Creative Living

Forget Judgment. Go for Criticism.

This morning, I woke up to a message from Paulo Coehlo in my newsfeed and this is what he had to say:

Try to be “good”, you’ll be judged. Try to be yourself, you’ll be criticized. Better to choose the second option and move ahead; God will never let you down.

Oomph! Talk about an arrow shot straight to my heart. I have experienced enough judgment to validate this quote. In the not so distant past, trying to be “good” has caused me to hold back, miss out, not dare as much, play small, and worst of all, repress my true strengths at key moments. I’m remembering the guy who came to my friend’s home to install her house alarm and shared some unexpected wisdom when he said, It’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission. I thought, Damnit! Why didn’t I learn that sooner! I recalled all the times I’d bowed my head, surrendered my position, didn’t stand up to injustice, and compromised my heart’s desire for what was seemingly best for me, what others thought I wasn’t ready for, or what they didn’t want for me altogether. I was too good for my own damn good. Good was on my parent’s agenda, greatness was on mine, however I didn’t want to disappoint them and chose to be the one disappointed because that’s what good girls do. Sure it was my life, but I wasn’t suppose to fully live it, because I would be judged if what I chose to do didn’t “look right” in someone else’s eyes. What matters is what looks and feels right in my eyes and in my heart. That is the message to share!

I fell prey to the idea that I should concern myself with others judging my actions and choice of lifestyle. Gasp! What are they going to say about you? Realization! Who the hell are these others and what are they doing to ensure my happiness? Honestly, I wasn’t worried about what people thought or what they would say, but I wasn’t courageous enough to go against the grain…THEN. Where there’s a will, there’s usually a relative, or a thought imposed on you by some relative, but with enough courage and conviction, your will can prevail. Many women choose good over great, but there’s always opportunity to go from good to GREAT and wake up to new, inspiring messages, new influences within our social networks, whether online or in person, and the knowledge we get is there to help recondition thoughts that serve to hinder our spirit from truly flourishing. Flourishing is our nature and as another influential male in my past once said, Don’t hold back your nature. Clever boy. Be open and ready to change, to respond, and soon you’ll forget judgment and be more willing to go for criticism. It’s in you to fully express who you are and what you really want.


Say Anything

In need of a feel-good moment, something that really warms the heart? How about the experience of my all-time favorite movie?! I saw it for the first time at thirteen and haven’t stopped loving or watching it. I could have it on just as background noise; that’s how much I love it. It was the early 90’s and I was a thirteen-year-old girl on summer vacation looking for a dare to be great situation. I walked to VideoTek, the local video store in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood, neon lights on the front window and everything, and hand-picked the movie right off the shelf. Here’s the trailer to Say Anything. If it calls you, watch the movie. To know Lloyd Dobler is to love him. Everyone needs to know Lloyd Dobler. Drop a comment and let me know what you think!


You’re already in your proper place

I had a meeting of the minds that caused a stir in my soul. The thoughts and realizations I took home that evening have me brewing with possibility and wonder.

I met with Lisa Carmen, a Burlesque dancer and choreographer in Dallas and the creator of the site SacredSexyU. Lisa and I have been soul friend’s long before we met, so when it came time to mix the physical with our mental as was done over mojitos and micheladas, it got emotional. Alcohol was not a factor! There was a lot of smiling, giggling, and convivial mingling just as women do best, but what really went down was the experience of a full circle effect for me, the beauty of synchronicity, two apparent strangers going beyond the surface, and Lisa and I bowing to the universe for conspiring in favor of our new friendship.

Meeting Lisa was like reuniting with a long lost love. I was thrilled to be in her presence and humbled to know she was just as excited to be in mine. I felt honored to receive her love and challenged by her adoration, because it holds me accountable to my heart’s desire and calls me out and onto the stage I’ve created for myself.

Being the star of the show is not a role for which I ever auditioned…until now.

When there is potential for me to play the leading lady, (read: woman in charge, as we all want to be!) I swear the butterflies are on me like bees to honey, fluttering about my stomach. Just the idea of debuting Convivial Society (today known as The Convivial Woman) rocked my nervous system! I mean, how do you take something so private, like my writing, my art, something so intimate, spiritual and close to me, and make it public? You just do, because you know that it has to be shared for the world to benefit.

As an introvert, I have good reason to shy away from the limelight, to avoid the big crowds, but in meeting with Lisa, I realized that the light’s gotta shine on me at some point. The stage awaits. It’s simply a matter of when I’m willing (or pushed) to step forward and shine. Being the observer, the behind the scenes gal and feeling most fulfilled with one-on-one interactions has been the norm for me, yet my vision for Convivial Society is going to require me to come out from behind the turquoise curtain to take an occasional bow, cause some laughter, shed some tears, receive applause, glimpse a few yawns, hear potential boos and face numerous critics. It’s going to force me to stand firm in who I am and cause me to move forward anyway, because if I want to make any desire a reality, I have to accept the natural fear that comes with new endeavors and say, Fuck it. I lose nothing and gain everything. My life and the lives of those affected are richer for it.

Having great power is the reality of our existence, yet reality can be intimidating and scary.

There’s always going to be doubt lurking in the background, trying to convince me that I don’t know what I’m doing, I don’t know who I am or what I truly want, perhaps even that I don’t fully believe in myself. This is where my tribe enters the scene to help me combat the mind and push forward with the heart.

Instead of trying to become, I am trying to be…just be and by trusting, I learn more about my own power- what it feels like, looks like, sounds like, and oh what a beauty she is! The company I keep will test my commitment to further grow in my power and exercise it. The people we attract into our personal hemisphere are there to offer us what we need, especially when we aren’t aware of how much we need it. They should be someone we can open up to so that our vulnerable skin can be fully revealed and no room is left for judgment or disappointment.

As a High Priestess once said, people operating from their true strengths are generous as hell with their gifts and encourage you to operate just the same. You’ll have no other option but to be real, honest, and on your game, shining through as you do you. Take me by the hand…yes, we all want to be led, but there comes a point when it is time to lead.

Not sure how to go about it? Seek out your mentors, count on those friends who share the same vibe and worldview, and be willing to explore the questions that will cause you to sweat out your insecurities, render you completely vulnerable. I am better for the time I had with Lisa for now I know such people cross my path to reassure me that I am exactly where I need to be, doing what I am meant to do, already in my proper place.

Have you recently made any new friends who have caused a stirring in your soul or challenged you to be better than you were yesterday? Tell me your story in the comments below. I know I’m not the only one getting her blueberry mojito and bonding on!


Make the Given Effort

Ever feel like you’re in between two worlds with one foot ready to kick the next door down? It’s kinda like your own version of a Groundhog Day. Been there, felt that! But I haven’t bought the t-shirt yet. With all the angst and uncertainty surrounding this hot spot, it’s not exactly the best feeling nor ideal place to be, and as the stumbling-every-which-way humans that we are, we’re bound to book a few return trips. If you have yet to arrive, wherever your chosen destination, whatever your chosen vocation may be, what are you doing right now to get there? If you’re short on answers, forget worrying as much about the how or the when and get to work finding the who and the what that will get you to the where. When headed for an unknown place, somewhere you’ve never been, didn’t expect to travel to, or never imagined going, its certain your emotional compass will go haywire, directions will seem contradicting just as the route may appear a tortuous one, but don’t worry, you’re not alone and you’ll make it through. We all share the same road, see the same signs, however if we pay close enough attention, we’ll interpret distinct messages that can lead us down our individual paths. Finding is about refining…you. So, give yourself that chance, that time and effort to get back to or better get to know you. Peel back those layers. Pull up that hair. Take a good look. Be impressed. Cry it out. Breathe her back to life. Then be amazed. Your experience is what you make it, so go ahead and wipe away the excess everything that means and brings nothing to the core of you. Purging brings forth the new, but in this case, shedding the current skin allows for the rebirth of your original self. With a spirit as fierce and limitless as yours, its never too late to put your will behind the wheel and steer it. Experience the place that is meant for you. Happiness isn’t an effort, it’s a given.


21.5.800: An Experience For Writers Who Want to Move

Thanks to Bindu Wiles, my newest challenge and personal commitment began on June 8th. For 21 days, I’ll be in spirit with Bindu and numerous other well-intentioned people from around the world doing 5 days of yoga a week and 800 words of writing per day. Along with the goal to condition my body and mind, I’ll use this project as another opportunity to share how it serves me spiritually. Namaste!


Time to be found

We have choices on how to spend our time every day. We can choose to get bogged down with to-do lists and errands that don’t matter, get sucked into myriad newsfeeds and headlines of the day, answer and return every phone call, every email, or we can choose to stop and get lost in the hopes of finding ourselves. Getting lost opens up space in your mind and helps you find calm in the midst of chaos (read: peace). It quiets the noise, clears confusion, decreases fear, anxiety, depression, anger, what say you have you. Where there is space, there is flow and there lies the key to happiness. In my book, getting lost is synonymous with getting to know…you, that is. It’s returning to innocence, making a comeback, or perhaps, finding out for the first time that you are your first love and always the best company to keep. What you offer yourself, you offer the world.

Every act is a creative one. Time…it does the spirit good. Creating the space and time to nourish the woman in you is crucial and a way to practice self-love. Immersing ourselves in the activities we once were and are still attracted to is therapeutic and spiritually soothing. Not putting yourself first sacrifices your well-being and causes you to end up…(fill in your own consequence). For this reason, I took myself out of the virtual mix for one week and headed for my own private Idaho to concentrate on reading. I declared myself on a Convivial Reading Sabbatical, went AWOL on Facebook and Twitter, forbid myself any virtual communication, and didn’t think about writing. It felt great to not be connected to anything or anyone other than myself. This was my personal attempt to do that which can be so hard to do nowadays- be truly present and focused.

Throughout the week, I mostly read Danielle LaPorte’s newest piece of lit candy, The Firestarter Sessions which caused me to take a stroll through my mind’s labyrinth and stop to smell a few roses growing in the garden of my ever blossoming soul. I got some great business advice, gained new knowledge, met fascinating people, and enjoyed the expansion and transition from one aha moment to another. A few more convivial moments:

:: Discovering Imogen Heap as my new girl crush. Love her hair and genius for making music. No really, she makes every sound.

:: Enjoying the sweet rhythms that blasted into my ear via Bose headphones while my eyes sped across line after line of each article, blog post, and book chapter I devoured.

:: Admiring Beardey Man and his beat boxing example of how no talent is ever wasted. The man can make a girl laugh oh so hard!

:: Making the most of short periods of quiet time to embrace new ideas and think straight again. I’m a mother of two boys, ya know!

:: Keeping a solid commitment to myself because like writing, wearing black velvet blazers in the eighth grade, carrying the same bookbag all four years of high school, and serving as the primary caretaker for my children…it was my choice to do so.

So, there you have it- when a convivial woman is brave enough to put herself first, its because she knows the guaranteed effect is positively contagious and beneficial to all those in her life. Give yourself the oxygen mask FIRST, then your loved ones, and be witness to the joy of living that follows.


City Girl Gone Gardening

City Girl Gone Gardening


What’s the Occasion?

Last night, I made a Ricotta Orange Pound Cake with Strawberries courtesy of the recipe by Food Network star, Giada De Laurentiis. Eager to share this experience, I decided to invite my parents over to enjoy cake and ice cream with my family. Sounds like a party! Indeed, it was. So, what was the occasion? Life. Plain and simple, I had a craving for something sweet, had all the tools and ingredients to create it, along with the best of intentions and love, so I didn’t hesitate to get my hands a little dirty. I took my time, followed instructions, and had faith that my efforts would pay off. And they did! Something as basic as my desire to bake turned into a deeper desire to “break bread” with the people I love. Now, that is an occasion to live for and the very essence of convivial living. It’s merry-making, having a fondness of feasting, drinking, and good company. That was my intention, and therefore my experience last night with the two people who gave me life, as well as the man and two sons who I love and with whom I share every bit of my world. Life is meant to be a convivial occasion, so the next time you think you need a specific reason to have a good time, think again. The occasion is your life and everyone in it. That’s reason enough to put on your convivial party dress (or apron) and get convivial with it!


A Force to be Reckoned With

I find myself reading a brief, well-written biography on the notorious tattoo artist of the popular TLC show L.A. Ink, Miss Kat Von D. It seems more like the foreword on a book. As I read the piece, written by a close friend, what stood out to me most was when the writer mentioned how Kat was “incredibly loyal to her family.” Instantly, I could relate and found something in common with the beauty. She’s not your everyday girl, choosing the body she was born with as her art canvas-something many people wouldn’t comprehend or agree with- and being of somewhat Latino descent, as well as beautiful, I couldn’t help but wonder what her family thought of her work- if they saw it as art or if they simply saw a tattooed body. Did they agree with her chosen way of life? I know how my Mexican mother would view her lifestyle, and the assumptions that would be made about her as a person, but I can’t do that. I respect her work, admire her person. The fact that she is spoken of by friends as a dedicated and loyal member of her family, to her family, tells me perhaps that her family may have supported her aspirations all along. What a huge feat for a woman. To go for what she wanted and be fully backed by the members of her tribe. It’s no wonder she has turned out so successfully and my hope is that she is completely happy. It’s funny how people can be hypocritical. They can smile in your face and then when the time comes to offer up an opinion about you, they chicken out and go with the negative flow of thoughts they may have been harboring about you or your lifestyle or even simply the poor choices you’ve made in your life. People don’t deserve to be judged. Women play a huge role in judging others, one another, themselves, and this is because they are constantly under a watchful eye that doesn’t really exist. It’s all in our mind. And the strength of our heart has the power to combat it. If we could break free from concerning ourselves with what others think of us, stop defending who we are and how we want to live our lives, then we can break the cycle of prejudice and put to rest that hurtful voyeur who dwells within. She is not of your true being. Love your fellow woman and support her art. We all have a desire to create. Women, if given the freedom to be who they want to be, can show the world their wonders. Our place as the bearers of life to this dependent, ever evolving mother earth proves we are the epitome of creativity and a force of nature to be reckoned with.


The Ever Inquisitive Bohemian

Bohemians…aren’t they always questioning?

Not only questioning. Defying, rebelling, transgressing, transforming, embracing risk, excess and the idea of Utopia. Bohemians have backbone. They’re willing to suffer for their beliefs, their art. They don’t sell out. They are iconoclastic, incendiary, bombastically volatile and gracefully volatile, sometimes surreal. They have poetry. The Bohemian is drunk on words…

-Excerpt from Bohemian Manifesto: A Field Guide to Living on the Edge by Lauren Stover


Open Your Eyes…Follow Your Heart…Act, Doubt, Act, Doubt, Act, BE.


Behold it. Become it.

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