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Living a Creative Life
(or: not letting fear boss you around)
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about following our creativity. The obvious culprit here is Liz Gilbert’s phenomenal book on the subject, Big Magic, which I spent the past few weeks reading in small bites because I didn’t want it to end. (If you haven’t read it, consider this your sign.) In the past few years I’ve worked a lot on trusting myself: my intuition, my desires, my gut. But I’m really only now realizing that I have a hard time trusting my creativity. I tend to play it safe and stay in my comfort zone with things I know I’m already good at and in which I am likely to succeed, at least creatively speaking.
I don’t love this about myself and I am sensing there is a big opportunity for growth before me. On Mother’s Day weekend I started writing a novel. I don’t know anything about writing a novel, or even about writing fiction at all. I’ve never even attempted a short story, at least not since childhood. What am I thinking? And yet I cannot deny the knocking. It’s there and its not going away, so I might as well open the door and let it in.
I’m an insatiable fiction reader, studied acting and screenwriting briefly in college, and am completely smitten with storytelling in all her various forms. I do have a hunch that I could be wired for this, despite the fact that the fear of failure is quasi-terrifying. I have this stubborn belief that our creativity can lead us to ourselves. So hey, here I am doing this scary thing anyway. We’ll see what happens.
The reason I’m telling you this is because I suspect I’m not alone. I imagine that maybe some, if not many, of you are doing a lot of shushing of your creativity these days. Maybe there’s a book you want to write, or an art class you want to take, or a contest you want to enter, and your fear or insecurity hold you back. Here is my advice to both of us:
This is the only life we have. This is it. Seriously. When we get to the end of it, what is it that we will regret not trying? I think that’s the thing we are supposed to do right now. This might be the only shot we get. And what’s the worst that can happen—no one likes what we create? It’s not really about that anyway, is it? I think it’s much more about what happens inside us along the way.
Books Obviously, my book rec for you this summer is Big Magic. I’m linking to my local indie bookstore here if you want to order it—you won’t regret it. For fiction, I adored Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and The Vanishing Half.
Music Are you jamming out to Olivia Rodrigo this summer or are you living under a rock? I’m also loving Brandon Flowers acoustic music and Ivan+Alyosha (we discovered them a few years ago by Googling our son’s name!).
Movies/TV Eric and I just re-watched Almost Famous the other night and I can confirm that twenty years later, its just as good as I remembered. Also, have you watched Little Fires Everywhere on Hulu? It’s truly a masterpiece.
Food ‘Tis the season for CSA veggies! Otherwise, here’s my favorite summertime breakfast/lunch/dinner: plain yogurt, granola, shredded coconut, almond butter, chocolate chips, and a drizzle of honey. Yummmm.
Drink I love a good iced latte as much as you do, but I swear we’d all feel better if we drank more iced herbal tea instead. To make it at home, brew it like you normally would for hot, but make it stronger, then add honey, let it cool to room temp and fill it with ice cubes! (Okay, one more drink rec: if you drink alcohol, make a Shandy by mixing half Sprite and half lager. It doesn’t get any more refreshing than that on a warm summer night.)
Babies/Kids We went to a handmade market last weekend and discovered Nooches, the cutest baby clothes brand designed and sewn by a local mama maker. If you have kids in your life, you’ll want to see their stuff!
Where I’ve written lately:
Geez magazine, “Fed”. Read it or listen to me read it on their site!
Today’s American Catholic, “Can We Call God ‘Mother’?”
Jesuits.org, Everyday Ignatian column
Franciscan Media, Talking to the Lilies with My Toddler
And this post was an Instagram reader favorite
You may or may not notice that this email looks different than previous ones. I’m switching email hosts because my MailChimp one was connected to my now-defunct blog that I want to quit paying for. ;) You can plan on seeing these from Substack from now on. (Though I realize you honestly don’t care.)
Remember, you can still pre-order Rewilding Motherhood and be one of the first to get your hands on it when it releases in September! Plus, pre-orders really help with book sales and promotion. Thank you so much for supporting my work.
I’d love to send one of you a copy of The Making of Biblical Womanhood: How the Subjugation of Women Became Gospel Truth. To enter the giveaway, just comment on this post or reply to the email that you’d like to win! Easy peasy!