Do you have the courage to go looking for the magic in you?

breatheMany of us have been taught to be safe. The world is scary, unpredictable. Do the safe thing, for who knows, what might happen. And so we are safe. We don’t take risks. We don’t speak our truth. We skim life, instead of diving deep and getting engrossed in the juicy, messy business of living our life. We do the best in the situation we find ourselves in, instead of choosing to put ourselves in worlds where we want to be. Sooner, or later, we find that we  can’t hear ourselves anymore. There’s a deafening quiet where there should be an inner radar. And then, because we don’t want to feel like hiding our gifts and our voice and our  idiosyncrasies in the treasure chest that stays locked in our hearts anymore, we start…opening up. We begin, in the search for ourselves, and in search of the magic hidden inside of us.

I believe this is one of the oldest and most generous tricks the universe plays on us as human beings, both for its own amusement and for ours: The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.

The hunt to uncover those jewels-that’s creative living.

The courage to go on that hunt in the first place—that’s what separates a mundane existence from a more enchanted one.

Elizabeth Gilbert

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Feeling alone? Remember our shared humanity

Sometimes when we’re in new situations, it can feel overwhelming. Sometimes, we feel alone, esMApecially if we’re not used to talking about our concerns, or there is no one around we trust to share our difficulties or sorrows. At times like these, it is useful to remember our shared humanity. This is not the first time this has happened. This is not the last time this will happen. And to remember, as alone as we feel in this, people ahead of us have walked this road. They understand. Reach out, to those you trust. But only to those who are worthy of your trust.

Constantly reflect that all the things which happen now have happened before: reflect too that they will happen again in the future. Have in your mind’s eye whole dramas with similar settings, all that you know of from your own experience or earlier history – for example, the whole court of Hadrien, the whole court of Antoninus, the whole court of Philip, Alexander, Croesus. All the same as now: just a different cast.

Marcus Aurelius

WHY does the song, book, or movie strike a chord with you?

Navigating the labyrinth of our memories and scar tissue inside of us is hard. We may want to learn more about why we are the way we are, or why we feel the way we feel, but knowing ourself can be surprisingly hard.

I recently wrote about about how Gretchen Rubin suggests shining an indirect spotlight on what’s going on inside of us by seeing what we’re doing. Identifying external “tells” can be easier for those of us who may not be adept at sensing their feelings, or those who find their own feelings drowned by the feelings of those around them.

Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves also suggest looking outward to develop a better understanding of your internal landscape:

If you’re having trouble looking within to spot your emotional patterns and tendencies, you can discover the same information by looking outside yourself at the movies, music, and books you identify with. When the lyrics or mood of a song resonate with you, they say a lot about how you feel, and when a character from a movie or a book sticks in your head, it’s probably because important aspects of his or her thoughts and feelings parallel your own. Taking a closer look in these moments can teach you a lot about yourself. It can also provide a great tool for explaining your feelings to other people.

Finding your emotions in the expressions of artists allows you to learn about yourself and discover feelings that are often hard to communicate. Sometimes you just can’t find the words to say what you are feeling until you see it in front of you. Listening to music, reading novels, watching films, and even looking at art can act as a gateway into your deepest emotions. Take a closer look the next time one of these mediums grabs your attention—you never know what you’ll find.

It’s strange for a 31 year old woman, but I find myself addicted to Let it Go from the movie Frozen. I listen to Idina Menzel’s strong and and powerful and vulnerable rendition of the song, and it seeps through my porous body into my soul.

Elsa speaks to me. Like I her, I am more accustomed to concealing or suppressing emotions instead of feeling them, of always being pleasant than allowing myself to be human, of being what I am expected to be. But like her, also creating things by plucking the emotions from my heart and drawing letters from them, my castle of words, strung together word by word. Like her, trying to let it go, trying to let go of things beyond my control.

elsaIt’s funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can’t get to me at all!

It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me I’m free!

Let it Go, Frozen

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Getting lost in the work

marcusRevel in the process, not in the results. A wise aspiration, so difficult to execute.

If you work at that which is before you, following right reason seriously, vigorously, calmly, without allowing anything else to distract you, but keeping your divine part pure, as if you were bound to give it back immediately; if you hold to this, expecting nothing, but satisfied to live now according to nature, speaking heroic truth in every word that you utter, you will live happy. And there is no man able to prevent this.     Marcus Aurelius

                 

Like the moon lost behind the clouds

MOONI had abandoned my art classes mid-way – they were not really my thing. But, as I observed to my husband, I learned something from them.

I have a tendency to focus on obsessing over getting the nuances in the background right first, instead of drawing the big picture. When looking at the big, curvy steel jug with some fresh twigs and leaves, and a steel plate, artistically arranged on a table with a dupatta, the Indian equivalent of a scarf, forming the background, I look at the the folds of the dupatta, trying to capture them perfectly.

I told as much to my husband as we had a leisurely breakfast on a weekend morning.

And I mean this more broadly – not just in art class, I said.

You always do mean things more broadly, no? He said.

And with that he went over to the couch to pick one of our big cushions.

This – is not a cushion. This is squishy – like feeeeeeelings.

I laughed and laughed – he is right –   the world around is imbued with meaning waiting to be discovered.

I sit with my soul sister one night. We are a little drunk after a get together; a little pained after the tough year both of us have had. It’s night and we’re sitting outside  – we can see the full moon in the night sky. We watch. It is a thing of beauty. I see grey clouds, a swarm of them, floating toward the moon.

Look, I say – they’ll hide the moon – but then they’ll pass.

We watch the clouds move menacingly toward the moon, and soon, the bright light of the moon is hidden, obscured by the dense gray mass of the clouds. We wait. In some time, the clouds float away, and the moon is free to shine once more.

I tell my husband this story the next day – of how the moon was lost and found.

It’s not the moon, he says. It’s you. He knows me. It is me – and I am on my way to being found.

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Strange, weird problems

say wha

It seems like we all suffer from strange / weird problems. Today, I was speaking with someone who shared his problem with me: he remained calm and unperturbed in stressful situations. While the rest of the team scurried in the face of an impending audit at his office, he remained calm and unfrazzled. The problem? The head of the office found his behavior strange – it seemed he wasn’t as engaged as the others. This is not the first time I had heard of this – my husband suffers from the same cool cucumber syndrome.

Other strange problems I’ve spotted include:

  • finding it easy to yes, but hard to say no
  • being harder on yourself, but more understanding of others
  • easily advocating for others, but not being able to advocate for yourself
  • knowing how other feels, but being clueless about what you feel
  • being able to see a situation from so many perspectives, that your own is just one of them, instead of being the most important perspective

What are some strange problems that you grapple with? Would love to hear in the comments.

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