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
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
On Sunday, my dear friend, Becky came to visit and we decided to have tarot cards drawn and our palms read by a psychic.
I always had this phobia about seeing a psychic…you know, the whole being afraid of what they might say, of hearing something you didn’t want to hear, but on this particular day, I was open to the idea.
We were two girlfriends looking to create a convivial memory together and do something out of the ordinary, so this seemed fitting.
Upon hanging up to confirm our appointment,
I asked Becky, “Did she have an accent?”
Puzzled, she said, “Uh…yeah…”
I gave an approving nod and said, “Good. Then hopefully she’s the real deal.”
Becky cracked up laughing and our mystical experience was now underway.
Soon we were ringing the doorbell to the Psychic’s office and exchanging pleasantries with her.
Becky went first and as I sat and observed the ongoing reading, I did my best not to (more…)Tweet
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
Today is the first day of Austin’s South By Southwest Interactive Conference (SXSWi), a much anticipated event that draws entrepreneurs, innovators, and creative folk of all sorts from all over the country and world each year.
I’m grateful to be attending this year. There are myriad speakers and events to pop in on and I’ll be sure to share my takeaways from the events and give you a glimpse into some of the notes I take right here.
For now, I leave you with this reminder as always…
You are a Masterpiece. Live accordingly.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
One year ago, I re-launched my website from the name Convivial Society to The Convivial Woman and during the month of January, I went on digital sabbatical to read and write to determine my site’s purpose and overall message. The theme that kept coming up in my notes was Art, a person’s need to express it, and the joys and struggles of doing so. As the year progressed, I somehow ignored that underlying theme and experienced confusion with my focus.
Was this my platform to preach to women about how they needed to conduct themselves as women? What kind of friends, mothers, wives they needed to be? Choices they should make in their lives? No, it wasn’t. It was simply a way to express myself creatively via the written word, the art form that chose me, but calling myself The Convivial Woman began to play tricks on my mind and make me feel a little self-righteous. Like any stage name, there’s a persona that comes with it and I was still trying to figure out the difference so I could play my part right. I wasn’t here to fake anything.
Recently, I’ve made the distinction:
The Convivial Woman is to me what Sasha Fierce is to Beyonce- the muse, a name given the creative power that comes from within and drives you to create and release your art into the world. I am Cheryl Chavarria, the writer also known as The Convivial Woman. Period.
Clarity of purpose, of vision, of thy self makes you an unstoppable force.
The Convivial Woman does not exist to impose some idea of what the perfect woman should be, or tell women how to behave, how to save themselves, their relationships, or how to love and better support one other, though we desperately need more mentoring of women by women.
The Convivial Woman represents something grander. She represents Art…the creation of it and the defiant spirit that accompanies it. She exists to praise and promote human creativity and the idea that a work of art resides within each of us.
It’s about the art of convivial living, which centers around discovering the art and life within you, and making the conscious choice to express it as only YOU can do.
2012 is going to be a Work of A.R.T.
This year, The Convivial Woman is going to be all about making A Return To creative origins. For me that’s writing. What is it for you?
My focus is to write about how I lead, not necessarily how to lead, a convivial life, and what the art of convivial living means to me as I dedicate myself to the practice and creation of art, as well as the struggles that come with it.
In making the choice to follow your art, you will come to know your power and live a convivial life, for life itself is art. Whether it be a book, a business, blog, necklace, cake, lesson plan, a baby, new body / life for yourself, or even a simple meal for your family, it requires the courage to create. If you’re heart is in it, then it’s bound to be art worth admiring.
You are a Masterpiece. Live accordingly.
This is the message of The Convivial Woman, what I’m inspired to live by, and want to share with you. By pursuing my heart’s desire to write, I hope to encourage you to do the same, whatever your art may be, for that is the journey we share.
Go forth and create your reality,