MEND Season 3 - Episode 54

Creating this Life with Therese Fitzmaurice


What is the role of the artist within society?

I’ve been having a lot of conversations lately to this effect.  

One thing I do is volunteer on the fundraising board at my daughter’s school to help ensure that the gardening, music & visual art programs (and the hardworking teachers who provide and share these gifts) can continue to be funded.  

It speaks deeply to what we value as a culture.

What we give time, money, energy and attention to - and what we choose to divest from.  

And we know - that training in these areas - enhances other areas of learning, brain function & productivity.  

We know that handing a child a lump of clay makes them better problem solvers and instills innate confidence in their own ability to fashion things of their own design.  

We know that music teaches cultural appreciation, improves hand-eye-coordination, concentration & ability to work collaboratively.

We know that gardening builds up immunity, teaches about the natural systems in which we exist & instills a deep reverence for the Earth.

And yet we consistently devalue these things.  

This week, I sat down with my beloved friend - plus teacher, mentor & poet - Therese Fitzmaurice - to talk about placing value on ART within the context of the larger world.  

Therese is the co-founder of the much beloved, 10-years-strong Humboldt Poetry show - what she describes as “poetry church” - an open mic experience that happens the first Thursday of each month in our local area and is open to all.  (Make sure to check the show notes for more details.) She has self-published a volume of her poetry, as well as produced an album of her work in collaboration with other local artists and musicians (of which I am happy to say I am one.  More on that later.)

In addition to her work as a poet and performer, Therese has served the community for sixteen years as a professional educator as high school English teacher, preschool director and parent educator. After studying at University of San Francisco's Center for Teaching and Social Justice, Therese earned a teaching credential at Humboldt State University.  She has since closely studied the explosion of mindfulness research and its relevant application to education, family life and art.

Therese and I sat down to talk about…

Writing as a spiritual practice.

And assigning value to those things in our life and world - that do not bring status or wealth along with them.

The practices she regularly engages in to clarify her own path and priorities in this life.

And the role of the Art and the Artist with in the health and life of a community, as well.

As all things she touches, this conversation is full of warmth and insight.

And it gave me the necessary impetus to value & reclaim the less tangible resources I possess within my own life.

I hope for you it will do the same.

As you know, it is our habit here at MEND to include a piece of spoken word or poetry at the end of these talks.

So, today, I invite you to stick around if you can till the end - where Therese shares a recording of her work - and I get the fun task of singing along in the background as well.  

Another example of what can transpire - when we endeavor to live deliberately - when we choose to prioritize that which noruishes us and feeds us and fulfills us - and invite others to do the same.

There is no limit to the value - and the beauty that we can create inside that space.