When I was at the Summit of Greatness in September, psychotherapist Esther Perel gave advice to a man seeking to repair a romantic relationship: Send her a handwritten note.
Outside of the obvious things anyone should be doing to win someone back, maintain a friendship or romantic relationship, that was one of the best pieces of advice I had ever heard. I was sure I was not the only one because the whole theater was buzzing right after she said it.
It also caused me to think about two things: The last time I received a hand-written note and the last time I sent one. I write extra notes on greeting cards to my mother and father (my husband and I do not exchange gifts/cards..we plan experiences with each other for our birthdays/holidays). Outside of those occasions, everything is typed or texted.
And since then, a co-worker and a good friend from my writing group have given me cards with handwritten notes on it. Even opening them immediately lit me up inside. It also conjured up memories of a small poem my husband wrote me when we were first married and my participation for a short time in moreloveletters.com which encourages people to leave anonymous uplifting letters tucked away in public spaces. The content almost never matters. For me, it is the time taken.
I picked “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear” by Elizabeth Gilbert back up again. I have a horrible habit, especially with non-fiction, personal development books of reading a quarter of the way or halfway through, sitting it down and diving into another one. It got worse after coming back from Summit of Greatness 2017 with a whole new stack to add to my dysfunction.
Lately, I have been reading a few pages every morning of Big Magic and there have been several moments where I have been slapping an invisible Elizabeth Gilbert hi-five in my bedroom.
Here are a couple of the gems that caused me to act a fool:
On keeping a day job: “I held on to those sources of income for so long because I never wanted to burden my writing with the responsibility of paying for my life. I knew better than to ask this of my writing, because over the years, I have watched so many other people murder their creativity by demanding that their art pay their bills. I’ve seen artists drive themselves broke and crazy because of this insistence that they are not legitimate creators unless they can exclusively live off their creativity. And when their creativity fails them (meaning: doesn’t pay the rent), they descend into resentment, anxiety, or even bankruptcy. Worst of all, they often quit creating at all.”
That passage was screaming at me earlier this week. It was the exact confirmation I needed that I had made the right choice to leave where I was to provide more for our family. The insight was impactful because I realized I was putting undue pressure on my creativity and to be frank, I am not there yet. I will get there but it will take time. I will work on my craft and my discipline in the meantime.
2. On Permission: “It doesn’t matter in the least. Let people have their opinions. More than that–let people be in love with their opinions, just as you and I are in love with ours. But never delude yourself into believing that you require someone else’s blessing (or even their comprehension) in order to make your own creative work. And always remember that people’s judgments about you are none of your business. Lastly, remember what W.C. Fields had to say on this point: “It ain’t what they call you; it’s what you answer to.”
When I decided to leave my career at Social Services a few years back, I did not encounter a lot of negativity but I did have some hesitation about proclaiming my choice to pursue writing when I shouldn’t have had a moment’s hesitation at all. It was between me and my God, me and my husband and me and my creativity.
Outside of writing, dancing and a couple of other commitments this weekend, I will devote my time to work on this dysfunction and blissfully get lost in the joy of reading “Big Magic.”
After completing the 5-day Instagram greatness challenge issued by Lewis Howes, I found myself asking what’s next? I was asked to reflect on who I am, obstacles I encounter on the way to becoming my best self, a part of my morning routine, a significant quote and finally post about someone who inspires me. After so much reflection, I found that I did not want it to end. Not that reflection should ever cease whether you share yourself with the world or not. The obstacle I chose to share was not keeping to a writing schedule. Instead of just leaving it at acknowledging the problem, I am choosing to push myself to do something about it.
And then I thought, I have been actively working on my wellness goals the last couple of months. I am still plant-based and I quit coffee (haven’t been a soda drinker in over 15 years). I should make aspects of my wellness journey a part of this, too. My lack of consistent water drinking came to the surface.
The only bottle I am currently popping.
My daily green smoothie
I can’t tell you why I neglect to do this because as someone with psoriasis, I should practically be hooked to a faucet. I am already working out but again I know I can do more. And if I acknowledge I can do more, why not do it?
I did not want to replicate the previous challenge by doing it for five days. By now, we have all heard it takes 21 days to establish a habit. I decided to commit to moving myself twice a day, drinking at least 100 oz. of water and writing about it every day for 21 days.
Today was my Day 1. I had a magnificent walk in the sunshine, listening to DeVon Franklin speak and Solange sing. After work and grocery shopping, I came home and did an Afrifitness video on YouTube. I love dance workouts! Besides the fact that they are fun, moving myself in this way makes me forget that I am working out. I can lose myself in the rhythm and choreography.
I know it is only Day 1 but drinking enough water will be the goal I will have to be the most diligent about checking off each day. It might be early for a takeaway but I already have one. I must set my intentions each day or I won’t do it! This is a lesson already learned for me but apparently it did not take. But I know it’s not too late.
Mindfulness and intention are the two words I feel will resonate with me for the duration of this challenge and for the rest of my life.