Catching Fireflies

finding magic along the way

Big Fear vs. Big Magic

Last week, I did a little flashback to a post I had written absolutely fear and how it will grip you and hold you hostage if you let it. Today, I wanted to give a little pep talk to anyone facing down the universe in some aspect of their life. And I can think of no better way than to share some musings about Elizabeth Gilbert and her Big Magic, one of the best pep talks I know!

Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic


This is an exciting month for me. Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, is being released! For those of you who are not familiar with Ms. Gilbert’s work, she is the author of Eat, Pray, Love, among other books. I came across a well-loved copy of that book the year after it came out in the lobby of the building where I work. The upper floors of our building are residences and they have a lending bookcase in the lobby. I never brought it back. 🙂 (To make up for my not returning it, I have left many, many, many books over the years!) If you have never read the book, or only watched the movie, please do yourself a favor and pick it up.


I came across Big Magic in an search for something a few months ago and had to pre-order it. It was one of those books that did more than just speak to me – it reached out of the computer screen and gave me a little slap! 🙂

The description reads

Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work,  embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

That just seems to hit exactly what I need right now on my creative journey when I am looking for not so much a road map as a comrade for the journey. 🙂


To further tweak my interest, I came across an excerpt from the new book in the September issue of Health, which of course arrived before August…

“I believe this is one of the oldest and most generous tricks the universe plays on us human beings, both for its own amusement and for ours: The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.” Love it!

Ms. Gilbert believes that fear in life is necessary to keep us safe from harm, but fear in creativity is overkill. Yet, fear will always come along for the ride. The trick is to make space for both creativity and fear to co-exist but set some ground rules. Fear is “not allowed to suggest detours…fiddle with the temperature… touch the radio. Above all else, [Fear] is absolutely forbidden to drive!”

I think all of us, whether we are seasoned artists or just starting to explore our artistic side, need to learn this balance. As Katherine Patterson wrote, “To fear is one thing. To let fear grab you by the tail and swing you around is another.”


In my journey to publish my first book, I have had moments that may seem small and inconsequential to outsiders, mere baby steps that felt huge to me. They took every ounce of courage I could muster. Contacting an editor, taking a class, outlining a game plan. Just being able to claim myself as a writer was a brave moment for me. Pushing the “publish” button on my first blog post made my nerves dance! Fear is a constant companion whispering you are not good enough, you don’t deserve this, you can’t do this, who do you think you are. Each day I learn to tell Fear to just be quiet and let me concentrate. I am trying to do something here!

What is Fear telling you? How do you combat it?

A great TedTalk by Ms. Gilbert on the elusive creative genius!! Enjoy!

and another on success, failure and the urge to keep creating!






Monday Morning Pick-Me-Up

Let’s face it. Monday’s are rough. The end of the freedom that came with the weekend, the start of a long week, the return to work. To help ease you into your week, I wanted to share a little something that made me smile!

Let Fear Fuel You or Let It Swing You By The Tail

Here’s a little Thursday Throwback for everyone on this journey called Life! It may be focused on my self-publishing journey, but it speaks to any path that is new and scares you.

Since this post, I have published two books. The second one came a little easier because I now know the process and have my editor and cover designer lined up. But that didn’t make it any less scary.

There is always the fear of putting ourselves out there in this great big world. Whether we are writers, artists, performers, or just following a new dream in our daily lives. I have felt the same fear along my path to certifications for work, and I am feeling it again as I pursue another one.

Fear is insidious. It will wrap itself around your head and heart and tell you that you can’t do something. It will make you question your abilities. It will tell you that you aren’t good enough so why try. Don’t give in!

Letting Fear Swing Us By The Tail


Lately, I have been doing a lot of things that have scared me in the past. It isn’t that I have suddenly become brave. No, not by a long shot. I still get a little woozy in the stomach if I stop to think about it too much. I haven’t yet figured out if it is just butterflies or if it’s nausea…

I do think that it gets easier to be brave the more you do it. Practice makes perfect, after all. The more we try new things and put ourselves out into that great big world, the more we are willing to say, oh, what the hell! And throw caution to the wind the next time.

As most of you know, I have been on the self-publishing path for a while now. Recently, thanks to my friend, Bee, I am actually writing down the weekly, monthly, yearly goals and making myself accountable for this dream. I have a plan that is a work in progress. The more I research and learn about the various steps in this process, the more that plan is tweaked and the timeline is altered and the to-do list is added to, but I have made more progress in two weeks than it feels like I have made in the last two years.

And, yes, I have been nervous and scared of each new step.

There is a lot more to self-publishing than hitting a button. There is editing, formatting, cover design, interfacing with the various outlets you plan to sell in, marketing, tax issues to look into, copyright, buying ISBNs and bar codes, understanding public domain and fair use, deciding to form a business or not, and on and on. Each step takes a lot of researching and poking around the internet. It means telling people who I know about my dream of publishing And asking for their help. It means that I am reaching out to strangers and admitting, “Hey, I wrote a book,” and in some cases it means sharing the synopsis or sample chapters.

For a writer who has never shown her book to strangers, that is huge. And I have done all of that in the last few weeks and will continue to do it for as long as I want to publish.

I have learned that once you start down this path, you will never reach a point where you are not learning something new. Even published authors continue to hone their craft. Self-published authors continue to learn all about the business of getting the book to the public in an industry that is changing fast.

I know nothing about formatting… yet… After the month-long class I am taking in April at WANA, I hope to understand it a lot more. I know nothing about editing that I didn’t learn in high school and college. 🙂 After working with one of the freelance editors I have reached out to I hope to know a lot more. I have never designed a cover or worked with a graphic artist, but I am learning that, too.

Each new step seems huge and insurmountable, but I am meeting some wonderful strangers who are more than willing to help me in my journey. The trick is pushing that fear back far enough to allow myself to take the tiniest step. It is owning my ignorance in such matters and not freaking out too much at the sheer volume of things I have to learn and do before this can happen. It is allowing myself to appear vulnerable and asking for help.

Those steps may seem like no big deal to some people. There are folks out there that love the spotlight and seem to thrive on talking about their work in progress at every possible opportunity. But I think everyone has the fear of the unknown within them. It is how they respond to it that determines if that dream will see the light. It is whether they choose to do it anyway that matters. If we let fear of the unknown derail us from pursuing our dreams, we lose.

As YA author, Katherine Patterson wrote in Jacob Have I Loved, “To fear is one thing. To let fear grab you by the tail and swing you around is another.”

I don’t know about you, but I think she nailed it. 🙂 Fear and uncertainty grab me on a daily basis on this journey, but I am going to do it anyway.

Monday Morning Pick-Me-Up

Let’s face it. Monday’s are rough. The end of the freedom that came with the weekend, the start of a long week, the return to work. To help ease you into your week, I wanted to share a little something that made me smile!

Embracing Imperfection, or the Mondayest Wednesday ever

I have been off from my day job for a week. As I write this, I am trying to talk myself off the ledge. As I sat here trying to embrace the last few hours of quiet peace that comes from getting away from the daily grind, my mind started to panic over how much work was waiting for me tomorrow.

As the only non-medical person in our group, I am tasked with every conceivable administrative duty, large and small. Scrubbing charts for billing, payroll, scheduling, contracting, working with recruiters – you name it and it lands on my desk. When I take time off, I work like a crazed woman beforehand to clean up everything I can beforehand. While I am gone, it silently builds up and when I return, I am usually slammed with a mountain of work, every task needing immediate attention.

I try to tell myself, hey, it took a week to pile up. You will not clear that pile of work in a day. But at the same time, I am my own harshest task master. And the beatings will continue until morale improves! I can usually find my desk under the pile by the end of the first day back. Sometimes it takes two days. But at what price?

I can only do that if I don’t get a million of the usual interruptions. Also coming in early, leaving late and working through lunch helps. There is often swearing.

The high expectations and perfection I expect from myself have a price. My warm fuzzy I’ve-been-off-for-a-week-while-the-rest-of-the-world-slaved-away feeling usually disappears by oh, 9am! I realize my problem stems from a need to always appear to have it all together where my day job is concerned. I hate feeling like I am missing something! And when the work is piled up after an absence, I just feel like I am chasing my tail!

Add to this, the other side projects and classes I mentioned last week, and my stress levels rise before I finish my morning coffee! (This despite the fact that my “vacation” was 7 days when I focused on my class work and didn’t actually allow myself the luxury of reading for fun or playing with my sewing machine!)

The funny thing is that it isn’t my bosses that make me feel this way. They are great and tell me to not worry about the backlog, just do what I can. It’s all me and the expectatoins I put in myself. (I can forgive anyone their faults, but myself!)

I will talk myself off the ledge as I have in years past. I will remind myself how much further along in my class I am. I will remind myself that I have already scheduled in time for myself to finish up that last textbook project one weekend in September without having it take away from my daily work or class time. I will remind myself that I am one person and can only do so much.

The most important thing to remember when we find ourselves completely freaked by the amount of work staring at us is that we are human and we must forgive ourselves for only having 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week. We cannot be afraid to ask others to allot us the same understanding and to allow us to prioritize tasks. We will get to everything, but maybe not in the same timeframe that others want. We are allowed to breathe. And if we allow ourselves ten minutes to eat something yummy and healthy in the middle of it all, it will only improve our performance and our outlook.

It’s all good. (And a glass of chilled Riesling helps! At the end of the day, of course!) 😊

Monday Morning Pick-Me-Up

Let’s face it. Monday’s are rough. The end of the freedom that came with the weekend, the start of a long week, the return to work. To help ease you into your week, I wanted to share a little something that made me smile!

Putting Busy in Its Place

Last week, I wrote again about grooving on the busy drug. The whole world seems to reward those of us who manage to always be on the go with a million balls in the air. I find myself, year after year, immersed in new projects so that my down time looks a lot like my time at the day job, only with different task masters.

Yes, sometimes, I am my own task master as no one forces me to sign up for new classes and new certifications. Let’s face it. I could be perfectly content to do what I do forty hours per week until I retire, but the voice in my head often urges me to learn new skills and tack a few more initials onto my name… just in case.

We live in a world with few guarantees. So often, people who have spent 30+ years in one position with one company find themselves trying  to reinvent themselves in the work force. There is a voice in my head that says hey, you never know. What feels certain and safe today may implode next week. Better to increase the job skills and network now. So while it is me that pulls the trigger and registers for new classes in the name of filling my continuing ed requirements, it isn’t necessarily me pushing myself.

Deep down, it is fear. What if? What if I find myself back in the job market in my 50s? What if the rug that I stand so securely on today gets ripped out from under me tomorrow, or next month, or next year?

Don’t  get me wrong. I am a perpetual student. I am a total geek when you get down to my core. I love learning and trying new things. I even love textbooks! The fatter the better! Every September I have the urge to register for classes. And not just fun classes like pottery and photography at the local community ed department at the college across town. No, I have a deep urge to register for algebra, chem and Spanish III!

This core geekiness has served me well. When I went for my coding certification after 20 years in the medical industry, I knew there would be the opportunity to take more classes. We are required to take a certain number of continuing education units each year. In the name of continuing ed, I have gone on to get my billing, practice management and instructor certifications. They have opened up new and interesting doors for me and I have been able to do some side projects as a substitute instructor, speaker and most recently textbook contributor.

And it continues. I am currently immersed in an auditing course which I find simultaneously interesting and terrifying when I stop to think of the 5 1/2 hour exam at the end of it! 😳

This class and exam, as well as the additional textbook projects have added to my busy and my stress levels this summer. I feel torn when I see my bookshelves filled with beautiful fat epic novels that will sweep me away for days on end. I feel deprived when I see my notebooks and rough drafts waiting for my attention. I come home from the day job exhausted so I focus all my spare time on the weekends to studying something that no one is forcing me to learn. And I see all my friends on social media having a great time in the final weeks of summer… Yet, I keep focusing on the prize at the end and the months of lounging on the couch with a good book or ten that I plan on treating myself to the moment it is over.

We are all facing our own busy.  The trick is to choose your busy wisely. Are you enjoying yourself? Are you going to benefit in the short term from this bout of busy? Is there an end in sight?

Busy can’t be a forever 24/7 thing or we will completely burn out. Balance your busy with quiet, and joy, and stretches of time with nothing on your plate. Wallow in the down time. Recharge.

Busy, in and of itself, is not something any of us should aspire to be. Busy takes away from the good stuff. ❤️

Monday Morning Pick-Me-Up

Let’s face it. Monday’s are rough. The end of the freedom that came with the weekend, the start of a long week, the return to work. To help ease you into your week, I wanted to share a little something that made me smile!

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