The only thing that has been saving my sanity over the past two weeks is working through my notes from Brave Magic. Because, what on earth is happening in our country right now? What world am I living in?
Oh yeah, one run by powerful, old white men. Just double checking.
Here we go….
One of the first themes that
Cheryl Strayed and Elizabeth Gilbert discussed was
I was so relieved that we started there, because one of the main reasons I decided to attend this retreat was to get some of my own clarity around the book I wanted to write, which mostly seemed like a murky clutter of little ideas bouncing off each other in the confines of my head. No matter how hard I thought about it, I just couldn’t get clear on what it was. And while I ended up having a rough outline of what I think it COULD be, it still seemed like a puzzle (and still does in a lot of ways).
“To truly create, you must get to the point of total surrender. And to live a creative life, you have to learn how to do it over and over and over again. Get out of your own way.” –Cheryl Strayed
I am desperately trying to re-learn what it means to continue living a creative life now, as a woman well into her career with a young kid, a partner, and a whole lot of other important things tugging at me.
For example, my health. The amount of time I spend every week working out, logging food, and trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle is incredibly important to me––but also takes a lot of energy away form my plate. It is not something I want to or am willing to give on. And also other things like time with friends, cocktail club, watching The Bachelor and just being in the goddamn world. You know? (Ok, I could probably cut The Bachelor, but who wants to live in a world without a little escapism?). But when I think of adding something like Tai Chi, which I did for the first time at Brave Magic and sort of fell in love with, it feels kind of impossible. Like, where would those hours even come from?
Since I have been home, I have been trying to chip away at small things. I decided the first thing I could do was to take an Instagram hiatus. More and more, that wasn’t a place that was bringing me joy. It was sucking my time. And inadvertently, I wrote in my Brave Magic notes more than once “get off of social media”, “take a break from Instagram”, “you won’t find your creativity on Instagram”. It was pretty clear by the time I left that weekend that a social media cleanse was in order. So, I did it. The relief I have felt with the minimization of notifications, comparing myself and my brand to others, and hours scrolling has been HUGE. I have no idea how I will approach Instagram if and when I come back, but I know it will be different. And I know cocktails will be much fewer and farther between.
“You are a writer. Make room in your life for that.” –Cheryl Strayed
Yes, queen. Yes.
I also did some other little things like rearranged my work space to feel more comfortable and inviting. And, I have taken hours back for solitude and writing. It’s been good, but it doesn’t feel like enough. I just want to go in the ‘direction of my own truth’ – and the clarity around that, I have faith, will come into focus. Until then…
It is about stepping into my own power, claiming what I want most, and then giving myself permission to obey myself.
Liz talked a lot about constant creative practice. This idea that creative living and creating art isn’t just always about pings of inspiration or even about talent. It is about approaching everything in your life with CONSTANT CREATIVE RESPONSE. The universe is out of our control, but the universe lives in constant creative response, which means that if you are also, you are flowing with creation, rather than against it. When this happens, we are not only living our most creative lives, but our most healthy lives. This means that whatever happens in your life, whatever challenges you face or joys that come your way, you REACT with a constant creative response. Then, creation becomes the entirety of your life.
“Your life is not in order because you are NOT creating. Not the other way around. You don’t want to create until your life is in order, that isn’t how it works.” –Liz Gilbert
Create, then life falls into place.
And if you have the ‘volcanic urge’ to create inside of you, the good news is that it won’t go away. Not even after creation. It is always there. This is something that resonated with me so so much, because it is intensely true in my life. I feel like most people who know me well can see that. Cocktail writing came out of that — the urge to create something. The desire to put something out into the world.
The volcanic urge to create. To write. To drink? Ah, maybe a little.
Cheryl said, “I didn’t apply for the job of a writer. I just was one.”
Twin soul, I tell ya.
Putting clarity into practice
The work-shopping that we did at Brave Magic mostly consisted of letter writing to ourselves, and then sharing our most intimate, deep, personal, hard, and joyous stories with perfect strangers.
It was intimidating at first, but the more women that I met and shared with, the more I realized that I was supposed to meet each of them, and that in the long run — we weren’t all so different. These women (and a few men!) were my TRIBE. I was amazed at how many times I read a letter out loud to a stranger and then after they did the same, being so astounded how many similarities there were to our letters. Incredible.
In regards to clarity, the workshop was to write a letter from your own personal clarity to yourself. Basically, the person named ‘clarity’ that sits the table of your personality traits that make you YOU––is speaking directly to your whole person (Liz says that we are basically all of these crazy people all at once, sitting at a table, making decisions about life).
Here’s my letter from my clarity.
This is your clarity, and here is what I know about you.
You want to live the most fulfilled life you can — one where creating is of utmost importance and one where the people you surround yourself with inspire and motivate you to do so. I know you have novels, poems, recipes, essays, memoirs, and stories in you that have beauty and authenticity.
You want to see your life on a page because that is the only thing that truly makes sense to you in this world. Words on a page are your center and the truest form of yourself.
You want to live a life that is worthy to write — and yes, every life is worthy, but when your pen hits the page, you want to know that you have put yourself in the way of beauty enough that the worlds…just…flow.
You want to leave something behind for your daughter — so that she knows creative living is such a full way to be in this world that she will want to create for herself — in a way that is true to herself. You want her to read your words and know the deepest parts of your soul, the things that might never get said out loud, how much loving her was the biggest magic of your life.
You want to always feel in love.
You want to be inspired constantly.
You want to be in tune with yourself and others.
You want to live authentically–for yourself–and live in love always.
“Clarity is simple. It is about the ONE TRUE THING. It is all the decisions around your clarity that are hard.” — Cheryl Strayed
So, here is to making the hard decisions about staying true to the clarity that I have found about the kind of life I want to live. Fully present. Fully in love. Fully committed to living a life of constant creative response.
To do this every day seems enormous. But hopefully, with small changes every day, I can get there.
You can too.