Big Magic, a book review

A long time ago, I bought Eat, Pray, Love for my mom as a birthday present. That was a complete fail because she hated it. She thought the narrator was patronizing and silly. Oh well, that book ended up on my bookshelf, and I enjoyed it. We recently watched the movie, and it was good too. So when I went to the library and spotted Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, I brought it home.

big-magic

This book focusses on creativity, inspiration and on how to include creativity in our lives. Great topic! I feel like often people are drawn to do things but will find themselves excuses not to go for it and will end up regretting it or not doing anything. Well, this book is the perfect cure for this “I want to, but I won’t” state of mind. Through short, funny and personal chapters, Gilbert explores the different ways in which creativity can be part of our lives and how we can let it be part of our lives.

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I have to say, I really preferred this book to Eat, Pray, Love because it feels more honest and more relatable to me. I really love that Gilbert uses personal examples from her path as a writer because it demystifies the whole thing while also bringing creativity to an everyday level. This is the perfect push in the back for anyone who has a project in mind but feels insecure or not qualified enough to embark on the “let’s do it” boat. Very inspiring and fun to read, this is a book to keep on your bedside table and to look at when you’re feeling uninspired. As the chapters are so short and independent, I feel like you could pick the book up, read a few pages, get creative and come back to it some time after for another shot of courage and inspiration. I will definitively put this one on my “To Find” list as I need to bring this copy back to the library soon.

Anyone else read this? What did you think of it?

The importance of giving yourself time

A few weeks ago, a mom asked me if I would give her 9 years old daughter French lessons. I accepted, however, we quickly realized that it was impossible for me and her to meet and be free at the same time. She had piano lessons, scouts meetings, math tutoring, Vietnamese lessons, and soccer practice to fit in her 9 years old schedule. This got me thinking about how I used to fill my time as a kid, and how I fill my time now. I realized that I am clearly an underachiever compared to this child. Yet, I am also rich with the most precious thing: boredom.

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As a kid, my parents were (and still are) ferocious believers in boredom. My dad always told me that boredom was the most precious thing to have because it meant that you had room for inspiration and creativity to settled in. That’s why I had the occasional ballet class, music recital, or swimming lesson, but mostly free time to fill as I liked. I spent countless afternoons at the library exploring old and obscure books, in the park inventing stories and playing with friends, at home drawing or DIYing something or another. Was that time lost? I don’t think so. In fact, I think this time was the most precious gift my parents could have given me because it made it possible for me to create and experiment at my own pace. It taught me to observe, listen and invent. It also helped me be comfortable with being alone with myself. As an adult, I think we often forget how important it is to give ourselves some time to be bored. Of course part of the reason is because we rush from one thing to the other because of work and our responsibilities, but the truth is, there is always time to be bored and listen to ideas as they start to occupy these empty bubbles of time. Here are some ways I like to fill mine up:

  • Move: When I’m in a rut and find myself whining about how bored I am, I like to roll out my yoga mat and start moving and stretching around. Every time I do so, I end my practice feeling refreshed, calmer, and more open to inspiration. I usually have one or two good ideas in my head ready to be used and put in motion as well.
  • Enjoy the outdoors: Even if it’s just sitting in my backyard or balcony and enjoying the sun or rain, connecting with nature always relieves boredom. Some people say that blue and green colors make your brain happy. I don’t know if that’s true, but being outside always seems to make me feel good. I usually also find something to do: take care of a plant, observe a bee at work, look at the clouds and invent stories, look for beautiful rocks. Of course, if I have more time hiking or doing sports outside is also a great option.
  • Create something beautiful: When I was a kid and I got bored, I would take some printer paper and my colored pencils and sit at the coffee table with the cartoons on low and draw away. I would create clothes and creatures and just enjoy this time to make something beautiful out of nothing. Of course, they were not museum worthy (not under the current standards anyways, haha), but they were pretty and fun to me. As a teenager, I discovered knitting and recently, calligraphy. Not only are all these occupations cheap, they are also quiet, calm and soothing to the mind.
  • Communicate: Some of my friends don’t understand how I have such a close relationship with my parents. We call each other every day, we send each other emails all the time, and we just love spending time together. As a kid, again, I would often seek out my dad or mom when I was bored. My dad would teach me how to draw, give me one of his books to read, go on a walk with me or simply talk to me. My mom would ask me to help her with cooking or shopping and would tell me stories of when she was a kid in Vietnam. Because I was not running from one activity to the next, I had time to get to know my parents and they had time to give me as well. Now, I like to continue to bug them when I’m bored, but I also seek out friends. Sorry about that!
  • Take care of my body: If everything else is going to make my brain explode, I like to pamper myself with a nice shower, using a fun body product or making myself a delicious meal or snack. Taking this time to take care of my body is so great because it gives it importance and recognition. It also gives me time to think and relax.

That was my too-bits on time and boredom. I hope they will help you next time you don’t know what to do with yourself!