relationships, or any number of other misfortunes, for many of us the stuff that happened to us keeps on happening.

For most of my life, I looked at that as a Bad Thing, sometimes even a Really Bad Thing. But in the past couple of years, I’ve also seen that it’s an opportunity to grow, and even to heal old injuries. A few examples from my own life.

About two years ago, a relationship I’d hoped would last “for the duration” ended. Though this was not the first time I’d experienced such an ending, I was greatly saddened, and for a while felt empty and hopeless. How, at 61, does one begin again? I had no idea. I had much more time to myself, and this was unwelcome. It was lonely time, time in which a sense of aloneness I’ve carried with me since I was a small boy made itself known again. I suffered through it. Eventually, however, I thought, “I don’t know what to do about finding a mate, but at least I can deepen my spiritual practice.” So I rejoined the Buddhist communities (sanghas) I’d been a member of about ten years before, and I began to re-read books by Thich Nhat Hanh and other Buddhist teachers, and to reacquaint myself with mindfulness practices. Although none of this took the place of seeing my former partner, over time the emptiness filled in a way it had never been filled before — from the inside.

I had another go at my “stuff” in March of this year, when a cascade of physical problems began. My body malfunctioned in both old and new ways, and once again I was on the path of undergoing tests, doing therapies, and taking medications to try to put things right again. Sometimes I was too exhausted by the work week to leave the house when weekends came. I found myself once again facing that lonely self. At first, the feeling of loneliness was harder to endure than the physical problems. But, as time passed, I saw that the lonely boy inside me was not really alone; I could accompany him myself. That took healing-from-the-inside to a level I hadn’t experienced before.

My stuff is still my stuff, and most likely it will continue to be. But now I see that this isn’t a problem to be solved. It’s just how things are — and that’s okay.

I wonder how you have dealt with adversity, and what you’ve learned from it. I hope you’ll share your experiences and insights here.

More anon,

David

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