Writing & Literature
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.Tweet
The doors of The Convivial Woman’s virtual bookstore are now open! What will you find inside this ever-evolving turquoise and indigo colored storefront today?
It’s The Convivial Woman’s first digital offering to the world–a book, baby!
She’s brimming with passion and pure heart. A creative gem that has been long in the making. So, come on in! Take a look around and get a feel for what’s in store for you right HERE.
Just in case you missed the elevator above, pop on through this secret doorway that leads you to the private VIP room and get your copy of ‘Convivial” right HERE!
In 1995, I read a short story written by a then up-and-coming writer, Junot Diaz in The New Yorker titled How To Date a Brown Girl (Black Girl, White Girl, or Halfie) and I never forgot this Dominican-born wordsmith. The now Pulitzer-prize winning author, Junot Diaz came to Austin the last week in September and made a pit stop at Book People. I was lucky enough to catch him while he was in town.
I knew there’d be something powerful about being in the same room as Junot, a man who has endured this solo pursuit known as the writer’s life that I am coming to know so well. I arranged a sitter and made plans to be there–I even put on a necklace for this occasion.
At 15, Junot made me laugh and any girl can appreciate that. But more than that, his story felt close to home. It reminded me of my brother and all of the guy’s from our block in Chicago trying to get girls. He pin-pointed the vulgarity so common among teenage guys perfectly. There’s no denying he puts the time into his craft and continues to share the best stories.
This is the power of words and true art. Once it reaches you, I mean, truly sets off emotion in you, then its the real deal and a moment to remember.
Now he’s published a third book called This Is How You Lose Her. It was interesting to see the diverse crowd gathered to hear him speak and read that night. He’s funny, humble, and his language is raw. He is who he is.
I had yet another full circle experience when I got the chance to ask Junot the question, “Who supports you?”
I had to ask, because the man’s been on his own creative quest for at least 20 years and I know staying in the game that long is no easy feat. When you make the choice to heed the call of the creator in you, to share what you’ve got deep inside of you with the world, because you are compelled to do so, it can be a very lonely pursuit. And for that reason, you need people in your corner to keep the fire lit under you. He let us know that two women were at the heart of his writing. “They vett all my shit,” he said.
Want to hear Junot’s full response on the need for supportive networks in the pursuit of your creative calling? LISTEN HERE
Some of my favorite quotes from the audio clip below:
“To stay in this game, you need your ovaries well placed.”
“You’ve gotta have the heart.”
“You’ve gotta believe this stuff matters.”
What artists inspire you and why? Share your favorites in the comments below and let me know if anything in today’s blog or the audio clip speaks directly to your experience.
Last night, I went to bed at 2am. As a result of that decision, I have a headache and aching body the next day. This is a pattern for me, because I am lured by the silence of the night. It’s when I work and find myself seeking to connect to the creative in me, but my poor body pays the price.
To calm my mind from the myriad tasks on my personal and creative to do lists, I pulled out Julia Cameron’s book, Prayers to the Great Creator.
I’d say its fair to call it a devotional for creatives with universal language that can appeal to all. I opened the book to this page and thought the words were perfect for how I’d been feeling earlier that day.
Being in the midst of writing the Convivial Lifestyle Guide Vol. 1, I am learning a lot about my voice and abilities as a writer. I reassure myself that this is my first guide, and as a friend recently assured me, I can aspire to create a masterpiece, but this only is a representation of a moment in my life, of how I thought, felt, believed. It is impermanent, so I must detach expectation from it.
The Moment When You’re Ready To Follow Through
It was the last week in June that something finally clicked in me to sit my butt down and focus on writing the first Convivial Lifestyle Guide. I gave myself this ambitious time frame of completing it by end of July, but I also gave myself the freedom to have fun with it and go with the flow.
Every evening at 8pm, I’d head out to write. I enjoyed it, exercised the discipline each day to focus on this one thing. Then…resistance hit toward the end of the month. But I smiled and thought, it’s all good…this is part of the process. I’m just going to go along with it.
I never allowed it to convince me that resistance in the form of mental exhaustion and anxious eating would stop me from completing my guide. I also ignored thoughts of “Who’s going to read this, who will care?” and just kept writing.
When you create, you do it for you first.
We are now in the month of September, and there are less than two weeks left, and the guide is not finished yet. I’ve accepted that not everything is within my control and I am not going to rush this experience. Don’t worry, you won’t have to wait too long. I can see the finish line approaching. I’m suddenly hearing Chariots of Fire and imagining I’m running in slow motion on a beach.
What I’ve noticed in this experience is how fast time goes when you’ve set a specific goal and you stick to it. It feels like I’ve put my head down to paper and began to write and numerous days have zipped by. This is when I write myself reminder notes to call my grandfather, take needed breaks, catch up with friends, watch a movie or some reality TV to give my mind a rest, simply do other things that bring me joy and peace and laughter, because that will only fuel the convivial material and experience I share with you.
If you’re in process of creating something totally new, here’s one last bit of wisdom from genius writer, Steven Pressfield’s book, The War of Art:
“The professional [read: creator] arms himself with patience, not only to give the stars time to align in his career, but to keep himself from flaming out in each individual work. He knows that any job, whether its a novel or a kitchen remodel, takes twice as long as he thinks and costs twice as much. He accepts that. He recognizes it as reality.”
When at the beginning of a creative project, a career switch, a life change, etc., once you’ve come to the decision to just do it, there is excitement, momentum, immense enthusiasm, a sense of lightness in your body, and then…there is resistance, silence, a restless mind, confusion, doubt, distraction, but you must stay strong and stick with it.
Be humble in your efforts and know that this creation doesn’t define your entire life, but only one moment in it, so enjoy it, savor it.
In the end, that’s what convivial living is all about- the moment, the feeling, the memories, the experience.
Today is my first day in “class” for B-School and I’m taking a quick break to share this blog with you!
I’m possibly working out some discomfort and feelings of uncertainty as I write you-I was feeling it as I worked through the material I’m learning.
The community of women entrepreneurs who are involved, approximately 1500, are all so amazing and inspiring. That is the true benefit of this experience and I am so grateful to be part of it. However…
That alone can bring up tons of emotions and feelings of uncertainty. You may start asking yourself,
Do I belong here?
Is this the right place for me?
Do I have what it takes?
How can I compare to all the amazing things that these other women are doing?
Will this really be worth the money I spent on it?
Will I get through all the assignments and apply all the knowledge in one peace?
When in uncharted environments and around new people who bring on the challenge, I’d like you to remember this quote to justify and validate your state of uncertainty and occasional insecurity (forgive me I can’t remember who said it!):
“If you’re the smartest person in the room, you need to find another room.”
Simply put, smart people surround themselves with even smarter people. And the smarter you want to get, the more uncomfortable positions you’re willing to put yourself in.
Personal investment in yourself is a huge deal and embarking on a new path can feel like stepping onto a tight rope with all eyes on you. There will be bumps in the road, especially at the inception, and the path will appear unpaved, seemingly treacherous, but this is to test your will and determination to get to where you are going.
Here’s what I want to recommend you do ever so often, starting today, to combat weak thoughts:
Treat yourself to unforgettable, inspiring, personal reminders and words that come straight from you.
A kind of love note to self and place them in unexpected places for you to find later, where you can easily forget, and then find when you least expect to.
When that time comes for it to reappear, you’ll find yourself pleasantly surprised and trying to remember
“Hey! When did I write this?”
It’ll be a guaranteed moment of personal warmth and wonder.
I bet you’ll even have a bounce in your step the rest of the day, because you took the time to treat yourself to words of your own that inspire and uplift. It’ll be a great way to be reminded of how special, smart and vulnerable you are.
Here are two unexpected discoveries I recently found…
When I first set up my website, it was called Convivial Society and I was using FotoMoto to print postcards and share my photography. I wanted to test out the quality of the card stock, so I sent myself a postcard and wrote this message on the back. I’ve kept it since.
I started reading Aleph by my beloved author, Paulo Coehlo, then put it down to probably read three other books that I didn’t finish either (creative, scatterbrain minds!), then I picked up Aleph again and found this message written on back.
A closer look at what I wrote
It was a sweet surprise and I’ll be surely including it in my notes for The Art of Convivial Living book I’m working on. Material! Material! Our lives are what make up the material in everything we create.
Alright, I’ve gotta run now. It was great to spend this moment with you! Let me know in the comments or on Facebook / Twitter how you plan to take loving action into your own hands. Perhaps you can even do it for the ones you love…that never fails. Secret post it notes under the toilet seat? Nah…do even go there!
Just acknowledge that you are on this earth to learn, create and contribute in your own way and to touch numerous lives because of it.
Your presence is like no other,Tweet
As I’ve written throughout 2010 and pondered the idea of a Convivial Society, I have decided that to create and experience such a place, you have to start with the very element that sets its foundation, that gives root to the possibility of its creation and existence, and that is the woman…a convivial woman. For this reason…
I’ve decided to rebrand by changing the name of the site from Convivial Society to… (more…)Tweet
I have this humongous Synonym Finder that I’ve had since my sophomore year in High School and keep handy, because looking up words and all the many different ways to say things fascinates me. The next best thing to that is Google, Wikipedia and Merriam-Webster online. I also love the book Sin and Syntax, and perusing books by Karen Elizabeth Gordon. (Feel free to share you favorite resources in a comment!).
So, I found myself hanging out on my bed with my friends, Synonym Finder, Laptop and my All Things Convivial notebook and I started thinking about the word Mantra. The following post evolved because of that thought…
MANTRA: is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that are considered capable of “creating transformation”; a translation of the human will or desire; an expression of “Being”; “Thought forms.”
Here are my thoughts in word, sound and symbol form (as well as a brief history behind how they came about for me):
The year is 2001 and ‘m watching Barbara Walters interview the cast of the movie, Ocean’s Eleven. Leading lady, Julia Roberts is surrounded by Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Don Cheadle. Along these lines, Barbara asks her, “So how was your experience making the movie with all these great guys?” Julia purses her lips as we all know her to do and says, “Convivial.” Like a gust of wind to the depths of my soul, I was overtaken by the sound of this word. Never forgot it. As you can tell.
Mantra: Know Your Power. Live Your Life.
Sitting in my kitchen with my dear friend, Nina thinking of a tag line for my soon-to-be site, Convivial Society. What do I want to say? What is my message? Those were the questions to kick off our brainstorming session. Nina wrote while I threw out words and phrases, scratching this and that off the list…then…it hit me…and she smiled and wrote it down. That was it. No doubt about it.
While working to create the logo for this site, I provided these details to the designer for logo creation:
Need a logo designed for woman’s website that will focus on empowering and connecting women in age group 20-40’s who want to learn from and share their experience with like-minded women who are ambitious, original, caring, energetic, positive, fun-loving, and seeking the guidance,resources and relationships to live a convivial life.
(Wanted designer to get a feel for me, since I am my target market, so I said the following…)
Intuitive, insightful, thoughtful, lover of the written word, creative, writer, diligent, vigilant, persevering spirit, embrace strength, humility and vulnerability ; love the words equanimity, rhapsody, sexuality, harmony, bossy…and lovely.
Convivial times, indeed.
When you imagine your thoughts in “form”. What do they look like? Sound like? Feel like?Tweet
I write to empty my mind and to fill my heart. Writing is easy: just stare at the screen of your computer until a tear drops on your keyboard. -Paulo CoehloTweet
This is a great book for all the convivial ladies to check out. Money and women make the world go round, but the disconnect between the two is definitely apparent. How’s your relationship with, thoughts about, management of, money?
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…Tweet Tweet
For as long as I’ve called myself a writer, there is always the infamous question posed by others about my craft, “So…what do you write?” Many times before, I’d draw a blank. What do I write? Is there a name for it? I mean, a specific one? I was being asked to label what I wrote, and I’m not a fan of labels. I felt cornered to give it a name, as if it was the same thing each time I wrote, the same message, the same impact. And it never is. Only now have I figured out the simple truth about what I write and all gratitude goes to Beat generation writer, Jack Kerouac. According to Jack, and now me, “I write how I feel.” Simple and true. However, this answer may not satisfy inquiring minds, but let me continue with what Jack once said: “Write how you feel, because feeling is the essence of intellect, because without feeling nothing can be known…” Jack’s idea can easily transfer over into every day life, as well. Recently, I was reminded by a dear friend that we are here to take nothing away with us; only to experience. As a writer, I am here to experience, to feel all that I can, and to express it in a way that is true to me. I am nothing other than pure energy and feeling in this world.Tweet