Last weekend I attended an outdoor music festival which included afternoon workshops on community development, embodiment practices, and fostering creativity. The festival, Catalyst, was curated by Rising Appalachia who headlined each night. My sister-in-law accompanied me the first day and my cousin on the second day. Spending time outside with women I love listening to creative and thoughtful people was a wonderful way to celebrate my birthday. A big THANK YOU to my partner and son who held down the fort in my absence.
One of my insights from the festival came from the performer Valerie June. Valerie June is magical. It is hard to pigeonhole her so I won’t. Instead, let me describe the way she showed up on stage. Bright flowers decorated her hair and she wore a gossamer gown that shimmered in the sun. Valerie’s turquoise sunglasses could be seen 200 yards away and her voice carried even further.
Valerie read poems that she wrote and told stories between songs. She took the audience on a journey. From the green hills in Ireland to a church lady’s kitchen, Valerie evoked a sense of place and her lyrics invited you to rethink how you see the world.
She introduced one song by asking the audience if we thought our world was beautiful. “Yes!” most of us yelled. Valerie quashed any naysayers by saying, “If you don’t think the world is beautiful, then you need to do something about it.” She went on to say that if the man who originally performed the next song could see beauty in the world, then so could we. With those words, Valerie launched into her own rendition of “It’s a Wonderful World.”
Valerie, of course, was referring to Louis Armstrong: a performer, who due to the color of his skin, had to enter through a back entrance at whatever venue he performed. Her reference to oppression got me curious: I wonder what Valerie had experienced so I did a little research.
Valerie June was born in West Tennessee in a small town 20 miles from Nutbush, the town where Tina Turner was raised. [Source] Like Tina Turner, Valerie grew up in poverty as well as escaped an abusive relationship. Knowing a woman of color from a small southern town could make it in the music industry inspired Valerie to keep working toward her goal, especially when times were hard.
She also attributes her father’s optimism as another source of inspiration. Valerie said despite financial setbacks, her father would continue to produce local concerts because he loved music. “When he failed, and the next day he put on his clothes and worked the other business and continued, and we never starved; I learned how to be a dreamer from watching him.” [Source]
Valerie June produced two albums last year: The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions for Dreamers and Under Cover. I encourage you not only to check them out, but also to listen to her earlier recordings. You will soon see that she is not limited to one genre and has something to offer everyone, including a book of poems and a children’s story.
While I thoroughly enjoyed her performance, I am even more grateful for the reminder that Valerie June bestowed upon the audience: a reminder to examine our perspective. It is hard to see beauty when it feels like our life is falling apart or when we are so very, very angry. I, too, can fall into the trap of only seeing the bad.
Intentionally seeking beauty is the antidote for bitterness, hatred, and fear. Looking for the brilliant sunset or listening for a child’s laughter or noticing a random act of kindness will remind us there is goodness. If what we believe greatly influences what we choose to see and to hear, then why not believe it’s a wonderful world?
Look what we did during last week’s Makerspace! Harvested peaches and made cobbler and jam.
Feel free to share experiences of our wonderful world by either sending me an email, dropping by our community dinner on Friday, or by attending the Surviving Late Stage Capitalism Support Group.
Just a quick reminder: The Human Design Workshop closes registration on Friday morning. If you want to attend, then you must register before 9 am this Friday. Thank you!
Kim Bushore-Maki is a soul-driven entrepreneur who understands the undeniable urge to create a business and a life filled with meaning and purpose. Her vision of opening a center where people could heal and grow led her to open Shakti in the Mountains in Johnson City, Tennessee: a place where the creative, feminine energy is nurtured and valued.
Kim is a licensed professional counselor and a yoga teacher. She completed the Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy program as well as the Shake Your Soul Yoga Dance program. Kim is very interested in somatic expressive therapy, archetypal psychology, gardening, herbalism, astrology, wisdom traditions, and regenerative economics.
Kim continues to build and to support inclusive, vibrant communities. She spends most of her time mentoring leaders, guiding healing programs, and providing mental health counseling.
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Shadow Work: Uncovering our Unconscious Needs
A 6 week series
To support emerging leaders, the Shadow Work series is being offered this fall to build resilience and freedom. The goal of this series is to unearth your unconscious needs so you may eliminate limiting beliefs and healthily address your needs.