Talks

Creative Mornings: Risk

26237724474_789df64ee1_oPhoto credit: Thomas Meredith

“Sometimes, great tragedy is the catalyst for great adventure.”

Two weeks ago I had the honor of speaking at Creative Mornings Austin, and it gives me great pleasure to officially share it with all of you. This story is the culmination of the last two years of my work and my life, and I am so proud to post it here today.

Thank you to my friends, my coach, my professors, my family, Mechi, and  every. single. person that hosted me on my journey last year. This talk would NOT have been possible without all of you…

And last but not least, thank YOU, dear friend reading this now. This story is for you.

May your next “Yes” turn into the best risk of all.

xoxo
Amelia

 

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To Those Who Want to Give Up

Sunset in Oakland, California

Earlier this year I took a course on Death, Loss, and Meaning in Existential Psychology. I assure you, it was as intense as it sounds.

It was also one of the greatest, most inspiring courses I have ever taken in my entire academic career — easily coming into my Top 3 favorite classes of all time. We dug deep within ourselves and each other. We questioned religion and our own belief systems. We wrestled with the notion that the Universe could care less about us when we care so much about ourselves. We questioned what it means to be happy. We questioned the value of suffering. We questioned the meaning of life and whether or not one’s meaning is the same as one’s purpose. Does meaning have to be meaningful? What if my meaning of life is different from your meaning of life? What if my purpose is destined to be hard? What if my purpose is different from how I find meaning? What if it won’t be fun? Is it even worth it?

And above all: Why me?

Ah, the million-dollar Hero’s Journey question. I often wonder what Martin Luther King Jr.’s response was. Or Odysseus’s. Or Amelia Earhart’s. Or Gandhi’s. Or Malala Yousafzai’s.

Today, the answers aren’t any clearer. But, I find comfort in the fact that I am not the only one to question. Nor will I be the last. This project is dedicated to all of us who ask “What’s the point?” May these words give you strength, lift you up, and remind you that where human life still exists, so does hope.

Blessings, friends.

Presentation Cover Image
Photo credit: Amelia Isabel

A Visit from Maya Angelou

Christmas lights strung across a room

Once upon a time, the Greeks believed in invisible fairy creatures called “dæmons” or “geniuses” that served as spirit guides and the ultimate connection to one’s divine creativity. They helped us to transcend, become one with our calling, and step closer to understanding what life is all about.

What if invisible fairies weren’t the only ones helping us in our creative acts?

Last week, I had a unique opportunity to intimately bear witness to my own creative process as a new poem burbled up inside me like a cork floating up to the surface in a pool of champagne. A classmate of mine shared the following lines in our poetry course:

It’s the strangest sensation to be happily lonely
to keep the thoughts of a universe, safe inside a humbled heart
It’s a whimsical place, to feel luckily bound in a body 
that won’t misuse its wisdom

With my genius at my side, we wrote this piece:

Sanctuary within a Temple
A Reflection on the Universe within the Body

My heart space
Is a child’s bedroom
A warm womb where I am tucked away
Beneath a rolling sea of linen and down
Looking up through soft sheer canopy curtains
At the twinkling lights of the universe
Strung across the ceiling
Gently swaying
To the pulse of my chamber walls
Rocking me into the safest slumber

And ultimately, the following story. I didn’t realize it right away, but as the last line came out, I gradually noticed something different about my poetic genius. The familiar sensation of a whimsical story began banging around inside my ribs, commanding to be heard. And I obliged.

Dr. Angelou, this one’s for you.

Screenshot of my youtube video, A Visit from Maya Angelou

“Lights” photo credit: Chris Jones

I Shaved my Head. And This is Why.

A month ago I shaved my head. Last night at an Open Mic at Austin Java, I explained why.

The audience feedback was incredible. My heart is swelling with so much gratitude. In my piece, I discuss the history of the reflected self and our culture’s obsession with mirrors. Well, right before the evening began, a group of visually impaired students came in, and I though Oh my god…how am I going to be able to do this talk now?! But, it could not have been more perfect. They were the most supportive of my talk, as it resonated with them, too. One of them actually told me that she recently “came out” and that my presentation encouraged her. I was so humbled by her bravery. What better compliment can you ask for! Another woman came up to me later and thanked me for my existence. I have never been thanked before for existing! She told me that I needed to share this story far and wide, so here I go.

This piece is dedicated to Joanna McAfee and her brother Paul. My journey over the years started with her sweet courage. I have never forgotten her story, nor will I ever.

Screenshot of Why I Shaved my Head You Tube video