I'm having a blast this Spring leading book study/writing circles based on the book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert.
This book is a primer for anyone who wants to awaken their creativity.
Our theme this week was COURAGE. We talked about how to recognize the voice of our fear, and see it as a separate voice from our own. We also talked about the importance of listening to our fear - giving it a fair hearing - then telling it to take a back seat while we take the driver's seat our life.
To anchor this idea, we began by listing things our fear says to us when we're about to take a risk. (Mine always hits me with "you're getting too big for your britches," and "people will hate you, and you'll be all alone,").
Then we listed adjectives to describe our fear's personality. There were some surprises here. Several women in the group shared my realization that our fear isn't just MEAN, it wants to PROTECT us.
Then, we wrote letters to our fear. Some chose to try a twist and write a letter from their fear. Either way, the key here is to separate ourselves from our fear. To give you an example of the power of this exercise, here's mine, in its raw and unpolished form:
A letter to my fear
Hey fear, I see you. I feel like we’ve been hanging out lately. I know we always hang out. But I’m sensing us walking alongside each other a little more. And I sense that I’m taking the lead a little more.
I feel like when I give you a chance to have your say, you calm down a little. That’s all we really want, right? To have our say? To be heard? When our voice is suppressed is when trouble happens.
I’ve been learning how to bring both of our voices to the table. I mean, I really want to live a soul stirring life. I’ve been taking risks out the wazoo, not having a traditional J-O-B while also juggling adult financial responsibilities. DANG.
But I’m doing this because I have a calling. Sometimes I wonder if my helping other women express their stories and voices and creativity is a curtain I stand behind as a way to avoid my own creativity. But that also may be you talking.
So back to soul stirring. Yes, I want that. I want grand adventure. I want travel. I want variety. I want peace and beauty. I want to make a difference. I want to express who I am.
And you. You are ever so practical. You want me to be safe .You want me to be secure. You are here to preserve my life at all costs. You remind me of the shadowy hand waving over the tadpole tank*. All the time.
And I know I can’t just ignore your concerns. And I don’t want you to ignore mine either. So that’s why we need to work together, you and me. I’ll aim for soul stirring and you aim for supportive practicilaity.
That way when I am faced with a decision to take a creative risk, I get to ask myself “what would feel soul stirring AND supportively practical?
You are the safety net into which I can fall. But I’m not going to lay down in your net. I’m going to bounce up and out, knowing I can return to you, thankful for how you anchor me.
*this is a reference from Chapter 1 in Big Magic.
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Because I can't get enough of these transformative lessons, I'm starting a Big Magic Journeyers study group. Membership in this private Facebook group includes printable worksheets with writing prompts you can do in 5 minutes per week. Members also receive a private creative coaching session with me, which can be used to clarify your marketing message, dive into your brand story, or work through a creative challenge that is brought to your awareness through your study of the book.
Interested in joining my tribe of soulful creative women to experience a creative breakthrough? Contact me here to learn more and sign up.
Don't delay! The journey begins Monday, April 2.
Running your own business can feel like applying for a new job each and every day.
You put yourself out there in your best light.
You psych yourself up for the interview or sales call.
You do the mental and spiritual gymnastics required to slip into the a positive, hopeful mindset.
You work hard to keep the demons of negativity at bay.
Each and every day.
Zero days where you get to coast through the motions (and still get paid).
You've gotta be smart, savvy, and ON. All. The. Time.
But here's the thing.
Entrepreneurs can't AFFORD to be exhausted.
Exhausted doesn't serve our clients.
Exhausted doesn't let us create.
Exhausted doesn't pay the bills.
So now on top of being exhausted, you're STRESSED.
But rather than plowing through, here's a suggestion.
Rather than fight the exhaustion, why not listen to it?
Why not see it as a signal? A signal that it's time for a break.
Ignoring it will only make things worse. You'll get sick. You'll have a meltdown. It's inevitable: you will have a setback.
But if you listen to to exhaustion and heed its message for you (REST), you'll recharge your batteries and find a fresh perspective. And this is a wonderful thing.
So, what can you do to recharge?
Does crashing on the sofa feel too passive? (I get that).
How about a CREATIVITY RETREAT instead?
Creativity is a great way to recharge your batteries.
And it doesn't have to cost you an arm and a leg.
In fact, the possibilities are endless, ranging from simple, do-it-yourself options, to supportive groups, to destination retreats.
I'm fresh off a terrific experience leading a group of women entrepreneurs where we met weekly to discuss and reflect on the themes from the book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. Our class served as a mini-respite from the busy-ness and noise of the outside world. We began to treasure our time together, writing, sharing, and tuning in to our creative muses.
This group really illustrated a point for me. Entrepreneurs need support that goes beyond business strategy, branding, and marketing. We are not machines. We need fuel for our creative souls.
That's why I'm committed to helping entrepreneurs like you find nourishment and inspiration. Here are five ideas for creating your own retreat:
Which brings me to my EXCITING NEWS!
I'm offering a Big Magic retreat this summer in the beautiful mountains of Asheville, NC. Want to learn more? Click here. (Enjoy significant early bird savings now through 3/23).
As a creative and entrepreneur, I've been to burnout and back many times. And I've learned one thing: soul care is a requirement for the journey. Creative soul care has made such a difference in my life, and I am committed to sharing it with you. Won't you consider being kinder to yourself? Try one of my suggestions above, or do something that feels right to you. You'll feel better. I guarantee it.
From my heart to yours,
At first glance, I’m not a big fan of endings. Whether it’s a relationship, project, or year, I have a hard time sticking around until the end.
It’s normal for things to run their course, but for me, when the ending is on the horizon, my first instinct is to bolt.
Why? Because the final phase is uncomfortable. It requires a tending to. It necessitates a letting go. It invites a sense of loss, which often brings sadness. And rather than face these things, it’s often easier to leave prematurely.
Allow me to share a recent experience to illustrate my point.
This fall, I participated in a writing circle that lasted for 13 weeks. At week 11, we had a public reading of our work. Energetically, this felt like a culmination of the class. After that, I was ready to be done. But, by design*, we had two more classes remaining to gather, process our experience, and say good bye to our writing mates.
These last two weeks, I found myself not wanting to go. Why? Because the structure of the class allowed room for conscious closure, which contains an element of laboriousness. Conscious closure requires a knitting up of loose ends, which can feel tedious. At a basic human level, most of us would rather just get on with the next thing.
Despite my resistance, however, I chose to show up. I sat my ass on the pillow and rode out the diminishing energy of closure. I tolerated the sentimentality of goodbyes and gratitudes. I even named my resistance aloud, and discovered I wasn’t alone. This affirmed to me that difficulties with endings may be a common challenge of the human condition.
Experiences are like stories, in that they follow an arc. Simply put, there’s a beginning, climax, and ending.
The beginning contains rising action in which tension and anticipatory excitement builds.
The climax is where the action comes to a peak.
The conclusion is where the energy tapers off and the story comes to a resolution.
A year can be seen in this light, too. We begin each year with anticipatory excitement, new intentions, hopes and dreams for what we will create in the months ahead. Our year may contain one or more climaxes, peak events such as a vacation, a success in our work life, a birth, or a wedding, to name a few. And then the year winds down to a close. The Winter Solstice is the darkest night, an invitation to turn within before we transition to the increasing light in the new year.
It’s interesting that exchanging gifts at year’s end is a tradition. I think there’s something about this ritual that helps us see that there is beauty in closure. If we rush ahead or run away to avoid it, we miss out on these gifts.
So I invite you at the close of this year to stick with it until the end. Look back at the story arc that unfolded for you over the past twelve months.
BEGINNING: What were you hoping for early on?
CLIMAX: What were your peak experiences?
ENDING: How is your year resolving as it draws to a close?
On the final day of my writing circle, we did a beautiful gift exchange. Each woman was invited to bring a small gift to offer. We wrote notes from our gift to be read by the recipient. Then we did a random exchange in which each woman serendipitously received the gift that was meant for her. The gift I received was a beeswax candle in a glass votive surrounded by 4 delicate seashells. The note attached read:
I am a light bearer.
I bring with me the sweetness of honeybees, the saltiness of ocean beaches, and the warmth of a fireside.
I have appeared to tell you that this, too, shall pass out of your life,
But its season will come again in a way familiar or new.
I bring you light for the journey.
I’m so glad I stuck around until the end.
*This writing circle followed the model of Women Writing for (a) Change®
If you're an entrepreneurial woman who would like to explore your creativity in a group that incorporates practices of conscious community, I'm offering a book study/writing circle based on Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert, starting January 18, 2018. We still have a few spots open. You can check out all the details here.
Author and Branding Consultant
I am passionate about helping women write their truth and share their message. I offer
personalized coaching programs designed to help soulful entrepreneurs tap their inner wisdom, write the stories they need to tell, and build a business they love.
My memoir, What I Gave to the Fire, is available in both print and Kindle formats on Amazon.com.