Where does authenticity come from?

October 11, 2009

Unfortunately, for many of us, true authenticity can only come from finding ourselves in desperate situations.  I am speaking from personal experience here.

I recently spoke to a room full of newly unemployed people, folks who had never really known that kind of desperation before.  At the end, the first question was,

“Do you have to reach that point of feeling like you have very little left to lose, before you can begin to acknowledge and appreciate your own uniqueness?”

My only answer was, “I did.”  Before that point, I still believed I had all the answers.  I still believed in the traditional American dream and felt like it was working for me to some extent.  In other words, I was still willing to ignore my deepest personal need to become my best self, because I had some sort of marriage and job and that felt safe.  Don’t fix it if it ain’t broken!

But when that all crumbles before your eyes, when everything you thought you knew about yourself and your future is no longer true, desperation CAN lead to inspiration.

The same can be said about marriage.  If you have a mediocre marriage that meets a few of your needs and you feel safe, you may stay in it, because the alternatives look grim.  But when that marriage ends, you are forced to become much more creative when thinking about your future.  You realize now anything could happen, and that can be refreshing and terrifying at the same time.

But if you are willing to take the necessary risks and take the time to invest in finding a better future for yourself, help is available.  If you are certain you don’t want to go back to the same old, same old or your life feels like it has turned into a 9-to-5 way of dying, you are now ready to change for the better.

You may be ready to find the courage inside to explore what you were put on this earth to do!

Remember: do-overs are indeed possible before it’s all over!


Learning from others: Creativity and Artistic Expression

January 31, 2008

I decided I wanted to learn more about the writer I am so envious of, Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat,Pray,Love.  So I went to her website, and I’m glad I did!

First of all, she has a lovely homepage! Then I read her bio and, come to find out, she’s also had a boatload of rejection letters as a writer! She started out in her teens sending in short stories to The New Yorker!

The gold mine for me and probably any other writer, or really anyone interested in pursuing some form of creative expression, can be found on her: “Thoughts on Writing” page. It’s a call to pursue your passion through thick and thin simply because you have to.

Her original goal was:

 “to publish something (anything, anywhere) before I die.”

She has some lovely advice for those that pursue the creative life:

“Quit complaining! It’s not the world’s fault that you want to be an artist…so get back to work.”

But her best advice is not to judge yourself too harshly, before the critics even get a chance to. If you want to write for others, than get it out there for others to see. Don’t hide it under the bed for decades because it isn’t quite perfect yet.

She also encourages those “of a certain age” not to give up because the bloom is off the rose, so to speak. But interestingly, her example is Julia Glass, author of “The Three Junes.” Julia began writing in her late 30’s, and when she won the National Book Award she said, “This is for all the late bloomers in the world.”

She doesn’t even know what “late bloomer” means! My model in this regard is Laura Ingalls Wilder, my favorite childhood author. She didn’t even start writing her famous series of books until she was 65!

The final line of Elizabeth’s “Thoughts on Writing” spoke to me the most:

Do you have the courage to bring forth this work?  The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say YES.

I agree! Try to nurture that small creative kernel inside of you. Tell it it’s O.K. if you aren’t the best artist, or writer, or film maker in the world. Something inside wants to get out and express itself in some profound and important way. Encourage it, don’t smother it inside!

Here’s a thought provoking excerpt from Elizabeth’s “Physics of The Quest”:

“If you are brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting (which can be anything from your house to your bitter old resentments) and set out on a truth-seeking journey (either externally or internally), and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue, and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher, and if you are prepared – most of all – to face (and forgive) some very difficult realities about yourself….then truth will not be withheld from you.”  

See, I’ve successfully turned my envy into hero worship…