Friday, February 12, 2016

Brave. Grateful. Uncomplaining.

Working on Your Craft

This week, I began discussing some of the ideas in Elizabeth Gilbert's new book: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear (2015). Today, I want to summarize some of her suggestions about doing creative work.  She says:
  • Make things. Then share them with an open heart.
  • You can live a long life, making and doing really cool things the entire time.
  • Thank creativity for having blessed you with a charmed, interesting, passionate existence.
  • Simply vow to the Universe to write forever, regardless of the result.
  • Be brave. Grateful. Uncomplaining.
  • Never ask writing to be easy. Ask only that it be interesting.
  • Sneak off and have an affair with your most creative self.
  • Curiosity is the secret.  Curiosity is the is the truth and the way of creative living. Curiosity is the beginning and the end.
  • You will have the satisfaction of knowing that you passed your entire existence in devotion to the noble human virtue of inquisitiveness.
  • Don't let go of your courage the moment things stop being easy or rewarding.
So, do the work.  Do it with an open heart,  Be brave, joyful, and patient. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Attitudes About Living a Creative Life

Devotion to the Work

I've been sharing some of my favorite quotes from Elizabeth Gilbert's new book: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear (2015).  These quotes explore attitudes about doing the work:

  • Measure your work by your dedication to your path.
  • Focus on the devotion to my creative work.  That is how to measure my worth.  I only have control over my discipline.
  • Just say what you want to say, then say it with all your heart.
  • Write a book to entertain yourself, not to help someone else.
  • Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.
  • Work on your craft every day with steady discipline and love.
  • Make absolutely whatever you want to make.  It's nobody's business but your won.
  • Write with the fealty of a holy pilgrim.
  • Frustration is not an interruption of the process.  Frustration is the process.
  • Mere completion is an honorable achievement in its own right.  What's more, it's a rare one.
  • Release something that is good enough. 
  • Don't rush through the experiences and circumstances that have the most capacity to transform you. 
  • Never be ashamed of the work.  You did your best with what you knew, and you worked with what you had, in the time that you were given.
  • You were invited and you showed up. You cannot do more than that.
With that coaching, I am tackling my pending writing projects with new attitudes and energy.  

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Ideas Need Your Attention

They Are Big Magic

At the end of last year, I read Elizabeth Gilbert's new book: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear (2015).  You know her from her earlier work: Eat, Pray, Love.

I loved the central theme of the book.  She argues that creativity is our birthright and inheritance. Birthright because we are part of a profoundly abundant and creative universe.  Inheritance because we come from generations of people who got things done through creative problem-solving.  They created useful and beautiful tools, objects, art, books, music, and other forms of expression.

She says: "You will find people who spent their lives making things.  This is where you come from. This is where we all come from.  Human beings have been creative beings for a really long time -- long enough and consistently enough that it appears to be a totally natural impulse."

And this: " I have the right to collaborate with creativity because I myself am a product and consequence of Creation."  "How can I best live out my destiny?"

And this: "[I]n order to live this way -- free to create, free to explore -- you must possess a fierce sense of personal entitlement, which I hope you will learn to cultivate."

One of her suggestions resonated profoundly with me.  It is the topic of ideas.  First, we should receive our ideas with respect and curiosity.  She says:

Ideas are a disembodied, energetic life-form.  Ideas have a consciousness.  They are driven by a single impulse: to be made manifest in our world through collaboration with a human partner. Through human efforts, an idea is escorted out of the ether and into the realm of the actual. 
Ideas search for available and willing human partners.  An idea will try to get your attention.
In other words: "You are a partner to inspiration."  "The work wants to made and it wants to be made through you"

But, she also cautions us.  If we do not pay attention to ideas when they need it, they will leave us and search for another human partner.  She says: " My genius waits around a lot of the time to see if I am truly serious about this line of work."

I love that.  I have seen ideas simply leave me because I became distracted, bored, or overwhelmed.  I let my attention abandon them, and so the ideas abandoned me.  Gilbert suggests we should wish them well and hope they find a new loving home that does make them manifest.

Any of your precious ideas needing your attention?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

My Second Semester in Qatar Starts on Sunday

Committed to 
High-Quality Legal Education

So, I am re-posting these teaching tips here for easy retrieval as I need them.  Two law professors that I admire for their commitment to high quality legal education offer them for our use.

Students? What do you think of these suggestions?

Monday, February 1, 2016

Thursday, December 31, 2015

"Doctor" Paula Does Doha: Happy New Year

Wishing You 
the Best in 2016!

Yes, I am back to blogging after a five month transition to a new part of the world, a new university, new students, a new home, and generally a new lifestyle.  I plan to catch up on some of the experiences I have had in Doha.  I have shared some of them on Facebook, but without much commentary or the perspective that comes with being here for several months now.

It is still a very great adventure that I am holding gently in my mind, heart, and hands.  

Many of my expat friends here have posted reflections on Facebook today about their own experiences during 2015. They often talk about the surprise they still hold for making the transition to Doha from places all over the world.  Few expected to be here a year ago.  They talk about the challenges of change.  But, also the importance of the journey of growth, self-discovery, and service. They talk about what you shed to be able to put on this new skin. 

About a year ago, I accepted an offer to visit Dubai with a grade school friend.  The seed had been planted by a former colleague, Henry Webb, to work internationally.  I wanted to scale up, so the seed began to grow. I stayed on the 44th floor of the Birg Kahlifa, made famous by the fireworks display that last night also featured an adjacent hotel fire. 

That experience was transformation.  Clearly, I could live in the Gulf.  So, now the task was to land a job here.  More on that in later blogs.

So, as I told my students this semester when I asked about their career plans:  "Everything begins with an idea."  What's yours for 2016?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Countdown to Qatar: Letting Go of my Support System

My Sister from Another Mother

I've been in Doha for a little over two weeks.  I had planned a few more posts in my "Letting Go" series, but simply ran out of time in the run up to my departure date.

But, I'm pausing before the semester starts to complete the series.  Today, I want to talk about my support system in Grundy. 

This morning on Bloomberg International TV, I watched an interview of photographer, Sally Mann.  She talked about aching for her home state of Virginia and the deep kindness of its people.  I understood exactly what she was talking about.

Over in the central Appalachian Mountains, Virginians give that kindness an extra bump up, something I always called mountain hospitality.

In my thirteen years living in Grundy, everyone was extremely warm, kind, helpful, and loving.  They generously folded me into the community.  So, here is my tribute to the folks who provided the many types of personal services we often take for granted.  Each service involved a very personal connection and quality customer service I came to treasure.

Home and Garden

I have to start first with the most important part of my support system, my personal assistant, Brenda Rice.  She started as my housekeeper shortly after I broke my leg.  Her first impressions of me were not positive, but she stuck with me.  I think of her as my sister from another mother. 

(I ask for her forgiveness, in advance, for including photos of her disheveled from her very hard work.)

She provides outstanding housekeeping service and delivers it with independent problem-solving skills, a song (literally), and thorough knowledge of the cleaning technology and products.  I learned so much from her. 

She is a "Jill of all Trades."  She painted walls, woodwork, and the deck. She (with her friend Jean) refurbished my kitchen counters and cabinets.  She has a very steady hand with a paint brush and hardly ever drips paint.  She loves to stand back to appreciate a freshly painted wall, piece of furniture, or other project.

She also managed the garden and lawn, watered the container plants, dead-headed roses, helped me build a stone walk, cleaned the pond annually, opened and
closed the side porch every year, and decorated the house for Christmas. 



In short, my house would not have been a home without her.

For over ten years, she was my cultural interpreter and insight to local personalities. 

She has minded the dogs on my many trips out of town and found loving homes for Boo Boo and Maria so I could let go of them, too. 

In fact, she took my aging Maria into her own home.  When it comes to animals, she has a very tender heart.

Over the past six months, she helped me pack and otherwise get ready for my move to Qatar. She was patient with me when the stress and anxiety made me bossy and a little crabby. 

During our last packing day, when all my clean underwear was packed away in sealed air bags, she washed and hand dried another pair of panties for me -- using a hair dryer. 

She helped me load the car with my suitcases, shared my last meal in the U.S., drove me to the airport, and said a prayer for my safe delivery to Doha.

Even after I had stepped on a plane, she was still packing, making sure folks had access to the house as needed, storing my goods in her second floor room, closing up the storage unit, and otherwise wrapping up my life in Grundy.

On a more personal note, she has been a supportive friend and positive light in my life, even when her life involved terrible loss and daily challenges.  She is the personification of the strong, smart, resourceful, frugal, devout, kind, other-oriented women that populate the Appalachian Mountains. 

She made my life so much more rich for having known her.

And, she will continue to serve as my personal assistant now that I have arrived in Doha, handling whatever still needs attention in the U.S.

If anyone needs a reliable and dedicated assistant, call Brenda.