Read Erin’s thoughts on what giving back has meant to her and how it has changed her life and her community.
As a teaching artist, mom to an awesome 10 year old. I value connection and wholeheartedness. I incorporate tie dyeing in a variety of workshops and classes and in my volunteering.
I facilitate team building workshops, teach at the library, lead the Tiger Pause Community Service Club at the Maryland International School, and participate in a variety of community engagement activities. I volunteer to teach tie dye workshops at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center on a monthly basis with my outreach group, Colorful Abandon.
I partner with The Casey Cares Foundation to provide mini tapestries or head coverings dyed by participants in my workshops. We also make handmade cards that we donate. I am also part of Grateful Heads, an international network of tie-dye artists who get together for 4 days each summer to create an average of 1000 bandanas. The bandanas are given for free to anyone undergoing medical treatments. I have donated to a variety of non-profits. Most recently I have donated use of my tapestries to Unified for their Hoodstock Charity Music Fest and to LoveLight Yoga & Arts Festival.
I teach a class at the library. Our focus is self-kindness and creative community service. I believe that gratitude and self-compassion can change the way we show-up in the world. We are more brave, more kind and more compassionate. Peace begins with us.
The second piece that has driven me was when, in 2015, I realized that I had spent my whole life hating myself. At my lowest I made the radical decision to be nice to myself one time, to see what would happen. It changed my life. I stopped trying to be perfect or be who I thought everyone expected me to be. Since then, I have been on a journey to deepen my understanding self compassion and teach others the importance of being kind to themselves. My view of the world has changed. I realize that everyone is doing the best that they can with what they have been taught. So, I do not take things personally. Each day I am learning to become more open and grateful to each teacher who crosses my path and makes me a stronger, kinder person. I laugh a lot more.
Team building is one of my favorite workshops to facilitate. I believe that teams grow stronger by expressing gratitude and appreciation for their team members, allowing themselves to be vulnerable through the creative process, and working together to give back to the community.
If we cannot be kind to ourselves when we make a mistake, how can we expect to be less reactive and and judgmental towards others. By send positive energy into the world that promotes peace?
If I see a way that I can help, I do. I am a tree hugger. I conserve water by using a grey water system at my art studio. Most of the tools and materials I use are up-cycled. I pick up litter daily, and I teach children the importance of using our resources wisely. I am currently coordinating teaching children how to the create and install plastic bottle brick benches and plastic lid murals throughout the area.
*According to Dr. Brené Brown, “Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.”