Barbara H. McNeely

Author, Coach & Publisher

Category: perspective

"Big Magic" by Elizabeth Gilbert

The Conforming Non-Conformist

"Big Magic" by Elizabeth Gilbert

“Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert

Note to the reader: I originally wrote this blog post in the fall of 2015. And for some reason, it was never published. I could go back through the post and make changes to reflect the current time. But that would get too confusing. So, just remember it was written in late September. Also, since I wrote this, I have seen the movie “Eat, Pray, Love.” I am also currently reading the book.

I consider myself to be a non-conformist in many ways — in the clothes I wear, the books I read, the television and movies I watch, and more. I have always been non-conforming on the inside, but struggled for years with the feeling of needing to appear to conform. Hence the title “The Conforming Non-Conformist.” In my first draft of this post, I wrote six paragraphs on this topic. Only to realize, in the end, that I was once again apologizing for my non-conformity. I guess that makes me a recovering conforming non-conformist?

True Confession: I have never read “Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia.” There! I’ve said it. I also didn’t know the author’s name or anything about Elizabeth Gilbert. It is sad that I felt the need to apologize and explain or rationalize exactly why I had never read “Eat Pray Love.” And why should I need to explain or apologize? Perhaps Elizabeth Gilbert should explain why her book never appealed to me. Or maybe, just maybe, we should forget all of that. Accept that I just never read the book and move on to the topic at hand. Honestly, I think Liz will understand.

So – I didn’t know who Liz Gilbert was until last week, when Marie Forleo’s newsletter popped up in my email with the title “My Big Magic Sit Down With Elizabeth Gilbert.” Forces totally beyond my control drew me to watch the video, especially since I had no idea who Elizabeth Gilbert was.

I watched the video on Wednesday, the day after it came out. After twenty minutes, not having realized I had been watching that long, I checked to see the length of the interview. Forty seven minutes! By that time, I was hooked so I watched till the end. That afternoon I went out and bought Elizabeth Gilbert’s book – “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.” The next evening, I watched the video for a second time and took notes. Three pages of notes!

It was the perfect timing of the universe. What Liz said was exactly what I needed to hear. The push that I need right then for my own work. And it wasn’t strictly what she said, it was also how she said it.

The subtitle for “Big Magic” is “Creative Living Beyond Fear.” It has only been within the last ten years or so that I realized I actually am creative. I still struggle with letting that be seen. Even writing about it here is still scary to me. Sometimes, I do this exactly because they are scary. Like the time when I worked for Corporate America and I took a class called “Presentation Skills.” I took that class because I was scared to get up in front of people and talk.

Here are a few of my favorite take-aways from the interview:

  • Fear is a necessary companion. Its job is to protect us. However, fear does not get to make decisions or creative choices.
  • “Perfection is a serial killer.” “Done is better than good.”
  • “What will make you finish it is not discipline, but self-forgiveness.”

I agree with Marie that “Big Magic” should be required reading for everyone. If you’re wanting to work with your own creativity, it is a must. Go buy it and read it now. And yes, that’s an affiliate link up above, but you don’t have to buy from my link. Just go buy it. And then read it.

Perhaps, soon, it will be time for me to read “Eat Pray Love.” You know, in a non-conforming way.

This keeps me up at night: Baby Boomers Without Children

What keeps me up at night?

What keeps me up at night?

Disclaimer: Thankfully, it is now very rare that anything actually keeps me awake at night. But there are things that I think about and worry about often. This one is at the top of the list.*

I was reminded of this worry recently while talking with a friend. She was telling me about her mother’s heart surgery and the complications she encountered. Complications that resulted in spending time in a rehab facility until she was well enough to be on her own again. My friend told me that she reviewed her mother’s prescription list at the rehab facility and found Zoloft, an antidepressant, on the list. This was a surprise to both my friend and her mother. The medication was removed from the list.

It reminds me of stories I hear from friends quite a bit. They have become an advocate for their aging parents. It’s wonderful that they are able to care for their parents. I did the same for my father in his last few years.

Here’s what keeps me awake at night: Who will take care of me? Who will take care of all of us that have never had children?

While it may sound a bit morbid to think about, it is, never-the-less a common topic. Just check out this google search: baby boomers without children. I chose baby boomers because that’s the age group I fit into – those born from 1946 – 1964, inclusive. There were a total of 75.8 Million babies born in those 19 years. Of those, 20 Million of them never had children. That works out to be 19.7 % of baby boomers had no children.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that the reason to have kids is to have someone to care for you as you age. All I’m saying is that adult children often become the caretakers of their aging parents. So, if you had no children, you may not have someone to care for you.

It’s just something I think about from time to time.

What are your thoughts? Is this something that you’ve thought of? What keeps you awake at night? Submit your answers below.

*Disclaimer Disclaimer: Although not much keeps me up at night, it’s likely true that, on some level, I worry about myself and other baby boomers without children. It’s something I need to work on because I know that underlying fears are not good for me.

The Highest Compliment

The Highest Compliment

The Highest Compliment

Serendipity resulted in a friend from my college days and I reuniting recently. Serendipity isn’t really the right word, though. It implies good fortune or luck. And I don’t believe it was fortune or luck or even coincidence. I don’t believe in coincidence. I can’t recall the source right now, but someone once said: “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.” So, you might call it coincidence.

I ran into this friend – I’ll call her K – in June, and it was just this past week that we finally got together. Sabbaticals and vacations and work and conferences and new grand babies intervened.

Have you ever heard someone say that a good friend is someone you can talk with after a long absence and the intervening years have no impact on the friendship? Whatever caused that friendship was still there? This meeting was like that.

At some point, K said that she could never forget me because I had paid her the highest compliment. I was taken aback; I could not imagine what she meant.

So she explained: I had taken a poem that she had written and embroidered it onto a part of a sheet or pillow case depicting a sunset. I had forgotten about it -it was something I did more than 30 years ago, but K had not. She still has it. I had to ask about the poem as I didn’t remember it. She gave me the first line and the next few came back to me. And yes, it mentioned sunsets.

After our lunch, I was still thinking of that. How it would feel to have someone pay a compliment like that to me. And then I remembered that someone once had.

It also involved a poem, one that I had written. I had once shared it with the minister at my church. He had asked permission to read it as part of a sermon. Of course I said yes! I can still remember the feeling as he was reading it. And yes, it was the highest compliment.

It’s almost time to share that poem with the world. I don’t feel the internet is the appropriate place for its debut. Soon.

So, tell me:
What is the highest compliment that you have ever received?

The Best Things In Life

The Best Things in Life…

Are Not Things

The Best Things In Life

The Best Things In Life

Years ago, I was out shopping with the guy I was dating at the time – I’ll call him “John.” We saw the refrigerator magnet in the picture to the right. It seemed like such a nice sentiment. “The best things in life are not things.” It’s so true, isn’t it? I pointed it out to “John” and he turned around and bought it for me.

In my head I was thinking, “Dude! Don’t you get it? It isn’t about buying the magnet.” But I remained silent, except to say “Thank you.” It has been on my refrigerator a long time now. Much longer than the relationship lasted.

Each time I see it, I snicker a bit. Then I smile, reminded of the good times we had in spite of everything else that may have happened.

Only recently did it dawn on me that perhaps “John” did get it. Perhaps he knew that every time I looked at the magnet I would think of him.

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