You know those times when it feels like the universe is talking to you? Well I've been feeling that quite a bit lately. But up until today I haven't felt like I've been able to hear what it's trying to say.
The last month or so I've been distracted and tired and a little off. Like my spark has gone on holiday or at least for a little lie-down. I haven't been able to finish anything and I haven't really been able to write. I just went back through the blog to see what I had managed to write about, and I realised I've been so distracted I haven't even posted all the photos of the retreat yet. Even instagram (usually my easy form of social media) has felt like too much. I've been able to post but I'm not responding like I normally would. I think I've been a little creatively and physically worn out. I'm sure you've been there.
Anyway, back to the universe. So in the tiredness I've been reading and listening to podcasts and audiobooks. And the same book - Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert keeps coming up again and again. I've seen it on instagram, been tweeted about it and even received a few emails about it - one while I've been writing the post. And so today I downloaded it on Audible.
She tells the story of Jack Gilbert, an inspiring poet, talking to one of his students who says she wants to be a writer....
It turns out that like the people said* is just what I needed. I think I'm only about 30 minutes in and already it is soothing and inspiring the creatively tired soul. And reminding me that in order to live the life I want to live then I need to flex my courage muscle. Not this week - as I actually think I probably just need a rest - but soon. Soon I need to ramp up my next set of projects. The ones I'm afraid of. The ones that make me uncomfortable and the ones the feel most like me. The ones that mean the most to me. The ones that might fail. As I'm writing this, there is a spark of excitement in my tired eyes just imagining them all coming alive. But that will only happen if I'm courageous enough.
I need to say that although I'm only a little way into the book I think it's sensational. A must read. Already it's reminded me that I want to live a big life. A brave one. I can't help but return to that beautiful and life affirming Mary Oliver quote "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" It's reminded me to step up. I think part of my tiredness has been fear of the next bit.
In particular the quote is ringing true for me in two areas; in my Slow Fashion October making AND in my "what's next for The Craft Sessions?" quest. I'll leave The Craft Sessions talk for another day and chat briefly about making.
I've spoken before about getting stuck in middle of a project or even stuck in the dreaming. Dreaming but not doing. And inevitably I find that it comes back to courage! Courage to make mistakes, to practice and to take risks. To sit in the not knowing.
Elizabeth Gilbert talks extensively about the connection between fear and creativity and that you can't have one without the other. That you have to step into the unknown to create! And that the unknown is not a comfortable place for fear. But she also talks about how you need fear. Of fear as a companion. I love this way of thinking. She says that if you give into your fear then your life will be so much smaller than you want it to be.
When I step into the unknown of my making, and try something, even though I have limited time and am unsure I am going to get the outcome I desire.....well that is where I really get to making the things that give me the most joy. When I experiment and let go of my need to control the outcome. Obviously there are disasters but it is also when I've made the things I'm most proud of.
And for the moment that is a big component and focus of my making. Not churning things out but allowing myself the time to experiment and trying to be courageous and just get stuck in.
I recently saw a beautiful example of the practice of courage and creativity and experimentation. We are renovating our house at the moment (another reason for the tiredness). It's a project that will take a few years, and a lot of research. So I've been spending a fair bit of my time getting quotes and looking up random things. Roaming around the internet looking at box shaped pendant lights or these beauties that I have just ordered for my kitchen (happy dance emoji)! One of those searches lead me to this amazingly innovative and beautiful house and the story of the two brothers who built it. Their story, which you can see in this video about the build (which is on the bottom this page) is so worth a watch.
Three things that they said really struck me.
You learn things through the physicality of the making about the shape/outcome of what you are making that you can't imagine at the design phase. I have come across this time and time again - especially while quilting. A quilt on paper is never the same as a quilt in the flesh. The materials I use are always forcing me to adapt as I make. Sometimes, before I've even started cutting, I get stuck in the fear it won't turn out how I imagine it, so I procrastinate. But the reality is that it won't. It can't. The only way to see it's final shape is to make it. Feel the fear and do it anyway.
This point is one I think is so important - and his example is really similar to my running analogy from my post last year called "You're so talented" and other malignant myths. A post all about how talent is not a necessary component of creativity but getting in there and making is.
And finally that you need to invest in your learning. Both with your time and your materials. Making mistakes is not a waste! There is no such thing as wasted knitting time.
I know this book is going to have many many more insights, so I'll share when I get further down the track but it sounds like it's probably one you should just pick up when you see it. In the meantime, I'd love to hear about your journey to live courageously, big or small. And also whether you have read the book?
*Thanks Brienne, and Pitch Perfect folks and Carolanne and Kate.