An Evening With Elizabeth Gilbert

Did you know that Elizabeth Gilbert’s video on TED is the most watched?

I learned that last Thursday when I went to see her speak at an Academi of Life event in NYC.  This little factoid was thrown out during her introduction and I felt myself shrink down in my seat when I heard it.

OH NO!  What if they find out it’s ME?  Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED video stalker?  Relentlessly watching and pulling inspiration and laughter from her presentation.  Feeling a connection to her ideas on creativity.  Pulling from her the strength to move on when I feel on the verge of potential defeat.  Making peace with my muse, genius, inner artist…

It’s ME!  I’ll admit it!  I’m a stalker.

So when I took my stalking admiration for her “offline” and went to hear her speak last week I was not disappointed. She had that same humor (I think I shed a few tears), the genuine spirit of the girl next door you want to go have dinner and a glass of wine with (no worries, not in a stalker kind of way…just a “wow, she’s a cool chic” kinda way), and the insight that touched my heart once again (OK…I definitely shed a few tears).

She looked fabulous!  Dressed in a fashionable “greige” (you know…grey and beige…we’re into color here) color palette with her adorable little pigtail hairstyle.  A combination of classy and unique!

Here are some of my favorite moments, stories, and quotes from the evening.

“I was born comfortable on the page.  It’s where I grew up.”

Elizabeth has always been a writer.  She says it’s who she is and the only thing she’s ever been able to do well.

“My love of writing was unconditional.  I expected nothing of it.”

In the beginning she wrote just to write.  No expectations for fame or grandeur.  No desire for it to pay the bills.  She just followed her soul’s calling and did what she loved.  She wrote.

Struggling to write her follow up book to Eat, Pray, Love

Elizabeth discussed the struggle between the vision and the dream and the occasional disconnect.  When the vision of what you want to make gets made…but doesn’t look like the vision you had in your head.  She calls it the “non-identical twin of your dream”.    I love this idea because it happens often when we are creating.  The song, the painting, the final photo isn’t what we saw in our minds eye when we were creating it.  Sometimes it’s better…sometimes it’s not.

She talked about writing her first manuscript of Committed and it being bad, the non-identical twin.  How the block came, “writing and I left each other” and her foray into gardening.  Then one day while gardening it came back.  The words, the sentence, the story.  In her words, “Falling from the tree above, like a floating leaf.  I got a sentence.  That was the rewrite of the book.”  She rushed inside and “took a story for a walk across the page.”

A great lesson when the vision doesn’t come.  Wait, be patient, engage your mind in other activities…until it comes.  It will come.

It was a wonderful evening of inspiration and humor.

“I was born comfortable on the page.  It’s where I grew up.”

She may think writing is the only thing she does well, but this stalker admirer believes she has a beautiful gift for words, both written and spoken and the ability to bring humor and inspiration into the world.  I think Elizabeth has an amazing genius.

There’s MORE!

She also has a store in NJ called Two Buttons Imports.  I haven’t been but I checked it out online.  Antiques.  Treasures from Southeast Asia.  COLOR!!

You want to be a stalker now too don’t you?  Come on.  Admit it…

Creative Color with Creatively Fit – Making Change

Good morning!

It is technically still morning as I write this so if I hurry I can still get you your morning cup!

I didn’t know what to write about today so I didn’t create a post yesterday.  I resisted this morning, still not knowing what to say.  Then, when I least expected it, I got something to say. It’s another “authentic blog moment” (wow…these are getting more frequent…good sign?).

This morning I had an amazing phone call with Whitney Ferre of Creatively Fit.  I’m enrolled in her Creatively Fit Coach Certification program and I’m loving it….and resisting it. Something just wasn’t clicking for in the last few weeks. The pieces weren’t coming together.

Whitney uses painting and art journaling as the main platforms for her programs.  Whitney believes that by engaging in creative activities we can open ourselves up to change in our lives.  I believe this too.  But, something wasn’t working.  I started painting a few weeks ago but I was stuck on something.  Here is what my painting process has been like.

Mixing Colors and Putting Paint To Canvas

I LOVE mixing paint colors and watching new colors appear. Adding a little of this and a little of that until my heart begins to sing with the perfect blue, pink, orange, color of the moment emerging before me. Putting the paint on the canvas and watching it come together in an abstraction of shape and color:  WOWZA!  Thrilling, empowering, validating, pure FUN!

Lesson 3 – Outline Your “Shape”


Huh?  Shape?  I have to add structure to this?  Really? “No!  I don’t want to!” My “inner child” was in full throttle rebellion.  I kept painting.  Over and over.  Color over color. No true shapes. No “structure”.  Not happening!!

I felt like I was “doing it wrong”.  Everyone else was outlining and painting “things”.  Me…color.  “Things” I could imagine I was seeing (much like my photography).

“This isn’t working.”  “There is something wrong with me.”  “Why can’t I do this?” bounced around subconsciously in my head.

Your Canvas Is Your Life

We had a group call this morning and Whitney talked about how your resistance and struggles with painting are a hint at something going on in your life.  BINGO!  Got me! INSIGHT!!

I’m completely, utterly, 100% NOT interested in structure. I did that.  Now, I want freedom.  I want fluid.  I want fun, color and play.  My paintings are telling me something about what I really want in my life.

The secret of happiness is freedom.  The secret of freedom is courage. ~Thucydides

Starting today, RIGHT NOW!  I’m embracing my “non-structured” paintings and the meaning behind them.  I’m going to look at structure in a new way.  Everything has some structure to it, even if it’s abstract structure.  I’m going to work on putting a little structure back in my life by seeing structure a little differently in my painting this week. Maybe I’ll even try some “real” structure and see how it feels.  Just a little…

I wonder what else I’ll embrace in my life in the process?

What would your canvas tell you?  You can find out at Creatively Fit!

Thank you Whitney for the “aha” moment and to my fellow creativity mates for the comfort and freedom to express my “true canvas” today.

In a Pit, But Climbing Out With Color

Oh no, it’s one of those “full disclosure on the blog” moments.  The kind that make my heart race, my palms sweaty, and leaves my stomach cartwheeling around my body.

I read a great book last night.  The entire book.  I started looking through it to find a quote and next thing I new it was 12:30 a.m. and I was reading the last page.  The pages are covered with turquoise underlines and words as prevalent as snow on the sidewalks of NYC.  It’s like a turquoise ink blizzard hit the book.

The book is In a Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day (I can’t seem to get away from “snow” these days) by Mark Batterson.

The tagline on the book is “How to Survive and Thrive When Opportunity Roars”.  It takes a story from the Scripture and provides current day empowerment for following your dreams, living an authentic life, and the best part – an encouragement to look foolish.

“Something invaluable and irreplaceable is lost when we cave in to conformity.  We lose our personality.  We lose our originality.  And at some point we lose our soul.  Instead of becoming the one-of-a-kind original we were destined to be, we settle for a carbon copy of someone else…you have to be willing to look foolish in the world’s eyes.”

No matter what your religious or spiritual beliefs are, this book is a powerful reminder that we all have gifts.  That fear-based inaction leads to regret.  That taking risks, looking foolish to some, means living as our authentic self.

These were good reminders for me.

I’ve been struggling with all of them.  I left corporate America a little over 8 months ago.  Before I left I had BIG , colorful textile dreams, a clear vision for melissaAnne COLORS and I was in BIG action.  Since I left, well, I’ve had spurts of action but mostly I feel a constant battle with fear and self-consciousness. I’m not good enough. I don’t know enough.  I’m not ready yet.  I don’t have the money to…

I don’t know where or when it happened really.  How I went from “I can do anything” to feeling like “I can’t do anything”.   How the clearest vision of my authentic purpose that launched me out of bed every day and was a beacon lighting my path became a hidden question I am afraid to focus on.  How I went from being so certain I knew my purpose to having no idea what my purpose is.

“Faith is embracing the uncertainties of life.”

So there I sat last night absorbing every word in this book.  Answering questions that the book asked…and some it didn’t.  Remembering the feeling of having that dream and that vision and not a single doubt or question in my head that I would reach it.

Change isn’t easy.  Fears aren’t immediately dissolved by reading a book and making notes with your favorite color pen.  But, awareness opens the door.  Courage moves us forward and supportive friends are the life-line of any dream;  both those who don’t think you look foolish and those who do but accept you anyway because it allows them to dream about a  little foolishness too.

I’m in my pit.  I’m fighting my lion.  I’m fighting for my dream and for what my vision can bring to others.

“…our greatest gifts and passions are often the byproduct of our worst tragedies and failures.  Trials have a way of helping us rediscover our purpose in life.”

I’m fighting with a little more strength and commitment than I had yesterday.  I’m refocusing on what got me through a year-long struggle before this:  Color.  Color is my passion, my purpose, and my “foolish” gift. It feels good to live in my “foolishness”.

Be a little foolish today and allow someone else to be foolish around you.

I believe that foolishness is an amazing gift to receive and to give others.

Thanks for reading my “moment”.  Tomorrow we’ll get back to being foolish and coloring our dreams.

Special thanks to Ann Cline for being a beautiful and supportive friend and encouraging my dream and supporting me with the gift of “In A Pit…” and to Zan Packard for the discussion of my new “tagline“:  Color Out Loud part of my motivation for “loudy” sharing my moment today.
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