I've been so hesitant about writing this post about another gift I was given as part of my July Birthday Month that here it is August and I'm finally finishing and posting. My youngest sister gave me a one year subscription to the Calm App and the first thing that popped up on the Masterclass option was this Masterclass by Elizabeth Gilbert called 'Creative Living Beyond Fear', and I was hooked almost instantly. The one hour talk, in fact, I could not stop writing notes about it, it's profound.
The hesitancy also comes from so publically waving around my lavish number of meaningful and heartfelt gifts ... The comparing that will happen, the distancing that will happen, the idea that some people will think I'm flaunting, that I think I'm so special, or not sensitive enough to other people's suffering. The lavishness that I am feeling in my life that is and is not material, when I was raised knowing about starving children and other injustice in the world. My contribution should just be to be grateful what I have and be quiet. There are rules, one of them probably is that some wealth is okay as long as you do good things with it, and really, do it silently. I remember being completely fascinated with Muppies in the 1990's - my first acquaintance with a wealthy group of Mennonites (who were also new to me) but Mennos with money, Wow. I remember watching their shame, and how carefully they maneuvered ...
And then at some point I realized that these are my fears. The hesitation, the resistance to write this post about another gift I was given ...... those are my fears. Oh right, I allowed them to drive, which is precisely one of the things Liz talks about not letting Fear to do. Have it be with you but not make decisions or even touch that radio or heat button. I've been having boundary issues the last 7 weeks with my fear, what it gets to do and not do.
This birthday gift and my writing this post has everything about Showing Up for Me. It's okay to have people actually show up for me in ways that are meaningful to me. It's okay to get the meaningful gifts that I actually want, it's okay to be inspired by red objects, it's okay to be this happy, it's okay to be this fulfilled and it's okay to be this loved. This is me becoming more expansive of heart, and growing wider ... That's what it means to me to have everything be about me. Not "selfish", just bigger, such an important distinction. That's why a birthday month is spectacular. It's a compact mini journey of more intentionality required, asked for and seeing who will step up for you ... Not really a test with grades - A's and F's, but definitely of creating something meaningful for my life, this life. Living it, writing it, living writing about it and watching who is feeling with me. I love that part. I when imagine my energy space like a focus, my living Anne Womb, pink and orange and a big circle, because colors help me feel things, not think things - this energy field is not going to shrink YOURS unless you let it.
Initially I was skeptical and decidedly un-curiuos about the paid version of this app, I don't really need more sounds in my life, my creativity comes out of selective sounds, words and silence. I've been as little aware of Elizabeth Gilbert as I have been the zen buddhist concepts surrounding her until very recently. Anything I've been learning about Zen Buddhism I've been learning without labels, for which I'm grateful. I don't need another Bible in my life. I just need air.
The first five minutes of her talk were Air. I listened to her (this class) one hour once 7 weeks ago and knew she would be a game changer for me. I immediately asked G if he would listen to it with me sometime. G is also careful about what words he lets into his being, and five minute later he was in too. It prompted him to buy her book which we are now reading together.
The only time I heard Liz speak was a spectacular talk, some version of a Ted talk, about women's voices, and I did know about Eat Pray Love the book, and I did enjoy the movie a LITTLE, but was irritated by it. And do you know WHY? Because at that time, I compared. Elizabeth Gilbert's life fell apart, and she wrote a wildly successful book which became a wildly successful movie. All I could do with my envy is shut her away and down, shut me down and well, shutting down just creates more shutting down. That's what it is to compare, and that's what happens when hearts are not open, but egos are alive and in control.
I love that Liz never stopped - my boycott didn't work, :) - and eventually my ego got back to the duty of simple survival so that my heart could continue it's work of expanding .... We won't mention the number of years that went by.
I'm not sure my sister knew this particular Masterclass was in the subscription, but no matter, she was onto the overall value. This one class makes the entire year worth gold. In fact, I have not spent time on the app since this ... What we have in our minds and hearts changes our reality, so to receive a gift that is actually feeding my thoughts with inspiration, originality, truth, this is an amazing gift to give your sister. Thank you E-est for marking my big decade birthday with your own beautiful intuition in action. (xo)
Now. Do I paste in the entire contents of that Masterclass? Because it bugs me a little that it's kind of an elite not free item on Calm, not open to the general public, although apparently Liz does write directly on Facebook ... So far her book is not exactly the same thing as the Masterclass. I typed up the entire Masterclass for me and G to have a reference to in my journal and to keep the Exercises near my heart knowledge.
What I loved and love about her Masterclass is knowing that she did actually transform her life, design her life into something she wanted, from something that she didn't want. It's that transparent transformation process that made me create this "Inspiration" page. It's that she stayed with herself through it all. It's out of the whirl of her life that she shows up to us and writes about amazing concepts, at the risk of being criticized she stays out here with us ... She could have just stayed secluded in her golden tower of success and enjoyed her realm, her massages, her lavish life, but she seems to want to continue to engage with us on a real way.
So here ... This amazing idea she talks about that we all have a pre-rational voice ... a voice that is not the filtered fear based answer. Yes yes YES.
She makes the distinction that Creating Living isn't just for creatives who make a living at their art, like an opera singer or a designer. Creative living is a universal voice and expression. Creating living is that inherently sacred space we all have inside ourselves, when we stand in our own truth and go with it. It's everyone's birth right. Yes yes YES.
What I love about Elizabeth's talk is hearing (not for the first time) that we ALL are connected that creative source ... We all have intuition, voice, inspiration ... If one person has, like Elizabeth Gilbert, it doesn't mean that someone else has "it" less. Yes yes! The only thing that makes the difference is what you decide to do. And how self aware are you willing to be. Or are you going to shut it down.
The reason I originally wanted to post the entire feed verbatim is because it's just one big fat affirmation of everything I'm feeling, thinking, doing. A friend of mine and I have regular phone talks to connect us between Coasts, and one of the ideas we struggle with is wanting affirmation to feel alive. Because of course any kind of affirmation just taps into our egos with a Yes, that is SO ME. And we all want to be Seen. In fact you can have the entire world "see you" and make you FEEL seen, but it's STILL not the same as seeing yourself, affirming yourself. My hunch is that this is what went so wrong with. Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade. And why S's words are always, it's an Inside Job. That is the work. That is the healthy affirmation coming from this masterclass - forget the external affirmations, just know that we all belong in creative space.
But here, let me just try it. This quote from Liz's session, Wow it's SO ME! :
"Creative LIVING: is any life where a human being routinely as an almost spiritual practice, chooses the path of curiosity over the path of fear, because at every instant in your life you will be standing on that cross road, a cross road that never ends, where on one side you are invited by curiosity and on the other side you are blocked by fear. ... This is about how to open up the pathway towards the curious and away from the fear."
In my Truer heart, I know it's not about the affirmation of me, it's having the signs tell me that I am actually "Participating in that curious creation of the universe". It's having an almost tactile piece of my heart in the palm of my hands to see that I AM in "the highest alignment with the original source." That it's not ego feeling, that's my body heart truth, and that's the part we all have. My ego ...... my ego can get back to protecting me from the bears, rain and get me quinoa and blueberries for breakfast.
Also, then too, after I finally squeeze an affirmation out of someone like Triffany Hammond she will say things to me like, "And you know what? You already knew that". I then feel the relief and release of it, I already knew. Well okay. Same with S.A., who has STILL not responded to the Essay she requested from me and I know she is teaching me to be deeper with my intuition. Just as an aside. But it's the point so it's not an aside. I don't need Elizabeth Gilbert or SA to affirm.
I will say, I DO live within this society that listens to you more if you quote someone LIKE Elizabeth Gilbert, because who the hell is S? We can't seem to function if there isn't some huge stamp of approval from someone ELSE. And that someone else has to be big. Courage happens not just in individuals but in groups, nations, collectively. I even had to cringe a little when Liz name drops Martha Beck … If we can say “My friend Martha Beck”, we’ll listen more, right? If I can say here and now, “My friend Elizabeth Gilbert", you will read me more, right? Oprah, Ellen, too ... So ja ... cut that shit out.
Still Liz and Martha are friends and I DO love the line Elizabeth reads from Martha Beck, "Magic is the thing that wants to happen next", and that "creativity is innately linked into magic because it's constantly feeling for what happens next" ... Yes yes YES.
For me and my life and this new Anne-brand I play with, this poem Liz reads from Mark Nepo, Breaking Surface, my soul is fed with these lines:
Let no one keep you from your journey .... No voice that tells you in the night, it can't be done. Let nothing dissuade you from seeing what you see, or feeling the winds that make you want to dance alone or go where no one has yet to go. You are the only explorer. Your heart the unreadable compass, your soul the shore of a promise too great to be ignored.
This is why anyone ever read a book, or watched a film, or loved opera, those expansive and true ideas, and full blown emotions ... The Arts, emotions and expression are the ONLY places and spaces that heal, what's why they are sacred, like wombs.
In my life I don't understand more than my inner nudge ... I used to try to nudge other people to be more open and connecting and since that totally didn't work, here I am, Being More Open and Connecting with myself. And so what resonated with me next is Elizabeth describing how she can recognize when other people are in fear, because a large part of my life has been following my intuition with fear and vulnerability as my inner guide, even at the expense of getting hurt, or things not going my way. To value this a living guide ... It's fascinating to listen to her process with this.
Let this paragraph from Elizabeth wash over you like it did me, explaining what happens with Inspiration and Fear:
That when Inspiration hits us - we want to make something, we have a larger idea and then Fear hits :: Fear is the thing that says, nobody needs this, or wants it, maybe it can't be monetized, it's precious time lost, and no body asked for and doesn't solve any problems in the world. The reason fear asks these questions is that fear comes from a different part of your brain than the creative response and fear doesn't understand creativity .. because it doesn't make sense, fear is old and reptilian, creativity is new and enlightened ... We've had fear in our nervous systems a lot longer than we have had creative response. Creativity is essentially weird, its a thing we do in conjunction with invisible inspirational forces, it doesn't necessarily reward you in the ways that our culture teaches you that a reward is.
at the end of the endeavor you will be a different person than you were at the beginning of it. Regardless of the outcome, regardless of the product, regardless of if anyone every reads it sees it buys it cares about it approves of it, you do it to see what it does to you. The big benefit of creativity is how it shapes and changes your life, rather than what it gives you in the end the process itself is its own reward.
Her teachings are astounding because what I think she did is after she became this huge success from her first book, she spent years listening to us ask her for advice. Because of course that's what we want, have her success, be like her. She read it all, she took it in and sat on it, carried all our fears and tears and synthesized it in her body and instead of caving with intolerance of that burden, she dug deep and came up with real answers, conversations, exercises ... Which if we use are actually life changing.
And what if this self-educated woman had not followed her intuition?
This masterclass is not ego-food, it's soul food and I'm writing about it because I value soul-spreading more than I do counting my amazing birthday gifts.
Thank you Elizabeth Gilbert.