Meeting Elizabeth

Do you ever just wish someone would just tell you what you need to do to receive the acclaim you desire?

Do you fantasize of your own personal fairy godmother or godfather just appearing with a magic wand and waving all the frustration and overwhelm away?

They would say,
Voila!

Even better, what if that fairy godmother was a celebrity, some artist you have looked up to for so long, someone you LOVE everything they do, and would just DIE to have a conversation with them? Imagine having your burning questions answered!

Wouldn’t that be incredible??

Who is that for you?

For me, it’s best-selling author Elizabeth Gilbert, and last week, my dream did come true.  Not only did I get to meet her face to face, but she answered a very profound question for me.

One I imagine you have too…

One I think ALL artists struggle with.

 

One of my first friends that opened her apartment to me in the face of my divorce was a Broadway dancer named Nova. She was going out of town and offered me the keys to her place for two weeks.

It was January of 2013, and my whole world was falling apart.  I was trying to catch up with the fact that my 15 year marriage was over, that I had been lied to for months, and my dreams of being a mother were disappearing fast.  I was trying to wrap my head around mediation, selling my apartment, and extracting myself from a life that took 19 years to build.

When I arrived at Nova’s apartment, after she handed me the keys, she handed me something else, a book:
Eat, Pray, Love.

I looked down at the paperback cover, and all my former judgements came rising to the surface.  When the book was first released, I was a married woman, and remembered thinking,
I don’t need to read this!
I’m a happily married woman.
This has nothing to do with me.

The irony hit me square across the jaw.

Now…this book had EVERYTHING to do with me.

Tears in my eyes, I took the book, thanking Nova.
I read it cover to cover within days.

The part that went through me was Elizabeth’s 10 Steps to Letting Go.

I remember reading them, and thinking,
I’m not there yet….but someday I will be.

I got out a small yellow writing pad, and wrote them all down.  When I moved into my own place six months later, I placed this yellow pad on my desk, and would re-visit it every couple of months.

As I began to heal, I would slowly go through these steps…one by one…..until they were done.

I let go.

I let go of the deep heartache.
I let go of the self hatred.
I let go of the judgement towards myself and my ex.
I let go of my old life, that old wife.

I said goodbye…..and began to open my heart, ready to call in my life partner.  A far different man.

A man who would take me to meet Elizabeth Gilbert in person.

And then ask me to marry him.

 

My man gave me tickets to see her speak for Christmas, but it was only a few weeks ago, he shared there was a bigger surprise….the tickets were VIP and we would be able to meet her in person!

I was over the moon, and lined up with dozens of other women to have a few minutes with her before the general admission was allowed in for her talk.

The first thing she did was open her arms, and embrace me.  The hug was deep and genuine, and then I was able to pull back and say the words I have been waiting to say for five years,

Thank you.

I thanked her for Eat, Pray, Love.  I told her what a profound effect her writing had on my healing from my divorce, and then my man came forward, and I shared that she helped me call the love of my life in.

Her energy was so open, and loving.  She was fully present. We were able to get fantastic pictures with her, and then we exited the theatre, and BIG MAGIC occurred…..my man got down on one knee and proposed…..

And I said YES:)

 

Elizabeth gave one of the most powerful talks that night, and then opened up the floor for questions.  Directly to my left was the mic, and I saw my chance, to ASK Elizabeth my burning question.

Stepping to the mic, I first thanked her for the night, and then asked what was on my heart, what I imagine so many other writers and creators would LOVE to know,

Elizabeth, what have you found to be the most important part of your process that you would offer as a piece of advice to another writer?

Elizabeth took a moment, bowed her head, and then raised it with three words,
Do it Anyway.

She shared how important it is to release your inner critic, and just do it anyway.  Write the story, write what is coming out.  Who cares what anyone thinks?! Who you are when you begin the writing is not who you will be when you complete it.

Do It Anyway.

Create.

Put it Out There.

Let others say what they will…..do it anyway.

You will be changed by your expression…trust THIS.  Trust the process. Whether you are scared, terrified, or doubting yourself….do it anyway.

What have you held yourself back from creating?
What have you allowed the critics to keep you from doing in your Art?
What have you let Fear take over?

What is that story that is burning in you?

Elizabeth may be one of the most inspiring examples of absolute honesty.  What I found so incredible was how her writing and speaking were the same.  She really was very genuine, and her writing reflects that, as does her audience.

It’s no surprise the night was sold out, and the line to meet her in person wrapped around the theatre.

If she had not told her story, think of all those women who’s lives would not have been touched….
Mine would not have been touched.

We don’t know the future, so stop trying so hard to control it.

Get out your paper.
Get out your canvas.
Get our your camera.
Get our your instrument…..

Do it anyway.

 

Take a moment, and center back to WHY you became an Artist in the first place.  Release the craziness in your mind. You are not your fears.

Take YOUR 10 steps to let go,

And do it anyway.

And watch the BIG Magic occur.

The F Word

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It’s there, but not in the four lettered iteration you think. It’s actually uttered and thrown from mouth to mouth, scattered like autumn leaves and placed on bright pillows in deep hopes of actualization. It’s deemed necessary and often seen as an end point, the end to our anger and suffering. Nirvana awaits within this simple word.

The need is immediate, and we leap over all mud puddles to place our bare feet in that green silken grass, and fling our boots to the side, desiring to forget our blackened soles.

But do we really know what we are asking for?

Do we know who we are asking?

 

I can share with you what I asked for.  I asked for forgiveness.

All relationships are a two way street and even though mine felt horribly short and road-blocked, I knew I had hammered that block with my own nails. In seeing the depth of the nails, now splintering the wood of my marriage, I pulled one out and laid it at my husband’s feet, laying claim and offering as a promise I wanted to repair.

But he turned away from the nail, from my hands open wide, and would not give me what I wanted.

Even more, he kept his nails firmly embedded, his block growing into a stockade before my eyes. He sanded the surface, and swept any sawdust from the site. He packed away his toolbox and locked it tightly.

How could I forgive that which wasn’t even acknowledged?

I turned back around and saw my toolbox busted wide open, the hammer strewn to the side, vice grips laying twisted on the road, and my ruler snapped in half. The metal clasps that once held the top so fast, now lay bent and deformed, unable to hold anything together.

I picked up whatever remains there were, and threw them in the trash.

I put on my highest rain boots, staring at the raging ocean before me in my heartbreak. I couldn’t even utter the word, as all I would feel was a black wall, and a thick fog that would roll in with tremendous force.

I had an intention to survive, and an intention to understand, and that had to be my guide for a long time.

 

At first it was the wall next to me. Then, as the fog cleared, I could see the bricks piled high to my right. Slowly, with each healing day, and being held by my community, I was able to reach up and take down one block at a time. The mortar would crumble on my meditation cushion, and small bits would drop into my hair, the black of the brick passing through my fiery mane.

Sometimes a brick would stick so strong and no amount of coaxing or pulling would bring it loose. Weeks would pass with no movement, just dust slowly forming in the spaces created; rectangles of emptiness oddly positioned, with no real pattern, except a slow opening.

How I wanted to feel relief. How I wanted the wall to disappear.

That was the end goal, wasn’t it?

 

I recently spent a cold March Saturday on a retreat around the F word.  The phenomena brought out quite a crowd, all of us sitting upright, and feeling very similar confusion.  Our teacher began by laying a groundwork of relationships and what is present and supports a loving connection.  Of all the terms he used, two resonated with me:

Trust

Communication

I knew these existed in abundance and were the cornerstones for many happy years of my marriage, but when I stood before the towering stockade in my divorce, they were completely out of my grasp.

On the heels of these definitions, our teacher then asked us,
“What are you asking for in forgiveness?”

As neither of these have existed between us for two years, I began to ask the next question, which was,
Who am I asking to give me these things?

Could it be that my communication of laying the nail at his feet was all I could do, and was enough?

I did pull the nail, and threw away the broken ruler.  This was the beginning of self forgiveness and self trust.  As I sat next to the crumbling wall, bricks were immobile when I sought answers from the past, from the turned back and locked toolbox.  But the truth was, what I was asking for from him, I was cultivating in myself.

Maybe the wall wasn’t meant to just disappear, but instead be dismantled with care.  The bricks were brightening from a darkened black to vibrant red, and I could see through them now, a wide window opening.

I didn’t buy a new box to lock my tools up tightly, but instead found new alternatives to the vice grip and heavy hammer.  Now I had before me a supportive community, a bowl of ash to catch fragrant incense, connection to my breath, love of the crashing waves, and an open journal, ink looping on every page.

And as I turned the paper to present a blank canvas, I picked up my pen and wrote out in sweeping cursive the words I have wanted to hear.

I Forgive You

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