I was reading a post by Elizabeth Gilbert on Facebook the other day. She has been sharing some really amazing thoughts and ideas, and I always look forward to reading them. Liz is one of my favorite writers and speakers—she writes beautifully in an eloquent but approachable style with such honesty and openness about her life and her learnings. She likes to provoke people to think, lovingly. I enjoy her creativity and her big heart. She doesn’t hesitate to point out when she does something she feels could be better and I love that too.
She recently wrote a book called “Big Magic” and I flew through it. It is about inspired creativity, and her process for creating the beautiful works that she does as well as some areas where she believes people go astray and they chase the creativity away. She suggests that the stereotypical ‘suffering artist’ is not the way to tap into creativity, and that through openness and love, not through suffering, we reach our potential and invite creativity to flow through us.
I have read from several authors that you have to write. Every. Single. Day. Just sit down and force yourself to put pen to paper, so to speak. I have tried that. I have stared at a blank page frustrated that nothing was coming, and feeling like my spark was gone. This approach took something that brought me joy and made it a frustration. It made me question myself.
It wasn’t fun. At all.
I have learned that my inspiration just doesn’t come that way. It comes when I’m driving down the highway and have to pull over with words floating through my head with an insistent message so strong that it must come out immediately. It comes to me at 3 am when my busy brain tends to like to process, whether I like it or not. Waiting until morning (well, a reasonable time of morning) simply doesn’t work and the thoughts are gone. When I honor them, I often find sleep again quickly. Sometimes it does come to me when I sit down to write, but more often then not, it comes whenever it wants to. I have learned to accept that.
I don’t mean to say discipline isn’t required with writing, but I have found that I simply cannot force myself to do it. I need to be in a receptive space where I welcome the inspiration and the ideas floating around in my head and have the desire to get them down on paper. Liz wrote about similar concepts in the book.
When my words are just floating in my head waiting to be plucked, that’s when I know inspiration has hit and I am ready to take the dedicated time to write those thoughts and ideas down. It’s almost a physical need it’s so strong. While it feels good to get it out, it does take a level of discipline not only to carry it through the end, but also to review, rewrite, review again. The thoughts are just the first step in the process.
Liz puts it this way, “Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?” She describes the hunt to uncover these jewels as creative living. The often-surprising results of that hunt is what she calls, Big Magic. Inspiration is magic that wants to be realized. When you say yes and are open to it, it’s showtime! Creativity doesn’t require degrees or education and it doesn’t necessarily require talent. It simply requires curiosity, openness and acceptance.
Liz’s message on Facebook a few days ago was about being good to yourself.
“A life has been entrusted to you. That life is your own. Please treat it with tenderness… You want to practice goodness. Well, conveniently, there is somebody with you 24 hours a day, upon whom you can begin to practice your goodness and your kindness and your compassion — and that person is yourself.”
She wrote about how we aren’t kind to ourselves, and how when she finds herself in this situation, she considers an animal in need of rescue and that she wouldn’t blame that animal for things that go wrong in her life. She would care for it and love it through the need–exactly what we should be doing with ourselves.
This has been a tough year full of some disappointments. I took chances that didn’t pan out—with a job, with a romance, with a friendship. In the first, I allowed myself to believe and trust, and while that person may have had good intentions, she didn’t follow through and it has had a marked impact on my life. I spend two hours a day commuting, which is exactly what I didn’t want to do. I asked and received help of an amazingly wonderful friend who helps me care for my dogs, and I am forever grateful for her kindness. And I’m considering again what I want and need, and what my priorities are.
The second was regarding a romance that didn’t work out. I think our expectations and commitments were different and ultimately, we were unable to communicate at a level that made us both feel safe in our friendship and in our relationship. The feelings were there but when we hit bumps, neither of us was willing to truly be open and vulnerable, and to expose our hearts to try as hard as we needed. Through intermittent periods of love, friendship, frustration, regret, anger, sadness and silence, we wandered unsuccessfully. I’m not sorry for loving him, but I am sorry that I wasn’t brave enough to truly try, or kind enough to myself to love myself through it in the way I deserved.
The third was regarding a close friendship I had for many years and someone I considered family. While I’d like her to own this as a decision and not provide excuses about why she didn’t make the effort, I have learned that it wasn’t about me as other things in her life became more important. She did recently reach out at a time that is a bit sensitive for me and I’m spinning again as to my feelings, however, I’m trying to recognize that her decision to essentially move on from our friendship wasn’t really about me and her reaching out when she thought I might appreciate it was an act of kindness and caring. I am proud about how I handled it—I expressed how I was feeling, I listened to her with an open heart, then I showed my heart love by recognizing my feelings and accepting them without judgement.
In the typical fashion of the Universe, I checked my email and received my daily message from a site called Simple Reminders. The messages are uplifting quotes and messages, and today’s was on point:
Instead of beating myself up for my failings and feelings, I’m trying to be kinder to myself. I’m writing now because the words are flowing along with the emotions and I’m recognizing them, accepting them and loving them. They are all part of who I am and I do love that person. Wanting to change things and to grow and learn is an act of love when it’s done with tenderness. It took me many, many years to truly learn.
My recent trip to Chile and the 8.3 earthquake and tsunami that followed made me appreciate the relative ease of my life. I may be disappointed, feel rejected and sad sometimes, but I am safe and comfortable with the ability to have pretty much whatever I want. While I sometimes feel like I’m floundering in a sea of possibilities without knowing what would truly make me happy, I’m grateful for the opportunities and learning to trust that it’s all part of the process of growth. What a gift.