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From Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic. This paragraph makes me “smile out loud” every time I read it.
Her word resonate with surprising urgency for us to embrace our creativity. So powerful for me to read now as I am in a period of intense writing + composing.
“Who the hell do you think you are?” you darkest interior voices will demand.
“It’s funny you should ask,” you can reply. “I’ll tell you who I am: I am a child of God, just like anyone else. I am I constituent of this universe. I have invisible spirit benefactors who believe in me, and who labour alongside me. The fact that I am here at all is evidence that I have the right to be here. I have a right to my own voice and a right to my own vision. I have a right to collaborate with creativity, because I myself am a product and a consequence of Creation. I’m on a mission of artistic liberation, so let the girl go.”
Now you’re the one doing the talking.
Love Liz Gilbert, and so much admire what she has done creatively and personally. It’s not my path to walk in the same way as her, and probably never will be, but I admire that someone so sensitively aware of the world around her can be so free. And that freedom didn’t come naturally, she had to practise over and over. In so many respects, she has lived with a fullness, grittiness, and freedom so much above mine despite what the world decides to say about her. It cannot be easy, to be in constant conversation with yourself and your fears. But so enlightening and exquisite, to know your own heart.
Her words on creativity have inspired me to do the best I can to keep the thread of creating going as I embark on a new school year. I will struggle with tiredness, competing demands, and being a vessel for solving problems, but I would like to try and keep my authentic voice, just a tiny little flame, alive for as much as I can.
Because creativity is as much rest, repose, and a life-source as silence. As necessary as breathing. Create, and you heal some part of the stress and struggle of the day. It is the means to articulate from the soul what you cannot in plain words.
On creativity [Richard Ford]
I say that to you only because whatever you are doing right now is clearly bringing you no pleasure, only pain. Our time on earth is short and should be enjoyed. You should leave this dream behind and go find something else to do with your life.
…however, I will say this. If you happen to discover that after a few years away from your craft, that you have found nothing that takes its place in your life – nothing that fascinates you or moves you, or inspires you to the same degree that your craft did…well then, I am afraid that you will have no choice but to persevere.”
“I realised that, as a songwriter, the only thing I really do is make jewellery for the inside of other people’s minds. Music is nothing more than decoration for the imagination. And when you come to that realisation, the creative process becomes less tortured and more free. [Tom Waits]
“See over there
A created splendour
Made by one individual
From things residual.”
Listening to a conversation between Oprah + Liz Gilbert this morning, and laughed out loud and was so affected by what she said about heading into a new year; the changing of the years from old to know, and how different people celebrate them. And I’d never thought of a new year in the way that she has described it in the interview, but I LOVED it. So many of us see in a new year with too much expectation tinged with regret of the previous one, and put a little too much anxiety and pressure into the first few days, only to relax into something way too ordinary later on.
How inimitably quotable is Liz Gilbert?! And Oprah, I hate to confess it, was a hard-sell to me, but I’ve loved her ever since partaking in Brené Brown’s CourageWorks courses online with her. Wisdom beyond what you see, and I’m so glad to know it.
New Year’s Day is my favourite day of the year, because I feel like it’s such a miracle that you get a brand new one. No matter how MUCH you screwed up, and they give you a BRAND NEW ONE every year!
Every year, they’re like, “Here! We’re just gonna give you this brand NEW one! It’s got no dings in it, no miles on it, it doesn’t smell like cigarette smoke, nothing’s spilled on it – BRAND NEW!”
And I’m always like, “I can’t believe you guys are giving me another one of these! Didn’t you SEE what I did with the last one?!”
I tend to go through each day and love all the tiny little moments in each day and all my special days just happen, regardless of the date or occasion. So New Year’s Day might just end up being “The Really Great Day At The Beach” that started later than usual with a lot of loud cheering, rather than the momentous and overloaded start of a new year. And the start of something might end up on a totally nondescript day, which I’ll end up treasuring forever. It’s the most resolute of anti-resolutions, and works just beautifully for me!
But Liz Gilbert’s summary?! So much better!
And here’s the interview:
There are so many examples of beauty and courage around me, every day, every moment. People whose stars burn bright for a moment, or a lifetime. Some stars who dazzle from their very brilliance; others just a glow which resonates softly and simply. These are the people who affect and change the momentum around them, even if they don’t mean to. Usually when they don’t mean to.
When I am stuck, I look to people around me who have faced far bigger challenges, bigger life up-heavals, and take notice. Their courage in their moments of humanity inspire me to keep walking. As Elizabeth Gilbert was quoted, “Don’t hurry, but don’t stop”, and I have been saying that regularly, even through the peacefulness of my holidays. Don’t hurry, don’t stop. Take that extra step, quietly, mindfully.
The people I look to didn’t ask to be different or extraordinary, they simply MET the world with their version of extraordinary when called to do so. People like Captain Chelsea “Sully” Sullenberger, Amy Purdy, and Maya Angelou.
The way that Barack + Michelle Obama held their term with grace and class. Brené Brown’s work, and her own struggle with vulnerability, Sheryl Sandberg’s grief and strength of inspiration, Nelson Mandela, and J.K Rowling. So many people are walking their path, and the light that comes off them warms and inspires me.
Last night, I happened to stumble upon the movie, “Kiss and Cry”, telling their biographical story of Carley Allison, the young Canadian skater who passed away from a rare form of throat cancer while always determined to be present, alive to the world around her, and human.
So step up. How will we affect change? What will I do? I have everything I need to contribute to the world…how will I choose to use my talents, my voice, my ideas, my gifts? How will I love and connect?
That longing and agency to LIVE a good life; when you step into that thought FULLY, like these amazing people have, what an extraordinary gift that is.
I am listening to podcast interviews or reading transcripts from extraordinary individuals including Amy Purdy, Elizabeth Gilbert, Brené Brown, Janine Shepherd, Captain Chesley Sullenberger and Martin Luther King. And I am wondering why on earth I am so safe and so happy to be so? I know there’s nothing wrong with this, and that there is so much joy, momentum, and agency in my life. But my default position when I am under attack, or stressed, is to curl up. To go into myself. To protect myself. My goodness, I can have courage, but my FIRST instinct is scarcity. And I hate to admit it because I pride myself on being so courageous, optimistic, and joyful. That I have a steady moral compass. Well, maybe that moral compass needs a shake every now and then.
The thing is, I love my life and all that I have. And I think that the gratitude for the “ordinary simplicity” is what makes my life so joyful; that the small moments don’t go unnoticed. I do not like when it gets so busy and time gets so manic that I can’t treasure things just a little. But when I listen to these stories of courage and inspiration, I realise that I have a voice and a heart and a mind. And I haven’t even begun scratching the surface of what’s possible. Because there haven’t been many times in my life where I’ve needed to be “just above the line survival brave.” I wonder how other people do it; survive war, divorce, death of very precious loved ones, loss, miscarriages, still-births; the sadness and grief that comes with life. In my life, I have been very lucky. I have had struggle, and I don’t want to invite despair, but actually, I’ve had nothing pin me down to the point of revealing absolutely my raw courage. I haven’t needed to…yet.
The amazing things about these individuals is that they never invited any of their struggle, but they don’t make excuses for it. They don’t ask, “What if…?!” or bemoan their lot in life. Can you imagine how far Amy Purdy would have gotten if she had done that? And while I am sure she has horrific days of struggle, she lives. With ballsy, vibrant determination. A brand that I sometimes know and see in my own teaching, and other days seem so far removed from my world. To me, she is courageous and beautiful. To her, she is simply living. Problem-solving to the highest degree, and living. How did Martin Luther King reach that level of peace, clarity, and forgiveness? How did Brené Brown become so alight in work which took her onto centre stage, over and over? To tell the story of her work in a way that they world could use the information? How did Liz Gilbert find such wonderful fluidity to her words, and grace in her life, and somehow the courage to constantly turn the pages of forgiveness and self-love? Janine’s humour and strength brings to me to tears; would I be that lucid and funny if I had that life challenge? I am brought to a stand-still at the end of a long teaching day, or moments I feel like I’ve not been valued and heard, when I find myself in a place where I don’t want to be. And to have my world turned upside down by an event that I didn’t even ask responsibility for, and needed to give my life to undertaking to the highest degree of my skill-level; quietly articulate Captain “Sully” Sullenberger and his family didn’t ask for January 15th 2009. He asked for “an ordinary routine flight”!
Am I going to let my comfortable safety stop me from fully using my voice, a voice that is on loan to me for the time I am here on this earth? And am I going to let small slights stop me from getting into the muddy depths of life, and wading through to forgiveness? Will I cocoon myself up, or will I have the courage to reconnect? I don’t want “safety” to be the reason that I don’t full experience every bit of love, life, and hope possible.
A warm-hearted, thought-provoking, momentum-inducing conversation. Loved it. Love these ladies. Amazing!
This is a beautifully written reminder. 🌟
There are days I am completely in my element, and days I wonder about the momentum I create just by being me, living + teaching. I’m not a natural wave-maker, but I subscribe to kindness first, and then, if I can’t do that, compassionate honesty + authenticity. This means I do create waves, because I stand in my own truth.
I like to be up to my armpits in life, totally immersed in all I’m doing, asking questions, wanting to learn, bring present + engaged.
So this was a perfect read. 🌟
Blanket + pillow forts are still excellent.
Have you heard this extraordinary conversation between Rayya Elias + Liz Gilbert?
There are conversations that change the air around you…this I found inspiring, earthy, wonderful, authentic, and momentum-changing!