Public Affair

Anyone who knows me well, knows that my favourite author is the sublimely talented Elizabeth Gilbert. I find her so inspiring, her memoir Eat Pray Love changed my life and helped me forge my own journey (albeit not through the beauty of places like Italy, Bali or India) to self acceptance and through the pit of depression and out into the light. If you follow my Goodbye Fatty blog, you will no doubt already know all about these challenges and what I went through so you are all caught up? Great!

Liz (I hope I am allowed to call her that?) has written a fabulous new book called Big Magic, it is all about creative living beyond fear, something that speaks very expressly to me. I have been devouring this book every night, chapter by chapter, consistently fist pumping and screaming out “Yes! Yes! This so happens!” to the point of my housemates asking if I am ok in there (to which I reply with a resounding YES!). This is something that I have struggled with for so long, constantly being excited by creativity, but then fear creeps in and takes over and everything dwindles and I fall back into the black pit of “artist suffering” resolving myself to the fact that I will never be a writer or creative person.

A large part of the book explores our influences growing up and what people say to us about being creative and how this cannot lead to success (or what the world deems as successful) and I must admit that this is where probably three quarters of my fear comes from. What if I put it out there and it gets shot down? What if everyone laughs at it and it is a complete failure? What if my family read it and realise that some of this is about them? What then? This and a host of a million other questions consistently flood my mind when I start a creative project, I exhaust myself going through all of this, that I am so depleted and my creativity is completely bruised and battered, and the project slips away.

One of the ideas in the book explores making our creative projects public, this is something that I also struggle with, I have believed for the longest time that all creative work is for public consumption, otherwise how do you know if its any good? This has been my struggle this week and my realisation is this, I create because I want to create, because I make something that did not exist the day before. I do it because it get’s hold of me and I have to get it out. It doesn’t have to be a fully formed novel or script, it can be an idea with a few major plot points, and the more I dwell on it and research it, it reveals more of itself during this process. My problem is posting everything up for anyone and everyone to see before it has been attended to and coddled to produce a work worthy of creativities idea. I also do this in my personal life too and this has been a huge realisation this week, I looked back at the last few posts on here and they are deeply personal. I am posting up thoughts and events about myself and someone else I am currently involved with (hopefully still am!) and while I am an open book, he is a private person who does not necessarily want my thoughts about us and him out there for everyone to see.

When I approached the subject with him, he did listen and say that he understands why I need to write about it, and I agree to some extent that I definitely do need to write about it, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be public. So if you are reading this expecting hot and steamy details about my relationship, I am sorry to disappoint you, moving forward that is completely off the cards, I will be continuing to write about it, but it will not be something that is made for public consumption.

I feel like this is a first in a series of giant leaps forward for my creative life and I am excited about where it takes me. If you look to the left you will see a cute little cartoon that I nabbed from Liz Gilbert’s Facebook page about fear. This is a quote from Big Magic about where fear should be in the presence of our creative lives. “Fear is allowed to come along for the ride, but it is sitting in the back seat, it doesn’t get a say, it doesn’t get to navigate, it definitely does not get to take over, it does not even get to touch the radio! Instead of fighting it or conquering it, we have to work with it and acknowledge that it exists” I cannot stop reading this passage over and over and dwelling on the direction this will take my writing.

Recently I gave up playing games and dedicated that time to my writing, already in the last few weeks I have seen such a surge forward in my work, I am getting to pursue and accept so many things that I just kept on the back-burner because I was convinced that I would do these things “when the time was right”. Already this post is close to 1000 words, something that used to feel like such a chore to get out, now just seems to be flowing out of me as I open myself up to the creative process and accept that yes I am a writer, yes I am a successful creator and I have all the tools I need to do this.

If you want to listen to the Magic Lessons podcast hosted by Liz Gilbert you can subscribe here

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The view from the bottom…

So it has been a year since what I recall as “the incident” I had everything going for me, I was on top of the world thinking that this was were my life was headed and then in a matter of minutes it was all ripped out from me and I was left with literally nothing. I had a couple of bags of clothes and my laptop and that was it. My job, my house in town, my self confidence (what little there was of it!) all gone. I could now fit my belongings in one car trip. I was failing my uni degree and was stuck with the one and only choice to move back home with my parents. 

Alone, broke, socially inept and jobless were qualities that I had not been before and I had no idea what to do with myself. Moving back in with my parents just after I turned 30 was humiliating enough, I realised that my desire to be a journalist completely died after discovering that I have a soul and intended to keep it (along with a set of morals!) now don’t get me wrong I am not calling all journalists empty shells intent on landing the next big story to enhance their career for selfish gain…I am simply saying that I did not have that drive or desire. 

In the first three months of moving back “home” I was jobless. I went to my classes, did my assignments, wrote as much as I could, poured my frustration into my writing for various websites and this got me through those horrible times. I casually was seeing someone who lived in Sydney, I swam, I walked, I was penniless and burning every cent I had on petrol and having a good time. I would spend hours in cafe’s ordering small coffee’s and house water just trying to plan out just what the hell I was going to do next. 

It was during this time I discovered that at the very essence of myself I am strong. I built up a life of possessions, found an identity through a thankless job, went through a traumatic depression that nearly took me to the edge of taking my own life, and yet through it all I managed to pull myself out of it and keep going. I did have support from the very limited amount of friends that knew my situation and what I was going through. Through it all I discovered I am relentlessly, enormously, gigantically and wonderfully strong and there is no situation, person or thing that can ever take that strength away from me. 

As I said goodbye to the guy and eventually found a new job in another industry I discovered this. I have a horribly addictive personality. I get attached to things and they become familiar and comfortable. My mind accepts that this is the way I should be living my life and I stay in that mindset, so when the inevitable winds of change blow in like a gail force and scramble everything around, I am lost and have no idea what to do. This is something that I cannot change as it is part of what makes me, me, but it is something that I can be aware of. 

Over the last 6 months I have fallen into this same trap and let things be as they are, accepting that where I live, my job, my growing amount of possessions and familiar friends and surroundings is how my life should be, and it is through these rose coloured glasses that I realise I have become complacent. I have turned into a mean, grumpy, bitter person who is comfortable in the way things and always dreaming and thinking of what “should be” or what I want out of my life. It is always there in the back of my mind, but I am never actually doing anything to get there. I do a lot of talking about it to make it seem real and tangible, but in the back of my mind my good old friend familiarity creeps in and keeps me safe. 

In November of 2013 I started a journey to transform my body into something better than the toxic wasteland I had allowed it to become. While this has well honestly died over the christmas/new year period it is happening again and I find myself entering a 12 week challenge of clean living. While I will be doing this primarily for my body, I am also going to include my mind as well. Apart form clean eating, 4 boot camps a week, 3 personal training sessions and general cardio I have opted to include meditation and yoga, as well as a lot of quiet reflection time and a total ban on alcohol and junk food in my system. It sounds scary and I know it is going to be the hardest thing I possibly have ever done as I rely on my comfort food to get me through a lot, but I know that the end result will be worth it. I have never wanted anything so badly in my life and I am hoping that I have the support of friends and family as I do this seemingly selfish thing. 

The good news? I now have a fantastic job working with people and things that I love, as much as I have complained and whined about it , I realised today that through all of my crying and whinging I actually do love it. It makes me happy and I feel like I make a difference where I am. If it was to be ripped away from me tomorrow, sure I would be disappointed that I didn’t get to go there everyday anymore, but I would still stand strong. If you met me 10 years ago you would not even recognise me today, I had so much self-confidence, so much assurance and a complete sense of who and what I was and will be, but somewhere along the way I lost it and now I finally feel like it is all flooding back. 

So if you are reading this and you do count yourself as a friend, please think of me as I go through this challenge, ask me how I am doing check up on me, care for me and for the love of god do NOT eat bacon in front of me as I may have to kill you (if you really do know me, you will know that this is no empty threat! haha!) For as much as I rely on myself and my own strength, I know without a doubt I will need some more to get through the next stage of my life. 

“If you’re brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting, which can be anything from your house to 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 difficult realities about yourself, then the truth will not be withheld from you.”