This week has marked the 7th year of the Creating Communities Arts Mentorship Academy. It’s the flagship summer arts program that the nonprofit I direct provides to nearly 70 low-income “Children of Great Promise.” The program is 100% scholarship with all meals, supplies and instruction provided. Each year we have a theme and as the students work with master artists in music, dance, visual arts and creative writing they journal and reflect on how the theme applies to their lives.
This year our theme is “Make Up Your Mind” and we chose five luminaries who “made up their minds” to improve the quality of life for people around the world. Sometimes the decision to make up one’s mind comes at great expense, like in the case of luminary Malala Yousafzi. If you recall, she was the Pakistani teenager who spoke out for a young womens’ rights to receive an education. She was shot in the head and barely survived, yet she has continued to be an eloquent and forceful spokesperson on human rights throughout the world. At age 12, she was writing a blog, being interviewed for a documentary and was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize by Desmond Tutu. (The portrait of Malala was created by our students!)
Where does the drive to become a luminary come from – to make a lasting difference, to be selfless, to be so creative and to be so free, no matter the circumstances? Yes, some of it is innate but in the final analysis, all greatness comes from decisions, from making up our mind.
Follow these tips to make up your mind to become a luminary:
1. M = Mental
- Think about your life. Where could you have the most impact?
- Where are you making the most difference right now?
- What else can you bring to the table?
- What do you fear? Examine your fears and you may find your ultimate source of inspiration.
- What will you regret not doing? What is preventing you?
- Use the power of your mind to analyze your life.
2. I = Intuition
- What are you ignoring and yet deep down you know you shouldn’t?
- Deep in your belly, what do you know to be true about your potential?
3. N = Negative
- Where are you harboring negativity? What is the source of this negativity?
- How can that be transformed?
- Negativity is an action or warning signal that your life needs to change. So, what needs to be changed?
- Stop hanging around negative people. Surround yourself with “Luminaries In Training” or, of possible, gain a luminary as a mentor.
- Study luminaries! Learn from their actions and vision. We studied Gandhi, Malala, Bill Gates, Mandela, Maya Angelou and Frida Kahlo. Each of them provides incredible modeling of “making up one’s mind” and overcoming staggering obstacles to become luminaries.
4. D = Discipline and Desire
- Are you a disciplined person? Every luminary made difficult decisions, decisions that required great personal discipline and courage.
- Can you remember a time when you demonstrated courage? How did it feel? Describe the feeling of empowerment when through the power of discipline and desire, you succeeded.
- Do you have a vision? Where do you want to go with your life?
- Do you have the resources to bring your desire and vision to life?
- Even if you don’t, will that prevent you?
Rob Levit, an acclaimed musician and artist and 2013 Innovator of the Year from the Maryland Daily Record, has created award-winning innovative “Life-Skills Through The Arts” programs for adults with mental illness, the homeless, adults in drug and alcohol recovery, youth in domestic/sexual abuse counseling, foster children, hospital patients, veterans and many more. He is currently Executive Director of Creating Communities and was the first Artist-In-Residence at Hospice of the Chesapeake, where he created and infused healing activities for the well-being of staff, families and patients. Email Rob.