You know how it is when you see one of your idols in real life – it’s kind of exciting, isn’t it? Truthfully, I was so excited that I didn’t know if I wanted to squeal in delight, burst out laughing or pee myself :). I’m sitting there in the audience, in a small but packed theatre, literally on the edge of my seat, notebook perched nerdishly on my lap because I wanted to capture her gems and share them with you later. I had bought a hideously expensive posh cider which I was too excited to drink, so it just sat there sweating, next to my foot. I was wearing a black silk dress that I had bought only the day before which may have been too fancy for the occasion, but I always dress according to my level of excitement :).
I was in the middle seat of the middle row of the middle block of chairs, in the middle of the week and the middle of my time away – and I knew I was in exactly the right place at exactly the right time. Equlibrium <3.
Elizabeth Gilbert and her friend Rayya Ellias, an artist, musician and memoir author, are travelling around Australia having a series of conversations about things like creativity, fear, friendship and entitlement. Just a few of my favourite topics :)
Note: These are as close to the speaker’s actual words as I could get, but perhaps not exactly word for word. I took notes, not a recording.
“The point of creativity is not to be original – the point is to be authentic.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
“Darkness drove the artistic sensibility in me. I thought I had to be miserable and fucked up to create. I had to reclaim myself.” – Rayya Ellias
“Your reasons for creativity are enough. You do not have to please anybody. All your art requires is that it be done.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
Elizabeth says of her fear that every time she embarks upon a new creative project, she sits down in her studio and writes a letter to fear.
Creativity and I are going on a journey together, and I hear you will be joining us. That’s fine, you are allowed to come. Creativity’s job is be enthusiastic and inspired, my job is to show up and do the work, and your job is to freak the fuck out every 5 minutes: Oh my God, what are you doing, that’s crazy, you can’t do that! That’s fine, I get that you are afraid. But, here are the rules on this road trip: You don’t get to drive. You don’t get to hold the map, navigate or buy the snacks.
Rayya commented that Elizabeth talks to her fear like a hostage negotiator to a terrorist :).
“Friendship is based on a mutual need.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
Elizabeth and Rayya talked about how their friendship supports and encourages each other, according to their individual strengths. Elizabeth mentored Rayya through the writing of her memoir. When Rayya handed over the first draft with a sigh of relief, much to her horror, Liz handed it back to her and said, that’s great, now you’ve finished the first part – now go back and dig deeper. Keep writing, stay with the process. Rayya helps Liz handle conflict. Liz describes her attitude to conflict like this: If I have to choose between kindness and honesty, you are going to get a pack of lies every time. So Rayya mentors her through conflict. Write the email. Send it. Yes, they will reply, and no, you’re not done. Stay with the process. <3
Elizabeth was talking about her belief that in order to create, an artist needs a sense of entitlement, which is the opposite of shame. Entitlement has a bad name in our society – we tend to think of entitlement as something that isn’t earned. In this conversation though, Entitlement means:
I am allowed to be.
The Arrogance of Belonging.
“I am a child of creation, therefore I have the right to create.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
So, I had a sneaky two night mid-week escape with a good friend I don’t get to see enough of to beautiful Byron Bay, where I saw Elizabeth Gilbert (a dream come true), stayed in a cabin on a 300 acre farm 5 minutes out of town, did a years worth of clothes shopping, talked and listened non-stop, got to go to places that I had never seen before…and saw a pod of dolphins as we were leaving town. Pretty good week, I’d say :)
Best Short Read
In the theme of creativity, writing and fear, here is this little gem of an article:
Name and Claim Your Writer’s Block
When writer’s block is there, it’s there. It’s like an invisible force field of negativity surrounding your body. Novelist Steven Pressfield calls this internal self-sabotage Resistance.
You want to write, but Fear stops you. It lies and says you’re not good enough, so you hedge, unsure of your talents. Sometimes you can break through the anxiety. Other times, you can’t.
When writer’s block stops you in your tracks, don’t try to battle it or pretend it isn’t there.
That’s useless. It’s a waste of time and energy, not to mention make matters worse.
Instead, claim the Fear, lean into the discomfort, and learn to use it to regain your creative mojo.
The next time Fear sticks to you like Super Glue, try this:
Best Food for Thought
So, one of the many things we discussed on our road trip (there was plenty of time for talking – Byron Bay is a four hour drive away) is this very thing. Sometimes our life presents us with work that we need to do on ourselves. Okay, all the time life presents us with work to do, and when the work stops we are dead. Deal with it :). Sometimes this work seems impossible to figure out head on. It’s so huge, or old or confusing, we don’t know where to start – and sometimes we don’t start because of that, or we give up half way. When this happens to me, I use the fact that everything is connected – body, mind and soul – and sneak up on it from the side. For instance, 15 years ago the reason I first started going to yoga classes was not because I wanted to stand on my head. Actually, standing on my head had never occurred to me and if it had, I would never have gone. Anyway :). No, the reason I decided to go to yoga class was because I noticed how inflexible I was in my thinking. I wanted to be more spontaneous and open, but I had no idea how to cultivate that. I did know how to cultivate flexibility in my body though – my mother had always done yoga, so I knew about it, I just didn’t really do it :). So, I went to class, and slowly but surely, not only did my body become more flexible, but so did my mind. Much later, when I wanted to cultivate a regular home practice, not only did I get the physical benefit of doing yoga several times a week, but I noticed that I became more disciplined, self aware and courageous. You see what I am saying here, don’t you? What you do to yourself on the inside affects your outside, and vice versa. Tackle those hard things from the side :).
Best Comfort Recipe
I wasn’t well on Monday – I had been struggling with back pain and tiredness for a couple of days, but on Monday everything just froze up and refused to go a step further. I wanted to eat something nourishing and spicy, soothing and delicious. I wanted to eat dhal with lots of turmeric and ginger. I found this recipe, cooked it and ate it, and I swear 50% of my healing happened with that bowlful of goodness.
1 cup of red lentils, rinsed well
3 cm piece of fresh ginger, sliced into 4
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
2 tbl of butter or ghee
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
2 tbl lemon juice
1 tbl coriander to serve
Put lentils, ginger, cinnamon and bay leaves in a saucepan with three cups of water. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 -12 minutes. Discard spices.
Meanwhile, heat the butter or ghee in a frypan over high heat. Saute onion, then add the rest of the spices and cook for a further minute until it smells delicious. Add lemon juice and season with salt.
Add cooked lentils to the onion and spice mix and cook for a further 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add coriander and serve with rice, naan or just eat it by itself.
Best dhal ever. Seriously.
The other thing I did when I was sick other than nourish my body with good food, was to nourish my heart and mind with a good movie. I watched Midnight in Paris, a totally gorgeous, writer-ly film about love, what it is and what it is not and accepting reality, all with a little bit of magic thrown in. Birthed in 2011, written and directed by Woody Allen and starring Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams…have you seen it? Did you like it?
Best Blog Post
Last but not least, I wanted to share this wonderful post with you. Written by one of my favorite bloggers and authors, David J Rogers, this post really broke my heart open with its emotional honesty. In this post, David is writing about the death of his sister at 38 from cancer. Beautiful and terribly sad.
Her mind was in a tangle because of the morphine–sensations and floating dreams blended together like a band of swallows swooping and falling and words from the voices of people slipping in sideways, echoes of words, as words spoken in a museum closed for the night might sound, or a murmur, or just splinters of sound descending like coins in a pool. Images were loose in her mind of such memories as that of an ironing board, a dress with a faded floral pattern, a photograph of her sitting at a desk smiling, then the suddenly remembered sensation in her finger tips of peeling an orange or pulling strands of hair out of a brush. And all the while she was a sponge soaked with emotion: love and despair and courage and fear.
My friends, that is all from me this week, i hope you have enjoyed your visit! Be well, and enjoy your weekend <3.