Category Archives: Elizabeth Gilbert

A Creative Reframing of Stress and Superpowers

Overcoming your fear of utilizing your creativity.

Frame: noun  – “a ridged structure that surrounds or encloses something.”

“Reframing…Your frame is the house you live in.  That which you tell yourself on a regular basis.

What you talk about, you make real. Words are magical incantations.

Create a home that works for you, that brings you peace, that makes you calm.

Frame something that makes you feel good, makes you more patient, more kind.

It’s not a destination, it’s a way of living.”- Drake Powe

One of the advantages of being a travelling musician is getting to listen to audio books and podcasts on the way to various gigs.  Two recent highlights have been Elizabeth Gilbert’s wonderful resource book about creativity called Big Magic and her follow-up podcast Magic Lessons.

In episode 12 of her podcast, she has a dialogue with author Brene Brown. During that discussion, Brene noted:

“Without (creativity) I am not OK and without having access to everyone else’s, we are not OK.

I absolutely understand, personally and professionally from the data, there are no such thing as non-creative people. There are just people who use their creativity and those that don’t, and unused creativity is not benign.”

Brene Brown

My friend Drake Powe is someone I think of whose living presence is an expression of creativity. Drake was the best man at my wedding. Each interaction I have with him, brings me fully into the present and shifts me back to what is vital in this moment.

Even before he had an outlet for his creativity, Drake’s canvas was interaction.

Drake is a big persona. He is not only larger than life in personality but also in stature.  You might be surprised that despite being over six feet tall with a barrel chest that houses his immense heart,  Drake has wrestled with a fear of being attacked. This might stem from growing up in a rough neighborhood, however, fear of being vulnerable extends to being criticized as well.  Anyone with a presence on line, risks being attacked by mean spirited individuals with a lot of time on their hands.  Both Elizabeth Gilbert and Brene Brown talk of having to deal with trolls who antagonize them for being powerful women who choose to demonstrate their creativity in an empowering way.  Drake has pushed past his fears and the stress of being an empowering black man in his community. As a yoga instructor, he has felt comfortable dealing with individuals and small groups but recently he has challenged himself to begin speaking in public.

In one of these presentations, he talks of accessing his inner superhero whose power is being calm and optimistic in stressful situations. He has managed to reframe his story, (fears of attack) by applying this superpower. He has recognized that very thing that stresses him out, simultaneously has the power of fueling his gift.

“Conflict is our opportunity when we realize how powerful we are… We are stressed because we feel vulnerable…You are not what you are stressed about…our true state is calm and loving…

Change the size of your framing, make yourself big, make yourself magnificent, because that’s who you are.”- Drake Powe

When I think of what super power I want to have, it is the ability to step outside of time, to be able to experience and bestow a state of timelessness. What pushes my buttons and causes me stress are, most often, fear based time-related issues, such as deadlines and ‘to do’ lists, even if they are self-imposed. When I react from a time-stressed center, my frame becomes small and, as my wife would say, “I am not my best self.” I have experienced that my creativity is heightened when I activate my superpower. Timelessness brings me back to benevolence. Benevolence extends the frame of my being beyond space. The music that flows from that, reduces stress and dances without constraint.

I wonder if each of us has a superpower that is restrained by stress, fear, or not fully utilizing our creativity.

Just for this moment, allow yourself to step out of time, reframe. Go beyond the self you know.

There really is no frame to what we actually are.  Being able to sit within our natural state of being gives us access to our creativity, our ability to be Faster than a speeding negative thought- More powerful than criticism -Able to leap stress at a single bound!


James Durst- World Weaver of Peace and Song

James DurstThis past week my friend James Durst passed away.  On the surface, it is tragic for he was only 71 and left behind his beautiful wife Madhumita. But when you look at James and the life he lived, he was not a tragic figure. Even with his passing, he managed to fool everyone, who thought he had gone last Thursday. James held out until the wee hours of Friday to leave on April Fool’s day perhaps as a way of telling us not to remain too down hearted.

Elizabeth Gilbert asks in her new book Big Magic: “Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?”

James had the courage and did.

For fifty-one years, James travelled the globe, playing in over 200 cities in 45 countries.  He played in all fifty states in America alone.  He sang in some two dozen languages and incorporated them into his songs.  His drive was, as he would say, “to reflect a global perspective and underscore the interconnectedness we share with all of life.” He didn’t just sing about peace, he put himself into places where many of us would not have been comfortable and made the people he sang to feel his love, even if they didn’t understand his words.

He not only won awards and had honors for his own work but was always promoting the work of others.  He formed a band called the Work of the Weavers to pass on the pioneering legacy of Pete Seeger and the Weavers, whose humanitarian and environmental aims echoed his own.

In his song, I wish you good evening James says: “May you know someone loves and appreciates all that you are.” This is the main reason that James’ life far exceeds his death.  Not only did he love and appreciate those around him but he knew the true love, support and full partnership of his beloved Madhumita, who made him feel that he mattered as much as he did.

Before sharing the full lyrics to his song, which I feel represents his work clearly, I would like to quote the character of Death in Terry Pratchett’s book, Shephard’s Crown:


I Wish You Good Evening (James Durst) (w/Howard Levy, harmonica solo) ‘Wish I Were Here’ CD by James Durst.

“I wish you clear sailing/ I wish you calm seas /May your sails come to life On the sweet billowed breath of a breeze/ I wish you safe harbor/ I wish you sweet dreams /May your tempest be never so Troubled and tossed as it seems /I wish you clear vision /I wish you strong voice /May you walk straight an’ tall Down the well-lighted path of your choice

I wish you good lover
I wish you true friend
May you find ‘neath the guise of one person
A balance and blend
I wish you full dance card
I wish you full moon
May the band know the music and words
To your favorite tune
I wish you full belly
I wish you square meals
May you only know hunger for knowledge
And thirst for ideals

I wish you bold venture/ I wish you bright star/ May you know someone loves and appreciates all that you are/ I wish you rich harvest /I wish you glad heart

May your work in the world Transcend work and come closer to art/ I wish you good evening/  I wish you god speed/ May your journey through life Be focused and purposeful, rich and rewarding, Ennobling in spirit, in thought, word and deed In thought, word and deed.”

-James Durst © PhoeniXongs ASCAP

May you be regaled more than this while you are still here.