I heard Elizabeth Gilbert speak, sharing her writing wisdom from a large stage in Vancouver, BC in mid-April. She is a masterful storyteller, and I loved how she was able to weave together seemingly disparate stories into a series of compelling invitations. For me, one of the most captivating messages of her talk was her suggestion that the most revolutionary thing for a woman to be in this world is RELAXED. She invited everyone in the audience to relax. I paraphrase her words here: “We don’t need more lady-boss, badass, fierce, kick-ass women.”
Women and girls in our culture don’t feel safe in their bodies, so it is impossible for us to relax in this current environment. Those identifying and presenting as female are constantly hypervigilant because of bullying, predatory behavior, and cultural expectations; we cannot relax unless we feel safe.
An Invitation To Relax
Elizabeth’s invitation for us to relax then guided her audience into the importance of slowing down, of finding stillness in our lives. Stillness is the place where we receive guidance from the Divine; it’s the place of mystery, where the origins of creativity live.
She offered several stories from times in her life when she was feeling overwhelmed, when she wanted nothing more than to “do something” in the face of her challenges. When she moved into stillness, asking the Divine, “what should I do?”, the message she received was, “You’ll be notified when you’re needed.” “Right now, give your ailing partner a pillow. Make her more comfortable. That is enough.”
Not all your actions have to be larger than life, or world-changing. In fact, it’s probably more important for us to look after ourselves, our soft animal bodies, first. Then look outwards to what others around us may need. It’s hard to be generous with others when your well is empty.
Writing Wisdom Applies to Life
The message from this talk resonated deeply with me. These past few months have been filled with challenges related to my partner’s declining health status, along with some family relationship interruptions. I’ve chosen to do deep inner work, remaining present to what is uncomfortable and at times, frightening. My daily meditation practices and time in nature nourish my sense of well-being. And I’m setting up time for a pause.
As much as I love creating and hosting writing circles, and supporting other writers, I need to replenish my energy. I’ve learned from experience that when I take a longer break, I come back rejuvenated, with new ideas and a willingness to try new things.
Saying Yes to the Invitation
This year my time away from teaching will be for the months of July and August. I’m planning to go on two sea kayaking trips, and perhaps a backpack outing. My husband’s health is stable enough for me to be away for short periods of time.
My body is still capable of physical, self-propelled adventures. I want to take advantage of these favorable conditions. I know that everything changes, and sometimes the changes arrive quickly. So “Carpe Aestatum” – “Seize the Summer” (thank you Google Translate).
The rest of my summer will be all about relaxing, noticing beauty, and attending to my soft animal body. Life is precious, and I’m acting on Elizabeth Gilbert’s Writing Wisdom and saying a big YES to life.