When was the last time you felt inspired? The last time your creativity has kept you up long past your bedtime or woke you in the middle of the night with an adrenaline rush? A surge of inspiration preoccupying your thoughts leaving you incapable of thinking of anything else. Be careful not to mistake this for worry. We’ve all experienced worry in much the same way. I’m talking about a profound creative energetic flow that brings the sheer positive buzz of exhilaration.
Sometimes life can feel like we are on autopilot. Where everyday we seem to wake up as Bill Murray in Groundhog Day and begin again in much the same way we did yesterday. We sort of sleepwalk through life, day after day, dragging ourselves to the coffee pot, trudging to the shower, putting dinner in the slowcooker, driving to that God-forsaken job, working with and for people we don’t enjoy; we come home, go to bed, wake up and do it all over again. Pretty soon years have gone by, a decade even, and we are that much more set in our “routine”, we like to call it.
We think about how we shoulda, coulda, woulda done things differently. We remember when we were growing up and had all these PLANS. And then life happened and maybe now it seems as though this is the way life will always be.
Maybe you realize you still have a few ideas, things you’d like to create, invent, do or try...in fact you’ve spent the last hour fantasizing about it, talking about it with your friend or spouse, how it might not be too late! Maybe if you could save enough money or if you had the extra time?
With this last bit, an uncomfortable feeling starts to seep in...this familiar energy that causes you to stop in your tracks, reminds you that you are a fool...Where exactly do you think you’re going to find the extra money or time? Who do you think you are? What could you possibly offer the world? Do you really think you’re good enough? After all, you’ve been snoozing through life all this time…
It’s our good old friend, Fear.
Several years ago I paid, what I would consider, an exorbitant amount of money to meet Oprah Winfrey in person and to attend The Life You Want Weekend conference she was hosting in Miami. And by "meet", I mean, she glanced past me, noticed the unending line formed behind, muttered an audible “Oh dear Jesus...”, we hugged, snapped a picture and it was over. Very anticlimactic.
But, it was truly an unforgettable and incredibly special two-day experience that I shared with a dear friend from college. I will cherish it, always.
Oprah had a panel of renowned guest speakers to round out the weekend including Iyanla Vanzant, Pastor Rob Bell, Elizabeth Gilbert and Deepak Chopra. Thee Deepak Chopra. So it probably goes without saying it was an Ah-mazing, life-changing, earth-quaking,
sh*t-your-pants kind of a time.
Looking back, I would say there was one take-away that lives at the forefront of my daily thoughts. And it wasn’t the picture I took with Oprah’s arm around me. It didn’t even come from Oprah….or Deepak. It wasn’t even part of the workshop, really. It was something Elizabeth Gilbert, author of “Eat, Pray, Love” said outside at an impromptu sidebar Q & A during one of the breaks.
When asked how she handles fear when stepping into something new or working on a creative project, Liz (I call her Liz) said that fear lives in all of us. It’s the same for all of us. It’s the oldest part of our brain; and it’s very useful, or else we’d run out into traffic or marry the wrong person.
But we don’t need fear for our creativity, curiosity or our passion because all fear is going to do is stand in the middle of the road and say “Don’t do it don’t do it don’t do it, because, it’s going to end with the saber tooth tiger eating me; I know it is, because anything I don’t understand must end in death.”
She went on to say that when we were born we all downloaded the same “fear software”, and for that very reason, it is the most boring thing about us. We don’t usually associate that word, “boring”, with fear; the sensation of fear is so heightened and electric. But fear is boring because it only knows how to say one word to you; and that is STOP.
And the reason it says that is because it doesn’t understand anything except “All emotion is scary.” and “All emotion is going to put me in the scenario where I don’t know what the ending is and, therefore, JUST STOP….Just to be safe, just don’t.”
Liz said she simply makes a huge amount of space for the reality of fear.
So I just talk to it and say ‘Fear, my old friend, thank you for all you’ve done to keep me alive, but me and my passion and my creativity and my curiosity are about to go on a new journey. And I know you’re going to come with us because... you always do. And I know that you’re going to sit in the back of the minivan and scream and cry and tell me that we are all going to die. And I know that for some reason that’s your job, and you’re great at it.
Every week I panic at the thought of what to write on this blog. It’s that deer-in-the-headlights feeling...a paralysis, kind of. I’ve wanted to start a blog for years, to take my journaling practice to a different platform. To create something meaningful and beautiful. But this is way different from journaling because there is an audience...the reader.
But what if there isn’t? What if I were to pour my heart and soul into my writing and no one is there? It’s just...crickets.
What if I’m not that interesting? What if my stories are ...well, everyone’s stories?
What if I’m just not that good?
But week after week, truly, day after day, I manage to write something. It’s intentional. I get up at 5am and I write for me. I mean, it’s my hope that what I put out there lands on someone in a way that’s valuable and inspiring, but I just write for the sake of writing. As my friend and life coach, Annie, encouraged me to, “Just do it badly”. So what?
So this blog and also, a new workshop series I’m creating with Lindsey and Cristy... it’s keeping me up at night, this creative force. It calls me to the laptop in the wee hours of the morning, while everyone is asleep, to write, create posts and content, to step into the space I can’t quite see in front of me. It’s such a rush. And Fear sits right behind me with it’s warnings, whimpering and whining for me to just...DON’T. I calm and pat Fear’s back. And I keep going.
Have you snuffed out a dream? To be an entrepreneur, a painter, or an author? To become a runner, a blogger, a chef...to do something different? Creativity can take MANY forms.
It’s my belief that we are ALL creators and that’s why we are here on this planet.
To Create. It’s the calling of the soul. And when you answer the call, it breathes life back into you, it makes you feel young again, drunk even.
So I’ll leave you with the overarching message that comes from my time at The Life You Want Weekend conference; To imagine and hold the highest vision for yourself and let every step you take be in the direction of that, with creativity, passion and curiosity leading the way.
Jeanmare and Cristy are creators and contributors of the Living Simply Nourished Blog. Grab a cup of tea (or coffee!), find a cozy spot, scroll around, read some stories, find some inspiration, and enjoy!
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