Book Review | Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

big-magic-book-review-paiges-pagesTITLE: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
AUTHOR: Elizabeth Gilbert
PUBLISHER: Bloomsbury
RELEASE DATE: September 22, 2015
GENRE: Nonfiction, Self Help
PAGE COUNT: 288


Ever since reading Eat, Pray, Love, I’ve been in love with Liz Gilbert’s warm and wise voice.  This exciting little book teaches the bravery to commit to a creative life.

Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you? – page 8

Have you ever been too afraid of failure to embark on a creative journey?  Have you ever viewed your creativity as a burden or curse that tortures you?  I’m guilty of both these things plus countless others I indulge.  Surrendering to fear and having a martyr’s mindset towards creativity prevents you from ever having a playful, joy-filled creative life.  Big Magic is a guide to changing your attitude, facing fear, and following the clues that lead you to inspiration. Continue reading

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My 2016 New Years Resolutions

This year, instead of the usual plans for self-improvement – i.e. do more squats and eat more greens – my resolutions apply the life lessons I learned in 2015. Each one is a promise to care for my mental health and stay close to the things I value.   

1. I will invest in the right people

I recently had to cut a lot of negative people out of my life. Fostering friendships with people who didn’t care about me was damaging my mental health. When those toxic relationships fell apart, I found support from a handful of old friends. The experience taught me to only invest in people who care about me as much as I care about them.  I’m so grateful to them for grounding me during the tough times.  From now on, I will only invest in kind and positive people.

2. I will fit university around my passions

Uni is supposed to get me closer to my dreams, but so far I’m too busy to work on the projects I’m passionate about. As long as I enjoy the journey, I’m in no rush to get to the destination. I will make my university timetable work for me instead of putting my passions on hold to get good grades. If that means studying part time, so be it!

3. I will put my hand up for opportunities

If jobs, internships, or competitions pop up I will go for them with guns blazing. Now with a degree behind me I can confidently apply for any and all opportunities I see, no matter how intimidating they look. You gotta be in it to win it.

4. I will be aware and responsive to my emotional habits

Although you aren’t always in control of your feelings, you are in control of your actions. Sometimes I let small things ruin my day by indulging in irrational thoughts and sabotaging myself by moping. I often chose not to prevent a bad mood swing even if I see it coming. In 2016, I want to be more aware and responsive to my emotional habits by stopping my own destructive mind games. Depending on the scenario I might try finding positive outlets through art or going for a drive, or talking to a friend instead of letting the feelings eat away at my insides.

5. I will be loving in my platonic relationships

Poet Lora Mathis gorgeously articulates the importance of embracing platonic intimacy – that is, showing love and vulnerability to your friends through actions such as hugs and holding hands. Although emotionality is typically seen as weak – or reserved for romantic relationships – I think my strength lies in offering kindness to the people I care about. I don’t want to withhold how much I love my friends. I will take every opportunity to be loving in my platonic relationships.

6. I will take care of myself

I will try to avoid toxic situations, settings, and relationships and instead seek out positive ones. Moving house is my latest act of taking care of myself because I left a toxic setting to create my own positive future. I will spend time with people who make me feel safe and confident, and invest in a lifestyle that gives me time to cook good meals and relax.  After not taking proper care of myself in 2015, I realise I have to be just as kind to myself as to others.

I hope that each of these resolutions takes me a step closer to my goal of finding health and happiness in 2016.  What are your New Years resolutions?  I would love to hear what life lessons you learned from 2015 and how you plan to make 2016 a great one!

Classics Haul + Summer Reading List 2015

I went a bit overboard when I visited Dymocks in the city recently.  Luckily I had my loyalty card to take the edge off this blow to my bank account.  Check out the classics I added to my collection!  I reckon these make pretty amazing summer holiday reads.  

15798121Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Truman Capote’s novella was first published in 1958, but I’m going to hazard a guess that you associate the title with Audrey Hepburn’s iconic portrayal of Holly Golightly in the 1961 film.  I’ve never seen the movie so I thought this short book would make compelling holiday reading.  Its longstanding status as a masterpiece ensures me I’ll enjoy it.

lolitaLolita

Lo and behold this almighty classic (pun intended).  Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov has sat on my to-read list for years and I’ve only just picked it up.  This is a must-own for lovers of classics.  You can expect a review in the new year.

1573226521-01-lzzzzzzzThe Beach 

This 1996 bestseller by Alex Garland is a modern classic.  Like Breakfast at Tiffany’sThe Beach is well-remembered for its film adaptation.  I think this gripping and dark adventure story would make a great holiday read.  Maybe while sunbaking on the beach…?

Catch 22catch-22_cover

War stories are never high on my to-read list, but this 1961 classic by Joseph Heller demands attention.  Although Goodreads reviews are unanimous about this book’s genius, I’ve read many that admit it’s a challenging read.  Some day I will have to steel myself to take on this giant.

Rye_catcherThe Catcher in the Rye

Most of us are well acquainted with  J.D. Salinger’s 1951 classic from being force fed it in high school.  I’ve tried to read it once before but lost interest.  I think it was my sense of obligation that put me off.  However, a friend recently pointed out that I would enjoy this as a Vernon God Little enthusiast.  So here I am giving it another shot!

I hope my summer holiday reading list inspires you.  This is my last post of 2015, so have a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

My Writing Retreat + Internet Detox

When the going gets tough, the tough get going…  Sooner or later though, even the tough need to take a break before they burn out.  After a hard semester full of unexpected life challenges, I really needed a break.  I decided to refresh myself with a writing retreat and internet detox.

Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 9.38.56 amI escaped to my grandma’s little unit at Caloundra with some books and a stockpile of snack food.  There’s something about sea air that is cleansing and relaxing, and I indulged in midday naps and long beach walks.  I could just feel the breeze blowing away all the cobwebs in my brain.

I’ve heard someone say that you’re most authentically you when you’re alone, probably because there are no inhibitions or external influences weighing on you.  For that reason, I’m glad I snatched some alone time.  I love to surround myself with beautiful friends, but getting a short break from conflicts and dynamics and pressures made me feel a bit better grounded.  I now have more strength to deal with that stuff.

I committed to trying to finish my novel for NaNoWriMo, so I had some pretty ambitious goals I wanted to achieve.  However, reaching those goals became stressful and exhausting.  I decided that since the whole point of a retreat was to feel refreshed, I wasn’t going to wear myself out.  So I started writing early in the morning, but then put everything down at lunch time to spend the rest of the day reading and relaxing.  I could have done more work, but the balance left me feeling much more fulfilled.

Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 9.38.37 amDetoxing from the internet for three days is surprisingly easy.  When I didn’t have good ol’ Facebook and YouTube to help me procrastinate my good writing hours away, I found it much easier to get work done.  Then when work was finished for the day, I turned to a book instead of a laptop.  I enjoyed getting lost in Vernon God Little much more than getting lost in the backlogs of Tumblr.  The one thing I did notice though was that I missed sharing with people.  Dozens of times during my stay I saw something that made me think of someone I care about.  Normally, I would use the internet to share that thing with them instantly.  Getting away by yourself is fab, but any longer than three days and I wouldn’t have been able to resist sending messages to my friends.

Get this, first day back and I have a dentist’s appointment.  What a rude return to the real world!  I hope that as we get closer to holiday season you can get a break and take some time to look after yourself.  Writers, don’t forget you can add me as a Writing Buddy on NaNoWriMo!