Big Magic


If anyone is feeling unsure or in a funk with their creativity, I highly recommend a weekend with ‘Big Magic’, by Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s essentially a book of essays, musing about the magic and origins of the creative process. Something in there may well stir something inside of you.

When I was a kid, I could knock a rounders ball right out of the school grounds, over the road and into the beyond of a neighbouring property. We would never see that ball again. I would stand poised, present, and believe in my heart how far the ball would travel. I just knew. I was accused of doing this on purpose by the teachers. ‘Of course I’m doing it on purpose, you fucking idiots’. I wanted my team to win.

The rules meant I didn’t need to move from my place. It was a clear home run. The decision within the second I’d watch the ball arc it’s trajectory had already been made. I wouldn’t just run, but sprint. My friends thought I was nuts. My attitude was like this about everything in life. Whole hearted, feet first and confident I can learn. I’m all in.

Then life started happening to me. And I stopped believing.

I got sick. Really sick. Eventually, I knew I had a tumour. I knew my brain was affected, my kidneys, heart and my entire metabolism. The doctors did what most doctors do when something is rare or presents with too many symptoms. Nothing. You either have a virus, or you’re mentally ill.

I was not listened to. I was ridiculed, humiliated, lied about, gossiped about, betrayed, dismissed, abandoned. It’s still happening in fact – on one level – passively aggressively.

My trust in others dissipated. Eventually, so did the trust in myself. Still, something in me kept fighting, despite these doctors
wanting to wound me so I would stop speaking and not be a threat to their reputation or well hung egos.

It turned out to be cancer and paraneoplastic syndrome. Excuses were made for themselves, for each other, by eventually saying it was because it was so rare. Perhaps rare diseases really aren’t all that rare. Perhaps what is really rare, is finding a doctor that isn’t a cold, arrogant, incompetent and judgemental c—t.

Initially, I was so much better after the cancer surgery. However, I’m still having to be my own doctor with the aftermath of the remaining metabolic disturbances, which could well be genetic, on a cancer drug that makes you feel like you wish you’d died of the cancer. Hypoglycemia makes you feel like this too. You’re on your own when this happens.

If any of you have lost your voice, or had it stolen from you by undeserving people who have no place in your life, I urge you to persist. Stay absolutely resolute and honest in how you feel. Feelings frighten egotists. Explore and express your feelings around them as much as possible and watch them flee. Your true friends will not make excuses. They will reach out and be delighted to be there, even when you don’t want to be. Those are the ones who actually lift you, as you have lifted so many others.

Back in school, I wasn’t even that amazing at rounders. I could just hit a perfect shot if the ball was delivered by a low slow bowl. By the time my opposing team recognised this, I had left. My strengths outweighed the remote possibility for my weaknesses to be exploited.

When you do inevitably experience being exploited while you are vulnerable – by doctors, bullies, users, lovers, friends, family, jealous people, employees, employers and bullshitters, you can turn that rightful anger into art. You can preserve your self respect – which they will hate about you – and you can speak and shout and sing and draw and paint and do whatever the fuck you want. Create. Be wise. Misdirected energy – with play and ultimately skill – can turn into something far more powerful than the sum of all of your experiences. This will annihilate them.

You deserve to be heard. You can still knock it out of the park. Retreat and create with every beat of your electrically fucked or un-fucked hearts. Listen to the voice within. Then listen for the satisfying sound of the crack to the bat as you show everyone how to go home.

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43 comments on “Big Magic”

  1. Wow! That is one powerful post! Thanks for writing it. You inspire me with your courage. I can empathize re doctors. I’ve never had a serious problem, but did need a cardiologist to put a stent in a major artery. He insisted I take a statin and I refused, because my brain is important and it needs cholesterol to function. I had also done research on statins and concluded they did more harm than good. At the time, I was terrified that he was right and that I would die. He bullied me unmercifully. But I stuck to my guns. Fifteen years later I’m still alive and in reasonable shape for my age.

    I send you a virtual hug, for whatever good that may do. And my admiration.

  2. Thank you.
    I found this inspiring, moving, humbling, defiant, hopeful and life-affirming.
    Just brilliant!

  3. What an amazing response! Wow. Thank you so much and for sharing some of yourself ❤️. I’m delighted you are still here and also that you had the courage to do what was best for you. You are immensely strong. Only you know your body. No doctor can ever know what you are feeling or why or what is truly right for you. A good doctor respects this, listens properly, acknowledges your suffering and will work WITH you to find the right way forward. I have found that a simple supplement of Benecol helps cholesterol levels.

    More people should stand up and listen to their intuition. Our intuition is there to guide us for our best interests and if you KNOW something is wrong, then it probably is. I wish you many more years of good health and happiness with my respect ❤️🤗

  4. Yes, I am strong. lol You have to be to fight the medical system. I agree about listening to your body (which I do) and that you work WITH a doctor. I go to a doctor for expert advice, but I make the decisions about whether to take it or not. It’s called being responsible for yourself. Too many people don’t want that responsibility or don’t want to take the time to learn and thus, many doctors have complete power over their patients. Unfortunately, a lot of them enjoy it.

    Thanks for the tip on the cholesterol. Actually, my cholesterol levels are normal and they were normal 15 years ago. The cardiologist wanted them “as low as possible,” assuming as so many did, and do, that cholesterol causes all heart problems.

    Oh, and my doctor now is a naturopath. Works fine for normal health. If I had your problems, of course, I’d be stuck with the allopathic medical system. I wish you luck in finding, or hanging onto, doctors who listen.

  5. Whoa, what an experience you’ve been through. Good to hear that you managed to fight through it. And for sure now I’m going to check out this book as well!

  6. I can relate. Next week I will hit #120 in doctors in 11 years. At one point I saw this absolutely horrible neurologist who insisted that I get tested for neoplastic diseases, even though I insisted it was not at all appropriate and I had already determined my issues. He decided that the only way for me to “take the problem seriously” was to make me cry after berating me for two hours. I often try to start my appointments with at least a pleasant demeanor so doctors don’t get crabby and we can have a civil conversation (hopefully). But now I know too that if a doctor says that I have a good attitude for someone with so many challenges, it means that he/she is getting ready to take me down and tell me I have Munchhausen’s.

    Besides going to appointments, I also teach fellow patients how to advocate for themselves. I don’t understand why women especially are targeted as being unreliable patients and citizens of the world. Studies and funding are biased against us. Doctors make us prove ourselves again and again, yet still fail us. I don’t know what it will take to change all of these things, but I will enthusiastically continue to be a vocal and difficult patient.

  7. Very powerful and meaningful peace. Keep hitting it out of the park and never stop believing and standing tall. You are a great warrior and will keep winning and conquering no matter what. x

  8. Agree wholeheartedly. I am glad you have a better route and also agree that a more natural approach when possible is more conducive to health. You are so right about personal responsibility and not indulging doctors in their twisted power play. The less we have to engage with narcissists, the happier, healthier and more peaceful life can be. Stay well ❤️🤗

  9. Thanks so much for reading and leaving the kind and empathetic comment. I really appreciate you. Hope you enjoy the book and that, ‘Big Magic’, brings you exactly that ❤️👍

  10. I empathise completely with what you have had to endure and continue to endure. I really want to be able to say I am shocked of your experiences but can relate all too well. I am just dismayed to hear that doctors are continuing to behave like this and yes, you are quite right about the misogyny. It’s even worse if you are gay, as they assume gay women must be damaged because that could be the only viable reason why they don’t sleep with men. Or that they are afraid of men. I’ve noticed this approach comes from men who are actually afraid of lesbians 😂. Or straight women who feel disgusted by the suppressed notion that deep down they could be attracted to other women. It’s extraordinary how many bags of shit everyone brings to the party. It’s not relevant, professional or appropriate for a doctor to be anything but unbiased.

    If a 40 year old man is admitted to hospital with chest pains, they will act quickly and assume it is cardiac related. If a 40 year old woman is admitted to hospital with chest pains, the first assumption is that it is due to anxiety, etc. It’s utterly disgusting that in this day and age, patients are experiencing such negligence and prejudice.

    I think patients standing up and speaking out is the first step. It would help empower more to speak up. Secondly, what you are doing by helping others will already be making a difference. Doctors do not deserve automatic trust nor respect, despite their most entitled view. A good doctor understands people and is in a caring profession for the right reasons. These are the ones that deserve our total respect.

    Like most outdated behaviour, misogyny, racism, homophobia etc, it will unfortunately probably take several generations to educate. By that time doctors will be replaced with AI anyway. Someone asked if I was worried about AI making mistakes – I’m not. It can’t be any worse than what we have experienced. Even a program has more capacity to be more empathetic, not to mention competent.

    Keep speaking up. Keep helping others. Keep fighting for your needs and being difficult to those who deserve it. It will make such a difference to future patients. May you be well and have much better luck ❤️👍

  11. You are absolutely right that gay/lesbian/bi/trans patients have a whole different set of barriers in healthcare, deepening this marginalization. I remember standing and waiting to check in for a doctor’s appointment a few years ago, and of course, no matter how far back you stand from the counter, you don’t always have privacy. There was a young man who at my best guess was LGBTIQ and wanting to get tested for STDs, and they told him his co-pay that he had to pay up front. He couldn’t afford it. I wanted to step up and offer, but I couldn’t afford it either, and I couldn’t let him know that I was able to overhear. But they didn’t talk to him about options for testing (i.e.: Planned Parenthood, or this absolutely fantastic clinic that I used to go to as a child called Smiley’s Point Clinic for uninsured/underinsured). So that’s it. Did they not offer him an option because he was LGBTIQ and looking for STD screening, or did he get the same treatment as everyone who was looking for STD screening and couldn’t afford it – which is absolute silence? (Crazy, right?)

    It’s interesting that you bring up AI as well. I belong to a group that discusses various topics regarding healthcare on Twitter every Tuesday, and AI comes up often. The bad thing about AI is that it is built by men, for men. There is still that bias built in there.

    I appreciate your words of encouragement. I know nothing is easy in your life either, and I admire your determination. Thank you for all that you share.

  12. A brilliantly written, powerful post.

    Sorry you’ve had to fight to be heard – doctors must realise we know our own bodies we know when something is wrong.

    Can relate to so much of this, I lost my voice and myself in my early 30s, I allowed someone to take advantage of my vulnerability and then really lost myself.

    The anger I felt afterwards helped me get up every day, write, create, heal and find myself.

    Keep hitting those home runs xxx

  13. Great post. I love the power, clarity, and honesty of your writing.
    Big Magic sounds like a book I should read. I’ve always suffered from a lack of confidence.
    I like the way you write about redirecting bad vibes into creative ones. I think exploring one’s creativity is really all about finding oneself.
    If you’re interested, I’ve got my first book coming out soon, a collection of humorous essays, which is how I tapped my creative energy.

  14. Thanks so much for reading, sharing and for the kind and empathetic words. I’m delighted you were able to use anger as fuel to get back on track and assert yourself. It’s not easy. Here’s to better times for the both of us 🥂❤️👍

  15. Thanks for stopping by and the kind comments. Regarding confidence, you just have to push through until creative productivity is second nature. Honesty always makes good art. You come across in confident in your writing, I might add. Also, love the dry sense of humour on your blog. I’ll be sure to read more…❤️👍

  16. You write so expressively. As a retired teacher, I can honestly say you have a talent for making emotions come alive. Well done!
    I’m sorry you have had to deal with so much regarding your health. I know first hand how unkind cancer can be. In fact,
    I have not written much lately due to being in cancer treatment once again, so I discovered that in returning to WP I’m having some challenges with the current format. Therefore in case my name/blog doesn’t come up I’ll just write it at the end.
    Stay strong. Keep fighting. It sucks to be one of the gang in the cancer club. But we’re still here and that’s pretty great. Peace. ✌️❤️🎸Lesleykluchin

  17. Thank you so much for the kind , thoughtful and supportive messages. I really appreciate you ❤️👍

    I hope you are feeling a little bit better. I was thinking about you today actually, and wondered if you’d ever used hypnotherapy for pain or symptomatic relief?

    I listen to ‘Heal Your Body’, by Glenn Harrold with my earphones when I’m struggling and it has really make a difference. Not sure if it could work for you too but it’s worth a shot. 🤗

  18. If you can’t find him on Spotify or apple, look on Amazon audible or even kindle as an audiobook. It definitely helps settle my bizarre chemistry and often feel less pain and more positive afterward too – if you can cope with his English accent 😆👍❤️

  19. Wow wow wow..I love this and I forgot to reply the first time I read it.. Thank you for sharing your knock-it-out-of-the park story… and all its amazing twists and trials.. I agree with you..and I have seen it in my own life, creativity can be born with a black eye, or a jeer, or a hateful word.. It’s that amazing alchemy that can change brass knuckles and a broken hearts into paintings, poetry, pottery,,something beautiful out of something ugly. Thank you for reminding me of this..and I loved your tone and your wise honesty.🌟🦋❣️

  20. Such an erudite and knowing comment – thank you 🙏. You are very strong in your own creativity, but it’s human to wobble sometimes in response to the rather unsavoury behaviour of other, ‘humans’. If you are lucky enough to possess a strong sense of self, you’ll always be able to channel misdirected energy into something more profound and so rise above them ❤️

  21. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m glad you came out the other side, it’s heartwarming to read. And thank you for liking my posts! You have absolutely overwhelmed me! 😀

    By the way, this book is an absolute gem, it inspired me so much to keep on writing despite only ever receiving rejections from editors.

    Hope you are well and nice to meet you 🙂

  22. You are most welcome. When I get a moment, I’ll give your blog more quality reading time. Meanwhile, I wish you a lovely evening ☀️

  23. Fantastic post! I loved this book, and Liz Gilbert’s other writings. Agreed, western medicine is not the best system around. Blessings to you for continued strength and healing! 🌞

  24. Sorry, the above comment is from Lisa at Micro of the Macro. I can’t seem to log in here. 🌞

  25. Nobody knows your body like you do! Kudos for not giving up and for pushing until you got the correct diagnosis. I spent almost 40 years knowing something was wrong…and pretty much got called a hypochondriac by many doctors. It got to the point where I wouldn’t seek medical help…a very dangerous situation. But then I was diagnosed and spend much of my time managing a chronic illness…so I get it!
    Hope you health continues to improve and that you continue to listen to your gut!

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