Nashville – December 2015

Phew .. It’s been a while! Are you still there? I have put off sitting down and writing for so long that the bad juju from not writing has now manifested into an acidic sensation in the pit of my stomach. I would have never thought that writing is so challenging to keep up until I started this blog. Makes me respect the hell out of people who write for a living. Case in point: My friend R who has been killing it with her daily writing commitment on her blog.

While I’ve been away and not writing, a lot has happened. I was in India for 6 weeks, I made some tough but satisfying decisions about “what next?” and I’ve been completely off my routine in terms of reading, creativity and exercise. I will catch you up on all that in the following months. This post is a small way to get back in the writing game once again. Let me tell you about my trip to Nashville, Tennessee in December 2015.

I’ll confess right away that the desire to go to Nashville came from watching the TV show on ABC. I love the show for its music and I’ve wanted to go experience the Blue Bird cafe and the Grand Ole Opry ever since I saw the show. Also, there’s no way I’m not checking out a city that’s called “Music City”.

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum 

We started our weekend with the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Typically, I last about 2-3 hours at a museum before I burn out from over stimulation but since this was a music museum, I was totally into it and we ended up spending a good part of the day there. Here were some highlights from this experience:

Letterpress posters from Hatch Show Print, a historic letterpress print shop in operation since 1879. They also have a small store in the museum where they offer tours of their letterpress print operation.

Dylan, Cash, and The Nashville Cats: A New Music City – This exhibit (which is open until December 2016) was a treat. The exhibit chronicles Dylan’s 1966 arrival in Nashville, his friendship with Johnny Cash and the impact of their music on the Nashville music scene. The “Nashville Cats”, world class session musicians who provided support to country music’s most popular acts, were also paid a fitting tribute here.

RCA Studio B Tour –  The historic RCA Studio B is Nashville’s oldest studio that is still active. This place was supposedly where the “Nashville Sound” was born. Elvis Presley recorded more than 200 songs in this studio. There’s something special and sacred about being in a recording studio.

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Grand Ole Opry 

We watched a pre-christmas special of the Grand Ole Opry at the historic Ryman Auditorium. Ryman Auditorium was built as a house of worship but is now a home for the Opry. The original church-style wooden pews that have been retained give this place a unique charm.

 

 

Johnny Cash Museum 

We also checked out the Johnny Cash museum since we had a couple of hours to spare. They had a cool exhibit there where you could sample Cash’s song “Get Rhythm” across different recording media from the demo tape to vinyl to cassette to MP3. Listening to the different versions of the song over and over again there was no doubt about the superior sound quality of the LP record.

Blue Bird Cafe 

Hands down, my favorite experience of the weekend was going to the Blue Bird Cafe. This is a tiny little cafe (they call themselves a “listening room”) located in a small strip mall and is the place where many budding songwriters and singers come to showcase their music. The space is tight and you need to wait in line to get in. Reservations are few and opened for a short duration online. I am SO grateful to my husband for getting us reservations months in advance. Our table was right next to the four songwriters who performed that night. The music was straight from the heart, raw and pure. What was even better was to be in a space where the sanctity of music was appreciated so much that there was no chatter, no phones, no noises. Only music. It was a special experience I will cherish forever. If you’re in Nashville, you must not miss this.

See you next time with some books I’ve read and loved this year. It’s great to be back here!

-Nish=)

 

Creativity Lessons

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30 days ago, I took on a deranged assignment of committing to being creative everyday for the month of March. The reason this is a deranged assignment is because I am one of the most consistently inconsistent people you might ever meet (there are reasons for this inconsistency but this is not the post to get into that – maybe someday I’ll tell you why). I am pleased to report that barring 2 days in March when I was out of town for my cousin’s bachelorette weekend in Vegas, I followed through on my creativity commitment. Along the way I’ve had many insights about my own process and what gets me going. Here are my “Aha” moments of the past month:

(1) Not all creative products need to be profound. Sometimes they don’t even need to be “good”. 

Some days all you can really manage is some poorly drawn pictures of birds (I drew an asymmetric peacock last night). And that’s ok. We get too caught up in the need to make everything we do “mean something” and in the process we end up making nothing. Why not keep the fire burning by churning out something light and fun and easy so that you’re ready to receive and create when inspiration rains and pours?

(2) The Taste Gap as explained by Ira Glass in this excellent video below.

We’ve all experienced this in some form or the other. The feeling that you get when you realize that what you’re making is not good enough for you to appreciate. Sometimes it spurs you on and sometimes it makes you quit. Knowing that this gap between my taste and what I create is inevitable and will take time to bridge has allowed me the space to make whatever I please. No judgments. Everything is art and everything is a step forward in the right direction

(3) There’s always time to be creative. And being creative may add time to your day. 

There’s a certain order I’ve always followed in my day to day activities: (1) get stuff done (2) self care (Self care can be anything – exercise, rest, eating right, feeding your soul). This month I chose to put self care through creativity ahead of my productivity. And it actually helped me get more done!

(4) Take time to get inspired.

Don’t just be in awe. Take the time to understand your favorite artists and their creative process. What makes them tick? How can you get there? One of the days after I sent my sister a picture of a zentangle I had made and she shared with me her realization from my 30 day challenge – “This is demystifying art for me. You send me a picture and it looks lovely. Then I zoom in and I see that it’s made up of these simple strokes.” Every artist got to where they are by putting in significant time into honing their craft. If we would take time to learn from each other instead of comparing and judging we’d be a lot closer to our artistic goals.

(5) Choose your audience wisely.

And because I cannot say 10 words without quoting this woman, I’ll have to end this post with one of my favorite Brené Brown quotes: “Share your story with those who have earned the right to hear it.” Being creative is an intensely vulnerable process. It can empower you when met with compassion and empathy and it can kill you when met with judgment and destructive criticism. If you’re vulnerable to how your art is received by others then by all means share with those who understand your intentions and are with you every step of the way. And if no one has earned that privilege yet? That’s ok too! Some of my best work this month is buried deep in my journal and may never see the light of day. I’m happy that inspiration presented itself to me and even more thrilled that I followed through and channeled it.

A big thank you to my husband, family and my friends for encouraging me every single day this past month! Here’s a roundup of everything I created this past month. Special shout outs to Lisa Congdon’s fabulous daily drawing challenge and sketchbook explorations classes on Creative Bug and my dear friend Carrie Hilgert for her video on Soul painting.

-Nish=)

Healing the art scars

Ever since I was a little kid I’ve been inclined to express my creativity in many ways. Watching my older sister practice her music, I started to sing as a little kid. Watching my cousin at dance performances got me excited to learn Bharatnatyam, a South Indian classical dance form. A keyboard that my brother got on one of his trips back home from the US fascinated me endlessly. I found acting through my time at a summer children’s club my dad signed me up for. My childhood friend, S was my art role model, always encouraging me to draw and paint never comparing my sub-par efforts to her gorgeous creations. Despite this wonderful start in my childhood, I lost my way. It didn’t happen suddenly. In fact, I continued to be actively involved in theatre all the way until the end of college. My creativity was like a house plant. Somedays the plant received water and sunshine and on some days the drapes were shut and the water was nowhere in sight. When I started to work in 2006 after graduation, I was all set. I had to make money, build a career and a life for myself. I was an adult and creativity had no place in my life.

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Why did my creativity wither away over all those years? This has been a painful question to ask myself. It has been a long and arduous process to go back down the road and see when and where I began to distance myself from my creative gifts, a little at a time. I last explored this question when I was doing the Gifts of Imperfection eCourse during the chapter on Creativity. It was titled “Healing your art scars.” The lesson involved identifying your “art scars” – the things you’ve been told or the things you told yourself that made you want to abandon your art. Once we identified our scars we were told to write them down and tape a bandaid on the line and write down a statement to “heal the scar.” I remember going through the process but not being completely invested. But like all introspective exercises, it kicked off a thought process that would change the way I thought about my creativity. 

 

Ever since I moved to the US in 2008 for graduate school, I accepted that I was no longer the “creator.” I would consume the products of other people’s creativity and not much more. My job was to build a successful career. I could always interface with creativity in my free time but only as a consumer. No time for tomfoolery – This was real life, dammit. I never gave a second thought to it. My body however, could not betray what I felt about the situation. Every trip to the theatre, every live music show, every movie that touched my heart would elicit a wide array of emotions ranging from elation to excitement to envy and sometimes even a deep sadness. Don’t get me wrong, inspiration is wonderful and we have so much to learn from each other’s creativity. But when we start to believe we have nothing to offer, we are killing a part of our soul. That was what was happening to me. 

In September of 2015, we watched Indian violin maestro, Dr. L. Subramaniam at Millennium Park for the Chicago World Music Festival. I’ve grown up listening to and practicing Carnatic music (South Indian classical) so his brand of music was not new to me in any way. I expected an entertaining show, I didn’t expect a life changing event. Somewhere in the middle of the show, I heard myself think – “Your life’s purpose will be born out of creativity.” I experienced a jolt of emotion so powerful that tears started to stream down my face. I looked away so my husband could’t see my tears. I managed to retain my composure through the rest of the show and once we made it back home the floodgates opened once again. I was not upset. I felt relieved and unburdened. Like the universe had helped me express something that I had carried around in my heart for years.

Fast forward to today – I continue to have realization after realization about my creative journey. What fueled it, what sabotaged it and what revived it. These thoughts are critical because they help me shift focus from blaming myself for denying my creative gifts. Today I am back on the path to reviving my creativity. Small steps to a day when perhaps I can truly feel like the creative soul I was born to be. It’s not an easy path to take – There are days when I am convinced I am a fraud and do not have anything of value to contribute. It’s a small price to pay for the days when I do get past my fears to create something because when I create I am truly alive.  

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For the month of March I am issuing myself a challenge to tap into my creativity/self-expression at least once a day. Follow me on Instagram to check out how I’ve been doing!

 -Nish=)

What I’ve been reading lately

Getting the Love you want – Harville Hendrix

Getting the love you want

I was inspired to read this book after watching an episode of Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday where she interviewed Alanis Morisette. What I loved about this book was that it truly examines relationships before setting out to give advice on how to work on a relationship. I am a “why” person through and through – I love books that take the time to explore the guts of a situation before starting to join the dots and come up with explanations. The book begins with the “Unconscious Partnership” section where the author demystifies how human beings are attracted to each other and how we go about the process of choosing spouses or partners. In the months since I finished this book, I’ve loved reflecting on the reasons my husband and I were attracted to each other and what we were looking for when we entered into a relationship.

Having understood the foundation of how relationships come to be helps readers truly appreciate the ideas in the main section of the book – “The Conscious Partnership”. This section of the book goes through a number of introspective exercises that can help couples find or preserve the trust and mutual understanding that is crucial for a successful relationship. The last section has detailed guidelines on the exercises themselves. This is a must read not just for couples in crises but for those who want to understand their significant others better and build a lasting relationship. It has been months since I read this book and I’ve found the concepts in the book to be accurate and helpful in my marriage.

Favorite Quotes:

“Do you want to be right, or do you want to be in relationship?” Because you can’t always have both. You can’t cuddle up and relax with “being right” after a long day.”

“Romantic Love sticks around long enough to bind two people together. Then it rides off into the sunset.”

“When you and your partner are empathic with each other, you are as emotionally close as two people can be. As the poet Rumi said: “Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing, there is a field. I will meet you there.””

Year of Yes – Shonda Rhimes

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Shonda Rhimes is the creator of hit shows like Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy. She’s also a producer on “How to get away with murder” and widely acknowledged as one of TV’s biggest influencers.

Reading this book, the first thing that appealed to me was Shonda’s honesty about what it takes to be a mother with a successful career. It’s not “having it all”. There are trade-offs, compromises, guilt and sometimes even heartaches. When you know you have one of the best jobs in the world it becomes harder to strike an even balance between family priorities and your job. But even the best job can leave a bad taste in your mouth if you burn the candle at both ends. The book starts off at a point in Shonda’s life where her sister pointed out to her that she never says “yes” to the things that matter. Always staying within her comfort zone, never trying all the opportunities available to her as a public figure and essentially, letting fear run her life. This spurred off a “year of yes” – saying yes to the things that terrify her, bringing her face to face with her anxieties and many times, forcing her to re-evaluate her life’s choices.

This isn’t a book about “screw work, your life is more important.” It’s about creating a world for yourself where work and life fuel each other. For an increasing percentage of people, work is where they bring their best selves and a big source of joy and pride. This book reminds you that in order to keep the magic alive you need to revisit your self care, relationships and push your boundaries. It’s a message I fully endorse!

I also wrote about this book for my post on The Sister Project Blog – check it out here!

Favorite Quotes:

“Powerful famous women don’t say out loud that they have help at home, that they have nannies, housekeepers, chefs, assistants, stylists… They don’t say out loud that they have those people at home doing these jobs because they are ashamed. Or maybe a more precise way to say it is that these women have been shamed.”

“I really hate the word diversity. It suggests something…other. As if it is something…special. Or rare. Diversity! As if there’s something unusual about telling stories involving women and people of color and LGBTQ characters on TV.”

“You know what happens on live TV? Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl Boob happens on live TV. Adele Dazeem happens on live TV. President Al Gore happens on live TV”

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? & Why Not Me? – Mindy Kaling

is everyone hanging out without me why not me

Every now and then I tire of the non-fiction books I pick up because I want a break from the learning and permission to skim through the book. I hesitate taking a break from books because that will make it very hard to get back to a reading habit. These books help fill that void perfectly. I loved both of Mindy Kaling’s books. These easy to read, breezy memoirs written by TV’s funniest people seems to be a popular genre lately.

Favorite Quotes:

“I’m the kind of person who would rather get my hopes up really high and watch them get dashed to pieces than wisely keep my expectations at bay and hope they are exceeded. This quality has made me a needy and theatrical friend, but has given me a spectacularly dramatic emotional life.”

“I will leave you with one last piece of advice, which is: If you’ve got it, flaunt it. And if you don’t got it? Flaunt it. ’Cause what are we even doing here if we’re not flaunting it?”

“I would rather have someone read my diary than look at my iPod playlists.”

-Nish=)

New York City – October 2015

I like exploring new destinations but there’s something I love much more: visiting the same old places. New York is one of my favorite places and any chance to go back is cherished! My trip in October was just the right mix of old and new experiences. In my quest to lighten my packing further, I made the idiotic mistake of packing only my boots with heels for this trip. I live in the city in Chicago so I can walk for hours at a time in these boots but the weekend’s walking was too much even for me. Aside from the damaged feet I think this trip was perfect in every way!

Central Park

One of the first things I always want to do in NYC is go to Central park. This time, my friend D was with us and it was around 2-3 hours of walking and catching up. Instead of entering the park at the south end like we typically do, we started off at the north end. I’m glad PK made that call because none of us had seen this side of Central park before. D is one of my best friends and any chance to meet him is wonderful but the setting of this meeting was so special.

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The High Line

Another green space I loved on this trip was the High line in the Chelsea neighborhood. This elevated park was built over a railroad line that was no longer used and it’s such an innovative example of urban design. The entire stretch of the High line is full of plants, seating areas and view points to check out the city and street art. After checking out the High line we walked around new neighborhoods that we hadn’t really explored in the past like Greenwich village and SoHo. We were hoping to eat a cronut at the Dominique Ansel bakery but they were all out by the time we got there. 😦

Brooklyn Bridge  

On our last day we took a subway to Brooklyn and took a long walk on Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan. I was pretty much hobbling through the entire walk but the pleasant weather made it a lot better.

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Hand to God

We never miss a chance to check out a show on Broadway and this time we were really hoping to check out Hamilton but since the tickets were frightfully expensive we watched a play called Hand to God. I am SO glad we checked this little gem out because it’s no longer playing in the U.S and is set to open on London’s West End. The play was dark, outrageously funny, irreverent and had some of the best acting I’ve ever seen!

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There was so much more we packed into this short trip to New York that I haven’t even gotten to – Meeting my friend M over a delightful brunch, walking around Chelsea market, meeting PK’s brother and sister in law at the fabulous Tao Lounge and an unexpected Halloween bar crawl with D and his friends. Never a dull day in NYC. 🙂

-Nish=)

Good enough is better than perfect

New Year’s resolutions are a lost cause as far as I am concerned. I rarely keep up anything I simply “resolve” to do without further thought and planning (which is typically how most of us set resolutions). This year I’ve taken a different approach to goal setting that’s been really successful for me. I identified 12 habits that I am monitoring on a daily basis. As I read in Gretchen Rubin’s excellent book on habits, “Better than Before”, you are far more likely to uphold behaviors that are being monitored closely. Maybe it’s too soon to say but so far it’s been working really well. Much better than a resolution that I am likely to just pronounce and do nothing to deliver on.

One of my habits that I am monitoring is to make an effort to listen to podcasts more often instead of watching mindless TV. There is so much quality content out there in podcasts but there’s always a resistance in me to choose a podcast over TV. Inspired by a method that a friend (Thanks Andrew!) introduced me to called WOOP (Wish, Outcome, Obstacle and Plan) from Gabriele Oettingen’s book “Rethinking Positive Thinking”, I decided to explore what obstacles hold me back from choosing to listen to a podcast. I realized that when I’m listening to podcasts my FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) takes over and I’m forcing myself to listen to each word, constantly rewinding and replaying sections. Lately, I’ve taken this to the next level of ridiculousness by taking notes. (Of course, the nerd in me had to take over this task and render it unbearable through note taking!)

Just as I was thinking about this, a piece of advice from a new friend (Thanks Rob!) appeared out of thin air (If this was the cartoon version, there would be a big thought bubble above my head at this point) – Be a sieve not a sponge. Apparently this concept has its origins in Jewish Rabbinic literature. What a lovely idea! An approach to life and learning that is based not in scarcity and fear (of missing out or something else) but in faith and trust that you will take in exactly as much information as you need to in the present moment. I needed to hear this. It appeals to my deep desire to free myself from perfectionism.

I am a recovering perfectionist and much of my procrastination stems from the fact that I want everything to be “just right” before I can get to a task. Whether that’s my mood, the workspace or something completely unrelated to the task at hand such as the weather. (And this works both ways – “The weather is great! I don’t want to do this” or “The weather sucks! I don’t want to do this”) Intellectually, I understand that I need to uproot the perfectionism but it’s not that easy to internalize and implement. Because perfectionism is insidious and creeps into your mind before you can see how truly stuck you are in it’s monster grip.

Let me illustrate with an example: After I heard Rob’s sage advice, I had an overwhelming desire to make a sign that reminds me everyday to embrace imperfection. As I saw it, the sign would wake me up when I was chasing perfection and practicing active avoidance of my priorities. It would rescue me from being stuck on making decisions and help me just get on with my tasks. I was satisfied with this idea and decided that this sign would go up in my kitchen. Right then, perfectionism paid me a visit and took control. “I should make a sign after I learn hand lettering online. Then I can make a beautiful sign with my brand new Sakura Micron pens and sketch paper!” You would think that I would have caught this thought pattern and flung it out of the window but nope, I was pretty pleased about this idea for a long time until I realized I had been made a fool, again. I made a sign right then with printer paper and a highlighter.

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I don’t expect for this sign to work forever. I also don’t expect to make the choice to be imperfect “always” like the sign says. But I am hopeful that for as long as I notice it in my apartment I will remind myself that good enough is better than perfect.

-Nish=)

 

 

What I’ve been reading

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing – Marie Kondo

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I’ll be very surprised if you haven’t heard about this book because it’s been popping up ALL over the internet. When I heard about this book last year, I knew I had to read it because it appealed to the organizing geek in me. I am one of those strange people who gets great joy in cleaning out a closet or re-organizing my office supplies. This year, I was asked by my parents to come to India to help them move. In a span of three weeks, I helped pack up my parents house and had them completely set up in their new place. It’s hard work to move anywhere. In India it is that much harder because there are very few reliable systems in place, no one ever shows up on time and as someone who no longer lives there I find my chaos tolerance to be a lot lower than my friends back home. Despite all that, I enjoyed the challenge of decluttering, re-organizing and setting up my parents’ new home – That should give you an idea of how much I love this stuff!

The book takes you through the author’s own organizing system called KonMari that promises to help you rid your home of clutter once and for all. I used this technique to declutter my clothes closet and I really like the result. I also learned a new folding technique to store my clothes vertically instead of stacking them on top of each other. Folding clothes, a task I loathed previously has now become somewhat therapeutic as a result. I also agree wholeheartedly with the author’s recommendation to start a decluttering project with things that are easy to sort and dispose (like clothes) and not things that you’re going to have a tough time going through quickly (like memorabilia).There are things in the book that can seem downright odd to some people because it talks a lot about treating everyday objects with reverence. There are plenty of cultures where this practice is very common (See: Ayudha Puja) and I feel like some cultural context provided during translation would have made this book seem less strange in parts. Nevertheless, this book has some good advice and it’s worth a read if you’re interested in this topic.

Favorite Quotes

“But when we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.”

“Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest.”

“Have you ever had the experience where you thought what you were doing was a good thing but later learned that it had hurt someone? At the time, you were totally unconcerned, oblivious to the other person’s feelings. This is somewhat similar to the way many of us treat our socks.”

Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed – Glennon Doyle Melton

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 I know I love a book when I get through it in two days flat. I picked up this book solely because it showed up on my Goodreads page and it had a review from two of my favorite authors, Brené Brown and Gretchen Rubin on the cover. So glad I did. This book reminded me of another favorite, Hyperbole and a Half. It is full of stories that either tug at your heartstrings or make you laugh out loud. The writing is sharp, witty and full of vulnerability. A lot of the stories in the book are from the author’s website, Momastery.com which has quickly become one of my favorite places on the internet. I know, I’m not a mom but the message of embracing the messiness in your life is universal and something everyone should incorporate in their lives. If you’re a mom, give this book a shot – I bet it’s a breath of fresh air. My favorite stories in this book are “On Weaving and Repentance” where Glennon talks about her relationship with her mother-in-law and “Hey, Judy”, a story about her aunt Judy.

Favorite Quotes

“When her pain is fresh and new, let her have it. Don’t try to take it away. Forgive yourself for not having that power. Grief and pain are like joy and peace; they are not things we should try to snatch from each other. They’re sacred. they are part of each person’s journey. All we can do is offer relief from this fear: I am all alone. That’s the one fear you can alleviate.”

“Kind people are brave people. Brave is not something you should wait to feel. Brave is a decision. It is a decision that compassion is more important than fear, than fitting in, than following the crowd.”

“If our goal is to be tolerant of people who are different than we are, then we really are aiming quite low. Traffic jams are to be tolerated. People are to be celebrated.”

Rising Strong – Brené Brown

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Failure isn’t as much a bad word today as it used to be. But watch a person who is grappling with heartbreak, struggling with their weight or uncertainty in their careers and see how quickly you jump to rewrite their stories for them. Something about our need to see a happy ending brings that out in us. We don’t like the mess, whether it’s in our life or in the lives of others.

This book is about that mess. It’s about what will inevitably happen to you when you dare greatly and choose to walk around life without an armor weighing you down. You will get hurt. It will suck. You will want out. You will wonder why you chose to walk through life making yourself vulnerable, on purpose. What were you thinking? Ever since I’ve adopted a life of choosing to be vulnerable, I’ve certainly experienced all of the above happen to me. Rising Strong is about what it takes to get back up after you’ve experienced a fall. It takes guts to write about this messy part of our lives because truth be told it’s not sexy – I’d rather imagine myself to be a gladiator in the arena, daring greatly than a fallen warrior. The first thing I felt when I finished this book is – There’s beauty in the breakdown (A line from one of my favorite songs “Let Go” by Frou Frou).

Brené Brown, in this brave book shows you how to walk through this murky, undesirable part of a wholehearted life. The Rising Strong process has three steps: (1) the reckoning – where you start examining your emotions, how you feel and how that affects your behavior (2) the rumble – where you start to take a fresh look at what are the stories you’re making up about your life and make an effort to learn more about the truth (3) the revolution – where you write a new ending to your story that is based in what you’ve learned from the process. This process need not be a long drawn one that takes months, you can experience these three steps in the span of a yoga class, like I did. (See: Storytelling) What I love about Brené Brown is her ability to come up with definitions, analogies and frameworks that fit into our lives and immediately make us realize things we had ignored for so long. I am currently doing her Living Brave Semester course online and it blows my mind how much I continue to learn after being immersed in her work for the last two years.

Favorite Quotes

“There are too many people today who instead of feeling hurt are acting out their hurt; instead of acknowledging pain, they’re inflicting pain on others. Rather than risking feeling disappointed, they’re choosing to live disappointed. Emotional stoicism is not badassery. Blustery posturing is not badassery. Swagger is not badassery. Perfection is about the furthest thing in the world from badassery.”

“What do we call a story that’s based on limited real data and imagined data and blended into a coherent, emotionally satisfying version of reality? A conspiracy theory.”

“Yes, there can be no innovation, learning, or creativity without failure. But failing is painful. It fuels the “shouldas and couldas,” which means judgment and shame are often lying in wait.”

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear – Elizabeth Gilbert

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I considered not writing about this book here since I’ve reviewed it in my guest post on The Sister Project blog. (See: Books to kick off 2016) but I decided I have more to say about this wonderful book. When I setup this blog in 2013, I had no idea how hard it is to sit down and write something without self-doubt and fear trying to scare you into submission. I thought it was just me for the longest time until I read, “The War of Art” by Stephen Pressfield. The book made me realize in simple language that the creative process is always going to induce fear in you and the only way out is through. As it tends to happen with a lot of us, I intellectualized that message without really internalizing it. Maybe I needed to hear it said in a more forceful voice – Elizabeth Gilbert has just that tough but tender voice that pushes you into action mode. I loved the discussion about the physiological need for fear in our lives because it makes you realize that you do need fear in your life, it’s a basic survival skill. I loved the letter she writes to fear as she embarks on a new creative journey. I loved the idea that “genius” doesn’t stem from the ego but belongs to a realm beyond thought.

Someday when this book isn’t fresh in my mind, I know that I will need another kick in the butt so that I can create without shame, comparison and self-doubt. I am glad to have this book right by my side for when that day will come.

Favorite Quotes

“Basically, your fear is like a mall cop who thinks he’s a Navy SEAL: He hasn’t slept in days, he’s all hopped up on Red Bull, and he’s liable to shoot at his own shadow in an absurd effort to keep everyone “safe.”

“Because the truth is, I believe that creativity is a force of enchantment—not entirely human in its origins.”

“A good-enough novel violently written now is better than a perfect novel meticulously written never.”

-Nish=)