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Healthy Self-Reflection and Healing at Creating Space X

I was excited to attend my first Creating Space at the Annie E. Casey Foundation in Baltimore Maryland earlier this month. I was especially looking forward to meeting folks that make up our learning community and to take my understanding about leadership to the next level. The theme of this year’s Creating Space was breaking new ground as leadership development practitioners, evaluators, researchers and community organizers gathered to discuss what this means for social innovation.


But how do we strengthen ourselves in order to create change and break new ground? At Creating Space we learned the leadership development field is at a point of transition; that old leadership development frameworks are shattering, and that we are beginning to recognize and implement new community-led leadership models.


At some point during day two, I was talking to a family member on the phone about the conference and its central theme. She wisely told me that, “leadership starts with the individual.” When I returned later, the Open Space section of the conference was in session.  My eyes were quickly drawn to the group called to meet around ‘Healing’. At first a bit cautious, having never participated in Open Space before, I wondered what I was getting myself into; how was this going to help me “break new ground?”


As I sat down, many in the group shared their experiences about what healing and reflection work they needed to do for themselves before helping their communities and returning to their community work.  We went around in a circle and shared about what it is we are grappling with and how to cope. I learned important self-care lessons from folks that have been doing their work for a long time. Whether they see their lunch hour as sacred or won’t check their emails when they get home, many shared their own daily healing practices that help them to regain strength and energy to face the next the next family...child....neighbor.... day whatever it is in that space and time.


Creating Space challenged my understanding about leadership development in many ways, but I think this section about healing was a big takeaway for me. It can be easy to forget ourselves. Sometimes we see ourselves second and think that we can wait. What I learned in that circle was that heroic, ‘I can do it all mentality,’ isn’t healthy. Everyday healing, reflection and self-care in the nature of our work is essential.  However difficult, it is important to draw boundaries around what we understand to be sacred in our everyday.


Taking walks, remembering the benefits of deep breaths and drinking water during the day help to keep my sanity under deadlines. Stop to smell the roses, literally! For the ladies, I have been loving this at home spa guide that my friend shared with me.  Re-energize and re-group yourself in the way that suits you best.


Please comment and share any insights or tools for the learning community that you have found helpful around self-care and reflection.


“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Mead


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