Big Magic (In real time) with Elizabeth Gilbert

“You have to be childlike in the pursuit of your life, but you cannot be childish.”
– Elizabeth Gilbert (from this interview with Marie Forleo)

As I mentioned previously, I spent a huge chunk of the summer writing a thing.  I wrote this thing and it did not go how I planned.  I was going to post it here just to… keep it somewhere.  Then I got my copy of Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book, BIG MAGIC: CREATIVE LIVING BEYOND FEAR and I started reading it after I wrote that last post and when my pal Sus commented about life and creativity informing each other and existing together, it was like this book was talking back to me through her words. (Thanks, Sus!)  So, instead of getting discouraged I combated the nagging idea of failure by going to see Liz Gilbert speak this past Friday in Pasadena.

Confession:  I love Elizabeth Gilbert.  There is no one whose words I love more than hers.  She is truly one of my favorite humans on this planet.  I was reading EAT PRAY LOVE when the first door to my own life opened nearly ten years ago.  That book changed the way I saw the entire world and softened me to the idea of letting the family in that I have now. I just become so empowered when I read her words that I run off a cliff without a parachute with my creativity and the intention to fly. It lights a fire, for sure.  So getting to see her speak? Forget it.  I knew I needed it and it was something else.

I have to say, it was the first time in my life that I sat in a room with a group of strangers and it seemed as though all of our brains were wired the same way.  It was the first time I didn’t feel alone as far as how I live and see the world.  My lovely Kyla calls me a “childlike wonder” because I can exist in a solid reality, but so much of my life is engulfed in magical thinking.  People tend to lose that as they get older, in this room there were the people like me, the ones who hang onto it for dear life, and we embraced the others who wanted to exist there with us.  I just… I went to a completely different place the other night.  For someone who loves words so much, I can’t seem to find the right ones capture what this night was.

I’ve never seen connection happen between people the way it happened on this night.  The whole room stopped for each person.  Not only were they growing in wisdom as their questions were answered, but there was a little morsel that EVERYONE could benefit from as well.  Did I ask a question?  Before I got there, I had planned on it. However, I did not.  Once I was sitting in that room, my brain activated “little sponge” mode and I ended up just soaking up everything going on around me.  It was seriously something powerful just to behold.  (And now Kyla is reading this wondering if I thought of something to ask at all… Yes, Kyla.  in the middle of reading the book last night, there was my question on paper, so I got an answer anyway. Funny how that happens.)

Also, Liz loves karaoke so someone asked if we could end the event in song.  (Because who doesn’t love singing out of sheer joy at the top of their lungs with other people?! I hear those people exist, but I don’t know them.) So we sang John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” together.  I honestly felt like I could have jumped out of my chair and ran across the world afterwards.  It was SO MUCH FUN. This was Big Magic in real time, and I was so grateful to experience it.  I was so filled with joy and inspiration after this that I finished the last page in my lyric art journal, which sat unfinished on my coffee table for months.  I’m kind of proud of myself.

The one thing Liz said that seems to be lingering with me?  “It’s so weird to be a PERSON. It’s the hardest job I’ve ever had.”  She’s not wrong.  In these moments I was grateful to be the person that I am, living this life, no matter how hard it is sometimes.  Thank you, Liz.  For everything.

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Summer Stuff

It seems I can’t go an entire summer these last few years without losing my hearing at least once. My doctor looked at my ears two weeks ago after I told her of this issue and everything looked good. My ears are just that damn sensitive and now here I am on Labor Day weekend not able to hear anything. Doctor’s appointment on Tuesday cannot get here soon enough. So let’s do some writing about the summer, shall we? BECAUSE I CAN STILL WRITE. I’m all about being grateful for what I CAN do.

I spent December of last year all the way through the entire month of July fighting my medical insurance and ultimately I won. So this was both an uneventful summer, but it has also been a summer of getting stuff done. I have a new social worker, a new doctor, and a physical therapist now. Currently working on getting an optometrist and a dentist. My doctor has given me medication for things every other doctor I’ve ever had would not. Thanks to that, I am already feeling much better. This doctor is not messing around. I like her.

I had my physical therapy evaluation last week. I have two exercises I do at home for now and my first regular appointment is next Friday. To be honest, I am a little (ok, more than a little) afraid for my therapist to work with me. I had PT until I was three years old and my parents stopped taking me because my old therapist tore the Achilles tendon in my left foot. I may have been very small at the time, but I remember that day and that pain like it just happened yesterday. I’ve made the new therapist aware that happened so I’m going to be spending this week telling myself I’ll be safe with this person and it’s her job to help me. I’m sure it will be just fine. I am so grateful to even have this help. I’ve wanted PT my entire life and I’m so on top of it. Even though my ears are causing me to feel not so great at the moment, I’ve been doing my exercises every day. I’m so excited about all of it. And yes everyone who has said “take it slow” — I promise I’ll never overdo it. I’ve never been that person.

On the summer fun side of things, here’s a list…

 – I took a social media break and spent an entire month just writing. And reading. Mostly writing.
– If you’re a creative type, listen to Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Magic Lessons” podcast on iTunes. Trust me. Just do it.
– I’m obsessed with Inside Out because sometimes I am a child. Well done, Disney/Pixar.
– Bianca and I took the train to LA to see my Kristin get a star on the Walk of Fame. It was worth the longest, hottest day if only to hug KC on her birthday, truly. Also, Carol Burnett was one of the guest speakers and that really doesn’t suck either.
– There is now a couch in my living room. My Person is good to me and I am grateful.
– Speaking of My Person, Janice was back in LA for the month of August. We took the nieces out to play. We had our favorite tacos. We went to our favorite vegan restaurant. I was introduced to shaved ice. Basically, when Janice is home, we eat.
– My Jessica from Orlando booked her flight to come visit me for a week in November. Happy Birthday to me!
– I randomly won free tickets to see Kristian Bush and Rita Wilson in LA last week. That man’s music is soul-changing. And Rita Wilson is pretty classy too. Her new album is going to be fantastic. (Side note, B is now kicking herself for not telling Tom Hanks when we saw him that she played Woody at Disney World. I am just amused over it.)
– I am now mourning the loss of the mango black tea lemonade at Starbucks. Damn you, pumpkin spice latte… It’s barely September!
– I have the best cat on the face of the planet. Just a reminder.
– Playing House is the funniest show on television.

All is well. I need a nap.

Happy Birthday, Kimmie.

Today is my first birthday.

My sister Jamie has dubbed May 8th my birthday.  Why?  One year ago today, I walked into a social worker’s office and I asked for help.  I’ve done this before, but this time it took the stripping away of my dignity and someone telling me they just wanted me to be comfortable to push me over the edge.  I deserved to be comfortable.  I deserved so much more than what I had.

I was terrified.

It’s been exactly one year.  I am still terrified.

However, this is a completely different kind of terrified.  One year ago I was terrified to ask for help because I thought someone would hurt me.  And though the weeks following that first meeting were some of the most difficult I’ve had to endure, I’m still here.  One year later and tomorrow, May 9th, I am signing the lease on my very first (accessible!) apartment on my own.

The difference now?  I’m terrified AND excited.

I’ve had a lot of deep and meaningful conversations about this journey with my heart sisters.  I’ve thought about all of the things that have happened to get me here, and all of the people who have pulled me through it.  Jamie and I were talking specifically about my earth angels the other day (because we were discussing how Cady McClain and her memoir swooped in there right at the end) and she said something that is true.  She said: “Kristin gave you strength.  Susan gave you wisdom.  And Cady has given you peace.”

She’s right… But you know what?  I did this.  I did all of this and I did it by myself.  Though I am always told that I am a survivor and I am strong, I’ve never really realized how strong I actually am until this point.  Maybe it’s because I have just become so self-aware of my surroundings to the point where I can acknowledge what’s not okay and what is.  I’ve finally learned that I deserve everything I never grew up with as a child and everything I should already know as an adult.  I’m sure all of this isn’t going to hit me full-force until I am sitting alone in my living room, or cooking in my kitchen, but I am going to take every second and be grateful that I survived.  I survived for this.

I haven’t stopped smiling since I got the news the apartment was mine.

I have so much more I need to do in this world.  I guess it’s true that “nobody but me is gonna change my story” as Matilda would say… and I definitely showed everyone how big my brave is.  Thanks, Sara Bareilles for that anthem that got me through every single second for the last year.

And then there’s my friends — who are my family — you render me speechless.  You’ve been the biggest blessings ever given to me in this life.  Whether you listened when I needed a shoulder to cry on when it got hard, or took me out to have fun because you know how much I need positive companionship, or sent me things so my apartment isn’t completely empty or donated to my gofundme page  among other things… You’re incredible.  I would not be here without you.  I cherish each and every one of you and will never forget what you’ve done for me.  Thank you.  I love you.

In the photo above, I was one month old.  I look at that precious preemie baby girl before she was shattered and damaged by the people who were supposed to love her most on the planet and I just want to tell her now that she is not broken beyond repair.  I want to tell her that it may take decades, but there is something worth fighting for, and people who will love her, protect, empower and uplift her are waiting in the light.  The light at the end of the tunnel is here.  It’s over.  You’re safe, sweet baby girl.  And you’ve given yourself that gift.  You should be proud of yourself.  They can’t hurt you anymore.

Happy Birthday, Kimmie.  Make a wish on a glittery blue star.