Big Magic

Last week I finished reading Elizabeth Gilbert's (author of Eat, Pray, Love) new book Big Magic.  Already I want to read it again.  As Marie Forleo says, "every human being should read this book."  Agreed.  So, go get the book.  In the meanwhile, here's a few things that really stood out to me.  

If You're Alive You're a Creative Person.  One of my biggest pet peeves is when people tell me I'm creative, but they're not.  I call bullshit.  Elizabeth Gilbert does too.  If you're alive, you're a creative person.  Maybe you don't write music, or books, or paint, but that does not mean you are not creative.  I truly believe we were born to create, all of us.  Yes, I have cultivated creativity in my life and made a conscious choice to hone the craft that chose me, which happens to be writing.  Once you start digging in your own life, you might be surprised what you find.  

I Want to Live My Life Collaborating With the Forces of Inspiration.  I intend to spend the rest of my life following the trail of magic, and collaborating with these forces of Inspiration.  I love the word "collaborate", because it speaks of a partnership.  And I LOVE the idea of partnering with Inspiration on this journey.  I have found when I am working on my books, I am not writing the story, the story is writing me.  I sit down and ask what the story has to tell me today.  As I am faithful, so is Inspiration.  I have two novels in progress, and Inspiration has dumped a third one in my lap.  I don't need to understand Inspiration, or even prove it exists.  It simply is.  I think our world is dying for lack of inspiration and magic, so I intend to be one of those who lives on the fringes of imagination, welcoming Inspiration into my life and creating space for it in my world and the world at large.

You're Own Reasons to Make Art are Enough.  I don't need anyone's permission to make art, which for me, is writing.  And neither do you.  If you want to make it, do it!   It doesn't really matter what anyone thinks anyway.  Would I love to be a NY Times best-selling author?  Of course!  Am I going to quit writing if I'm not?  Never.  I hope I'm writing novels when I'm 90 years old.  Writing is work, but I believe it is the work I am meant to do, and that is good enough.  So, do it I will, regardless of the outcome.  I cannot control the outcome anyway.

If I'm Not Creating, I'm Probably Destroying Something.  I am inclined to think that all of the world's horribly addictive behaviors might be alleviated if people were creating more.  There are a million ways to be blacked out of life, asleep and unaware,  because one does not wish to be present in their current reality.  Not just drugs and alcohol, but food, sex, money, work....and I could go on.  I think these behaviors are a sign of acting out because we are not creating.  We reach for the bottle instead of the page, the pill instead of the piano.  Creating drama in our lives, instead of drama on the page, as Julia Cameron says.  I know this to be true in my own life.  If I don't write daily, I get angsty and antsy and then I start creating all kinds of ridiculous scenarios in my mind, including and not limited to the fact I might just end up homeless, and then I want to eat an entire box of donuts and binge-watch Netflix.  Once I put pen to the page, I settle right down and my mood does a 180.  Those things that seemed to be looming on the horizon are dissipated into mist once I start creating.  

If People Don't Like What You're Creating... This is probably my favorite.  And I am completely unapologetic about the profanity.  People love to criticize, love to tear down, love to do anything to keep you on their level so they don't have to be faced with the fact that Inspiration might be trying to get their attention too.  I wish everyone would go "make their own fucking art".  I think the world would be a much better place.  We get all serious about it, but the very fact that I can sit down with paper and a pen and create a world out of my own mind is amazing!  My brother puts on paper or canvas (or sometimes whatever he can find) the images in his mind with pens and inks and paints.  One of my very best friends records the melodies and words that come to her in song on the piano, the guitar or ukulele.  My Dad has self-published four books.  Four!  And he's got another story in the works.  What an incredible gift!!!  And the coolest part is, we've all got it!  I think Inspiration is just waiting for us to say yes.  

One last thing...if you are thinking about creating something, do it!  You know all the times you say, "Hey, I had that thought" ?  Start acting on it.  If you say no, or ignore the idea long enough, the idea will then move on and find someone else who can bring it to out into the world.  Ideas are waiting to be born, according to Miss Gilbert, and they will find someone else. Will it be easy?  Hell no.  Will it be the best time of your life?  Absolutely.  So go create something!  

Best Things: Saturday Edition


I intended to write this last night, but, well, I had a little too much wine so came home late and promptly went to bed.  I started this little exercise on Facebook as a daily reminder to me about all the great experiences we can have by making one choice.  This is all about gratitude, but it is less a list of what I am grateful for and more about "look what happened because I made this choice".  And, as a result of a choice, all the other wonderful things that happen after that.  I realized these lists were getting a little long for Facebook, and I wasn't getting them to my Twitter followers or anyone else, so I'm taking my "best things" list live and to the world.  Here's what happened Saturday:

I decided to go spend some time in the afternoon with one of my besties after work, instead of going home to take a nap.  As a result of that choice, I got to listen to the songs she is going to perform for her Voice audition.  We went and had margaritas and chips and salsa, once her husband got home, out on the patio at Cha Cha Cha in Sellwood in the warm, afternoon sun.  Then we wanted to check out the sales at this cool store called Bandita in Sellwood that is closing.  They were closed, so we ended up checking out Real Deals.  I got a clock for $2.90, and a cool, block wood sign that states "What You Love, You Are".  Exactly. And then, as we were checking out, the ladies told us we had one more surprise, and offered us lemon vanilla ice cream bars!  Who does that?  And it was awesome.

Fast forward to the evening.  It was around 6pm, no plans for Saturday night.  Out of the blue I received an unexpected message from an old friend and asked if I could join them for dinner and drinks and live music back at the Muddy Rudder in Sellwood.  We shared a pint, some dinner, got caught up and had a lovely time. We talked about them coming to open mic, and getting to know the community of musicians and writers there.  And, I forgot how awesome that place is! I stopped back over at my friends in Sellwood, watched the end of the Matrix and had a glass of really good red wine, which they had bought from Monks Gate Vineyards a few years ago when we were there together.  

What a rich day.  I could have decided to have a nap after work, because I was tired.  Or I could have decided to stay in Saturday night, and watch yet one more episode of Ripper Street.  But I said yes.  And out of those choices, came a myriad of wonderful experiences I would have missed if I would have said no.  I spent a lot of time saying no to people to define my own boundaries.  Now, I am all about saying yes.  I cannot wait to see what today brings! 

Personal Update.

This year, for me, has been wild and crazy already.  I spent January in Ireland, almost two weeks in the Palm Springs area right after coming home from Ireland, dog-sitting for my then bosses, had a five day window towards the end of February, in which I moved out from their house, which I had been housesitting at since October, and then went directly almost two weeks housesitting for my brother, keeping track of my two nephews (12 and 16) and a few animals, while he and his girlfriend went to Hawaii.

Phew!!  Now I'm finally done with all that shit.  And getting settled in to my new home.  Well, my new room in a home that is very dear and familiar to me.  I'm back in my old hood, the Hollywood District in NE Portland.  I'm renting a room from a very good family friend, while I figure out what I want to be when I grow up.  And living in the area where we (my brothers and I) grew up.  I'm doing my own version of "where's Waldo?".  I could be anywhere at any time, you just never know.  So I thought I would set the record straight.

I did this all on purpose, though on the surface it might seem very random.  But, in order to pursue my dreams of travel and writing, I needed to get my expenses down as small as possible, and live in a place which inspires my creativity.  So, while I don't intend to rent a room forever, this is an amazing environment to start my freelance copywriting career and finish my novel, as well as live with people.  I was very tired of living alone.  And the home and the people and things within the home are beautiful.  We had an impromptu wine-tasting the other night, I can walk to a pub and the library, and have enough alone time to work on my creative stuff, but enough interaction with people so I don't get lonely.  Pretty perfect for me right now.

After quitting a job last year in April, that was getting me nowhere, and taking a job that was only guaranteed through the end of the summer, I asked for enough money that I would have some in savings when it was over, so I didn't have to be in a huge hurry to find another job, and I can do something I enjoy, rather than focusing on a very specific dollar amount.   The bonus is I have been able to do a lot of traveling.  And that job lasted through the end of the year and beyond.  

So I'm sitting at the desk in my room, hearing the ticking of clocks and the steady rush of traffic outside and it feels good.  I've been working on a meditation program specifically for writers, and getting everything really settled here.  I've put no time limit on myself to be here.  It could be three months, it could be six months, who knows!  I have an open-ended agreement with my "landlord", so there's no set time to stay or go.  I don't regret one single decision I've made on my journey, and it feels good to be back in the city. 

I'm not stressing about a job.  Every single thing has been taken care of since I decided to cast off from the shore of certainty and embrace unknown territories.  Now I am comfortable only knowing the next few weeks or the next few months.  I am connecting with people, online and offline, and loving it.  Building my website, figuring out how to hone my passions and feeling incredibly peaceful and rested.  I look at life as an adventure and do my best to be in the present moment.  Always learning, always growing.  That is something that will never change for me.  

The amazing thing is I can do anything, whatever I want.  It's like standing on the top of a mountain and deciding which path to take. Let's see where my journey takes me next.