I had been anxiously awaiting Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book: “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.” Since I am not running these days my book reading is a bit slower, but I finally just finished it. It is an easy read, but not like those of a novel that you cannot put down. It is best consumable in small chunks so you can ponder the ideas she shares on creativity. She even has a few stories that were ‘aha’ moments for me.
One of the ideas that she shared especially resonated with me:
“These days, I’m far more moved by authenticity. Attempts at originality can often feel forced and precious, but authenticity has quiet resonance that never fails to stir me. Just say what you want to say, then, and say it with all your heart. Share whatever you are driven to share. If it’s authentic enough, believe me—it will feel original.” Page 98
Maybe because I hate when people lie, I hate deception, and all I ever really want is for people to be real. If you do not know something, do not make up bullshit to make yourself sound like you do know it, just be real and say you do not know. There is nothing I hate worse (both personally and professionally) than when people lie to make themselves look better. Just be you.
Be yourself, and do not regret it. Oh, and definitely take some time to read Gilbert’s book. It is worth it, especially if you are in a rut and want/need a kick in the butt to get you thinking creatively again.
Last week I found this quote on Elizabeth Gilbert’s Instagram feed:
“Make it happen. Shock every single one of them.”
Think about it. What if we went through our day and thought how am I going to shock someone today? Much of the time we try to just make it through the day, but what if we raised the bar and made things happen? What if we went into each meeting or presentation and were completely focused and wowed folks because we pulled it off? What if we did the impossible? Or maybe it is not even impossible — maybe it is just something that left a wow factor. It could be the smallest, slightest moment that left a mark and was remembered.
The funny thing is the moments that are remembered are often the ones that are actually easy and often free to pull off. You might have made an effort to actually listen and remember key details from someone’s life. You asked about it the next time you see that individual. So easy, and just requires pure listening, and yet it has such an impact. I always notice when someone has taken the time to get to know me and then later (sometimes even months later) remembers a piece of our conversation. I try to do the same to others, but it is hard when you go from meeting to meeting all day. And yet, doing so shows true connection, relationship building, and care.
I am a get-it-done woman. I rarely let anything stand in my way. As Chris would say to me, “There is no changing your mind when you have made a decision you are going to do something.” He is right. I like to approach life with conviction, persistence, and, as I often say, by sucking the life out of each day. I want to bring that same zeal when shocking and wowing others. Think of all the times you have been wowed by amazing customer service, by friends and family who surprise you, or a stranger that does a random act of kindness. The key ingredient: someone showing you they care.
I found a print over the weekend via the fabulous, Elizabeth Gilbert that sums up what I think about a lot of things. It says: “Own your Shit.” I could never frame it and put it on the wall, as it has a bird on it, and I am not a fan of birds. I like the print because it says what I constantly have running through my head. To me “Own your Shit” means bring yourself 100% to your job, relationship, family, wherever in your life. Know who is counting on you, know what is expected of you, and bring it.
I struggle a lot with others that do not take accountability for their actions. If you say you are going to do something do it. Follow through. Think about the individual on the receiving end of what you need to do. Does your not following through leave them hanging? Does it make them look bad? Does it tell them you do not care?
When you drop the ball, own it. Put yourself out there and communicate that you did not own your shit. Let others know. You own it when you are transparent about when you did not come through. It gives you more credibility. When you do not own your shit, you can lose all credibility.
Whatever story you are telling yourself for why your life is more important, or what you need to do is more important than honoring your commitments, it is bullshit. Do what is your responsibility to do. Do not expect someone else to do it for you. Do not take the easy way out. Own it. Know it. Be it.
Goodness. Somedays it is hard to see it. Somedays are a struggle and it is harder to see the goodness in our lives. I ebb and flow with reminding myself that I need to focus on the good that is all around me. Usually when I have a moment of struggle and frustration I go down on my knees and am reminded of all that I have, all the goodness that surrounds me each and every day. Those moments of gratitude helps me to see what I am forgetting. Those moments remind us of the bigger picture.
Recently, I came across this excerpt from Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love)’s Facebook page:
“The other day, the great author and sociologist Brené Brown (my sweet friend!) was asked, “What do you know for sure?”
She replied: “Fear is dangerous. But people are good.”
The evidence that people are good can be found all around us.
The evidence that fear is dangerous can also be found all around us — particularly because of the terrible things that fear makes people do (both to themselves and to each other.)
We all live amidst fear and goodness — and their consequences.
We are all composed of both fear and goodness.
You have a choice. Every moment of the day, you have choices.
You can follow your goodness, not your fear.
You can feed your goodness, not your fear.
You can support and encourage the goodness of others, rather than preying upon their fears or adding to their fears.
To choose goodness over fear is the single most life-affirming path a human being can ever possibly take.”
It was a good reminder for me. There is goodness in watching my niece do things for the first time. There is goodness in my day-to-day world. My marriage, my job, my family, friends, and home. Lots of good is happening around me. We all have a choice to decide to see the goodness or not. I choose to see the goodness. I choose to be happy. I choose goodness, not fear. That does not mean that I do not have fear. I do fear, but if I can focus on the good, it means I am seeing the light, not the darkness.
We all have things in our life that are the constant battle for us. For me, it is finding balance. I have my ups and downs. There are days and weeks when I nail it and others when I struggle horribly. I try to do too much, help too many people, my to-do list is too long. I want a clean house at the end of a weekend, clean laundry, my personal life caught up and in order before I start into my week of craziness and full days. I want to connect with people, listen, and do what I can to help. Sometimes though it means my life is a little out of whack. Learning to even out the teeter totter of my life is all part of how I continue to hone me.
At times I find an idea that helps me remember that I am not the only one that struggles with the adventure of learning more about myself. A recent example comes from Shauna Niequist’s blog post: “Glimpse:”
“But I am inching, and I’m learning so much, and the awkwardness is worth it and the fumbling is worth it and the growing pains are worth it, because every once in a while I feel something inside myself that I haven’t felt for a long time, and it feels like peace. And every once in a while I experience a moment of connection with Aaron or the boys that feels so much deeper than my old way of living used to allow.”
As well as from Oprah’s: “The Life You Want” tour, Elizabeth Gilbert spoke about wanting to remove the word: “balance” from vocabulary. She says:
“‘With no offense to the word balance, I feel that that is a word that we have to be careful of lately because I think it’s become another tool in the arsenal that women especially are using against themselves as one more thing they’re not doing right.’ She later says: ‘let go of the word. For me, peace comes when I … embrace the beautiful mess that I am,’ she says. ‘And embrace the beautiful mess that you all are, and that this world is, and just let it be that’.”
So let’s all embrace our beautiful mess of a life. Enjoy it, soak it up. Let the dishes go, sit on your butt a bit more, have someone rub your feet, and just be you. Let go of what you did not get done today, or how much you might berate yourself for doing too much. It is what it is. Be you. Beautiful mess and all…