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
“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…)Tweet
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.Tweet
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…)Tweet
I just came across this article on the Huffington Post called The Rise of College Alternatives and it was yet another reminder and comfort to me about the choices I have made in the last decade of my life.
I am a student of life, but in a different sense.
I didn’t make the list of students graduating summa cum laude . I was farrr from it. But that didn’t mean I lacked a thirst for learning. I just didn’t focus on ‘making the grade’.
When I was a sophomore in high school, you would’ve seen me in the library perusing many different sections or flipping through the pages of thick poetry books, looking up words I’d circled in Vogue articles, or reading about the life of Black Panther founder, Huey Newton.
I was simply curious…about everything that interested me.
You would never have imagined that I was nearly failing my chemistry class, even though I adored my teacher who resembled Elmer Fudd. But his adorableness wasn’t enough to get me to pay enough attention to protons and everything else that proved to be a foreign language to my ears and eyes in that class. I just wasn’t into it and knew I wouldn’t pursue it in life.
I wasn’t the best student when it came to what was always required of me, but I still never questioned my need for an education, for a degree.
When I graduated high school, I wasn’t able to ask my parents to borrow money to go to school (I’m still laughing about that one, Mitt) nor did I have a concrete plan for college. I was completely on my own when it came to that, but there was never a doubt that I would go or that I would finish. I was American and having the opportunity of a college education was ingrained in me.
I ended up getting guidance from a fellow college friend who walked the campus barefoot just to prove that he could. He helped me register and schedule my classes – interestingly enough, we had two classes together and he wanted to keep that pattern going the following semester because of his feelings for me, but his revolutionary ideas weren’t impressing me anymore.
Where he saw being bold in the face of authority or disdain for anyone’s upward movement in life, I saw limitations and struggle surrounding him and the life he was leading. That was not how I wanted to feel in my own life, so I eventually changed the company I was keeping.
When I graduated with a Bachelors degree in Finance, one thing I was grateful for was to declare myself debt-free from that experience. I worked in Banking and found a company that paid 100% of my college fees. I’m talking, they covered tuition, books, and even my cap and gown. It was a fantastic deal plus I was getting real world experience in the Finance world while educating myself.
There are always trade offs, though. I can’t look back on my college days and recant stories of me yelling in the lunch cafeteria “Food fight!!” or going to thriller parties with my nerd boyfriend from Lambda Lambda Lambda. I was too busy mixing and mingling from 9 to 5 like Melanie Griffith once did…as a total “working girl.”
I didn’t have the dorm life, the roommate you either love or hate, the parties, the football games, but when I left college, I LEFT it behind me…no debt, no creditors, no loans, and had a degree to call my own.
The choices YOU make in life shape YOU and determining the path right for you is all in your hands.
After getting my Bachelors degree from UT Dallas, I went back in to pursue a Masters in Aesthetic Studies- which is pretty much like an interdisciplinary studies degree where you curate the curriculum of your choice in the Arts. It was a whole other world and I knew UT Dallas was not known for its liberal arts program, or for much of anything liberal arts-related; it was a commuter school primarily for working folks and best known for its computer science and business programs. So I canceled that higher education plan out. I wasn’t willing to move forward, because I didn’t feel it was the best route to take.
So I went alternative and threw myself into the world. I went to Mexico and mingled with published authors, returned to Dallas to work alongside magazine editors at the best city news magazine in town, then went entrepreneurial and started my own personal concierge service, then got into the blogging scene. Who knows where I’ll go next, but that’s the beauty of life…it always changes and I am more than willing to go with that kind of flow.
Many routes that I’ve taken have actually felt more like detours, leading me down paths that have brought me knowledge about life and myself that no college education, professor, or former boss ever offered me.
Experiencing my life, making unconventional choices, becoming a mother, writing my first book, heartbreaks, and trusting in the unknown and my own intuition have been my best forms of education.
I highly recommend you pay more attention to what you want to learn, what calls your interest, what attracts you, who speaks to you, and follow that pathway. This is the very concept of living that I discuss in my book ‘Convivial | A Quest for the Masterpiece Within‘. Have you gotten your hands on a copy yet?
College degrees are a great accomplishment, but they don’t solve everything and they don’t entirely bring you the knowledge you need to live a convivial life.
This is truly a different economy. You’ve got to adapt to it. Your curiosity for learning, for delving into new environments, for connecting and building relationships with others, your willingness to adopt new habits and outlooks, your desire for continual improvement, your openness to criticism, your ability to be proactive and creative, and your courage to face your fears is what will take you through life successfully.
Determine how you best learn.
Declare the world your classroom.
Take your seat up front.
Pay attention to the lessons.
Choose the best teachers…
Life, Love, and your very own heart.Tweet
I’ve got an audio blog that I recorded for you today. After getting some writing done at a cafe in south Austin, I was inspired to share my sentiments on the importance of recognizing when its time to let go during the creative process. Before I share the audio, I want to ask you to mark your calendar for the official
Launch Day of the Convivial Lifestyle Guide | Volume 1 | Thursday 8 November
It will be available for purchase and full download right here on the site in less than two days! I’m so excited I could shart my pants, BUT…I won’t.
Each volume in this series of guides will have its own distinct title which I’ll be announcing in my next newsletter to everyone on my private mailing list in the next few days.
Are you signed up for my private mailing list? A convivial society is just not the same without you, so be sure to join in the fun, because I cannot WAIT to share this experience with you and do not want you to miss out.
Okay, so back to what I promised…
CLICK TITLE BELOW TO LISTEN TO MY AUDIO
After listening, can you think of a time you felt afraid to let go of something so dear to you and what happened when you finally did release the fear?
I’m remembering my childhood friend, Carrie when she came to visit me in Austin not long ago and it made me so happy to know we’d have five days to play and catch up with one another’s lives.
Our kids played together, I took her and our whole entourage (all under age 5) to many scenic spots around town, and we even enjoyed a few joint naps together! If you’re a parent who has tried to go sight-seeing with small children, you know what that’s like, so exhaustion is almost inevitable.
A few weeks later, as a token of her appreciation for the time we spent, she sent me this engraved necklace which said…
“Live the life you love”
I was thrilled to wear something that held such a powerful message, and so close to my heart. Carrie saw it at a store and said she immediately thought of me.
This is the same friend who sent me the book Write From The Heart by Leslea Newman during a time when I was compelled to cross over from Banking to Unknown Writer.
I had been expressing my desires to her and a few other friends and the day I received the book in the mail, I was in awe. I thought, “Wow…what a way to show you were listening.” To have someone really pay attention to what you say aloud, especially your dreams, then respond with a detail that encourages and connects you to that dream is a gift beyond anything that can ever be bought. And it’s a moment that can never be forgotten.
To believe in someone and have someone believe in you is the greatest exchange you can make. It can’t get any more spiritual than that, can it?
Today, I had another dear friend nurture my spirit by accompanying me on a photo shoot around Austin. I’ve been in Austin for eight months now and have wanted to take pictures around the city to declare “I am here!” Well, today was the day. Here’s a sneak peek into the fun we had.
Before the fun even began, I felt the gratitude bubbling up inside of me and I had to let my friend know how much their gesture of time and attention meant to me. We ended the day with a beer and frozen margarita at good ole Hooters. Yeahhh.
In celebration of life, especially since today is my birthday (yeah!), tell me…to whom can you give the gift of “I believe in you”?
Who can you grant your time and attention to so that you may encourage a long buried dream to rise again? Or perhaps, who has nurtured you in this way lately and how so? Get your gratitude on and declare it or make a commitment to offer it to someone in the comments below. And be sure to eat some cake today, just for me.
The life of a writer, an entrepreneur, an artist, an activist, anyone going against the grain is a beautifully challenging one.
The tough part is seeing the beauty during those tough times, during those moments of doubt, during the times when the responsibilities that come with managing your way in the real world (i.e. working a job you aren’t fulfilled by, paying mounting bills, raising a family, finding quality education and experiences for your kids, etc.) seem to take over any time and energy you want to preserve for getting out to experience your life. It’s even harder when you feel alone in your quest to create the worlds you envision, when you feel no one understands why and what you’re doing, including yourself sometimes. The good news is…
There’s a spirit of extreme perseverance that resides inside each creative, inside you.
When you believe there is another way you can live your life, even if you don’t have all the answers right now, you are compelled to stand firm in your position and push through your blocks and detractors. You seek (more…)Tweet
The last two weeks have been fun for me. First, I got away to Vegas with my luvuh (aka hubby) and a couple friends for some much needed unwinding.
We enjoyed a night out as the participating audience for the show, Zumanity- the sensual and naughty side of Cirque de Soleil.
This show is definitely not for the conservative in you. You’ll walk away feeling naked and exposed for the sexual being that you naturally are, but if you’re all about exploring your inhibitions, then join the audience!
I loved the show, but the best part of my experience was seeing my husband laugh out loud as much as he did. It warmed my heart to see his joy and I found myself leaning even closer to him and squeezing his arm a couple of times. Hmm…the effects of the show or a simple moment of endearment? Maybe both!
We stayed at The Venetian and had some convivial times with our friends while dining at such places as Public House, Emeril’s Delmonico, and we couldn’t pass up good old dessert on the Vegas strip at my fave P.F. Chang’s.
Leisure brings about inner calm which fuels your creativity
I’ve come to appreciate the importance of giving in to leisure, to relaxation, to living your life in order to spark your creativity. The last few months have been transitional for my family and I with the whole move to Austin and when I’ve wanted to get to work on an idea, my family’s needs have proved to be paramount and so ideas sit pretty, waiting on me to give them life. But many things haven’t been possible lately, but I know that doesn’t mean they will never be possible.
Within the last year, I’ve learned a lot about patience, acceptance and balancing my ambitions with certain things being out of my control.
What keeps me going are the dreams-turned-reality that I’ve witnessed firsthand by the benchmarks, mentors, and convivial company I’ve carefully selected. They are the folks who inspire, lead, and show me all that is possible..
One such benchmark I want to especially mention today is the visionary author, Danielle LaPorte.
I made it to the bookstore for an early writing date with myself and to pick up a copy of Danielle LaPorte’s newest book, The Firestarter Sessions: A Soulful + Practical Guide to Creating Success on your own terms. Today’s the official release date and I’m flipping through my copy and can say its a beauty.
If you’re at a crossroads in your life, this would be a great book to grab.
In case you aren’t familiar with her, she is the creator of the site www.WhiteHotTruth.com. I discovered her blog in 2009, have met up with her twice- in Austin and New York- and have felt her vibe and demeanor to be similar to my own. She’s a cheerleader without the exclamation points and high pitched voice. Her words are deep and intense just as my own sense of being can be. She also happens to be an introvert.
I’m a true fan of her work, because her work affirms within me that my own dreams are real and possible. She’s simple yet hits the mark. Maybe she can do the same for you and the dreams you are holding onto…
Dreams are all around us. Yours included!
Surround yourself with convivial company-
the fearless and crazy kind.
Pick up their books,
hop on a plane to visit them,
dial their numbers regularly, or…
choose to be one yourself.
Are you at a point in your life where you’re ready to show the world who you really are? What you’re really capable of? The impact you can truly make? Well, let me ask you this.
How willing are you to be seen by others as someone who is…
seemingly not of this world,
many many other times,
The above mentioned traits, symptoms and sentiments plague yet bring about prosperity among many artists, visionaries, and entrepreneurs who make the conscious choice to be on the front line of changing the world.
It’s only by experiencing, exercising and exhibiting such behaviors and reactions from the world that you can begin to truly walk your path, show the world what you’re here to do, and thus create a convivial life for yourself and others.
Awaken and tap into the defiant creative spirit within you today,
[PHOTO: At a vintage shop in Chicago’s Wicker Park with my dear childhood friends, Cecilia, Carmen, and Lissie. I’m the ridiculous looking one in the middle.)
(Be sure to share in the comments below your thoughts and insights, and if you can think of any more traits that I didn’t think of, add them to the list!)Tweet
It warms my heart to see all of the entrepreneurs out there spreading their message of hope and perseverance through their very example of living it. I know it inspires me every day.
I sit at a cafe and just outside the window, I see a van parked with decals that advertise catering and entertainment services. There’s nothing fancy about the van- in fact, I can see a few scrapes and dings in it.
The letters from the decal are starting to peel off, but the person driving this vehicle, and perhaps running this business is obviously not concerned with the condition of his van…his priority is on having reliable transportation for the chairs, tables, and bounce houses he’s offering in exchange for the cash that goes straight to his bank account. Ah…I see him driving away and silently, I wish him well in his endeavors.
What he is concerned about is paying his bills with the income he has created for himself, about how he’s going to get the next customer, and secure their business.
He’s not sitting in some office, whether it be leased or at home, waiting for the phone to ring. No, he’s hustling to get that business. How he goes about his hustle is what sets him apart from his competition.
Everyday that he is in business for himself, he makes the choice to wake up and face potential risk and rejection, one after another, because he believes he can achieve a sale, and provide a service derived from his own imagining, and deliver happiness.
He believes in himself, even when he doesn’t have all the answers. And believe me, as an entrepreneur, a visionary, an artist, you won’t ever have all the answers. (more…)Tweet
It’s nearly 2am,
the rain is pouring outside
and I’ve just gotta let you know this bit from the depths of my soul:
Give yourself credit for the little things you do EVERY day. Though the results may not show or reveal themselves as quickly, you must work toward your goals with the belief that EVERY thing you do does contribute to the big picture.
Want to live a convivial life? Don’t know how to make it happen or what that actually looks like for you? I hear ya, because I work at it day by day myself. Here’s what I have to say to that…
Trust in that which is unseen,
unknown, and (dare I say it)
give in to the craziness of your dreams.
I look myself in the mirror every day and fight to heed the words of naysayers. Wanna hear something really outrageous? These naysayers don’t even exist. They are figments of my imagination. They are puppets of my insecure, unrelenting ego- one aspect of me that encourages me to avoid sharing any experience and expression of my vulnerability, my humanity. But the ego is losing right now as I pour my heart out in the form of flowing words for you to read.
Perhaps only an hour before I felt inspired to share these words with you, I was experiencing self-doubt about my abilities and talents. And what brought that on? Spending time watching what someone else was creating vs. creating myself.
I was about to send my mopey ass to bed, but my thoughts were just too much to allow me to get some shut eye, so I gave in to a task that was lingering in the Draft folder of my inbox.
I completed it, took a deep breath before hitting send, then felt the weight lift off of me as it disappeared into cyberspace. The very next moment, I felt different, acccomplished, content. Proof that you’ve gotta get the work done, whatever it may be and you’ll feel better. Et voila!
One simple thing can contribute to the fast progression of your dreams.
I continue to believe that I am here to do something big, something meaningful. The same is true for you! Are you awake to what that “something” is?
I’m grateful to know what I am here to do, but its an ongoing struggle to know the “how” of getting it done. The answers will come for me just as they will for you, so have no worries.
Though it may seem lonely at times, you are never alone in your experience. You simply need to reach out and ask for guidance, help, directions, a tissue, a hug, a laugh.
The lightning is pretty fierce outside right now, the rain is coming down hard, and I sure would hate to find out in the morning that I left the windows down in my car, but for now, I sit here compelled to tell you to BELIEVE in the worlds that exist within your imagination…they are meant to be created and brought to life. Even if its one task at a time, one day at a time, while the rest of the world sleeps.