Wellegance

Cultivate a Life of Vitality, Pleasure, Passion and Purpose


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What is Creative Living?

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For years, I completely misunderstood the concept of creative living (which probably explains why I struggled so much with it). If you would have asked me this question ten years ago I would have explained that someone who lives creatively expresses him/herself through some artistic medium – writing, painting, drawing, music, cooking, needlework, flower arranging, etc. Blah, blah, blah.

It might sound good on the surface, but this definition is way too narrow and just kind of misses the mark. For one thing, it excludes the vast majority of people (myself included) who haven’t devoted our lives to the arts because we’re working a full time job, raising children or juggling any of the other balls we might have in the air at any given moment. It often frustrated me to think that I had missed my chance and that a creative life was off-limits to me because of some of the choices I’d made.

My big “aha” moment came recently, when I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest book, Big Magic (which I HIGHLY recommend!). Gilbert has an entire chapter which explores this question of what does it mean to live a creative life? She states: “…when I refer to ‘creative living’ I am speaking more broadly. I’m talking about living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear…A creative life is an amplified life.”

YES!!!!

What I love about Gilbert’s definition is that it makes creative living available to all of us – even those of us who are not actively, professionally or exclusively devoted to the arts. It, essentially, tells us that if we want to live a creative life, all we need to do is manage our fear and allow our curiosities and desires to guide our choices. That is a tall order, to be sure, but it’s far more empowering than the belief that creative living is limited only to those who (1) possess some sort of innate artistic talent and (2) actively utilize that talent in their everyday lives.

Gilbert goes on to explain that “The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them. The hunt to uncover those jewels – that’s creative living.”

Now, there’s the blessing and the challenge – the blessing is that yes, we are ALL born with gifts to share, but the challenge is having the courage and commitment to live our life in a way that allows us to find and explore those gifts. In other words, we must “shush” our fears (some of us must do this, practically, on a minute by minute basis!?) and follow that small voice within us that says, “What if?” or “That looks fun!” or “Maybe I can.”

How do we know if we’re on the right track and getting closer to uncovering one of our ‘jewels’? Quite simply, it feels good. It brings us pleasure. We want more. When we experience that feeling, we must remind ourselves to lean into it and continue doing whatever we’re doing. When what we’re doing doesn’t feel good and bring us pleasure, let it go and explore something else. It’s that simple. And THAT, according to Elizabeth Gilbert, is creative living!

So, I offer you a little Wellegant assignment this week: Do one thing that satisfies a curiosity of yours and brings you pleasure, even if fear is telling you to “stop” or that “you can’t.” Wear the bright red lipstick. Cook the Boeuf Bourguignon. Buy the bikini. Sign up for salsa dancing classes. Commit to making just one choice this week that is guided by your curiosity and not your fears. My belief is that this one courageous choice will lead you to another and another and another, setting you on the path to your most creative, most Wellegant life.

Knock ‘em dead! And please post a comment below so that we can all celebrate your success with you!

Have a beautiful weekend, my friends!
Karen

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Struggling to Find Your Purpose? Try This Instead…

For many years, when somebody in the media or in the personal development world spoke about “finding your life’s purpose,” I could actually feel my cortisol level rise!? While I liked many things, I didn’t have the feeling that any one of them was my “reason for being.” In fact, any time I attempted to focus on and commit to one of my jobs/interests more fervidly than the others, I ended up bored and frustrated, feeling like the only way to figure it out was to go on a long, arduous, soul-searching, Eat Pray Love- type journey to “find myself”.  The search for my purpose seemed to be a rabbit hole that, quite frankly, I just didn’t have the time (or money!) to go down.

At the same time, I recognized the importance of having a strong sense of purpose in my life.

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A “Grown Up” Valentine’s Day

As I’ve confessed before, I’m a true romantic – I love love and think it’s absolutely brilliant to have a day devoted to celebrating it. In fact, let’s celebrate the hell out of love! However, I’m more than ready to replace the superficial, adolescent, Hallmark movie version with a healthier, more empowering, “grown up” Valentine’s Day.

Now, I fully acknowledge that there’s a certain sweetness in the roses, stuffed animals, candy hearts, etc. that are part of the traditional Valentine’s Day celebration. The problem is that the underlying messages about love are immature, unrealistic and, well…kind of silly. Essentially, we’re told that love is to be found in one special someone who demonstrates his/her love by showering us with gifts and attention. The grander the gestures, the more he/she loves us.  And if, by chance, we aren’t partnered up, we’re made to feel unworthy, irrelevant and anxious about the prospect of being alone forever. Love is objectified and becomes an impossible ideal. Like I said…pretty silly.

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Where Time Management Falls Short (And What to Do Instead!)

I had a conversation with a close friend recently and she shared with me that she often feels resentful because she can’t seem to find any time for herself. She’s got young kids, a (demanding) full time job, a husband, home, etc. In other words…she has many roles, a slew of responsibilities and a day to day life that is fairly exhausting; doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for the  “vitality, pleasure, passion and purpose” that I promote on this site. She was obviously frustrated and genuinely wanted to know what advice I had to help her manage her time.

I knew exactly what she was feeling, having been in her shoes (you can read a bit more about my story here). So, when she asked for time management suggestions, I shared my strong belief that the key to dealing with overwhelm isn’t time management, so much as it’s energy management.

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Ways to Bring More Luxury Into Your Life

“Luxury to me is not about buying expensive things; it’s about living in a way where you appreciate things.”

-Oscar De La Renta

Contrary to what most people think, wealth is not a prerequisite for luxury. In fact, when people view luxury this way, it almost always eludes them. Yes, for some, luxury might include grand estates, dinners at five-star restaurants and exotic vacations, but I much prefer to think of luxury as Oscar De La Renta does.

Getting to sleep in for an extra couple of hours on the weekend…luxury. Picking apples with my family each September…luxury. A bowl of my mother’s homemade chicken soup when I’m not feeling well…you guessed it, luxury. None of those things cost a lot of money (some don’t cost anything at all), yet my appreciation of them raises them to the level of luxury.

The way to make life luxurious, then, is to live day by day and moment by moment in a state of joy and gratitude. Seek out beauty and pleasure each and every day. It may not always be easy, but as we search for things to be grateful for even when (perhaps especially when) times are tough, we build our capacity for joy and gratitude and, consequently, we attract more luxury.

Here is a list of 27 ways to bring more luxury into your life.

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Weekly Wellegant Find: Headspace

Meditation is the hot, new thing that’s been around for 2,000 years!? Everyone seems to be talking about it, touting its (many, many) health benefits. Although I now have a regular meditation practice, I was a struggling and inconsistent meditator for years. It seemed that, as soon as I sat down to meditate, my mind quickly began running through my to-do list, feeling guilty about meditating (when I had so damn much to do!), obsessively replaying some aspect of my day, and then scolding myself for allowing my mind to wander and ruminate. Each meditation ended with me feeling disappointed in myself, like I’d somehow “failed” at meditating.

Any wonder why I had a hard time making this a regular practice??

There’s no shortage of data proving that meditation is a worthwhile pursuit, with benefits such as greater emotional wellbeing, enhanced immunity, increased mental strength and focus, improved cardiovascular function and longevity (to name just a few). But when we’re new to the practice, that kind of mental discipline can be hard. It’s far easier to focus the mind when we have something neutral to focus on. Enter…Headspace!

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“The Best Don’t Rest” and Other Dangerous Myths

While waiting for my manicure to dry at the nail salon this afternoon, my eyes fixed on a young girl having her nails done across from me. She looked to be about 13 years old and wore a bright pink shirt that said, “The Best Don’t Rest.” As I read that, I felt sadness and anger rise up in me. I wanted to call her over, sit her down and tell her how quickly that belief ( and others like it) will lead her down a dangerous path – the path of perfectionism, anxiety and overwhelm (a path I’m not unfamiliar with). I wanted to warn her that beliefs like that one will send her on the fast track to burnout, despite the fact that they’re the very messages we’re bombarded with each and every day. I wanted to ask her, “Do you know how many people in our culture suffer from depression and anxiety?!” But she wouldn’t know. Not yet.

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