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This is a transcript from episode #25 of the Let the Verse Flow Podcast.

The hopeful path, it’s getting hard to tread, but I don’t dare veer off it, I’m teetering at the edge. My battered heart, it needs the hope to keep it pumping, to give me life despite the thumping. I turn down the noise and push out the thunder. I need a moment, the world’s chaos is the hunter. Brutal news, it’s unceasing, and I’ve nowhere to run, and stranger still as I look down, I see I’ve lost my feet. A ball of fire, it rolls toward me, but I make the call to hope, it stands beside me. My role is clear, I’m the one who believes in the promise of just one. It’s you and I, and each in our own way, give life to the world. The healer, the fighter, the sage, we need you, the peacekeeper, the worker, we call for you. When it’s all done and said, the unrest, it tells us when to comfort, to care for, and to share our daily bread. The hopeful path lives in this moment. This is all we may have. This moment when we decide to sit up tall, to take the ride, and share what we know best so others can find, too, their hopeful rest.

The world is in a state, and whether we are talking politics, war, mental health, climate change, or women’s rights, it’s hard to find the hopeful path. I realize how lucky I am to be in the position to talk about hope, to want to spread hope, to share my hope and to explore hope, when I know that so many people can’t.

My position can change, it can turn on a dime because life is like that, fleeting and ever-changing. But for today, I want to spread some hope. I want to share my hope with you and help us grow our hopeful souls. A hopeful soul is strong, and I think that’s what our communities need right now.

Human Connection & Humanism

What are you? What’s your background? Because I’m a biracial person, I get asked this question a lot. I’ve been asked this for decades, and it doesn’t bother me. I understand it to be a question that comes from trying to understand who I am in the categories that we have come to define people. Of course, my answer, that I’m biracial (Black/White), doesn’t really tell them much of anything because what is really important about me is my philosophy, my way of living and seeing (and that’s not the same as the way you see me). 

What I really want other people to know is that I am a sort of humanist. There’s another label, but all I mean by it is that I believe in the beautiful power of humans touching other humans. I believe that the 1 to 1 relationship between me and all the people I meet or affect on any given day is a vital definition of who I am.

  • What kind of energy am I giving to others today?
  • How do I make other people feel when they see me?
  • What can I contribute in a world that feels so torn apart?
  • How do I spread this feeling I have that what separates us from each other is so vastly less important than what binds us?

I try to do it through this podcast. Just like you, I’m searching for meaning and purpose and human connection, and I’ve found it here with you. All of the creative sessions that go into an episode – writing poetry, reading about philosophy, exploring meditation, being inspired by music and beats – all allow me to harness what I want to share in a deeply fulfilling way. I hope you feel the energy that I’m sending your way. The goal of this podcast isn’t just to give you personal growth tips and tools, it’s to connect with you. 

Connecting one person to another and building a common language around how creativity and self-care enrich our lives (and amazingly enrich the lives of those around us) is who I am. I think you will agree that we are in a much better place to reach out to others in the world when we have tapped into and manifested our creative selves

Creativity: a Building Block of Hope

I discussed creative flow in episode #21; I don't just advocate for creative flow because flow states feel good, I do it because its value spreads outward. Creatively fulfilled people move about the world with a different sense of agency. From my experience, people who are fulfilled (people who have enjoyed expressing their true selves) have a better chance of being more positive, more giving, more compassionate and empathetic. We can’t help but want to share our voices and our creative expressions when we feel so good. When we feel good down to our bones.

The other thing that creative self-care has going for it is that it helps you suspend self-judgment and inhibition. You can’t help but be authentically yourself when you are engaged in creative self-care activities because creativity calls us to dig deep to find our true selves and work from that place.

I would rather meet a person dripping with authenticity than one dripping in diamonds because of the special light we give off when we feel settled and comfortable with ourselves. When we act from a place of our true self, we can affect the world authentically, and that mental framework is one of our most valuable assets.

So, creativity is tied to humanism because our creativity is such a powerful expression of our ideas, the way we see the world and what inspires us. Humans have always felt a need, a calling to express their creativity; we are intrinsically creative. It is part of the fabric of what it means to be human. That’s why when we see crimes against humans, we know that not only have we affected their livelihood, possessions, and health, but we have also extinguished this creative fire. We have reduced a person to a physical entity, not a creative soul and spirit. It is one of the saddest states a person can know, and many of us feel helpless to try to stop it. 

Hopefully, we find ways to channel our particular talents to help – we petition, rally, write, and vote. And some people, like me, try to work person by person. I try to spread some hope and charity. That’s a role that fits my skills and talents and helps me harness my creativity for good.

How are you cultivating and sharing your hope? Have you thought of how creative self-care might be the engine and vehicle to do it? Let’s explore some ways we can tap into creative self-care to build a more hopeful path to impact the world.  

Creative, and we call it self-care, here’s a list I’ve longed to share. Pick one or two, or ten and get started because at the end of your creative session, you’ll find it. Hope, yes, hope. Here goes: there’s journaling, photography, coloring, dance, collage, gardening, baking, drawing, painting, and crafting, too, there’s work with your hands, deep thought with your brain and letting your mind be in the moment – that’s meditation; there’s music I love it, and sculpture and clay, there’s nature walks and yoga, watercolors and letter writing, the smell of lotions and potions on a mindful day, there’s knitting and crochet, improv theater and rock climbing, there’s graphic design, jewelry making, storytelling and magazines, murals and moments with books, coffee or tea. Creative self-care belongs to you, focus your mind and find your delight. And I promise that when you’re through for the day, played with your creative side and wandered away, you’ll come to yourself with more love and joy and hope in your heart – and that’s something you can spread. Watch it grow as it spreads. You’ll have strength and freedom, humor and joy, there’s plenty more with your mind that explores. You’ll find gratitude, happiness and satisfaction you’ve longed for, and you’ll want to share it like warm bread and good wine that you’ve developed a taste for. You’ll call friends and share the news, you’ll spread warmth in soulful purple hues. You’ll join charities and offer to help with an energy that’s come along at just the right time. You’ll forget for the moment the hurt and the pain cause you’ve tapped into a new source of pleasure and it’s one you sustain. You’ll have more than enough to share, you’ll have buckets of hope, and the impact of that four-letter word, well it heals the world. More than you know. Hope heals the world. More than you know.

There are many more activities, but this is a good list for you to start with when planning some creative sessions as a means to build self-expression, mindful exploration, and personal growth. I think you’ll find that hope starts to well up, along with optimism, when you’re creative. It can’t help but come to the surface.

Here’s a poem called Ever Hopeful, my anthem for this year, written during a poetry session that reminded me that when someone asks, “What are you?” I definitely have something to say. Here’s my voice, Ever Hopeful.

Ever Hopeful

By Jill Hodge

NO struggle this day
Nothing stands in our way
Ourselves, hopeful
NO tarnish, it’s clear
Nothing taunts us, no fear
Life unfolds, hopeful
NO room for shattered moments
Mistakes buried and gone
Let yesterday go, hopeful
YES, we say, new dreams to bless
Let passion take hold and manifest
Paths anew, hopeful
YES, we say, to love in all forms
Let friends and lovers hold us, we weather storms
Sharing the burden, hopeful
YES, we say, as we hold out a hand
Let what we have spread, flow freely expand
Touch one another, hopeful
The promise of this moment stretches far
in a land that links your fate and mine
like celestial stars
A collective “we”
I am, hopeful

Hope is an active state of mind that doesn’t negate the sadness, unjustness or challenges of the world, but helps us persevere to affect the world in a positive way. It is such an active state, and it takes work. It is part of our overall personal growth practice, one of the elements that makes unsettling times feel more manageable. 

Am I hopeful all the time? That would be laughable, I’m not even hopeful all day, but when I’m creative, I feel more hopeful, and right now, when I’m trying to share my hope, I feel more hopeful. We have to get over the idea that happiness or hope or a positive outlook are something we will feel every moment. There’s no on-off switch (turn on the hope until you decide to turn it off). Our dynamic world does and should impact our outlook and our mood, but that’s why these creative self-care activities are so important. They are fun and based in our spirit, and we long to do them – when we bring them into our lives, we grow our hope. We fill the bucket of hope.

2 Tips for Human Flourishing

Did you know that Harvard University has a Human Flourishing Program? Yes, a group of Harvard professors is studying the concept of flourishing across academic disciplines; while traditionally thought of through the lens of philosophy, they are exploring and promoting flourishing across a wide swath of academic disciplines, including education, economics, public health and psychology. Here's the Human Flourishing blog (who doesn’t need more flourishing in their life). This blog explores flourishing in the context of a wide range of topics, including mental health, global flourishing, caring and character, and forgiveness.

Findings from the Human Flourishing program show that hopeful people have better physical health, more social support and live longer. In an article on hope, happiness and health in the Conversation, a nonprofit, independent news organization, psychology professor Everett Worthington offered some ways to cultivate a sense of hope. These two struck a chord with me:

#1 Attend a motivational speech, watch, read, or listen to something motivational. A talk, a podcast, reading a blog article. Have you noticed that you feel revived when you’ve taken the time to go to a special talk or workshop or maybe read a really good blog article on an inspirational topic? It may only be for a short time, but it gives you this boost and the ideas rattle around in your brain for a while. That lingering good feeling can help you grow your hope. 

I remember going to an off-broadway play at the Shed in New York by a brilliant writer and performer named Arinze Kene. It was called Misty. It was right up my alley in so many ways; Described as part poetry, part concert, part confession, it explored the effects of London’s gentrification through the lens of racial tension and Black male identity. 

The minimal sets were a perfect match for Kene’s physical and energetic movements, the lighting played with color and focus in just the right way for drama and effect, and then live music just floated above or pulsated underneath these intricate monologues that were sometimes funny, sometimes sad, touching, complex.

The monologues were so beautifully written and recited as spoken word that he had my full attention. I didn’t want to miss a word for fear that I would lose the thread of what was being said. It was important to me to be present with the story (and the way it was told).

It hit me hard, and even though it was on a weeknight, late after a long day’s work, I left that theater feeling inspired and revived. Arinze revived my soul – his singular presence, one that had created this incredible play (and fused it with music and physicality), touched me deeply. Hope lives in those types of exchanges where one person’s artistic manifestations can impact another person’s life for good

#2 Follow a "hero of hope" Worthington suggests cultivating hope by following someone who inspires you. Find a public figure or inspirational soul who makes you believe in the good in the world. One of my heroes of hope is Amanda Gorman, this super-talented, authentic soul has got me in her grip. I love her poetry, spirit, sense of style and knowing about herself. At a very young age, she knows who she is and isn’t afraid to express those parts of herself that need to come forth and be in the world and affect it. 

Amanda recently came to New York to do a concert at Carnegie Hall called An Evening of Poetry and Bach, where she recited her poetry accompanied by cellist Jan Vogler. I couldn’t get tickets, and I was bummed, but I found some video online of one of the poems she recited.

Listen to her recite What We Carry. In that poem, she says, “Hoping, loving, fighting. That is to say, we believe beyond disaster.” We believe beyond disaster. I love that down to my bones. I love it. It’s right, we can believe beyond disaster. We have to to move forward. Such a young talent makes me feel hopeful for the future. While Amanda is on the scene, stirring emotion and thought with her poetry, I know there is hope for the future. I know there are righteous souls in the world who will help us see things through.

Journal Prompts to Connect Your Creativity to Hope

For this week’s journal prompts, I want you to write (or think about) what inspires you. What makes you feel hopeful? From inspiration comes hope. If you are being creative, you’ll write about those activities. How did you feel after some creative activity, and how do you want to carry those positive feelings forward and out into the world?

How has a creative self-care activity helped inspire your feelings of hopefulness?
Write about a public figure or meaningful person in your life who inspires you to feel hopeful. What is it about them that makes you feel this way?
How can you pay your hopefulness forward? Write about 1 or 2 ways that you want to spread your hope to a person or organization, then go out and connect with them. You could share a talent, lend a helping hand through volunteering, or just do something nice for a neighbor. Watch your hopefulness grow from these acts of kindness.

Today I have enough hope to spread it around; I hope you feel it now and can enjoy some peace. As always, one of my enduring hopes is that you stay on the bright side of the beat.🌞

Podcast Music: My thanks to all the musicians who make incredible music and have the courage to put it out into the world. All music for my podcast is sourced and licensed for use via Soundstripe.

Songs in this podcast episode: Keeping You Close by Nu Alkemi$t; Slide by GEMM; Flash by Lunareh; Pyaar Kee Seemaen by Cast of Characters

Resources: Human Flourishing Program; Harvard University's Human Flourishing blog;
Amanda Gorman; What We Carry (poem recitation by Amanda Gorman, accompanied by cellist Jan Vogler

LTVF Season Two Music Playlist: Check out the songs that inspire me, and connect with artists from many genres who add to our collective, human soundtrack.

Listen to Let the Verse Flow on Your Podcast Player of Choice

You can listen to LTVF on all major podcast apps like Apple, Google, and Spotify. Please rate & review to help spread the word about the podcast!! 💛💜

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Journaling Resources

30-Day Journal Challenge (Writing Prompts to Get Started)
Here’s a fun & simple 30-day journal challenge for beginners (or those who need inspiration). Use the daily prompts to rediscover yourself.

Sign up for the Let the Verse Flow Newsletter and get access to all my articles, including this free 30-Day Journal challenge (with starter writing prompts).

Journaling 101: An Inspirational Guide to Start (or Revive) a Practice
Whether you write, doodle, draw, or keep memorable quotes, journaling uncovers YOU. Let your unconscious mind speak, download my free guide.

Sign up for the Let the Verse Flow Newsletter and get access to all my articles, including this free journaling guide.

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