Magic Lessons Podcasts

I spent several hours in the car today. I normally listen to music on my iPhone when I’m alone in the car. However today, I felt drawn to listen to recent podcasts by Liz Gilbert. 

Elizabeth’s newest book, Big Magic, released last year. The subtitle captures the essence of the book, Creative Living Beyond Fear. The book is excellent and I will be reading it again soon. At the beginning of each podcast, Liz explains that although she completed the book, the topic of creativity was not finished. She further explores living the creative life in a series of podcasts.  

I, too, am far from finished with creativity. I settled in to be inspired. 

It was Divine leading. I had time to listen to three podcasts, and I randomly selected the episodes. I love what shows up when I get out of the way, and surrender to flow. 

The first podcast featured Brandon Stanton, author and photographer of Humans of New York. Brandon shared candidly about following passion by getting started, ready or not. Using his own life as an example he spoke about staying in a job that drained his energy, because he felt he had to have a certain amount of money to begin his dream job, photographing and interviewing strangers on the streets of New York City. When at last he began, the end result was different from what he had imagined. However, the project evolved, and became succesful, out of what he created, day after day. 

The next two podcasts amazed me. In them, Liz interviewed Brené Brown and Glennon Doyle Melton, in separate sessions. This was interesting timing, because I am currently working through the online course Wisdom of Story, presented by these two courageous women. That’s a synchronicity, and when synchronicities show up in my life, I pay close attention. 

Brené shared about the importance of living a creative life. Brené said we are all creative being. We are either being guided by inspiration or ignoring it, which can lead to frustration, resentment and being judgmental of those who are creating. In her studies, she found that shame often surrounds creative effort. Among people who experienced shame as a child, half of them shared that they were shamed for expressing creativity. Many of those children grew up never attempting to create again. 

And lastly, Glennon shared her powerful story of finding her voice to express the truth of who she was. She overcame addiction and an eating disorder by seeing that an eviction from a lifestyle is actually an invitation to engage life at a deeper level. The theme of her interview was to find who you are and do what you are here to do, even if you don’t feel ready to offer your gift to others. 

That was the common thread that ran through all three podcasts: Don’t wait, begin, ready or not…and have the courage to face your fears so you can begin. 

I took the message to heart. I am embracing a creative life, as I write, as I garden, as I create. It is so much more important to begin, than to keep planning, keep perfecting, keep researching. Begin. Keep going. Let inspiration guide me and allow creativity to flow. 

I am grateful for Magic Lessons today. 

Listen to Liz’s podcasts by going to and find Podcasts in the dropdown menu. 

Journey 363: Finding My True North

What perfect timing it has been, to begin again in The Artist’s Way this week. Chapter 8: Recovering a Sense of Strength explores making practical and immediate changes in my current life. I have been encouraged to examine ways in which I have settled for less than I desire in my creative life. 

The perfection is that I traditionally use this final week in December to reflect on and release the past year, as I prepare to embrace the upcoming new year. One of the assignments in Chapter 8 was to put a name to my dream and write it down. 

I did. I wrote, “I am a writer, an author.”

Next Julia instructed me to name one accomplishment that would signal the realization of that dream. On my emotional compass, this would signify true north. 

I wrote, “I want to know that I have created the best writing that I can, and have it published. My true north is to create my best writing for publication.” 


As I am preparing to surrender to next year’s journey, I appreciated this opportunity to become clear on the direction in which I’m heading. 

So what does it mean to find my true north? 

In Bill George’s book, True North, he says, “It’s the internal compass that guides you successfully through life. It is your orienting point – your fixed point in a spinning world – that helps you stay on track. It’s based on what is most important to you, your most cherished values, your passions and motivations and the sources of satisfaction in your life.”

Knowing my true north lets me start exactly where I am, get oriented, and head out, moving in the right direction, using my internal compass as a guide. I can align myself with the Divine, make my desires known, and trust the guidance I receive. 

I continued with the assignment, writing out long and short term accomplishment markers to guide me, now that I had my true north. These actions included sending out a query letter and book proposal and researching submission requirements for several magazines I’d like to submit articles to. 

I recently finished Liz Gilbert’s book, Big Magic, in which she shares her own true north. Toward the end of the book, Liz shares about having fierce trust and doing what you love to do, creatively, because success or failure, it is what you must do. She says do it for you. Not to help or inspire other people. Do this because it helps or inspires you, and then it cannot help but inspire others. 

I am a writer. My creativity has roared back to life as a result of my year of firsts and my year of journeys. My desire to write was at the heart of both adventures. I write because I must. I write for me. I trust that what helps me, in turn helps others. 

As I journey next year, I have my true north and the Divine to guide me. I have fierce trust, and people like Julia Campbell and Liz Gilbert who are shining examples to learn from. I am about to launch out, my heart open, knowing that the flow of life will take me exactly where I need to go, bring me exactly what I require, as I travel with clarity and purpose. It’s going to be another extraordinary year of adventures. 


Journey 316: From this Moment Emerging 

Today I only had one appointment, late in the day, a final walk through with buyers before we close in the morning. With chunks of free time before me, I was delighted by the delicious prospect of reading in my current stack of books. I had a similar day, back on Journey 95. I enjoyed that so much, I decided to do something similar. As I’ve noted before, I read multiple books at a time, enjoying the way the messages from each book combine to bring inspiration into my life. Of the six or seven books that I am currently reading, here are the four that I savored today. 


The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

I’ve shared about this phenomenal book that offers a twelve week course, designed to remove the limitations that block creativity. I am on week two, day 12, and I have done the Morning Pages, three pages of free writing, twelve times. I’ve taken myself on two artist dates so far. This afternoon I had the opportunity to do my assignments for this week. 

What I’m receiving from this book:

Julia, with the Morning Pages, the weekly Artist Date and the assignments, has already helped me deeply reconnect with my creative side. I love the dates with myself and look forward to them each Sunday afternoon. I am having fun with my creativity and expressing it in multiple ways. 

Quote from today’s reading: 

“In order to be an artist, I must be alert, always, for the presence of the Great Creator leading and helping my artist.”

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Written to encourage readers to embrace the creative life, whether as a writer, artist, musician or any of the myriad other ways creativity can be expressed, Liz gives us permission to move boldly beyond fear and infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion. 

What I’m receiving from this book:

I didn’t realize that I needed permission to live as my creative self, but I feel like I have been given that slip of paper that grants freedom. My biggest take away so far from this book, which has changed the way I view my writing in particular, is to do what I do for the simple joy of creating. I don’t want to put the expectation on my writing, or other creative endeavors, to support me. I will support them. The most important thing I can do right now is express myself and enjoy that process. The outcomes will take care of themselves.

Quote from today’s reading:

On perfection, and her first novel…”At 75 pages in, I nearly stopped. It felt too terrible to continue, too deeply embarrassing. But I pushed through my own shame only because I decided that I refused to go to my grave with 75 pages of an unfinished manuscript sitting in my desk drawer. I did not want to be that person. The world is filled with too many unfinished manuscripts as it is and I didn’t want to add another one to that bottomless pile. So no matter how much I thought my work stank, I had to persist.” 


One Spirit Medicine by Alberto Villoldo

Drawing on more than 25 years of experience as  a medical anthropologist, as well as his own journey back from the edge of death, this shamanic teacher shares how to detoxify the brain and body with superfoods and how to use the body’s own energy field to heal the body. 

What I’m receiving from this book:

I bought this book earlier this year, began reading it, and set it aside. My recent bout with severe sciatica has once again brought my awareness back to how I care for my body, or don’t care for it. I’m knowledgeable about how eating certain foods affects my health. But this book goes way beyond a healthy diet. As one who is aware of and interested in energy work, I’m excited to learn more about working with my body and soul to live in optimal health. 

Quote from today’s reading:

“Every schoolchild knows the value of green plants in the diet. What most of us don’t realize is that plants provide vital information to the body beyond simply ensuring a balanced diet. Scientists have found that plants are master regulators of gene expression in humans. They have the power to switch on the genes that create health and to switch off the genes that create cancer, heart disease, diabetes and many of the other ailments of civilization.”


The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Marie is a Japanese cleaning consultant who takes tidying up to a whole new level. She offers detailed guidance for determining which items to keep in your home, by giving them the “spark joy” test. A decluttered home allows you to enjoy a calm and motivated mindset, and the unique magic of a tidy, organized home. 

What I’m receiving from this book:

My daughter Elissa found this book, which has been perfect for me. I have desired to decluttered my house and display and use keepsakes and family heirlooms that I keep. Marie’s test for whether to keep an item, or discard or give it away, is simple. Hold the item. If it sparks joy, keep it. If it doesn’t, get rid of it. If the item has been used and enjoyed in the past, Marie suggests thanking the item for its usefulness and then releasing it to go elsewhere. I like that expression of gratitude and the recognition that everything, even inanimate objects, have energy. 

Quote from today’s reading:

“Let me share a secret. Putting your house in order is fun! The process of assessing how you feel about the things you own, identifying those that have fulfilled their purpose, expressing your gratitude, and bidding them farewell, is really about examining your inner life, a rite of passage to a new life.” 

All four books that I read from today are about examining my inner life, with resulting outward expressions of creativity, joyful freedom, optimal health and a tidy home. Each of those is an amazing journey in itself. Combined, they are creating powerful and exciting shifts in my life. 

Stephen Nachmanovitch wrote, “The noun of self becomes a verb. This flashpoint of creation in the present moment is where work and play merge.” From this present moment of work and play merging, I am emerging. 


Journey 298: The Path of Creativity

This has been a delightful Sunday, spent doing the things that I love to do. I went shopping with my sister and we chatted and had fun. I stopped by my granddaughter’s birthday party that her mom had for her at the park today. I appreciated Brittany’s gracious invitation and enjoyed the festive atmosphere and watching that gorgeous little girl. Most of the day I practiced one form or another of creativity, which caused me to reflect. 


My favorite place for reflection. 

Sometimes it’s helpful to look back, even though I’m not traveling in that direction, and see how my path has wound through the landscape of my life. Although I can’t see ahead, I can see where I’ve been and see how everything connects together, how directed my journey is. 

From the precipice of Now, I can distinctly see where my path shifted recently. I stepped onto a fresh new trail almost two years ago, in January 2014, when I began my year of firsts, and started blogging. Oh, I didn’t know at the beginning of that year how my life would open up and change. I just knew I was ready to break out of my comfort zone, ready to create the discipline of writing daily. I had tried writing every day during the summer of 2013. I wrote for four days and quit, unfocused and unsure what to write about. 

The blog provided the necessary focus and, connected to experiencing daily firsts, I had fresh topics to write about. As of today, I’ve written for 663 consecutive days, without missing a single day. That’s a major accomplishment for one who quit after only  four days before. 

However, here’s the truly amazing thing that has occurred. That daily habit of writing, coupled with the desire to open to more opportunities and possibilities, has awakened creativity within me. My symbol for this year is an open door and that has been very appropriate. It’s as if the door to my creative side has been thrown wide open. 

I began to combine planting and tending flowers and herbs with creative expressions such as using metal containers, wooden chairs and even a vintage screen door in my garden. Indoors I found I loved creating vignettes, dragging out family heirlooms and treasures and finding new ways to use them and display them. Recently I’ve begun to color again, discovering colored pencils and coloring books for adults. 

That seemingly simple activity has changed the way I view the world. I notice the way light and shadows fall across the field as I drive by, the many shades of green in a forest, the browns and oranges and yellows in the grasses waving beside the road. My artist’s eye is open again and observing, considering, figuring out how to duplicate what I am seeing. 


Today I did free sketching with my colored pencils, experimenting with techniques and coloring outside the lines, literally. My first attempts weren’t astounding but it’s a beginning and something I will pursue because I enjoy laying color onto paper. 

And then there’s Liz Gilbert. I placed her on my vision board in January of this year and sat in an enthralled audience two weeks ago, in Wichita, listening as she spoke about her new book. And what did she write about, speak about? Creativity. Big Magic. Creative living beyond fear. I was meant to be there. I’m reading her book now, and enjoyed the section titled Enchantment today. These events are much more than coincidences. They are the paving stones of the path that has been laid at my feet…and I am invited to journey, to explore. 

When Liz spoke, she recommended a book called The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. I’ve held this book in my hands several times in the past few years and always returned it to the shelf. The time was not right. Apparently Now is the time. I bought the book and I’m working through it. Author Julia Cameron offers a twelve week journey to discover the link between the spiritual and creative selves. Considered a revolutionary program for artistic renewal, The Artist’s Way helps to overcome limiting beliefs and fears. I’m excited about this book. 

Liz also shared that creativity must trust us in order to offer us her ideas. When we open to creativity and begin to practice it, in whatever way brings us joy, then we are sending out the message, “Entrust me with your gifts. I will accept them. I will develop them. I am open to receive ideas and I will DO something with them. ”  After hearing her words, I realized this is what is occurring in my life. As I opened to creativity, by writing, by embracing new things, more creativity came. And then more. 

My life is continuing to shift as creativity is finding me trustworthy. I am drawn to deeper writing, and drawing, and open to new endeavors that beckon. I truly don’t know what’s around the bend. I don’t need to know. I’ll just keep journeying…with creativity as my companion. 



Journey 285: Liz Gilbert Offers Big Magic

I’ve been a fan of Liz, ever since I read her best selling book, “Eat, Pray, Love”, and saw the film adapted from that true story. Her authenticity, her sometimes painful growth as a result of the challenges in her life, and the transformations that she shared as she journeyed, spoke deeply to me. I connected with Liz on her Facebook page and read her posts daily, drawing inspiration from her often humorous and always spot on observations of life.   

In January of this year, as I was creating my vision board for 2015 with my mom and sister, I talked about Liz and the impact she has had on my life. I consider her my mentor, my teacher, even though she doesn’t know that. She is, nonetheless. A few minutes later, my mom found a photo of Liz in a magazine. What are the odds of that? Chatting about a woman I greatly appreciate, and there she is, moments later, smiling from a magazine page. I cut out that pic and added it to my board, creating the intention to hear Liz speak, in person, or meet her. How or when that happened was not up to me. 


In September, Liz’s newest book, titled Big Magic-Creative Living Beyond Fear,  released. I saw on her Facebook page that Liz was doing a book tour, across the US and in several countries. I checked her tour schedule, thinking she might be in Dallas or Kansas City. I knew if she was speaking within 300 miles of me, I’d do my best to be there. I was so excited to see Wichita, KS on the list. The time and place had been decided. I could accept the invitation or not, my choice. You know what I decided. 

Tonight I joined 400 – 500 other people in a church auditorium in Wichita. As I waited for Liz to appear, I read the first two chapters in Big Magic. I am going to love this book. In her open and honest style, Liz invites the reader to move past the fears that keep creative living at bay. In the first section, called Courage, she asks this question: ” Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?” She goes on to say, “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. ”  I was already captivated. 
Liz arrived, amid cheers and applause, and for the next hour and a half, shared about courage, and overcoming fear (she presented a long list of fears and excuses that hinder us) and living the creative life. Her energy was amazing.  I laughed. I nodded in agreement. I teared up. My heart expanded in my chest and my beliefs expanded as well. With her characteristic transparency, Liz spoke from her own experiences of dealing with crippling fear and feelings of inadequacy, about learning extreme self care and how she won the trust of her creativity, and how she said no to things that stole her time and instead engaged joyfully in creative pursuits. I have such a full and overflowing heart tonight, that I need to process it all for a time, and perhaps share insights and ahas later in future blog posts. I left the event encouraged and inspired, my own creative life calling sweetly to me. 

I am eager to embrace that calling. And I am not immune to fear. As I pondered Liz’s powerful words, the movie Home, that I watched last night, rose in my mind. The Boov ran away from danger, and also from opportunity and life and growth. Oh, the hero of the story, learned to run toward danger. Doing as Liz encourages, and following my curiosity, I looked up the word danger to discover its origins. Danger originates from the Latin word dominus, which birthed such English words as domain and dominion. Its common meaning was “power of a lord” and was used to mean one was in someone’s power. It later included the meaning of someone’s power to hurt. 

What if, in running from perceived “danger”, I am running from someone’s power and domain? What if that power and domain are my own? I am done with running away. Like Oh, like Liz, I am moving beyond fear, and running toward danger, running toward my own power, regardless of risks, running headlong  into a creative life. This is Big Magic, indeed. Liz Gilbert, I am grateful. 

This ticket is going on my Vision Board, next to the photo of Liz, to remind me to dream big, stay open and let go of outcomes.