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During this global transition, the need for leaders who can operate within a different framework and capabilities is clear. An up-level of perspective with a responsive skillset and a clear process to make decisions is required for this new terrain. These are our wisdom gathering conversations following our PowHERhouse FireCircle model of group listening for HER.
Welcome to Gather for Her.
ARTISTRY OF IMPACT Episode Five | A Gather for HER Conversation with Nicolle Nattrass
The Artistry of Truth Telling
Gather for Her welcomed Nicolle Nattrass, Dramaturge, Playwright, Professional Actress, Keynote Speaker, Self-Care Coach and Addiction Counsellor as our first guest in our Artistry of Impact Series.
The common focus of Nicolle’s varied work is: Connecting through story.
Nicolle was recently featured at the 2020 Perinatal Services, Healthy Mother & Healthy Babies conference with her one woman show: Mamahood - Bursting into Light. This show is about changing the conversation around Maternal Mental Health and bringing awareness to all helping professionals who provide care for moms.
Nicolle holds a B.F.A. in Acting from the University of Victoria and she supports writers performers to bring their voice to the stories they feel compelled to tell. She is an addiction counselor who is trained to listen with an ear to hear the unspoken stories. She brings this care and sensitivity to her on and offline programs: Creative Journaling for Self-Care for people who want greater self-awareness and enhance their self-care, productivity, creativity and healing. She is currently developing ‘A Tender-Hearted Guide’ for parents, educators & helping professionals who work with children using journaling as a key recovery tool to process trauma, stress and to encourage a dialogue when words are too much or not enough.
Nicolle’s passion is to help others carry, develop and voice their personal, professional or artistic message with an emphasis on personal growth, creative self expression and healing.
Nicolle recently dramaturged Charlene SanJenko’s one woman show Feed The Fire.
Our moderator Christina Benty is a Systems Engineer and Strategist, retired politician, facilitator, governance coach, athlete and jazz singer. Christina’s focus is human systems within governance and organizational systems.
Our host Charlene SanJenko is the founder of PowHERhouse. She is a mobilizer of brave, whole, healthy leaders who are ready to make a world-class Impact both Locally + Globally.
Our story tracker is core-communication specialist Tina Overbury. Tina works in story, guiding individuals and organizations to bring their authentic narrative to the surface for human connection.
Our graphic recorder is Sharon Marshall, an Indigenous entrepreneur of Cree and European ancestry, Skills Development Trainer and Facilitator, and the founder of DEVA Training & Staffing Solutions
This is our Conversation:
CSJ Charlene SanJenko: Good morning, everyone. Thank you for being here bright and early on a Wednesday. Welcome to Gather for Her, a conversation to intentionally explore, share and dive into collective wisdom.
I want to acknowledge the traditional lands on which I live of the Squamish First Nations and I ask that you reflect for a moment on the lands you call home. I’ve asked Nicolle Nattrass to join us this morning to chat about creativity, artistry and the intersection of where art meets leadership.
At PowHERhouse we suggest that today's leaders need a braid of wisdom to uplevel their perspective, develop responsive skills and make seven generation decisions. Each week we gather to weave our wisdom together into the emerging story of us. Let’s kick it off with Nicolle. When I say artistry of impact, how does that land for you? What does that mean to you?
NN Nicolle Nattrass: Thank you. I'm excited to jump in. As you were reading my bio, I was thinking about Tina’s son baking cookies and it made me think if my bio was a big bowl of ingredients, what would the meal be at the end? It's been interesting to have so much of my varied career intersect this way. As soon as you said seven generations I thought: impact artists stand up and speak the truth. They use their voice, they are generative and they start from scratch, like a recipe. They spin it together and stand up by putting their voice out into the world. It requires courage and bravery, and change happens when we speak up. Impact starts when we risk standing up and speaking our truth. To me that is the artistry of impact.
CSJ: I fully agree. Tina, I wonder if you have a different view or if you'd like to add to that. What comes up for you around the artistry of impact?
Impact artists stand up and speak the truth - Nicolle Nattrass
TO Tina Overbury: I could listen to Nicolle speak for hours. I love what you said about standing and speaking your truth. As someone who has devoted her life to story, diving into myths and the oral tradition, when I think of impact, I think of the stories we can still feel after we’ve heard them. Impact is how art changes us and we may not even be able to name it until after the ‘story’ is done with us. It impacts us because it speaks to us on a non-cognitive level. Stories call us out. They say: I see you. I hear you. Let's talk. As I dive into storytelling from an oral tradition, just like what happened at our recent FireCircle, you can't mistake how we can hear the stories we can't yet put into words but we hear just the same. And that's Artistry of Impact to me. It's like riding the waves of words you can only hear through art.
CB Christina Benty: Good morning! When I think of artistry, I notice we often-times pigeonhole art and artistry don’t we? We don't necessarily realize our creativity has many forms. I hear from people all the time: I'm not creative. I'm like, yeah give me ten minutes and let me ask you a couple questions and let’s see. The artistry of how you are in the world is reflected in the work you do. Oftentimes I work with a lot of technical folks like engineers, and in a ten minute conversation, I can pull out their artistry and see how their creativity contributes yet they don't recognize it, but it contributes to the impact they are making in their industry.
CSJ: I love that. I want to second what Christina said. It's funny how we pigeonhole things, right? Remember growing up? In school you were either a jock or you were super smart. You were either a theater geek or you were a cheerleader. There were definite pockets, and Christina, one of the things I loved about you when we first met is that you were the mayor and a wicked jazz singer. For me, the artistry of impact just means encouraging each other to explore all the different sides of ourselves.
It's like riding the waves of words you can only hear through art. - TinaO
CB: When I remember that I like to sing and I love to write, and I love to be silly, and that I can do all of it and still show up and be professional it encourages me to bring my whole self to a situation. For so long we’ve thought we had to put it in compartments.
NN: Can I jump in on this? I think there's something about creativity and our need to pigeonhole it. It's so true. When I think of my bio, for so long people wanted to pigeonhole me to understand me.
So you're an actor?
Well, I'm a writer too. I write my own work.
Oh, so you only write your own work?
No, I just like to.
We can do anything creatively. To the recipe analogy, one of my friends can come over to my house and when I think I have no food, she’ll open my cupboards, take out six different ingredients and make the most beautiful recipe ever. That's creative. Anything in creativity is about starting from perceived nothing. We add all these things together and whether we deliver our creativity on stage or in the marketplace, in a book, a gallery, or with a friend, artistry of impact is huge. Sometimes I think we don’t see it because of pigeonholes.
What about getting back to being allowed to have a hobby. My mom likes to play the piano. She's not going to be a Carnegie pianist, but it gives her joy and it’s super creative. We need to get away from that idea we have to be the best or the most.
CB: Can I jump in for a second because I love that Nicolle, it’s just so delicious. I often tell my clients that political life is an art and a science. It's two sides of the same coin. When you're crafting policy, artistry is involved and at the same time it has to be steeped in science. But it's the artistry that leads to the outcome. I remind people this process isn’t linear, it's lateral and it's messy.
CSJ: Tina, I'm going to jump into the next piece of the conversation but I'm wondering if there is there anything that you heard here that you'd like to reflect back or dig into further,
TO: I just want to name the pain point of pigeonholing. We might want to call it the division or the two sides. I hear the desire to move dissolve in the ‘mist’ which is also right into the mess.
This process isn’t linear, it's lateral and it's messy. -Christina Benty
CSJ: I love that. Thank you. I'd like to segue a tiny bit and kick off this next section by talking about the process, specifically the artistry. My experience of this one woman show led me to make a pretty bold statement on social media. I said I believe every woman leader should seriously consider writing and performing a one woman show, and Nicolle, I'm curious from your point of view, why on earth do you think I would say that? As someone who's been involved with this form for a very long time, what do you hear there?
NN: Well first of all, I loved it. It didn’t take me back at all because I think it goes back to something you said during your show: Feed The Fire which is: if you were not called, you wouldn't be compelled. And I think we're in a position as women leaders who are called therefore compelled, that we don't get to say: You know what, I'm just not gonna do that. We can’t step away because it’s time we step up, and in my experience, working on a solo show is doing just that. We don't write shows about something we kind of enjoy. We write about the things we are super passionate about. We have to say the words because we are compelled to say them. No one writes a show about something they could just take or leave. When I wrote my first solo show it was because I looked around I couldn't see myself in other people’s words anymore. I couldn't hear my truth. I couldn't hear the stories I needed to hear.
I believe every woman leader should seriously consider writing and performing a one woman show.- Charlene Sanjenko
I think there's something about that need when we talk about social impact. It’s how we make sure we are hearing all the stories and not just some. My desire to step out and write my first show was about me thinking: there has to be other people out here who have this story in their heart. I need to reflect it to them. I was standing on the edge of the cliff like the fool on the tarot card who looks at the rose and thinks well, I hope it goes okay, but not knowing. The level of risk is huge, and yet when we dare to step out and tell the story, it opens up this freedom for other people to get it and say that's my story too. There's an interconnectedness that happens. I think what happened with your show: Feed The Fire is you managed through your story, your voice and your artistry, to interconnect with us on a larger scale.This is so needed right now.
CSJ: I just wanted to pull one little piece of that out and say, I love what you said about interconnectivity. Art and artistry is a vehicle that basically helps us to explore connection. We talk a lot about it and we're trying to find ways to unite, but what's the vehicle? What's the how? Christina, what thoughts did you pull out?
I couldn't see myself in other people’s words - Nicolle Nattass
CB: I gravitated toward a couple of things. One of them is talking about delivering other people’s words when you can’t see yourself in it. I’ve had that experience before, when I was supposed to present someone else’s stuff and my soul just couldn’t feel it. Finding your way requires an intensive birthing process of creativity. Even if I’m talking about asset management, I’m in a creative birthing process.
CSJ: I’d like to reflect on a few things about the process of writing my one woman show. It made me think about being twelve years old and I was that kid who was always performing. I had so much joy in doing that. Then I combined my love for performing with the question I love to ask women and friends which is: What do you stand for? What is this all about for you?
I’m always interested in knowing someone’s truth, if they know it, and if they are brave enough to say it. The one woman show attracted me as a format because it gave me the opportunity to share my conviction with the world and in doing so, it pushed at my edges. There’s not a lot of places where we can practice taking a stand for what we believe in.
NN: If I can add to the process part of this conversation. One of the words that keeps showing up for me as of late is creative alchemy. It’s everywhere. It’s how things come together. Everything starts as an idea which is motivated by a conviction, and driven by a compelling desire to share as if you are being called.
- An idea
- Motivated by conviction
- Driven by a compelling desire
- As if you are being called
There needs to be an idea, but you need to be open to letting the story show up and unfold into being what it wants to be. It’s a messy process. What was your process like Charlene?
CSJ: I want to bring it back to the call. Regardless of the outcome, let’s encourage a process that supports knowing what your truth is and how to speak it, and start looking for vehicles to share it. Nicolle, your process of using recipe cards to capture ideas throughout my day was a game changer for me because they took the overwhelm out. Every time I got an idea I would jot it down and depending on my mood, sometimes I’d use the cards, and other times I’d use a kid's big scrapbook and just write really big across the page, like a brain dump. It was my process of unlocking and answering the question of my call:
- What is important to you?
- What are you deeply convicted about?
- How does that show up in the world?
- What does that actually look and feel like in real time?
NN: It’s a process of trust. Trusting your own way, and your own voice. Sometimes you are on the hairy edge of truth and you just need to hear someone say: I hear you. I’m going to help you. Let’s stay on track together. It’s a beautiful and unique process. It’s as if tuning into the irreplaceability of each person’s unique message makes the story universal.
Closing Circle Offerings
From Charlene SanJenko - CEO/Founder of PowHERhouse:
This might sound dramatic, but how I feel right now after writing and performing my one person show is, if anything was to happen to me, I am good. What I have to say is out there. You know how we say don’t go to bed angry, well how about don’t wait to say what you need to say. Life is short. I really encourage people to think about that.
From Christina Benty - Host and Moderator: The piece that really resonates for me is the mention of interconnectedness. It’s me watching something and seeing myself in it. Knowing one another’s story humanizes us. I see this in organizational culture all the time. We often fail to humanize one another in teams, and when we don’t know the story, we will make them up to fill in the gaps. We want connection and sharing our story is how we do that.
From TinaO - Story Tracker: We opened on pigeonholing and when Nicolle talked about what is irreplaceable in us, I went to ‘knowing our interconnectedness’ and then how performing a one-person show is like embodying that irreplaceability to be seen. We are irreplaceable in the circle of light and as we take a stand for what is true within us, our light just gets brighter.
From Nicolle Nattrass: This conversation leaves me to our FireCircle focus of Reclaiming our Human Spirit. Everything we have is in our field of interconnectedness. We are remembering that. We are asserting that. We are stepping out in that, and that’s what you’re asking of us in your show. We have a choice, we can be afraid of the fire or we can dance with it.
Chi-Miigwech (Big Thank You)
To watch the forty-five minute interview in its entirety click here.
Gather for Her is a series of wisdom gathering conversations with women who lead. Each recorded session follows PowHERhouse’s FireCircle model of group listening, witnessing and harvesting to support the leaders of today through the fire of our time.
Today’s conversation was moderated by Christina Benty, Owner of Strategic Leadership Solutions, story tracked by Core Story Specialist Tina Overbury, graphic recorded and Indigenous informed by Sharon Marshall of DEVA, and hosted by PowHERhouse CEO and founder Charlene SanJenko.