Tonight was so much fun!! I attended a book club by Women, Wine, and Well-being and got to meet one of my favourite authors, Elizabeth Gilbert. I was wondering what this event would be like – would we be able to participate or was it more like a webinar, and to my pleasant surprise, most of us had our cameras on. At first when I joined I was in my sweatshirt and glasses, and then quickly changed into a sweater and put a splash of makeup on and some hoops.

The event was hosted by author Lisa Webb, who asked questions about Liz’s book “Big Magic” and the secret to creativity. Elizabeth answered in poetic, thoughtful, beautiful sentences – she speaks just the way she writes, down to earth yet elegant and sophisticated in language. She was wearing chunky glasses and a rust-coloured sweater, and she admitted that she had pyjama bottoms on. She talked about fear in all its many forms. “Perfectionism is just fear in a fur coat and heels,” she said, while “Procrastination is fear in pyjamas.” (“I just made that one up.”)

Even after 11 books, the voices of fear and doubt still take centre stage in Liz’s psyche. Just when she thinks she’s nailed the process, they show up. “Oh hello old friend… I was wondering when you were going to show up and tell me I’m worthless.” It was so refreshing to hear her speak of these inner demons that sometimes I feel that only I experience (especially since I never consider myself a ‘writer’ but more of a reluctant blogger). When one of my poems come out well, I’m always so shocked. I think I must be scared of big magic.

One woman shared an amazing story about how she was in Russia and left the country years ago with only Eat Pray Love in her backpack. She was so inspired by Elizabeth’s journey that she ended up travelling to many countries and even wrote a book herself that became a bestseller in Russia. She now lives in BC and in a very strange twist of fate, the author Amanda Lindhout (A House in the Sky) rents in the same the house as her. Sometimes life is stranger than fiction.

We had about 30 mins with Liz, and near the end, Lisa asked if anyone had any questions – I think everyone got shy and froze, but I raised my hand. There was no way I missing out on this opportunity! I shared a bit of my own journey and asked her about the bigger demon of depression, which she has so honestly talked about in the past on her facebook posts. There were a couple of her posts that had really stuck with me – one about putting the knife down (the one that we hold to our own throats) and the other about horizontal thinking… when you’re lying down and thinking and how it can become very heavy and dark – you know you’re ruminating and being weighed down, but it’s so hard to get up and you end up feeling like you’re in a dark fog.

Her response to my question was so heartfelt – I think she spoke for fifteen more minutes about how writing is her part-time job, but taking care of her mental health is her full-time one. She said that she used to resent her struggles (“Shouldn’t I be ok by now? Haven’t I been to enough therapy? Why am I still dealing with this?”) but now she sees it as a spiritual practice. She’s come to a point where she’s grown quite fond of herself, and sees it as her duty to take good care of herself. She shared a story about how she realized that her friend’s dog was eating better than her – she read the ingredients on the dog’s organic treats and noticed that the were far superior to her own diet. It made me laugh because I’ve thought the same about my niece’s diet, who only eats organic food – and now I have started to eat that way too (except for the fries and coke I had tonight with my tofu burger lol!).

She spoke about how we’re all creative, and sometimes when creativity stalls at something you’re good at, it’s time to try something new. Art is about adding your own personal flair.

To me, the definition of art is making something more beautiful than it needs to be.

Elizabeth Gilbert
Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic book club

Self-forgiveness is more important than self-discipline, she advised. We should always make our decisions out of curiosity rather than fear. Above all, show yourself mercy and kindness. Your creation, whether at work, life, to share with others, or just for yourself, doesn’t have to be perfect. “Even though my poetry is not great, the death rate has been zero.”

Well I feel like I could go on and on because really every word she said was a gem, but I think it’s time to get some beauty sleep so my creative juices can refuel. Speaking of old friends, a very old friend just messaged saying she had a flight detour and is now in town for the weekend. Can’t wait to see her!!

Goodnight and may you find big magic in your dreams!! :-)

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