One of the joys of interviewing for Creative Mix is watching artists put together the pieces of their lives. You ask about one area, follow up with something unrelated, and they make a connection they hadn’t recognized before. This happened during my recent interview with Connie Arismendi. She was mid-sentence, discussing her motivation to mentor women about health and nutrition, when her eyes went wide and she stopped talking. “I never thought of this until this moment,” she said, “until your question.” She was seeing the red thread of service throughout her life, beginning with her nomination to the board of Women and Their Work, a non-profit gallery dedicated to advancing women in the arts.
If there is a red thread that runs through the Creative Mix interviews, it is that a generous heart and a desire to serve go hand in hand with success and fulfillment. As artists, we spend a lot of time going within. We feel an acute need to express ourselves, get that thing we sense inside of ourselves, outside and into world. We want to speak and be heard. We want visibility and recognition. Those things are necessary. Almost every writer I know began out of a need to break silence on something. But when that itch gets scratched, when we’ve had our say, we feel to the urge to step out of ourselves and take our place in the larger world. Recognition does not fill the bottomless pit of our desire to be validated. True success and fulfillment, more often than not, grow out a path of service.
Here are some examples from the Creative Mix interviews:
Connie Arismendi served on the board of Women and Their Work for nine years, including two terms as board president. Later she served her community creating public art works and recently has been passing on her knowledge about health and nutrition to friends and clients as they age.
Jennifer Chenoweth created a non-profit organization, Generous Art, to help artists create income by selling their inventory, giving a healthy portion of the profit to community organizations.
Barbara Rick uses her gifts as a writer and filmmaker to bring attention to people doing good work around the world, especially in Africa.
Natalie Goldberg brought writing practice to the world through her books and workshops, helping people wake up to their one precious life.
Talia Bryce made a business for herself booking fellow bluegrass musicians for weddings and parties, supporting herself and her community.
Bethany Hegedus created a space to nurture writers at the Writing Barn and supports writers in all phases of the writing journey through her mentorship program.
As you think about your streams of income, ask yourself these questions:
1) How could you put your talents at the service of others?
2) How could you support yourself by making a contribution to your peers?
3) What one small step could you take in the direction of supporting yourself through service?
I’d love to hear your ideas. If this post moves you to set out on a new path of service, please drop a line to let me know how it’s going and how I might further assist.