5 things learned from seeing Elizabeth Gilbert

HHG_BigmagicbookWhen I learned that Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the very popular Eat, Pray, Love book, was coming to metro Detroit for a seminar, I quickly bought tickets. I enjoyed her memoir about traveling to Italy, India and Indonesia to find herself after a divorce and ‘life meltdown.’ I follow her on Facebook and other social media, enjoying her quirky, inspirational, funny posts and articles.

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Elizabeth’s newest book, Big Magic, was the focus of this seminar. The book focuses on “creative living beyond fear” and is divided into six sections to help readers discover creativity, positivity and more.

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I attended with two of my girlfriends, and several hundred other metro Detroiters. The seminar was at Renaissance Unity in Warren. It’s a beautiful church with very welcoming people. The event kicked off with a spirited performance by their choir, which brought most of the crowd to their feet to dance and clap. Elizabeth seems as I expected her – funny, quirky, focused and kind. She infused jokes, emotion, inspiration and more in her talk.

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The seminar took an unexpected twist…instead of Elizabeth sharing her motivation and tips the entire time, she shared pieces of the ideas from Big Magic and had us focus on ourselves by writing and sharing. She broke the time into six segments (from the book): Fear/courage, enchantment, permission, persistence, trust, divinity. For each topic she shared some thoughts and ideas, then had us write a letter to ourselves from that topic (ex: Dear Heather, I am your fear; Dear Heather, I am the principal giving you permission to….). After a few minutes of writing, we partnered with someone we didn’t know to discuss our ideas (my first partner said that sharing with a stranger was her biggest fear of the day!). It was certainly unexpected to focus so much on myself and then to swap seats to leave my friends to talk with strangers. But it worked. I enjoyed meeting some nice, thoughtful women and making myself pause to dig deep inside of myself.

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I purchased Big Magic and look forward to reading more on these topic areas. I thought I’d inspire you today with a few key items I took away from the seminar:

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  1. We need all of these areas (courage/fear, persistence, etc.) to live a full life. And we need to listen to our emotions. For instance, we don’t want to be paralyzed by fear, however, that emotion has also benefited us at times. Maybe our fear caused us to not walk down that dark street alone, preventing an attack. Maybe we listened to our fear tell us something wasn’t right with our body and our persistence with the doctor led to an early cancer diagnosis. Each of these emotions benefits us. Think of all the times your persistence paid off or the times you were inspired by enchantment to be creative.
  2. Believe in yourself and be kind to yourself. When she discussed the ideas of trust and persistence, I was struck by how important it is to trust yourself and believe in your abilities. No one can take those ideas from you unless you let them.
  3. Ditch the clutter in your life, your mind and anywhere else. Give yourself permission to say no and focus your wants and needs. Let go of what (or who) is dragging you down and preventing you from achieving your happiness.
  4. Everyone is curious in life and everyone has a creative bone! We make decisions more strongly based on being curious than fearful so embrace your curiosity! So many people comment that they don’t have a creative bone in their body. Elizabeth suggested swapping creative with curious so if you say, “I don’t have a curious bone in my body,” it doesn’t make sense because we all are curious. I love this idea, don’t you?
  5. Embrace the unexpected. Life doesn’t always go the way we planned; heck, the day or hour doesn’t always go as planned. Be flexible, learn to trust yourself and embrace the magic of the moment.
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She left us with some great questions to ponder – what are you willing to give up to have the life you claim you want? If not now, when?

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So I will also leave you with two questions. What do you want in life? What do you need to do to achieve that moment, goal, life?

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