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Need Inspiration? Try Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, and Love or Letson’s Soul of a Nomad

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Today, I enjoyed a long (over 2 hours!) and inspiring Facetime chat with a dear friend. We began the call sharing our mutual frustrations with Covid, the weather, and a general January malaise. We both entered 2022 with purpose and freedom given we are retirees. We both set writing goals and we both have a lineup of creative projects, yet, we both expressed a lack of drive to get ‘er done.

I can always count on my special friend to creatively banter out ideas that eventually lead to inspiration. After sharing some mutual grousing on the state of world and family affairs, we started to brainstorm what is it that gets in the way of positive flow forward? We both agreed that feeling overwhelmed or scattered with multiple projects plus self-imposed completion pressure can be one of the biggest stumbling blocks. As my friend stated, “MC, it boils down to staying in the moment and taking baby steps. One day at a time. If I’m not in the mood to do something, then I push myself to just do a small chunk such as 10 minutes of a 30-minute activity. Then I celebrate that I even did the ten minutes. Remember, how do you eat an elephant? One small bite at a time. It really comes down to scaffolding by alternating small chunks of learning with larger ones.” This wise friend summed it up nicely!

After the call, I meandered over to the computer to get even ten minutes of blogging done. Still resonating on Kim Letson’s many inspiring stories, I related Kim’s journey of self-discovery to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray and Love. Curious as to how Gilbert’s story and follow-up movie inspired change in others, I googled and found the following rather critical blog post about Gilbert’s journey.

Basically, Anne Donahue’s article dismisses Gilbert’s transformational journey as one of white privilege that is not available to the masses. Furthermore, she emphasizes Gilbert’s memoir ignores the angst and messiness of working through the day-to-day challenges of self-actualization, leaving us with a superficial Hollywood romanticized fun version of reformation. Donahue has a point, however, I also think that she seems very bitter and envious of Gilbert’s ability to pick up and go. I would counter-argue, Gilbert still had the courage to make such a huge step away from her conventional routine (albeit it, Gilbert’s conventional life seems rather exotic to many of us regular slugs). Comparing these comments to Kim Letson’s journey, I would recommend Donahue read both of Letson’s memories as I think that she might see real courage in someone stepping away from regular life as a soldier, widow, and entrepreneur.

I chased this article with the following by Federica Casia’s Shake Up Your Comfort Zone Blog. Casia’s post is far more positive. She used Gilbert’s story as inspiration for her own reflections which are extremely positive and provoke us to go within.

Everybody is trying to balance this sophisticated relationship between the external world and our internal universe. Everybody—sooner or later, in an expected or unexpected way, just one time or a few times during his or her life—is called to deal with a deep, unknown, and destabilizing need for change.

– Federica Casia

Her following subtitles are worth reading:

  • The Appetite For Life
  • Happiness Is The Consequence Of Personal Effort
  • Life Is Changing, And It Is Not A Bad Thing
  • The Important Thing To Begin With

They dovetail with Letson’s memoirs. I would argue that Letson’s books are even stronger support for Casia’s blog calling us to self-reflection and change.

This brings me back to Kim Letson. Her travel adventures covered decades of her life as a child in a military family, soldier, wife of a soldier, mother of two boys, widow, ski patroller, friend, gardener and writer. Kim’s three books, unlike Gilbert’s, span her life as she humbly is on a quest for self-development while understanding global humanity. As a child, she was given great freedom to explore and develop confidence, critical thinking and resilience. Her role as a female soldier reinforced her courage, problem solving and resilience. As a parent, she went within and courageously chose with her military husband to retire early to nurture their boys. They travelled then started a business. Throughout her storytelling, Kim showed us through her tenacious and positive role-modelling how to adventure through life while empowering and instilling confidence in others. Her engaging books provide us with an extensive travel guide and a map of how to live.

I leave you with a quote from Kim in her interview for Artisanal Writer. May it inspire and strengthen your conviction to engage in resetting resolutions. Let’s hope that Letson’s adventures might someday hit the big screen!

I focus on writing for, not to readers. I write to entertain, inspire and inform but not to instruct. I would like readers to share my points of view, but respect and accept their freedom to agree or disagree. My desire is to bring readers into the story, so they feel what I feel, hear, see and smell what I do. I want them to be breathless at the top of a mountain, awestruck in a cathedral and shudder when a lion roars. I want readers to laugh, cry, shiver, sweat, hunger and thirst from the comfort of an armchair by a fire, a lawn chair under a tree or, one day soon, from their seat on a plane as they head off on their own journeys. I always answer the question, “Who is your audience?” with, “You are.”

– Kim Letson

Flying Fairy with a Wand