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 smell of fresh fruit and vegetables emanating from the revolving doors of Daily Juice were too enticing to pass up, so we stepped inside and ordered the Green Ocean (Cucumber, Apple, Spirulina, Marine Phyplankton).
I prefer to save my cash and juice at home on my Breville – something I’ve been doing for the last five years – but today we splurged. I have to say, though…the wait was way too long (20 minutes) so I will avoid going there at lunch time again.
As their mama and first teacher, I know it’s up to me to train my son’s taste buds for healthy eating…
That’s why I made certain they fell in love with Natalia Rose‘s Green Lemonade drink as babies and I’ve kept up the task of introducing new foods to their palate each day.
For the record, my oldest son loved his green juice, but my little one was like, “Whatever…” I know, I know…you can’t convert them all.
How about you…are you a green juice lover? Do you juice at home? Or could you seriously care less? It’s all good whichever way you go.Tweet
Self-care is a form of trusting, listening, seeking, yearning, surrendering…it’s purpose is convivial at the core.
This is the story of my convivial discovery of an Ancient Mayan massage therapy and how I came to the understanding that you are your body’s advocate and its up to you to find the many ways that nurture, restore, and heal you…
Once upon a time, I headed to Mexico for a much needed sabbatical after quitting my job in Banking. I left behind my husband, my home, my parents; my country, language, currency, and all certainty to walk the cobble-stoned streets of San Miguel de Allende with the intention to restore myself to who I once knew myself to be…a writer.
My first week in town, I went to the mercado and purchased what I thought was a fresh bowl of albondigas (meatball soup). After taking a long walk and climbing the steps of El Chorro to reach the peak streets of this colorful central Mexican town, I knew Moctezuma had spiked my soup with drano, because I fell ill that night with chills and fever.
My mother-in-law, concerned for me, recommended I visit La Dona Chole, “‘pa que te de una sobada…” My Spanish was getting better by the day, but I still had to put two and two together to understand that she was suggesting (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’m at Starbucks trying to uncover the gems I seek for what will eventually become chapters of the convivial book I am writing.
I won’t pretend to be fearless. It scares me to say that I’m writing a book. Such a daunting task for a busy mama, but its what I desire.
I refuse to believe in the impossibility of my dreams.
It’s so easy to just exist, to get by, but defiantly creative spirits won’t let up and don’t get comfortable, so day by day, I take steps to be resourceful, to connect with people who can guide and be part of making this book a reality.
Declaring what you want to the world takes cojones and holds you accountable.
Once you make your dream known, you have a choice to follow through or disappoint…yourself. After all, that’s who you’re creating for, right? If that isn’t the focus, then forget it. Your art is not about anyone else but you. By being true to you, to your art, that’s how you serve others.
And the world- upon hearing your dream- now has the choice to believe you, (eagerly) watch you fail, or become part of the process. Ask for help. Show up for the unknown.
Failure is inevitable, a gift, something to embrace.
In Seth Godin’s book, Tribes, he says, “You’ve got to be willing to be wrong in order to be right all the other times in your life..” Words like that fire me up and make me want to go make a writing fool of myself…in private. If I show up and do the work, I’ll eventually clear the junk and find my treasure.
That’s how art and the process of creating it works. It’s hard to see the initial results of your labor, but if you keep faith behind your efforts, you’ll get to the good stuff.
I am in the beginning stages of this book project. Unfortunately, writing for me can’t begin until after 8pm each night, and I can’t always dedicate every day to creating a new sentence for the book, the blog, or simply for me, because family life takes first place, and many nights, my body fails me. My boys take a lot of my energy throughout the day, and even though I’ve got passion for this convivial empire brewing and bubbling beneath the surface, sometimes I just don’t have enough energy to keep going.
This is me, the convivial mama in action.
I’ve learned very quickly, and painfully, that you are nothing without your body. You must take care of it.
I used to stay up late into the night writing, researching, creating plans with my muse, but those days seem long gone. Nowadays, my body seems to crash around 3pm and I’ve not even done anything! It’s frustrating since the lack of energy cuts into my creative time. Scoliosis and a 34 degree curve in my lower back are the big culprits. I’m working to get that driving force of energy back. My next holistic move to heal myself is Cranio-sacral massage. I’ve been wanting to try it for years now. Intuition’s leading me there and I’m finally listening.
For now, I take it day by day. I avoid comparing myself to others who are birthing one creative project after another, because I know my story is not their story, and my path is my own. Being gentle with yourself is essential to pushing through the slow times, the times when you’re full of creative ideas, yet seemingly stagnant. It’s like you’re standing idle, in some imaginary, never-ending line, waiting for your turn to come.
This is every artist’s struggle: making the time and having the energy to create.
You get knocked down, find discouragement almost anywhere, at times lack clarity of vision, struggle with self-acceptance and self-belief, yet you keep at it, keep believing in what you are compelled to do, because that is what convivial minds who are artistically committed do.
Sometimes I don’t know why I feel the need to show up for the blank page and write my journey, sometimes I am not sure what difference it all is making, but I do it anyway, because I don’t know how NOT to write what I feel, what I believe, desire and dream. Some of it I share here, some I keep just for me, but I know one day, it will all come together. One day…this I believe.
Wishing you the best health for your next creation,Tweet
Hey Convivial world of mine!
It’s been 3 months and I’m back. At least, I think it’s been that long since I last felt my true self.
Confession: I think I experienced depression for the first time.
I actually googled the symptoms and had many of them. Fatigued. Check. Hard time getting out of bed to face the day. Check. Preferred extreme isolation to socialization. Yup. Lack of focus and clarity. Writers block. A sense of hopelessness. All there in the imaginary dark room with me.
Having the sudden blues from one moment to the next. Oh yeah. Not being able to tear myself away from episode after episode of Mob Wives and Basketball Wives. Yikes! One could argue and say I was doing “research” to better understand the dynamics of female relationships, but I’m not one to shit ya…THAT’S when I knew something was seriously wrong!
I’m a full-time mama who is committed to nurturing her individuality, the writer in her, and building a convivial brand of her own
BUT I do the writing and empire building once my little bambinos hit the hay. It’s not always an easy feat, it can get overwhelming, and all three adventures (mama, writer, entrepreneur) take a ton of practice and patience.
Word to ya muthas: There’s no place like the home we make and no such thing as “life balance.” Don’t quote me on that, I’m just living it. I continue to juggle and drop occasional balls, but the key is learning to pick up your delicate heart along with all the balls and keep juggling. My own lessons continue and I just want to be brave enough to write about them here.
The Scoop on how things went down…low. (more…)Tweet
It’s a great day when you hear a song that touches you, speaks to your heart, expresses how you feel or want to feel.
I’m writing at 6:45am, because 1) I haven’t been able to sleep all night, and 2) I’ve finally stolen time away for myself to share this news:
I’m officially adopting a song for The Convivial Woman!
First, let me tell you which songs it will NOT be: (more…)Tweet