Artists/Entrepreneurs/Visionaries

What Creative Outlets Do For Your Health

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I love the subtle nuances in language you encounter when you sit down to write. You end up pleasantly surprised by the unexpected gifts your muse can bring once you show up for the moment.

While preparing to write this post, I thought to share how I’ve been in the process of re-creating certain aspects of my life, and I initially wrote, “I am in process of recreation.”

I stopped and looked at that last word and thought,
“Now, that’s an oddball way to say that… re-creating vs. recreation?”

Or is it?

To describe re-creating oneself or life, I subconsciously used the word that means “refreshment of strengths and spirits after work,” a term whose Latin origin means to “restore to health.”

The more I think about it, that’s what writing does for me—it restores me.

The problem I face, like many other well-meaning writers, is I don’t give my health, er, writing, the front row seat it deserves. I neglect it, take it for granted, put it off, blab about my desire to improve it, and feel guilty and inadequate for not making it an everyday practice. Ugh, so much angst and shame surrounds this idea when I spell it out in that way.

But it wasn’t always like that…

When I was nine years old, I went to the store with my mother and came across a fuchsia-colored, cloth-bound book with blank pages inside and instantly made a friend. I asked to take this new friend home and mom agreed—no outside influences necessary, my request was based on a simple desire to write. That’s it. I had no expectations, no goals, no agenda, no ego.

I picked up a pen (no deep breaths required), and had my first exchange with page one.

It went like this… “Today I ate eggs and Grandma and Grandpa are visiting us from Texas…” That was the start to a lifelong relationship between me and writing.

I visited my new friend on a periodic basis and as the years past, I filled up page after page with details about how I felt, things I ate, places I went, and boys I liked. My infatuation with a guy named Ricky got what newspapers and magazines would consider full page spreads—I was clearly mesmerized by his dirty blond hair, white skin, blue eyes, and that Puerto Rican bubble butt.

(What, you didn’t think women noticed too?)

I became a writing zealot, a devout scribe to my deity, The Page… it proved to be my sanctuary of sorts.

Instead of rubbing rosary beads, I was kneading ballpoint pens between my fingers, releasing whatever demons plagued me at the moment. Happily, I knelt at the edge of my bed many a night to confess my innermost thoughts. This faithful act kept my emotions in check and calmed my mind when life didn’t make sense. I had little to no understanding of anxiety, procrastination, resistance or feeling a sense of obligation when it came to engaging with this faithful friend.

My family saw me writing often and, for the most part, they respected my privacy—except that one time my brother grabbed my diary and read it in front of the neighbor boy. Why did he have to randomly open to the page that began, “Today I started wearing a training bra…”? That story followed me to school the next day and I had a few of the other guys teasing me about my newly developing body. Dirty looks and silence were my response, but I licked my wounds, returned home and worked it out onto the page.

When my mother was busy loving my brother and actually raising me, I wrote about the unfairness of being the girl. When I experienced my first French kiss—with Ricky, of course—I wrote about that 25 minute ordeal (read: this burgeoning adolescent girl’s dream come true). When I had some run-ins with mean girls at school, I cursed and wrote about them.

Pre-pubescent little girl diaries with front cover key locks became hormonal teen girl five-subject notebook journals.

As the years passed, I enjoyed rereading my journals and seeing the changes I went through, laughing at myself and with others as I did open book readings with friends on my front stoop. My handwriting and language evolved from one book to another. I was able to evaluate myself as a person and decide, “Yuck…I cursed a lot there, not attractive…Wow, I was hateful…Ugh, what crappy friends, never again…” Those moments of recognition were the seeds of self-awareness being gently planted within me.

Thanks to my unacknowledged writing habit, I was unknowingly making decisions about the woman I wanted to be, on paper and in person.

Although I didn’t realize the benefits of what I was doing, self-reflection was at work and these seemingly unimportant moments of recreation were actually doing their part to create the person I am today.

When it came to writing, there was never a question of what I wanted to say, whether I was good enough to say it, whether the story was worth telling…it was merely about release and play and self-expression.

Eventually, that intimate practice of writing atop bunk beds late at night, sitting at the kitchen table, and scribbling in front of my Chicago brownstone on warm summer days translated to a young girl who had a high regard for herself. Writing granted me a healthy dose of self-worth without the conscious pursuit of it. Writing was an outlet for peace and solace. I wrote as if I was speaking to someone separate from me, yet it was a form of cultivating a relationship with me all along.

As I grew up, I took breaks from writing because I got busy living and there was no guilt in my absence.

I became your everyday working girl, newly graduated from college, and when I wanted to slow down, I’d do so at the page.

It wasn’t until I jumped the corporate cliff and made the announcement, “I want to be a writer” that I somehow lost the feeling the act brought me.
I was mentally unprepared to handle the struggle I encountered balancing something that brought me peace once I put a price on it. Declaring myself a writer was unnecessary because I was one already. Without realizing, I had embarked on a search for validation for something that didn’t need to be proven.

Instead of going to confession with pen and paper in hand, I started to rely on conversations with others about my feelings, about the confusion I was experiencing on this trail that had only my name on it. I almost started to believe that other people had the answers I needed, that the accolades and social proof behind them was suppose to give me comfort in asking for directions to where I needed to go—as if they knew. That wasn’t the key that would unlock the door to what once brought me and could always bring me peace.

Looking outside of yourself for answers has a dizzying effect and takes you nowhere.

Show up for you, for the YOU in fresh canvas form to weigh things out in your own mind first. Give time to what nurtures and grounds you…the practice of writing, or whatever art form that chooses you. There are many outlets—sports, music, writing, painting, building a business, etc. Become engaged in yours, regularly, so you don’t become stagnant and polluted by what can cause you to feel jaded or confused about life. It can get pretty weird out there.

Writing, or whatever art form you practice, has a grounding effect and it’s crucial that you remember to do it for this purpose, not for your own personal glory, for likes, or validation.

I’m fully aware that my words could land on deaf ears because each one of us has to take a ride for ourselves to discover these truths. It’s hard won wisdom and it cannot be earned any other way.

I’m not here to dish grand advice on how to live right, but to encourage you to simply write (or however you creatively unleash on life). Do it because it makes you feel good, because it strengthens you, and if you approach it with that intention, or better yet, with no intention at all, you will experience true recreation in this very pure act and end up creating something unexpectedly amazing.

Those moments when you are stared at blankly or laughed at frankly… grab a hold of them and make them your experiment on paper.

When you write it out, you inevitably write it off, and THAT is what restores you again and again and again.

Live, write, release, restore… go for that full circle effect, my friend.

(Previously published as a guest blog for The Literati website. If you’re a writer, check out this amazing community of artists.)

   

There are moments to act and moments to stop (set it all aflame) and listen.

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There are moments in your life when you have to pay attention to what life is throwing at you and act accordingly.

Sometimes, all can be going smoothly; other times, everything can be going to sh*t. What do you do when its the latter?

As I must often learn, the more you resist the change you are needing to make, the more momentum you give the forces working against you.

This is when you have to (more…)

   

Born And Raised…It All Comes On Without Warning

“Take your place…show your face to the morning…’cause one of these days you’ll be born and raised and it all comes on without warning.” -John Mayer

The lyrics above are from Born and Raised, a John Mayer song that’s been on my 2013 playlist (repeatedly), a song I enjoyed on my morning walk earlier today, a song I heard Mayer perform live in Dallas this summer.

I would’ve written about my concert experience sooner, but I was feeling (more…)

   

Venturing around Portland + Record Players in Cool Crafty Shops

I went to Portland last weekend to attend an unconventional conference and being that it was my first visit, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

I’d heard my business mentor and cousin, Tony rave about it and now that I’ve been living in Austin for almost two years, I’ve become well aware of the comparison folks make about Portland and Austin, calling them sister cities.

This was a trip in which I went with the flow of each new day (true chillaxin’). What I’ve concluded is that I love my Austin, Tejas. Sorry P-landers.

I’m sure if you stay awhile, you’ll get the similar vibe amongst the locals of my town and P town, but as far as the way the two places look, I got more of a San Francisco (SFO) feel.

I have to say, no city has topped San Francisco for me…well, unless you journey to this colorful town south of the U.S. border or take an 8 hour flight for some fancy-shmancy bike riding in this Italian village.

I ate really well in Portland. A satisfied palate is crucial for any traveling, convivial woman.

My friend, Monica and I stepped into a few cool shops too. (more…)

   

My Weekend Getaway to Portland for Chris Guillbeau’s World Domination Summit

I’ve made it back to home sweet Austin after a convivial weekend in Portland for Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit (WDS 2013).

It was my first time attending and I’m thankful to have shared the experience with my friend and fellow Austinite, Monica Crowe. On our flight home, we sported our new WDS 2013 shirts…

Once you get familiar with going to conferences (or any social event), you begin to understand that it’s not about impressing, it’s about (more…)

   

Do You Speak Convivial Code Language?

As it pertains to your desires, dreams & wishes, the language goes like this…

THEY say: You’re crazy.

YOU say (grinning): I know.

The naysayers will always be there.
It’s your choice to be affected or not by their indifference.

   

Once upon a SXSW Talk with Stonyfield Yogurt CEO

I once attended a SXSW talk given by Gary Hirshberg, Stonyfield Yogurt CEO and his wife, Meg Cadoux Hirshberg and she was discussing her new book, For Better or For Work: A Survival Guide for Entrepreneurs and Their Families.

As they shared their experience creating and running Stonyfield, what stays with me the most is when Gary said,

“I am a pathological OPTIMIST.” -Gary Hirshberg

Meg had us captivated when she talked about the stress that came with building their business (couples in attendance all nodded their heads) and how there were times when she and Gary didn’t speak to one another (couples elbowing one another and chuckling), when they literally had to stay away from one another to give Gary the space to do what he did well (couples smiling).

There was a time when they got news that their farm had received some sort of citation which required it be shut down that day. This was potentially devastating to their operations and Meg thought it was the end of the world while Gary never saw the risk involved because he had something fundamental to true entrepreneurial thinking…the understanding that there are no impossibilities unless you choose to see them.

When Gary shared his one-liner with the group, it was like a lightning bolt straight to my heart. I clearly understood what he meant because I see opportunity and growth everywhere and seek to find ways to maximize and express it.

It’s easy to go on that “just-be-positive-and-have-faith” spiel when it comes to the aspects of our lives that aren’t so convivial, but you have to meet hope halfway and find ways to think and act in the face of risk and fear.

Have the courage to see your problems for what they are, then take the necessary steps to figure them out. That’s much better than playing the sugarcoating game, or ignoring them altogether.

Where in your life can you choose to be more pathologically optimistic?

 

(Photo by Julian Dufort, Inc Magazine)

   

When you want to give up

Confession:

When things feel hard and my vision is not clear and important details are not coming together for me, whether professionally or personally, I am easily tempted to throw in the towel on this whole idea of convivial living.

But guess what?

I can’t. I just can’t.

There are just too many dreams and desires that are more powerful than I am and I am forced to keep going.

There is just too much love that I owe to myself.

There are just too many hills, steps, mountains I’ve climbed.

There are just too many people who truly believe in my abilities…more than I probably believe in myself.

There are just too many conversations that I’ve had that require me to walk my talk.

There are just not enough good enough reasons to give up.

There are just too many breaths I still have to take.

The journey is just too long to even think that I’ve come to the end of it.

So I keep on.

And on.

And on.

And so you must carry on with your own journey, dream, life…don’t give in.

The challenges you face are there to shape and catapult you onward…

 

 

   

Puzzles + Hard Work: What My 5-Year-Old Taught Me

After picking my oldest son up at school last week, I surprised him by taking him to Barnes & Noble where he likes to buy new puzzles. We found him a 12-pack of 500, 300, and 100 piece puzzles to work on and he was ecstatic. He practically bear-hugged the box on the ride home.

Unable to wait, he began working on a 300 piece puzzle of a lion. He asked me to help him, so we got started and soon found ourselves getting stuck because it was proving hard to bring the pieces together at times. We had to keep referring back to the picture on the box because we’d forget what the image looked like.

We’d try putting one piece with another, nothing…then another piece and searching for yet another piece, and nothing. This went on for awhile and then I got distracted with my other son and had to leave the table. I encouraged my son to keep working which he didn’t resist because he loves these sorts of things.

He worked tirelessly, never leaving the table except for an occasional snack or bathroom break or drink, but soon returned to the scattered puzzle pieces. After awhile, I passed by and saw the lion and surrounding sunset and brush coming together little by little.

I cheered my son’s diligent efforts and thought in that moment how in many ways, the things you work toward in life – your goals and dreams-  are no different.

When you have a vision for something you want (Sailboat anyone? Tuscan Villa?), you have the gist of what you might have to do to make it happen, and so you begin your quest. 

As you work, you hit bumps and obstacles along the way, but the key is to keep working (and believing), especially during the seemingly most challenging moments. Those moments determine your will for how bad you want what you want. I’ve often dealt with this as it relates to my writing and business-building efforts for The Convivial Woman. It’s no easy game to play but I keep playing it!

What “puzzle” are you working on in your own life?

Keep putting the pieces of your “puzzle” together…if one piece doesn’t fit, try another, and another, then search for another. If you need to, take a break – either temporarily, or sometimes from it all. If you’re committed and passionate enough, you’ll return to the work at hand and your focus will return. Trust in the dips and valleys of your personal journey.

You WILL have plenty of moments of frustration, confusion, uncertainty, but if you take action to pick up where you left off, or in a whole other place, your focus will be renewed. You’re meant to get lost in the process because not everything is within your control.

Remain vigilant and committed to seeing your goals – whatever they may be – to completion. The ones you’re willing to quit are the ones you don’t want as bad, so why feel bad? If you need to, find a new goal to build your confidence.

When your patience gets tested, when you feel like giving up, when you aren’t figuring things out, or the details are just not coming together, remember that creativity is an enlightened form of problem solving and your role is to trust and stay committed.

If a 5-year-old can show us the way of a good work ethic, then we can certainly follow his lead.

Cheers to you and your dreams and the work ethic they so desperately need!

 

   

Five Words To Avoid Saying

“I’m not going to change.”

When it comes to the person you are, you will always be you.

But when it comes to the person you were born to be, the person you have the utmost potential to be, you can never say those five words because you indirectly stunt your growth.

We must change to change the world we live in.

Do you want to play a role in those changes?

Then become more aware of your behavior.

Be more…

observant,

attentive,

inquisitive,

curious,

daring, 

vulnerable,

more open to adapt to changing environments, relationships, circumstances, etc., if you want to make a difference with the short time you have on earth.

It’s your one and only chance.

What if you said,

“I am willing to change.”

Your habits, beliefs, forms of communication, appearance, language, environment, and perspective can all change if you make the choice to do so. It all starts with you.

When it comes to your personal sense of discipline and the habits you learned growing up and in school, remember this: those ways of “being” are not your entire make up as a person unless you choose them to be.

 

   

Indifference is the biggest dream killer

Indifference to someone’s ideas, thoughts, dreams, desires, concerns and fears can kill so much between cherished individuals.

When someone shows courage and speaks a deep desire, a wish, or they share a long-time or completely new dream with you, understand that THAT is an honor if you are on the receiving/listening end.

When someone trusts you enough to share something so close to their heart AND something they fear, keep in mind that by speaking up, they have just walked across a tight rope, then leaped over a self-imposed safety net that existed to keep them exactly where they are in life.

Do you remember how scary it felt to share a deep desire or a dream you had with another person?

We have to take great care with one another’s heart’s desires.

When someone speaks up and declares how they feel, what they want to change, and what they intend to do about it…know that they are taking the first crucial step of busting out of a box they have been comfortably sitting in for who knows how long.

Your thoughts become your reality, so by taking the faint whispers of your heart and putting them out in the open for another person to hear and know, you are declaring your desire to change the story you’ve been telling yourself and the world.

You are deciding to begin anew, to recreate yourself.

That someone, that dreamer, can be you.

Or…

If you are the one who is lucky enough to be on the listening end in that grand moment, YOU are a chosen one, you are the secondary ears and eyes for that potential vision, and if you care enough, you can play a role, a part in their success – you can be a co-creator of their happiness.

They have spoken ALOUD what many are afraid to admit – what they want, need, yearn for, fear.

I’ve been that dreamer speaking my desires and dreams aloud to certain individuals for a long time now and I have learned to decipher between those who care, those who don’t, and those who don’t KNOW how to care.

When I first embarked on my path to writing for the best city news magazine in Dallas, I was excited about simply getting my foot in the door and wanted to share how I was feeling with a friend. When I began talking about what I was doing at the office, my friend cut me off, flicked her hand and said, “Oh, you’re just fetching coffee for them there!”  Talk about getting shot DOWN, huh?

Being as self-aware and emotionally driven as I am, those sorts of moments hit me deep, because I would never dream of doing that to a friend.

Every single one of us is a dreamer.

Not everyone of us is a doer, though.

That has nothing to do with ability, but about the choice to take action.

The dreaming for 2013 has already begun for so many…what are you ready to make happen?

Depending on how self-motivated you are, and especially who you surround yourself with, who you choose to hear you out when its dream-speaking time, is a big factor in going from dreamer to doer.

For that reason, it’s important to be attentive, be conscious, be considerate, be open, be available when someone chooses you.

There is a reason they have chosen you, and its not convenience.

Don’t be indifferent.

One day, it will be your turn to speak up. If you dare.

However well you listen can determine how well you will be heard when your time comes to share what’s in your heart.

Your dreams are fed by the amount of nurturing you do for another person’s dream mapping.

Don’t be indifferent.

Be willing to dream with them.

We are all in this together.

P.S. if you’re ready to embark on a quest to the masterpiece within you, take the first step and grab your copy of my book ‘Convivial’ – its one experiential read that can set you on your way  to the creative, convivial life that awaits you.

   

A sign you’re living true to you

I just read this article by Jessica Valenti titled She Who Dies With the Most “Likes” Wins?

After finishing that read, I wanted to jump out of my seat and high five someone close by but unfortunately it was only me and my laptop in the room.

Why the enthusiasm?

It felt so damn good to hear Jessica paint the picture of my experience as an opinionated, outspoken woman…

someone who has often been disliked rather than liked when standing firm in who I am and for what I believe.

I feel vulnerable sharing this, but I have to open up.  (more…)

   
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