When we are younger, we live close to magic, to wonder and to awe. Our imagination runs away with us, taking us to make-believe lands as we play with abandon. This rich, imaginary landscape feeds our little creative souls – fingerpainting, playing with instruments, dancing, and doodling. As we get older, we may lose touch with this magical world of play, and we can unleash harsh criticism about our art-making and creativity. We learn to be "practical," to be adult and to think in terms of realistic expectations. We may put down the paintbrush (our painting isn’t good enough to be shown), stop writing poems (they are silly things that no one will read) or stifle our dance sessions (we are too old to dance). As our adult responsibilities pile on, we are taken further off course. If we are lucky, we can return to magic, and that's what I hope to inspire you to do. Right now. Let's reawaken the magic.

A great place to start to recapture the magic is with Elizabeth Gilbert's inspirational book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. I may be one of the only people on the planet who hadn't read this book until recently. So I'm late to the party, but it was perfect timing as I launched my new podcast. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book (and my takeaways):

You are not required to save the world with your creativity. Your art not only doesn't have to be original, in other words, it also doesn't have to be important. (page 98)

Takeaways: What a relief! I agree 100%. There are few original ideas (and AI copy proves that), but there are viewpoints, special combinations of ideas and words, and authentic intentions that you can add to whatever creative task you set. Those are good ideals to follow, no matter the outcome. So start creating, and leave behind the inner angst about whether it's good enough, original enough or important enough. It is.

"And what if people absolutely hate what you've created? What if people attack you with savage vitriol, and insult your intelligence, and malign your motives, and drag your good name through the mud? Just smile sweetly and suggest – as politely as you possibly can – that they go make their own fucking art. Then stubbornly continue making yours. (page 125)

Takeaways: This is the central fear, isn't it? We fear that people will hate our art. I know I've worried about people hating my poems. But as Gilbert says earlier in the book, your art no longer belongs to you once you release it into the world. Not only that, but we shouldn't tie its purpose to what other people think. I love the idea of stubbornly continuing to make art no matter what the critics say. Don't deprive yourself of the joy of art-making and the precious time for self-reflection and mindfulness. You can always use the "f" word for critics. Drop the "f" bomb and then walk away.

Whatever it is you are pursuing, whatever it is you are seeking, whatever it is you are creating, be careful not to quit to soon.... Don't let go of your courage the moment things stop being easy or rewarding. (page 247)

Takeaways: This one is huge. Don't stop right when you are at the precipice of new discoveries and potential successes from putting your creative work out there. Don't rob yourself of the self-discovery of your "failures" (if that's what's to come). There's growth that can only happen as a result of doing. So keep doing.

You made it [your art]; you get to put it out there. Never apologize for it, never explain it away, never be ashamed of it. You did your best with what you knew, and you worked with what you had, in the time that you were given. (page 263)

Takeaways: Never explain your art away. It took effort, passion, creative thought, talent, and courage to make your art, and when you let it go out into the world, look on it as proud parents look at their child walking for the first time. Leave it out into the world with a sense of hope.

This poem is about the remnants of summer – as I put away my summer bags and shoes, I invariably find sand and shells tucked away. I rediscover them and, for a moment, relive the good times at the beach. This poem is about the magic of sand and shells. Ordinary, yet extraordinary.

sand & shells: a pocket full of magic

Sand & Shells

by Jill Hodge

I’ve got a pocket full of magic
Might be sand and shells
But when I feel their ridges and worn parts
Tumbled and tossed by waves
My heart joins in, my mind gives way
Is that sand from a far-off land?
Made over billions of years
Oh, caress my toes, capture my footprints
Envelop my soul
Who lived in that shell and did they like their home?
Turned out by a swell to tumble and roll
a spritz made of foam
Hope they settled a new home
I’ve got a pocket full of magic
Might be sand and shells
But to me, it smells like salty brine
Churned into earthly broth
One that shimmers, a gossamer glow
Connects me to the land above, and the one we sow
Listen Now

In episode #8, The Healing Power of Time (and Sense), I discuss the adage “time heals all wounds.” We may not want to hear this, especially if it’s said off the cuff, but ultimately, time gives us a cushion to process our feelings. Engaging our senses in mindful acts also creates some space to heal. Time passes, priorities get rearranged, and new options start to appear. All these factors can help us get from a painful place to a more comfortable one. Listen in as I talk about how time and sensory pleasures help us wait out challenging times.

Listen Now

In episode #9, Calming Down with Mindful Breathing & Creative Grounding, I explore how breathwork, exercise, music, and creative grounding help calm our response to stressors (triggered by our fight or flight response). We can use tools to go beyond the rational mind to tap into the mind/body connection. Once you slow your breathing and embrace stillness, your body relaxes, and the overwhelm and angst start to dissipate. The breath is versatile. We may connect with our breath through mindful breathing (meditation, yoga) or transition into rhythmic breathing when exercising (swimming laps,  rowing strokes, lifting weights). 

We can also reinvent our mental and physical space by creating a calming environment through music or creative projects. Our breath is the thread that weaves through all these activities, and while we can’t will ourselves into a calmer state, we can breathe toward one

Need some creative inspiration? Here's a creative mandala art-making activity that mixes mindful breathing, intention, and art.

Journal Prompts (to inspire magic moments):

If we want to open the door to magic and creativity, we must remember the rewards we feel when engaging our magical, creative sides. Once we make art or enjoy creative pursuits, we find that these experiences have the power to transform us – defining our personal growth journey in the process. Here are some journal prompts to help you get out of your own way so you can find a path to magical creativity.

Get those magical fingers to work!
  • Spend some creative time engaged in a creative activity that is new to you, and then write about how it felt to channel your creative energy in this new artistic area. What did you discover?
  • Can you accept that some people won't like your work (creative or otherwise)? Why does their approval mean so much to you?
  • Write a letter to yourself encouraging you to stick with your creative or personal growth activities, even when faced with discouraging thoughts. Pull the letter out when you need inspiration.

Journaling 101: An Inspirational Guide to Start (or Revive) a Practice
Whether you write, doodle, draw, or keep memorable quotes, journaling uncovers YOU. Let your unconscious mind speak, download my free guide.

Sign up for the Let the Verse Flow Newsletter and get access to all my articles, including this free journaling guide.

Curious & Contemplating

What I'm Reading: The Power of Meaning: Finding Fulfillment in a World Obsessed with Happiness by Emily Esfahani Smith

Gratitude Goes To...

More love and support streams in for the podcast. My thanks to Hilary for sending encouraging words to me weekly, and lending her professional prowess to help me grow the podcast. Women helping women is a beautiful thing.

If you like the show, please don't keep it to yourself. Take a few moments to leave a rating & review on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. I would appreciate it.💛💜

Today's Photos: Summertime in Morocco

It has been sad to think of the beautiful people of Morocco struggling with the earthquake's aftereffects. I visited Marakesh for the first time last month. My goal for this vacation was to be fully present and mindful during each day in this vibrant country. Here are some of my favorite photos from the trip. If you're able to donate to help the Moroccans rebuild, I support this charity: High Atlas Foundation.

Tune in to the Let the Verse Flow Podcast: Here's How

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Until next time, don't forget to stay on the bright side of the beat. 🌞

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