Writing the Way to our Answers

 

On Writing our Way to our Answers

Friends,

How are you? Really, I want to know.

What’s on your mind? What keeps you up at night? What questions do you carry? What is your heart longing to say? What is it that you want to birth? What is it that you want to jettison?  What is it that you plan to do with your own wild and precious life? 

Why do I ask? For many reasons.

I’ve been asking these questions of myself, and I suspect I’m not the only one.

You see, I’m marking several thresholds. Firstly, it’s been six months since I made the big move out of Dublin down to the wilds of West Cork. I’ve had six month of open landscape and big skies, of wild encounters and starry nights. I’ve had six months of coastal walks and hedgerow viewing, and each time I’m out in nature it seems like I am seeing it all for the first time-  it always seems like the first time, for it always is. The new is in the way the light arrives each day, or the uprising of a wave, or the tumble of cloud or the particular shade of green at that particular moment. Six months seems like nothing at all but it is enough for me to realise that the space has been releasing me from certain ideas I’ve had of myself, or even certain ambitions, and in turning inwards I am finding the energy and drive to turn outwards again, reimagined. It is exciting, and daunting, and I am so so grateful for this space, this landscape and this remarkable piece of land I get to inhabit for a while…

I’m stepping over another threshold too. It’s been 10 years since I started blogging, and 10 years since I set out on my crazy journey to write what was to become the book ‘One Wild Life’. It is so hard to believe it has been 10 years. (I have a surprise down the line for you all on that matter by the way- it is in development, so watch this space).  As I cross the threshold I have been reflecting in my journal on my journey since then; what I have learned, how I have changed, and what now wants to emerge.

I realise that I must have written hundreds of thousands of words over these 10 years, many of which were discarded, many of which sit in journals, some of which wound their way into blog posts or articles- yet each word in itself, whether kept or unkept, remembered or forgotten, is somehow life-giving. I say that even though I’ve abandoned two books in the last few years, and burnt the whole manuscript of my first novel. Yes, gone.

But they are not really gone. It is just that the form I was placing upon them was forced, and the words I was choosing to share were not really the true ones. I was pushing them into a shape that they didn’t fit into. And beyond that, I was scared to let them take me to my edge, to that raw place of truth and beauty were great writing goes. Now I know that the fear is a signpost; it tells me I am on to a good thing, the honest thing, the brave thing, the uncomfortable thing, the thing that pushes as my edges and takes me outside myself to be able to go inside myself with more force, grace and determination. And so in a funny way my fear tells me to trust that more words will come, and those words will change me. What shape they land in doesn’t really matter because the words in themselves are the life-giving force. The words themselves generate. They carry new ideas, insights, possibilities, connections. It is in the writing that the magic happens.

And yet, there is power too in the witness. When we do choose to put our words into the world, we never really no where they’ll land, who they’ll touch, how they may stir things, who they could infuriate or who they will resonate with. Whatever happens afterwards is beyond us. In the space between us and the reader is another clink of magic.

So I know words matter and I sense that how they land is out of our control. But what I think really matters is that we write them in the first place; for the love of it, for the connection to our creativity and our fear, and for the fundamental need to give voice to our voice. While I have not always been entirely consistent with mine, writing has given me a channel to my voice and a place where I have full expression. It’s both liberating, and connecting, and yes, I repeat, life-giving.

And so I ask again.

What’s on your mind? What keeps you up at night? What questions do you carry? What is your heart longing to say? What is it that you want to birth? What is it that you want to jettison?  What is it that you want to do with your own wild and precious life? 

Write it out, my friends, write it out out out. Listen to the place where fear tells you to go. Listen to the places of solace too, for you’ll be writing your very own map to your own answers. It’s your personal guide and who knows where it will land you.

And if you need a witness, I’m also here. I’d love to read what you have to say. So, feel free to write to me my friends… What’s on your mind? What keeps you up at night? What questions do you carry? What is your heart longing to say? What is it that you want to birth? What is it that you want to jettison?  What is it that you want to do with your own wild and precious life?

Replies to clare (at) claremulvany.ie

I’m curious to see where this takes you. And me.

Onwards,

Clare xx

 

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(And for a little musical treat, I heard Ger Wolfe perform in Levis Corner House in Ballydehob on Sunday Night, and this song, with all its magical simplicity and charm, had me in tears. So if you need some respite from all the questions, for the TV, from the radio, from the government, from the crazy times, may this be it! )

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On the ache and the longing…

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Do you ever feel an ache in your heart? It is both a longing and a void. It is dark and alluring simultaneously. I feel it. I feel it all the time. But it is the kind of ache which spurs you on. Prod a little deeper and it tells you there is more. Ask it ‘why’ and it will lead you down another track, to more questions, and later, more choices. For the ache is a choice, a choice to create, and to create is to be led into that void; that undeniably frightening quest to discover. Each time you show up to the blank page, or a viewfinder or an empty canvas, or to where the ache is calling, each time you show up, the quest becomes richer, deeper, more alluring because you move deeper towards your soul and find some meaning, some connection, if only for a moment.

Right now, as I write, I can physically feel the ache. It is deep deep in my belly, or is it my womb. If I dare to feel it fully I know it will make me cry, not with pain, but with the exquisite vastness of fear and that inexplicable longing. It feels like there is a universe within there, with a life force which I can never understand but can only approach. I write to touch this. I paint to touch this. I take photographs to touch this. I may never understand it, but I know it will animate.

To create is to animate that force too- to provide depth, dimension, form as we dive into that creative cosmos to pluck forth a poem, extract an image or carve some words of tenderness and hope. When we create we begin to experience that sense of belonging to something wider, beyond ourselves, and in showing up to the page we participate with the unfolding of meaning and experience. It is reciprocity in action.

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But sometimes we only have a glimpse of it; a brief moment during the creative process that you don’t know who is writing or what is that force surging as you paint. But you feel it, a power beyond yourself. The brevity is the ache too. The painting comes, then lands. The words congeal, settle, form. The image becomes fixed. We do our best to catch them. But what we catch will never be enough, it will never quite get there, because all the time we are in dialogue with what ‘there’ actually is. And yet we trust, that there will be more words, more paintings, more images, more creative possibilities. We show up again and again and again, to animate ourselves, and in doing so we animate the world.

The ache is longing and the longing is life.

So what do you long for? And what are you aching to create today?

 

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On Flipping Fear

First up, thank you all for the thumbs up, support, and shout outs about my new ventures- so very much appreciated. I can only do this work with the cheerleading support of others who help to spread the word- so again THANK YOU. My beautiful friend Sas sent me some flowers too- it was a big surprise and greeted with much glee.

Launching anything is a complex and interesting process- especially products, services or art that is so close to your heart. In the creative world our hearts and values are so often exposed that it can feel tender and oh so very vulnerable, so much so that it can stop us in our tracks out of fear of criticism, ridicule, rejection or failure.

I am coming to realise more and more that those fears are a natural part of the process- to deny them is to deny the very nature of what it takes to create. However, it is how we navigate them that makes all the difference.

Fear can be fuel too.

Yesterday, all those fears and vulnerabilities were there for me, louder that I had originally anticipated. The negative ‘what if’s’ started to be voiced. ‘What if people don’t ‘get it’, ‘what if the website crashes’, ‘what if it won’t work out for me’.. and so on (blah blah!)

But if we give into those voices, nothing gets done and the creative process itself is denied its full expression and the opportunity to run its true course.

So what to do? How do we find space between the critical voices to find room to push onwards with an open heart?

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For me, it is about returning to my practices, to ground and settle into the deeper knowing, the one beyond the critical voices and the crippling fear factor.

Firstly, I set the space. I light a candle, remove clutter, and carve enough clean room around me to lay a yoga mat. Sometimes I use intention cards- yesterday Elena Brower’s Art of Attention cards came in handy, as too some beautiful and wise words from John O’Donohue.

Then a yoga session, calling in my highest intention, the spirit in which I created the work and a sense of generosity. This is the grounding and the place to, always, come home to myself. Yesterday, wide-legged postures (with firm bases), and supportive seated poses were what was called for, so that I could imprint this sense of stability and grounding into my body to carry me through the day. I was imagining a flowering tree (it was Bloom’s day after all), with its roots firmly and widely planted, a strong robust trunk/spine which together created enough of an internal infrastructure to enable the optimal flowering and blossoming. Nature metaphors work wonders in yoga practice!

Next- a short meditation to quieten the critic and invite in again the bigger picture, and the mystery of it all. Yesterday, I needed about 10 minutes- enough to still the fizzy energy and bring it back to centre.

And then, what I call the flip practice. This one is essentially is about flipping over the critic voice in my brain and entertaining the opposite motion/ emotion. So, in my case yesterday, ‘What if people do get it, what if the website runs smoothly, what if it works brilliantly for me…’ With the opposite motion installed in our cognitive brains, fuel is given to our creative fires, fear is put in its proper place, and we can press go.

And so we had lift off.

Once again, thank you all for your support and encouragement. We are in this together.

Now to keep this ship a sailing….(and what fun it is to be blogging again!)

Thank you.

Clare xx

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