Collective Care is a written interview series with people who are changing the world. Most often, these folks are working at the intersection of creative, healing, and/or activist work.
I’m in love with the idea of amplifying the work (and self-care practices) of people who are building a more compassionate world. In this series, I get to chat with people who inspire me like whoa.
Today we get to meet Deb Cooperman!
How are you changing the world?
(What is your change-making, healing, and/or creative work? This might be paid, unpaid or a combination.)
What a great question. And kind of tough one to answer, but here it goes: I like to spend my time, energy, and attention on things that can make the world a happier, lighter in attitude/spirit, more accepting (of self and others), and creatively expressed place.
I want to live in such a way that I help bring about the world that John Lennon sang about in Imagine. And that Yoda intimated when he spoke of The Force. (and I suppose i also live to spread meaning through pop-culture.)
What challenges your heart in that journey?
A few things make it challenging: Empathy can be hard to bear sometimes. Seeing so much pain and suffering, and knowing that I can only do so much has a tendency to drain me. I don’t know who appointed me woman-who-can-fix-everything (yeah, I know no one did), but somehow, I feel an internal pressure to do everything I possibly can to improve the world.
I also have to do my own internal work – which isn’t always easy or fun – because if I’m not clear, compassionate, and cared for, I’ve got nothin’ for nobody.
What inspires you to keep going?
When I see the amazing things that my friends are doing to make a difference in the world it inspires me. When I learn about the amazing things that people who I don’t know are doing to improve the health, spirit, and well-being of people and the planet: those who travel to rough parts of the country and the world to ensure that people are fed, clothed, and cared for; people who work tirelessly to help turn the tide of climate change; people who care for the elderly, the disenfranchised and on and on.
I used to see things – campaigns, fundraisers, protests – and I’d want to do them all; give the time, money, and resources. But as I got older, I realized that I couldn’t do ALL the things (there’s only so much time, money, energy, and ability in my arsenal), but if I can do what *I do* – the things that have an impact – then I feel like I’m making a difference in my corner of the planet. And I figure if I keep doing that, it – in a round about way – helps others do those different things that need to be done (and that I’m so glad are being done).
And on another level: art and creativity inspires me too. Music, theater, film, and all things pop-culture, as well as photography, cooking/baking, crafts-people/makers, and other creative small business owners: I am so blown away by the all the things that human beings can create. All those wonderful things inspire me to keep striving to do MY stuff, and to make my mark in whatever way I can.
How do you support yourself or tend to yourself and your heart in that process?
What nourishes and replenishes you?
Well, mostly, journaling is my greatest self-care practice. It’s been with me since I was 12, and it is the catch-all support for me. I kvetch and moan and cry in my journal. I plot, plan, celebrate, vent, process, and work out thoughts in my journal. I’ve dealt with challenges, losses, and detours on the page; I’ve picked apart problems, and made big decisions there too. I know myself better because of the practice, and I am more compassionate with myself and with others because of it. I don’t know where I’d be if it were not for my journal(s). (i wouldn’t have this business, that’s for sure.)
Beyond the journal, as someone who works from home, I’m able to follow my energy and plan my work-week in ways that support my natural flow, and that’s no small bonus. I’m an early-ish riser, but, unless I have somewhere I have to be, I’m a pretty slow-to-get-moving gal, and I’ve found ways to make that work in my business. For example: I’m filling this out at 9am, in “cozy clothes,” pre-shower, while drinking coffee. Mornings are usually very low-stress for me because I plan it that way (most of the time).
I also take breaks to move – I dance/walk a lot (i live in the boonies, so i can do it on the backroads and no-one sees me), and sometimes just plain walk the trails nearby. And if I can’t get out, just listening to music and shaking my groove thang in my office or living room can help.
And journaling. Did I say journaling? 😉
How do you experience care within community?
How do others support you in your journey and practice?
The down-side of working from home – isolation – has forced me to get creative about support. I belong to a wonderful mastermind group with two other solopreneurs, and we talk on the Voxer app pretty much all-day long, and we meet every Monday for a video conference to get support and encouragement for our business (and our lives).
I’m making more of an effort to get out to see people in real life too. I’m an “ambivert” (neither extro- or intro- … but a combo of the two – I call myself a gregarious introvert) so, while I love my space, I whither if I don’t get some human contact. That’s a major goal for this coming year: more co-working. More lunch dates and walking dates with friends/fellow solopreneurs in my general vicinity. I’m also hunting down a regular Zumba class because I’m sure a regular dance date will be good for my spirits, and my bod.
I also experience support and care in a round-about way from my clients, the people who come to my workshops, and the ones who actively engage with me on social media. Every time someone asks a question, comes to a workshop, buys a product … I feel SO supportive and supported. I see these women as proof from the universe that I’m doing something the world needs. As I said earlier: I know I can’t do everything, but I can do THIS thing. And when people like it/use it/need it? I know I’m affecting my corner of the world with good, positive vibes. (and i think when they get the juice from my work, they’re more likely to move forward with helping in their corner of the world. bonus.)
What’s your best piece of advice you have for people who want to make a difference?
As I said, I’m a big pop-culture fan, so I’ll direct you to a few songs that say it better than I can:
Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam:
From the Monty Python musical, Spamalot (w/John Cleese, Tim Curry, David Hyde Pierce, and Sara Ramirez):
(bottom line: be who you are. find your thing. do it.)
Paint us a picture of the more compassionate world and future you imagine.
I dream of the world John Lennon sang about:
I’d also like to imagine a lot more people like Brandon Stantons, Ira Glasses and Lea Thaus out there (creators of Humans of New York, This American Life, and the Strangers podcast), sitting down with people they don’t know, sharing stories of our unique and different experiences, and discovering our common humanness. And then making choices that put *that* above greed and fear.
Until that day comes, I believe that practicing kindness toward ourselves, and then expanding that practice out in the world will bring us one step closer.
Glitter, fairy lights, bubbles and journaling can’t hurt either.
Deb Cooperman teaches women journaling as a way to rediscover themselves, and write through the ups and downs on this rollercoaster called life. She believes in The Force, Mr. Rogers … and that most things can be made better with bubbles, fairy lights, and glitter.
How to connect:
You can find all of the Collective Care interviews right here!
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