The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.
The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.
May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art—write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.
It’s funny. You go through your life (intuitive person that you are) following your inner guidance, listening to that still, small voice…until. Until the still, small voice tells you something you don’t want to hear, something that, for whatever reason, scares the hell out of you.
That’s when all that allowing yourself to be led, all that going with the flow, all that surrendering to the call flies right out the window. Suddenly, you’re having a knock-down, drag-out fight with your inner guidance, digging in your heels and saying, “Yes, but…” or even “Hell, no!” Well, that was me about six months ago.
Except for a few stories I wrote in my junior high language arts classes, all the writing I’ve ever done has been non-fiction: journalism (mostly dance reviews and features, a few gardening articles), marketing copy, press releases, business and fundraising letters, grant-writing, blog posts, etc. etc. However, last fall, I started a freelance writing job that involved writing short articles for children, including short fiction pieces. I was surprised to find that not only were the fiction pieces easier to write than I’d expected, but I also enjoyed writing them, and the client seemed to really like my stories.
Great, right? It’s always nice when you enjoy your day job.
Then, sometime around the beginning of March, I started getting this (for lack of a better term) “nudge” from my inner guidance. The nudge was saying, in so many words, “You need to be writing fiction.”
“Be careful what you wish for…”
I suspect we’ve all heard this phrase at some time in our lives. Something positive comes into our life that we wanted, but it comes with stuff we have “deal with” in order to have it, stuff we probably didn’t thing about when we asked for it.
Over the last six months or so, the pieces of my life have arranged themselves in such a way that I’m living the dream of a lot of folks out there: working from home, with virtually complete control over my schedule. However, I’ve found that setting your own schedule is a lot harder than I thought, and I’ve been struggling. Lately, I’ve been trying out different schedules in an attempt to establish some sort of daily routine that allows me to get my work done and also get in exercise, meditation, grocery shopping, etc. I still haven’t found the perfect formula, but I’m getting closer.
In 1995, when I started my clothing design business (which I did from home the first four or five years), I was still doing other jobs
You must give birth to your images. They are the future waiting to be born. Fear not the strangeness you feel. The future must enter you long before it happens.
~Rainer Maria Rilke
Last week, my friend Peter shared his sister’s blog post about Christmases when they were growing up. In the post, his sister mentioned that his parents had made a lot of their Christmas gifts, and it reminded me of my favorite Christmas gift ever, which, to this day, has never been topped.
I’m not sure exactly how old I was, but I was young enough to be playing with Barbie dolls. That Christmas, I had asked Santa for some new dolls, “Tammy and her family”—which included Tammy, her mom and dad, and a brother and sister.
Anyway, my parents (AKA “Santa”) decided to make a dollhouse for me to go along with my new Tammy dolls. They went out and got cardboard boxes, cut off the lids, turned them on their sides and attached them to each other so that they formed a house with four rooms—two up and two down. Mom got wallpaper samples and covered the “walls” of the rooms, and she made sofas and beds out of shoeboxes, even sewing bedspreads and pillows for them. They used my Barbie dolls to measure stuff for the house, which is where the problem came in. Continue reading
Most of us are not raised to actively encounter our destiny. We may not know that we have one. As children, we are seldom told we have a place in life that is uniquely ours alone. Instead, we are encouraged to believe that our life should somehow fulfill the expectations of others, that we will (or should) find our satisfactions as they have found theirs. Rather than being taught to ask ourselves who we are, we are schooled to ask others. We are, in effect, trained to listen to others’ versions of ourselves. We are brought up in our life as told to us by someone else! When we survey our lives, seeking to fulfill our creativity, we often see we had a dream that went glimmering because we believed, and those around us believed, that the dream was beyond our reach. Many of us would have been, or at least might have been, done, tried something, if…
If we had known who we really were.
~Julia Cameron, The Vein of Gold: A Journey to Your Creative Heart
Blessed be the longing that brought you here
And quickens your soul with wonder.
May you have the courage to listen to the voice of desire
That disturbs you when you have settled for something safe.
May you have the wisdom to enter generously into your own unease
To discover the new direction your longing wants you to take.
May the forms of your belonging–in love, creativity, and friendship–
Be equal to the grandeur and the call of your soul.
May the one you long for long for you.
May your dreams gradually reveal the destination of your desire.
May a secret Providence guide your thought and nurture your feeling.
May your mind inhabit your life with the sureness with which your body inhabits the world.
May your heart never be haunted by ghost structures of old damage.
May you come to accept your longing as divine urgency.
May you know the urgency with which God longs for you.
~John O’Donohue, from To Bless the Space Between Us. All rights reserved.
Photo by Lisa Tate
My friend Lisa has a gift for revealing the magic of the natural world through the lens of her camera. She can make a gumball into a glistening piece of sculpture, a magnolia blossom into an abstract of texture and line and color. She has trained her eye to see beyond the ordinariness of her subjects to their unique beauty and particular essence, and by doing so, offers us a different way of viewing the everyday objects and creatures that inhabit our world.
The flower in the photo above is a lowly clover blossom, rarely seen as the individual marvel that it is, lost instead in a mass of other clover plants, grumbled at and mowed down by those who would have perfect lawns rather than meadows. Think about it…how many of us have ever really seen a clover blossom before? I don’t know about you, but thanks to Lisa, I’ll never look at a field of clover the same way again.
This sort of shift in perspective can change the way we look at everything. Like Lisa, we can train our inner eyes to see beyond surface appearances to the beauty within, and our inner ears to hear the feelings of hurt or longing beneath words that so often prove inadequate. We can train our hearts to receive and reflect the light of our fellow travelers, even when they may be lost in darkness.
As simplistic as it sounds, we really can change the world just by changing our perspective. In fact, it’s really the only way to do it. It won’t happen overnight, but it’s so important that we try. Look deeply. Listen closely. Let your heart be the lens through which you view the world, and remember: just like a camera lens, the more you open it, the more light you let in.
I had a great idea for a new book, although come to think of it, maybe it is just a Facebook post. But it would be called Pre First Draft, and address the way we suit up and show up to be writers, artists, and general tribal-two-stomp creative types.
I think it would begin with an admonition: if you used to love writing, painting, dancing, singing, whatever, but you stopped doing it when you had kids or began a strenuous career, then you have to ask yourself if you are okay about not doing it anymore.
If you always dreamed of writing a novel or a memoir, and you used to love to write, and were pretty good at it, will it break your heart if it turns out you never got around to it? If you wake up one day at eighty, will you feel nonchalant that something always took precedence over a daily commitment to discovering your creative spirit?
If not—if this very thought fills you with regret—then what are you waiting for?
Back in the days when I had writing students, they used to spend half their time explaining to me why it was too hard to get around to writing every day, but how once this or that happens—they retired, or their last kid moved out—they could get to work.
I use to say very nicely, “That’s very nice; but it’s a total crock. Continue reading
This alone is to be feared—the closed mind, the sleeping imagination, the death of the spirit. The death of the body, I think, is a little thing.
To be as kind as I possibly can be, even (especially!) to those who make it difficult.
To listen for and listen to my inner wisdom.
To create something beautiful every day.
To do more of the things that make my heart sing.
To look for the good in everyone.
To focus on what can be instead of what is.
To be true to myself, even when others might not like it.
To live every moment as if it is the most important one (and of course it is).
To cultivate joy in myself and others.
To focus on the things I have in common with people instead of the things that divide us.
To be present.
To make forgiveness a way of life.
To do things I’m afraid to do on a regular basis.
To choose happiness.
To make a difference.
To remember that the people that make me so mad and boggle my mind with the way they think and the things they do also have mothers and sisters and uncles and kids and dogs and favorite ice cream flavors and fears and loves, just like me.
To give myself a break when I don’t live up to all of the above (for I will surely have lots of days when I don’t).
(happy new year!)