Last week I went to see Elizabeth Gilbert talk about her new book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, and met up beforehand with old and new friends from the Free Range Humans movement (i.e. people like me who want to get the hell out of 9-5 work and create a life that works for them).
Unusually for me, although I know I want/need/have to write about it, to get such an incredible experience down on paper and screen before the details escape me, I also don’t know what to write. I don’t know how to encapsulate everything that the evening was to me.
Firstly, I’d forgotten the excitement, constant inspiration and sense of total belonging that I have with these guys. We are the most random group of people ever, from all sorts of backgrounds, all sorts of ages and at all sorts of stages in our journeys. Every single one of them feels like an old and true friend, even though some of them I only met in person for the first time last night (Vaska, Lisa, Issy, Marianne, Jenny, Becs – I’m looking at you!!).
We used to have regularish meetups and then somehow life got in the way and they tailed off – but I am determined to resurrect that regularity, I hadn’t realised how much I missed the boost they give me and the indescribable feeling of my worldview and plans fitting in so perfectly with theirs.
I’m also really hopeful that I’ll click with the Shining Lights girls in the same way, when I eventually get to meet them in person <3
And then after taking over Wagamama’s for a few hours, we wandered up to the Emmanuel Centre and settled to watch and hear Elizabeth Gilbert talk about Big Magic.
The two hours shot past in a blur, I had chills and tears and giggles sometimes all at once. It’s uncanny how much of what she talks about stirs recognition deep within – though she admits there’s no scientific evidence to back it up, every one of us in that room and hundreds of thousands more who have read the book identify on a deep level with what’s in it.
I won’t spoil the book, but I will leave you with my favourite scribbled notes from the four pages I took in my newly-beloved bullet journal:
- Having one foot in the real world, and one with the faeries – this is something you sort of must do, to live a full creative life. (Validation, right there!)
- On criticism: Does the critic have your best interests at heart? Do they know what you were trying to do? Can they offer criticism in a kind way? If not, fuck them – you don’t have to listen.
- “Honesty without kindness is not a virtue.”
- “I am willing to take the risk of being insulted, in order to be heard.” – this one really resonated – I am so lucky to be alive in a time where I’m allowed to say and do what I want, that I need to ditch my fear of criticism.
- It is far, far better to be alone than with someone who’s not supporting or lifting you, or making your life better, easier or happier. If none of that is happening, what is the point? This was so good to hear, it’s my general philosophy on relationships but always good to know I’m not the only one who thinks this way!
- There is a shit sandwich with everything. You have to work out what you love so much, and get so much out of, that you’re willing to eat the shit sandwiches. (I have a love-hate relationship with this analogy, something about it makes me uncomfortable – probably the fact that I don’t want to face the fact that everything I love has a flipside!)
- Being creative is like having a border collie – if you don’t keep it occupied it’ll find something destructive to do.
- You’re not obliged to use your creativity to save mankind, and you shouldn’t feel guilty for doing what lights you up.
- Don’t be an art martyr, and try or feel you have to do everything by yourself.
The quote that stood out the most, for me?
The ultimate act of creativity is to turn your own life into a work of art.
I am printing this to stick on my desk, my wall, by my bed, in my bathroom. That is what I want from this life, whatever form it takes – mermaiding, photographing, writing, dancing, having blue hair and a unicorn horn… all of the things that make me me.
And Elizabeth’s parting thought was this:
What are you willing to give up or say no to, in order to have the life you say you want?
Big Magic indeed.
With love and unicorns,
PS Have you read Big Magic, or seen Elizabeth Gilbert speak? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
PPS I know the picture isn’t great, but I was too busy listening to take a proper one!
The last few weeks in Instagram highlights – L-R tassels in progress, colourful table settings and ballet in the air at work; frosted spider web, delicious mango sorbet, first batch of eBay parcels from my pre-move clear out.
Happy things include 15 Queen Street and discovering the amazing creatives in my area | planning and prepping for a collaborative photoshoot with Contrariety Rose | development of Ink Drops Boxes | various happy-making side projects | fabulous Free Range Humans (the people and the book) | finding a new home | Hotel Chocolat caramel hot chocolate | bumping into Poppy’s old owner on a roundabout in a snowstorm | resurrecting the Ducks on Tour and finding original Frankie and Freddie pictures
And I have Thursday and Friday off work for the shoot 🙂
(Prompts courtesy of Brocante Home’s Life Audit)
This week I am:
Settling back into work after the Christmas break, making the most of driving Poppy while the weather is above freezing, getting to know new starters in some of the offices I work in, starting to fill my diary with glorious things and generally marvelling at how opportunities present themselves as soon as you start to make things happen…
Contented with and awestruck at my new life, with one dilemma between two wonderful annual events that are very probably happening on the same weekend in 2013.
The new spend less revolution, Blog Inc and Be a Free Range Human – all beautifully aligned with my plans and ideas and feelings this year. I’m also waiting for a chunk of time to start Lace, which was a present from my fabulous business partner at Christmas – but I suspect I won’t be able to put it down!
A wonderfully random selection of food from my fridge, freezer and storecupboard, and trying not to buy anything but essentials for the rest of January. It’s making for some entertaining combinations!
Project Pin Up goodness, the next Ink Drops boxes, new posts and a more soulful direction for my blogging, a website for my cousin’s go-karting and the things that will make me happiest this year.
A world that isn’t topsy-turvy, and a me that is able to skate skilfully.
A whole heap of things, none of which are essential to my happiness, fortunately – teal leather skates from Moxi, feather fans, various courses and an entire studio set up for photography.
I had a garden so I could take on my friends’ beautiful Staffie, Monty when they move to Australia at the end of the month.
Ideas and looks for the collaborative photoshoot I’m doing with Contrariety Rose in February, my storecupboard challenge, the new look of Ducking Fabulous and taking more photographs (sadly unevidenced by this post!)
Beauty at all sizes, getting the new DF site almost finished, my Dyson being fixed (I know, I know, since when did I get so excited over household appliances? But it’s happening…)
The chance to break habits and beliefs now that otherwise would stalk me and be obstacles for most of my life, and as always the unwavering support of those close to me
And finally tomorrow I will be:
Spring (winter?) cleaning my flat and then curling up for blissful sleep at Mum & Dad’s in the evening
On my to-do list?
So much on my list I might explode, but I have been trying to split everything that occurs to me into a relevant category in Wunderlist – and this way I don’t get overwhelmed.
Things on it I’m looking forward to –
- A day with my camera in London and meeting up with the lovely Miss Joyful
- Organising some rehearsal time for the troupe’s first performances (you heard of Paper Dolls Burlesque here first!)
- Car admin – the Micra needs a SORN and I have been driving for ten years (amazing, huh?!) so need a renewing and amazingly I have been on the road for 10 years – so need a new driving licence!
- Finish reading the Blog, Inc book
A fairly fabulous week if a very busy one…
Smiled about cuddles with a pug puppy on the way home one night
Met lovely new people at the fabulous Sophia & Jon’s wedding (no photos, forgot my camera, but it was a gorgeous day)
Loved rehearsing for next weekend’s cabaret night with some of my favourite girls in the world
Took on a project for my Dad in exchange for which he will write off the money I still owe him for Poppy – aren’t parents brilliant?!
Met new, wonderfully like-minded people through Escape the City
Worked on business plans, proposals and prices in response to a few exciting conversations I’ve recently had
Got tickets to the Free Range Festival (run by Free Range Humans)
Tried to resist buying enormous feathered showgirl headpieces
Bounced ideas, plans and worries off my completely amazing friends and family
Entertained at home – I’d forgotten how much I love cooking for people and having friends over en masse
Rode my cousin’s new horse for the first time (she was fabulous. I am no longer riding fit!)
Saw two burlesque shows (Proud Cabaret and An Evening of Burlesque)
Went to a tea party held by a dear friend and a hen party for someone I’d never met (both were fabulous)
Got Poppy through her MOT and service on time for the first time since owning her
(technically in October, on the 1st) Quit my day job! (for another one, which I think is much more aligned with my skills and what I want out of life. And isn’t in London.)
So yes. Despite illness and a lot of emotional wrangling, September was pretty amazing. Let’s see if October lives up to it, shall we?!