· anxiety · depression
· fear · self-injury
PRESCRIPTION LEAN IN
OUTER: Welcome To Midnight t-shirt by TWLOHA, recycled metal Tree of Life cuff by Alkemie Jewelry, hand crochet beanie Krochet Kids, Jodhpur boots by Sweedish Hasbeens available at Chay.
INNER: I lean in and support those who are struggling.
Wear may initiate a desire to reach out to a friend or stranger experiencing pain.
A true teacher ignites something within that changes you forever. Their very being, though most likely unintended, leaves a lasting impression, a way of seeing that’s simultaneously unsettling, inspiring, and unforgettable. I recently met such a person; his name is Jamie Tworkowski.
Last month I had a TEDx rehearsal in Malibu. I left the eastside of Los Angeles two hours early, assuming I’d stop at the beach and practice my speech beforehand because I’m the type of person who’d rather be early than show up late. I pulled onto the 101 freeway and instantly knew I was in trouble. ‘Carmageddon’ is a kind of hell-on-earth that every Angeleno deals with at some point or another. There are times where going 5 miles can take 50 minutes; this was one of those afternoons. I eventually made it, albeit an hour late.
A tree always grows towards the light. “As we go through life, we must always move towards holiness and light, reaching ever higher for that which is beyond us.” (Talmud Berachot 48a)
My uneasiness showed as I stepped into the rehearsal that was well underway. I shifted my weight back and forth and aimlessly scanned the room. I felt a hand on my arm and turned to see a pair of friendly, sparkling eyes. The stranger introduced himself as a fellow speaker and guided me to a slice of pizza and an open seat. It was a simple action, but he noticed my discomfort and chose to lean in. What does “leaning in” mean to me? It means expanding when I’d rather contract, connecting instead of disconnecting. It means showing up, loving deeper, and taking action when it’s easier to sit back and observe from the sidelines.
Forged from 100% reclaimed metals, the Tree of Life cuff is equal parts art and accessory. By creating new designs from existing materials, Alkemie translates something that would otherwise be landfill-bound into wearable art.
It wasn’t until I listened to his speech the following weekend that I understood the power of living a life that leans in to support others. Jamie Tworkowski is the founder of To Write Love on Her Arms, a non-profit that presents hope and finds help for people struggling with depression, anxiety, self-injury and suicide. His message (whether it be his blog, events, speaking, or clothing line) doesn’t just offer words of hope but leans in by raising and investing over a million dollars for treatment and recovery.
This beanie was hand-knit in Uganda by Santa Viclam, just one woman who’s life has been changed through the non-profit Krochet Kids. The Krochet Program is currently working to lift over 150 women and their families out of poverty.
I experienced Jamie’s capability to reach out to a complete stranger, and I knew that I could share more of myself in a similar way. I’ve experienced deep sadness, heartbreak, and had the “blues,” but I’ve never struggled with clinical depression or had thoughts of ending my life. To be brutally honest, being around people who were experiencing that type of pain used to scare me. I unconsciously subscribed to some wacky “spiritual” notion that negative energy was to be avoided. I strove to be around positive people and situations that brought out the “best in me,” which seems ironic even to write. I had many moments where my response to someone’s pain was to run from it like it was a communicable disease. I wonder if the opposite reaction could have made a small difference? If my hand on a stranger’s arm could have brought a moment of comfort, if reaching out could have changed someone’s experience? Saved someone’s life?
Love alone isn’t always enough. Sometimes it takes determination to extend that love through tangible actions. As Jamie says, “The Universe works in love, speaks in love, and is revealed in our love.”
Queen of the Angeles, fondly known as the Lady of the Lake, stands in Echo Park as a symbol of hope. She was sculpted by Ada Mae Sharpless and given to the City of Los Angeles in 1938.
Are you struggling with depression, addiction, anxiety, self-injury, or thoughts of suicide? Check out To Write With Love on Her Arms, I especially love Jamie’s piece, “Welcome to Midnight.” Is someone in your life struggling? I encourage you to LEAN IN.
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