Lately, I've been completely captivated by the concept of Living Out Loud. Don't worry: it's not another one of those wishy-washy ideas dreamt up by a warm and fuzzy idealist. Living Out Loud is a concrete thing, and I've seen its healing power. It goes like this: Each of us has the power to confront the emotions that are keeping us from happiness, and by doing so, we can transform that negative energy into motivation for living with passion, excitement and fearlessness. And one of the best ways to let out repressed emotions is through the art of Spoken Word, poetry performed onstage and has strong ties to storytelling.
That's why I teamed up with Ret. U.S. Army Sgt. Denoh Greer, educational specialist Joe Brightman and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Malibu to host a Spoken Word Pilot Program exploring fear and trauma. During the seven-week workshop, middle-schoolers from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Malibu shared their experiences with bullying and their emotions about it. Working in a virtual classroom with Denoh and Joe, the kids turned their emotions into deeply personal Spoken Word dialogues. They presented their spoken word pieces during the TEDxMalibu 2012: Living Out Loud = LOL conference in Malibu, and I could tell every member of the audience was as impacted by these presentations as the kids were.
Although there are different levels of fear, we all experience it, sometimes numerous times within a single day. Fear has the unique ability to hold us back from Living Out Loud -- hence Franklin Delano Roosevelt's famous quote, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." As a positive psychology coach working to heal Veterans' invisible wounds of war, I was especially interested in exploring the common threads of the inner (emotional) and outer (battle) war experience. It would undermine the seriousness of combat and PTSD to compare it to the daily fears civilians face; however, my work with the Boys & Girls Clubs demonstrates the power of Spoken Word to help people of all ages overcome their negative emotions regardless of the source of their trauma or fear.
"Harvesting Happiness Through Spoken Word" inter-woven with Sgt. Denoh Grear's "Pieces of PTSD" project is just one of several inspiring presentations that took place at the TEDxMalibu 2012: Living Out Loud = LOL event at the Malibu Jewish Center & Synagogue. During the daylong event, numerous speakers shared stories to mtoivate each of us to live every day with audacity, fearlessness and positive energy. Some of the highlights included talks from author Agapi Stassinopoulos, Olympian Greg Louganis, film producer Adam Leipzig and Dr. Benjamin La Brot, 2012 CNN Hero of the Year Nominee. If you attended, I can guarantee you walked away feeling more in tune with your emotions and more inspired to start Living Out Loud.