Two months ago I wrote about podcasts and how they keep me sane. Soon after my techie man sold me on the benefits of Stitcher, which knits content together like a radio station, I made an unexpected discovery. Podcasts helped lessen my insomnia. This was no small feat, as I’d wrestled with it off and on for years.
Over time I incorporated podcasts into other parts of my life: workouts, walks, and commutes. I found comfort in filling my mind with positivity and knowledge. I liked hearing the voices of can-do types hosting dialogues about things I care about, like wellness, entrepreneurship, and creative women. So you can imagine my joy to come across an episode that incorporates all three topics in a single conversation.
Life on Purpose, Ep. 38 is an interview with creative entrepreneur Cynthia Morris: The Paris Tragedy and Creative Expression as a Force for Good. This compelling show demonstrates the kind of conversations that routinely draw me to the podcast. I started listening around a year ago, well before The Huffington Post sang its praises, pointing out that “this podcast will open your eyes to what it means to live your life with intention.” I’ve been wanting to write about it for awhile, and this episode provided the inspiration I’d been waiting for.
Morris and host Gregory Berg discuss topics like growing as a person through travel, overcoming fear of discomfort, and responding to the Paris terrorist attacks of Nov. 13, 2015. (For years, Morris has led creativity workshops there.) Woven through this material was the theme of creative expression. My favorite part was their dialogue on a well-known quote from researcher and storyteller Brene Brown: “Unexpressed creativity is not benign.”
According to Morris, these words brought her to tears when she heard Brene Brown speak at the World Domination Summit in 2011. Helping people express untapped creativity is at the core of Morris’ work as a coach for writers, artists, and even those who think they’re not creative.
For me, too, Brown’s quote is visceral. I feel it in a way that eludes conscious thought. It’s only been in the past few years, though, that I’ve become aware of it, slowly, over time. I started this blog last January after a girlfriend suggested I join her Blogging 101 course. As it’s turned out, establishing this vehicle for my writing and photography has changed me. It’s made me stronger in all areas of my life, which is mostly a good thing.
Along the way another thing’s happened. Now that my creative voice has been given a place to speak, it wants more. As I’ve grown more confident in speaking out, I’ve also become more aware of times in life when that isn’t possible. Things I’ve accepted for years as normal–my normal, anyway–may no longer be sufficient.
The idea of looking further is what brings me to Quest2016 from Tracking Wonder. It’s an online community I recently discovered. During December, participants submit responses to prompts about the coming year. A recent prompt, from professor and author Tina Seelig goes like this: What advice would your future self a year from now give you today?
I’m insanely curious to find out what my future self will be able to tell me in a year. Based on ways I’ve grown this past year, I’ve committed to continue learning. I’m on a specific path of expressing my creativity in several ways: writing, photography, sewing, and–most unfamiliar at this stage–starting a side business.
I can’t say exactly what will happen this year, but I’m confident my future self will have concrete examples to show. It’ll remind me of ways I’ve benefitted from expressing my voice. My future self will encourage me to take a breath, a palpable one, and celebrate these accomplishments. With a gentle nudge, though, it’ll also remind me how important it was to take action.
My future self will point out that the things actually happened, only did so because I acted: sent an email to an entrepreneur who inspires me, wrote down a schedule, or published a post. It’ll prod me to remember Cynthia Morris’ words: “The work we make, make us.” Indeed, it was the process of doing my writing and my business that brought the growth and reward.
No advice from my future self would be complete without a reminder to to be patient. To take a longer view. “I know you love shiny objects,” it’ll say. “I love them too, and I always will.” But you simply cannot chase them all. “Look back at the ones that mean the most,” it might whisper, “and remember they took time.” After more practice, I think I’ll be better at heeding than advice than I used to be.
If I’m lucky, advice from my future self will have the warmth and urgency Morris’ voice. Like hers, my own voice will want me to step up to my crative impulses and do what I want to do. Yes, even if I have no idea where it’s going to take me.
Know, too, that I wish the same for you. Where do you want to go in the coming year? And what what will your future self say to you when you get there?