Last March my family took a trip to Big Bend National Park. In the middle of our family vacation, after a long day of hiking in the canyon and swimming in the river, we stopped at a quiet, still campground on the banks of the Rio Grande. As soon as we pulled in to park, I felt a strong, invisible nudge to grab some paper and a pen and prepare to write.
My husband and son set out a blanket under gorgeous fifty-foot tall cottonwood trees and I immediately plopped down on my belly to write. In about ten minutes, I had jotted down what ended up being the outline for the book I’m working on now which will come in next spring.
I hadn’t asked for this, nor was I contemplating these themes, they just tapped me on the shoulder, asked me to listen and they flowed right through me.
It was as if these messages were seeking a vehicle or way to be heard (interestingly I already had a book in the works with a different focus which I reluctantly abandoned after being moved so deeply and clearly to follow the new path before me).
I’m a big fan of creative expression. Whether it’s painting, writing, dancing or creating a new business, I believe it’s our job to get out of our own way and let what wants to come through us, be born. No matter what the outcome is or who sees or experiences it.
My husband and I watched the movie Country Strong with Gwyneth Paltrow the other night (rare for us to find something we’re both willing to watch). A character named Beau really stuck out. He was a musician and singer/songwriter that was passionate about creating music and singing—not for the fame, crowds or accolades– but because he loved it and he was committed to showing up and allowing this inspiration to come through him. And, because he stayed connected to his essence, he inspired others around him to want to do the same.
It can feel like a bit of push and pull when you’re trying to balance creative expression with writing a book that has a clear timeline. But my allegiance and my heart belong to the creative process—to honoring what wants to come through, regardless of the product or ultimate outcome.
Hard? You bet. Particuarly over the past two weeks, when I had very limited time to write due to my son’s part-time day camp schedule, a big AC and car repair to handle, constant requests to respond to and relatives coming in to town. But I’m anchoring back to that commitment today. To receive and allow what wants to be heard…..through me …at this time …in a way only I can express it. Because I can’t imagine doing it any other way.
When I launched my first business Career Strategists 12 years ago, I found myself sitting in my newly furnished, freshly feng-shuied office in central Austin, booking appointments for new clients, feeling a swirl of anxiety in my belly and thinking “Am I crazy?! What the bleep did I just do?”
I remember calling my self-employed brother Kert for some support that first week of business and he emailed me this piece by dancer Martha Graham. He knew how huge it was for me to have taken this leap, turned down lucrative corporate jobs and followed my heart and transition full-time into the field of serving others through the field of professional coaching. The poem really moved me. And as I breathed deep and reminded myself that I have always taken the pass less traveled, I knew that I had to honor what had and was coming through me …what was ready to be heard. And so I did and I can’t imagine any other life.
by Martha Graham
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique.
And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it.
It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.
You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. …
No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”
P.S. I recently reconnected with a friend who took a similar leap, leaving a high profile job in publishing to follow her heart and journey into the big unknown. Check out Marianne’s wonderful blog Gap Year Girl Goes to Europe.
Note: I’m out on a writing sabbatical this summer and we’re surveying the Emotional and Spiritual Health of Families for my new writing project. If you have 5 minutes to tell me about your family culture, I’d love to get your input (and feel free to share with friends/lists): http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/RXZ88GR
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The Journey, a blog about coach/author/entrepreneur Renee Trudeau’s personal journey and living life from the inside out, comes out weekly.
Photo: The ever inspiring skies in Big Bend National Park. Renee Trudeau