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
In case you didn’t know, I like to eat. In fancy terms, dine…and I like to do it with women who are big advocates of listening to their own voices, especially those little inklings and yearnings that tend to lead us down paths all their own.
When inspiration comes knocking, I gather such women at a table and we throw down…not the table (although I could), but the food, along with our thoughts and sentiments on…life, love, business, family, dream-chasing and glass-ceiling smashing.
This experience is The Convivial Supper Club, hosted by yours truly.
Let me assure you, it’s not your average meeting over dinner and drinks. Oh no…it’s much more than that. The food and drinks are really a side note, but we surely don’t scrimp on that area!
The Convivial Supper Club is a highly anticipated, private dining group that sits at the intersection of creative living, personal development and social impact for women.
CONVIVIAL [kuhn-viv-ee-uhl]: 1. fond of feasting, drinking, and good company; festive; folksy, forthcoming, genial, kindly, lively, communicative, expansive, high-spirited. 2. The feeling you get when you make the every day choice, whether subtle or profound, to live your life on purpose and with passion.* 3. The essence of who you are.*
The Convivial Supper Club is distinct and stands apart from every other women’s group because (more…)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
Before you head out the door this weekend, I have one more Chicago eatery to share with you.
My childhood chum, Carrie and I went here two years ago when I last played Chicago tourist with my husband Martin, so we decided to venture over to Logan Square, one of the hottest neighborhoods to lead the pack in real estate this year for
Another heaping dose of Lula Cafe.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
Do you shy away from conflict? If yes, don’t worry…there’s no need to lower your head in shame. You’re not alone in your desire to avoid disagreement or upsetting another with your opinions. I have certainly had my moments throughout life. But I’ve got a curious question for ya.
What if your lack of speaking up and sharing how you feel, what you see, what you believe, and what you have discovered for yourself is depriving others of a more enlightened view on life, or you?
I came across this moving talk on Ted.com (click~>) Dare to Disagree by Margaret Heffernan
where this former CEO of FIVE businesses speaks on the world’s need to be more daring to disagree, to speak up, to break silence, to be willing to see what no one else wants to see. She says,
“When we dare to break silence, or when we dare to see and we create conflict, we enable ourselves and the people around us to do our very best thinking.”
I’m not immune to the fear of conflict, but I am also more than willing to defend my point of view and stand up for myself more than ever now.
When it comes to men-women relationships, I feel strong. I don’t know it all, but I do know how to put myself first and this willingness to keep my personal well-being at the forefront has served me in my interactions with the opposite sex.
However, I have a weakspot for women. You see, I shy away from conflict with women and find that so ironic. My immense love and admiration for women creates this polar opposite effect for me and when I feel let down or disappointed or offended, I haven’t been the best at saying so.
When it comes to my fellow sex, I venture to see the work of art within each woman I come across, but I’ve been naive to think I would always get that same response back. I haven’t- THAT is for sure.
Could it be because I was bullied as a young girl or that I know women can be masters at the art of rejection and disapproval (ask any guy who’s wanted a date or dance with a female or just watch Mean Girls)?
I’ve experienced jealousy, envy and discord among pacts of women, in friendships, in family, and I know that if I truly show up, I will be either shunned or loved. That scares me and I’ve been guilty of playing small to avoid the less than pleasant feeling of rejection, but that is not the point here.
The point is knowing all of that doesn’t stop me from wanting to play a big game in my life and if you harbor the same sentiments, it shouldn’t deter you either.
When you recognize what you fear, what you hold back from expressing, guess what?
That’s your opportunity to embrace that fear and run with it…FORWARD, not backward and express it, do it, share it, say it, create it, because it is a force, a feeling deep within that belongs to you and deserves to be shared with the world in order to live and truly express your convivial nature.
What are those particular situations that seem to repeat themselves and thus bring about negative feelings within you–you know the ones that play over and over in your mind after you find that you didn’t react and say what you really should’ve said? How do you respond? How can you respond differently?
It’s never easy to open up and acknowledge where your work lies, but if you want to reach the other side of that feeling,- the convivial one, the empowered existence of someone pushing past their fears every day- you need to take a good look inside and figure out where the disconnection remains. Examine why you hold back and what can you do to change it.
You are the keeper of your fears, as well as the one who has the power to take the first step toward vanquishing them.
If we can all reach the belief that we have nothing to lose by speaking up, only everything to gain, then we can be certain and feel confident about creating the discussions, the relationships, the outcomes, and the life experience we wish for ourselves and the world at large.
What fears do you want to find a better response to? In what ways do you want to share your best “thinking” with the world even if it runs the risk of creating conflict?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 have this desire to expand on the Merriam-Webster’s definition of the word that defines and supports the overall message surrounding this online haven…
Convivial [kuhn-viv-ee-uhl]: : The feeling you get when making the every day choice, whether subtle or profound, to live your life on purpose and with passion.
Convivial is how you aspire to feel every day of your life (whether you realize it or not). It’s a privilege, a unique responsibility that you must take advantage of and this desired feeling I speak of cannot come through unless you make the choice to create and express yourself, every day, in every way you see fit.
I’d love to know how this new, enhanced definition is playing out in your life. What subtle or profound choices are you making to experience the genius and the joy within you?Tweet
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