When I started Souls Repurpose it was much more than only making jewelry. It was a confirmation of my own strength and courage when I quit a job I loved to pursue what I felt my purpose was. Making jewelry is a vehicle to what I feel my purpose is...empowering those around me. That is my purpose.
And that is what this project is about; sharing others stories. Stories of courage, faith, boldness and fearlessness- these are people of purpose. These women have stepped outside of the box of what they feel they "should" do to do what they were created to do and that is what brings their soul purpose and joy. I hope you enjoy their stories.
- Jessica Carter, Owner of Souls Repurpose
Let It Begin...
By Christin Farmer
Before I embarked on my path, I felt like I was existing and not living, and there’s a big difference between the two. I got up everyday to go to work, then left at the end of the day and went home. I always felt that there just had to be more to life but I didn’t know what that more was and where to begin. I enjoyed what I was doing because it allowed me to work with people within a specific community, but I still felt like I needed to do more and could do more. I think a lot of people would like to do more for their community but don’t know how or where to begin.
I was very afraid and anxious when I started Birthing Beautiful Communities. I kept thinking, “What am I doing?”, “I don’t know what I’m doing” “How is this going to work?!” “Will I be able to keep my current position and work on my dream at the same time?”, “Am I ready to be a true leader and face all that comes with that role and responsibility?” I had all kind of thoughts and doubts running through my head. I often stop today and ask myself “Am I really making a difference?” I risked my previous existence to do what I am living for today, and I am happy.
I had fiddled with my purpose for 12 years before I decided to just do it. In 2013, on my 28th birthday, I had a striking revelation. I was under a lot of emotional stress, and it was difficult for me, but when I arose from that challenge, I promised myself that I would listen, walk and not ask any questions, if my true path was shown to me, and that’s what I have been doing ever since. I decided to pursue my long held dream of working with pregnant women and babies, as a midwife. As life has it, I’ve tried to become a midwife 4 or 5 times. Every time I tried to pursue the practice, something got in the way. After the last attempt, I asked “What am I supposed to be doing?” The path of a doula opened up to me and I just ran with it, with no questions. It was put upon my heart to start a group, a collective of African American birth workers in Cleveland, but I couldn’t find any. Then, one by one we found each other and there is no other way to describe those encounters than as divine. Birthing Beautiful Communities was born. These women have given me so much purpose, that if for no one else, I keep pushing ahead for them. They love the work they do, and they should be able to do it with no strings attached, and just purely from the love in their hearts, as they do everyday.
My team and I were volunteers for a long time. I was always challenged with charging for our much needed services. It was a conflict of my soul. The physical world says you have to charge for your time, but the spiritual world would not allow me/us. The people have immediate needs, and everything that we need to make this happen will happen. I trusted that voice, and that’s exactly what happened and is currently happening. Other than that, challenges, difficulties and hardships are inevitable, the key is how you handle it. It may not be something that you want to deal with, but trust your spirit, wisdom and inner strengths. Those are attributes that no one can take from you, so use them to overcome any barriers.
I love the fact that I feel magical. I literally feel like as long as I am walking in the purpose, being a good, kind-hearted person that I will have all the love and support I’ll ever need. I love the people that are drawn to me, and the people whom I’m drawn to. It feels like magic. For me to think something, meditate on it, ask for it and watch it blossom is nothing short of magic. Most of all, I love myself. I love who I have become on this journey. I’m learning so much about myself. I’m learning my strengths, learning my limits and learning that I do not have to do everything by myself.
What makes me feel great about myself is knowing and feeling like I was chosen as a messenger, a vehicle to help heal my community. My brain goes straight to a bigger picture. My creativity almost always comes from seeing, feeling, and experiencing the conditions of the community. I understand that this purpose, this journey, this path is not about me. I love community development in the sense of the people being the community. I love to help people see the greatness within themselves and the neighborhoods. The purpose I was given is larger than anything we as humans can comprehend, and I feel amazing thinking that I was chosen to execute it.
People who are committed to their communities, who are doing the hard work and managing to stay optimistic inspire me. The doers inspire me. The people who make things happen. The people who are not afraid to stand up for what is right no matter what the worldly consequences are. Those are very brave people. People who are genuinely kind and a have a good heart. Those are people who inspire me.
To be a person of purpose certain qualities are really important:
Transparency, remembering that you too are a person with a story that someone needs to hear.
Honesty, telling the truth no matter who may be offended.
Wisdom, learning from your experiences and others in order to create positive change.
Integrity, never allowing yourself to be dissuaded and sticking to your guns.
Realness, being a real person with real feelings and real life problems.
Imperfection, admiting when you made a mistake or you don’t know the answer.
Find who you are as an individual. Our souls speak to us but are we listening? Cut the distractions out of your life. End relationships that offer you no true spiritual nourishment, leave places/jobs that disturb your equilibrium, find balance. Get comfortable with being alone. It is not a bad concept. That’s when your spirit speaks. It needs your undivided attention. You don’t have to search for your soul’s purpose because it has already sought you. It’s waiting for you to clear the clutter so it can begin. Let it begin.
To learn more about Birthing Beautiful Communities please visit: http://www.birthingbeautiful.org/
A Self-Love Journey
BY JEANNETTE RELAFORD
I am the owner of The Perfect Cup Coffee House located in the Buckeye area of Cleveland. Customers are able to come in and make their perfect cup of coffee as I meet and greet them.
Before I opened The Perfect Cup, I worked for Cuyahoga County for 17 ½ years and I was not going anywhere. There literally was no room for me to advance while I sat there observing people who had come in after me getting promoted. I had been in the same position from when I first began, and I knew I did not have another 17 ½ years to give. I was a month and a half away from my first degree, and the fever of quitting my job was upon me. I had saved up enough money to live on for a certain time period, and I did what needed to be done. The biggest risk was giving up a guaranteed, every-two-week paycheck. There was some fear, but because my confidence level had been heightened, there was no stopping me.
Some of the struggles I have encountered have been with finances and also not getting enough encouragement from others. I was feeling as though I was the only one on the planet. I soon learned that my inner strength had already prepared me for being alone through this. It allowed me to stay focused on my path alone while still keeping my mind open to positive new possibilities. It turned out I wasn’t alone after all. I was receiving new things and new people in my life.
My new life has brought me people who are on the same path that I am. I have met other business owners who have shared their stories of fear and growth while becoming established within their businesses. Being able to have wonderful and positive people on this journey, leaves me with great encouragement.
What I love most about my journey is having my focus, yet getting great advice from others. It gives me purpose. I love having open arms to my customers because they are who make the Perfect Cup Coffee House great.
Listening to many of the customers who come into my shop is what sparks my creativity. If and when I open up my next shop, I have learned that you have to give whatever the community wants. I have found that all communities are different and they all do different things. You have to find out what your community wants in order to spark your own creativity.
I am inspired by other women who own their own businesses or have passions and dreams that they have made come true. I am so inspired by these women because they show the strength within, and I appreciate what I see. It gives me a satisfying spirit.
To be a person of purpose, you have to gain love for yourself. Once self-love is achieved, the sky becomes the limit for you. You soar and fly and you become the best you can be because you now know who you are, and you find out what gifts you were born with.
The message I would give to those searching for their soul’s purpose is to go on a self-love journey. Begin to love yourself from childhood, and through adolescence, and young adulthood. Embrace the love from all of these years, and you will be surprised to find that it opens up so many doors for you.
Your Soul Will Sing
BY JAN THROPE
Recently someone described me as a “treasure hunter.” I wander down streets in Cleveland and East Cleveland discovering people who have dreams for improving the community. After meeting so many powerful people I decided to start a program to support these visions. It is called Inner Visions of Cleveland. Our motto is: “The visions within us can change the sites around us.” The mission is to create thriving neighborhoods where inequities are eliminated. We form relationships of mutual benefit across neighborhood boundaries. Diverse groups of people share talents and resources to accomplish grassroots projects that are initiated and led by citizens of Cleveland and East Cleveland. We hold giving circles and provide micro-loans to support these endeavors.
Before Inner Visions of Cleveland was founded, I was working at a homeless shelter and my husband Geoff, wanted to start his own business. We had two young boys at the time and my salary didn’t cover our monthly expenses. Yet, we were both confident in Geoff’s ability, so he quit his job to form his own company. Each month we had to dip into our savings to pay the bills. We’d say to each other, if things get really bad we know a great shelter to go to.
Then Cleveland was designated the poorest big city in the nation. It hurt me to the core to realize that we were loosing the fight to end poverty. Each morning as I meditated I heard a still small voice suggesting that I quit my job. I fantasized about writing a photo journal from the perspective of people who not only faced the greatest challenges brought on by poverty, but who also had inspiring ideas about solutions.
There was also a nagging negative voice that said, “Don’t you dare quit your job. You can’t earn money writing a book and Geoff’s business just started making some money. “ We were cautious because we knew things could spiral down quickly. I told myself I was crazy to think I could write a photo book about poverty. I’m not a photographer or a writer. In fact, I believe I have undiagnosed dyslexia. Words are like origami to me, I see them twisted on the page and in my mind. Before I can decipher content on a page or even try to write I have to untangle them. Every sentence has to be written multiple times and in the process my original thought often gets lost. But that whispering voice continued to nudge me to make injustices visible. The whisper became a roar that I couldn’t ignore. With Geoff’s loving support I quit my job at the shelter to write a book entitled: Inner Visions; Grassroots Stories of Truth and Hope.
The process of writing the book was fraught with equal doses of insatiable desire to tell the story and an overwhelming fear of failure. I worried that my inadequacy as a writer and photographer would cause me to misrepresent the very people I wanted to promote. I kept these two quotes from“ The Artists Way” on my desk.
1. “You take care of the quantity; God will take care of the quality.”
2. “The more I step out in the service of my vision, the less and less important it is that I am afraid.”
The book was published in 2011. It won the Grand Prize at the Frist Generation Indy Book Awards in New York and received awards from the Nautilus and National Indie Excellence awards. Since it’s publication, improvements have been made at all the places where negative photos were taken for the book. It bares proof that hope is happening in Cleveland.
Through this process I have learned to not let fear restrict me from pursuing my passions. Fear kept me contained in a protective box. I felt safe yet unfulfilled. So when I dared to move through the walls of fear, the world opened up to me. I met people who have allowed me into their lives and expanded the places that I now call home. They have filled the empty places in me. And I have had experiences that would never have been possible if I had let fear limit me. It is not that I no longer feel fear. It is just that people have showed me how to embrace faith and spirituality, which are infinitely more powerful.
When you listen to your dreams that you once silenced, your soul will sing.
If you are interested in learning more about Inner Visions of Cleveland.
BY GWEN GARTH
I am an artist by Divine design and a community activist by choice. When beginning this journey, I really had no fears; my bottom line was to not just sit there but to do something. I just did not know where to start and how I was going to accomplish the vision I had in mind. So I put a prayer out into the universe asking for help and about 3 days later a friend brought me a postcard announcing a Neighborhood Connection event featuring Lily Yeh, an artist who has been creating parks in abandoned lots in Philadelphia. I was very moved and strongly influenced at that gathering.
I now have 17 years of recovery from my addiction to alcohol and drugs (which has been more a discovery process for me than a recovery process). In about my 11th year of recovery/discovery I was finding that just going to church, AA meetings, work, and school was not enough food for my soul. As I looked at my neighborhood, I found that just sitting back and watching made me still a part of the problem. I was yearning to find and/or work for and in a solution. So I stepped outside of my house and myself and used my artistic skills and talents to become involved in my community. I spearheaded a community mural project and from that another world was opened up to me.
I am the founder of Kings & Queens of Art, which is a grassroots collaboration of artists of all disciplines with special focus on artists from the re-entry sector--- presently and/or formerly incarcerated. Kings & Queens of Art’s mission is to build a network of artists and resources that supports a vibrant arts environment, in a neighborhood context. Our vision is to be a catalyst for transforming community through the celebration of the arts and African-American history and culture. Within the next 5 years, as a catalyst for social engagement that leads to political & spatial change, we will instigate the creation of an arts and cultural community in Ward 5.
To evolve to where I am, I believe the spirits of Harriet Tubman and Councilwoman Fannie Lewis run through me. Stevie Wonder is a source of inspiration, as are local people like Yvonne Pointer, Jan Thrope, Councilwoman Cleveland, State Senator Sandra Williams, my Neighborhood Connections family, and all people, no matter what color, who stand for what’s right. Young people who are carrying on the work put my mind at ease. The laughter of children refreshes my spirit. My love for art, social justice, and my passion for people keep me getting up in the morning.
To be a person of purpose you must begin by simply doing what you are passionate about. You must have perseverance. I found this definition that I really like and I have it hanging on my wall: “Perseverance: the ability to maintain a course of action in spite of counterinfluences, opposition or discouragement: Steadfast”. You must love yourself and show others integrity. Possessing self-knowledge is key. Go within often because if you don’t, you will go without. Knowing what you were born to do and what your purpose is isn’t always clear but important to pursue. Being able to exhibit humility along with a sense of humor and knowing how to laugh at yourself are also important. But the most important attribute to being a person of purpose is not to be afraid to start again.
"Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek." ---Barack Obama, Feb. 5, 2008
For more information on Kings and Queens of Art visit the Art Palace page or email Gwen for more info at firstname.lastname@example.org.