Cynthia Morris is an author, illustrator, speaker and coach who I had the pleasure of hearing speak in Denver at Creative Mornings a few months ago. Her talk really resonated with me, and I loved that she created a business, Original Impulse, around the notion of helping people connect to their creative core. She guides people who are emerging and established authors or who are trying to make their creative projects come to life. Her vision is to support people so that they can take brave steps toward living a life of creativity and authenticity.
Cynthia practices what she preaches, as she has made sure that she lives a life that listens to her creative voice first and foremost. She discovered, through being a writer for 21 years, that our creativity is our source of vitality. Writing made her come alive, and she wanted others to experience that same feeling.
Her coaching is her bread-and-butter, but she always makes sure to devote time to her own creative practice. For years it was writing, but recently she listened to what her gut was telling her and transitioned into focusing on her illustrations – which she had been quietly and privately building for ten years. This is just one example of how Cynthia allows things to develop and flows with her creativity instead of trying to force it into being.
Listen below to learn more about Cynthia’s Chapter Be story and how she has structured her life in a way that allows her to listen to her original impulse…
PODCAST POINTS TO REFERENCE
[02:30] How recent college graduates can approach life and decisions post-college.
[06:25] What we can learn when we take giant leaps of faith in life and what Cynthia learned by moving to Europe in 2008.
[09:30] When we are envisioning what we want out of an experience don’t limit yourself. Say – “I want this or better.”
[10:30] The pluses and minuses of being “location independent.”
[17:00] How Cynthia approaches fear as an alley and uses mastermind communities to support her during moments of fear.
[19:10] The things that Cynthia gained by investing in Jonathan Field’s Immersion Program, and why making a choice to invest in yourself is worth it.
[27:55] Concept of Original Impulse and what happens when we lose touch with our authenticity.
[30:30] Cynthia’s advice on how you can find your creative spirit when you’ve lost it – it’s all about creating space and using the power of writing to get you back there!
[33:50] Why we need to give ourselves permission to change and why it is okay that not everything is forever.
[42:20] Humans need to refresh, play and relax – Cynthia discusses why it is important to just have fun!
[45:50] “We have to pull away from the crowd to make anything that’s authentic and true.”
[53:05] Why our creativity is our source of vitality!
CHAPTER BE QUESTIONNAIRE…
What’s your favorite quote, story or fact to tell at a dinner or cocktail party?
In those situations I usually go with what’s fresh at the moment. I don’t like canned anything.
Worst work experience?
When I was 16 I had a job at a fast food restaurant. I didn’t like it and one day opted out of work to play hooky with a friend. Needless to say, I was fired.
What is your definition of success?
First, feeling good about myself, my work and my relationships on a consistent basis. If I’m not happy, then nothing I produce is going to be of use. Then, seeing that I am having a positive impact on others makes me feel successful.
How do you tap into your creative energies – especially when you are feeling drained?
When I am feeling drained, I usually try to stop doing anything. I ride my bike, go to yoga, read a book, hang out with a friend, or wander around town. Or take a nap!
I feel like I’m creative all the time. Thinking about my business and the projects I want to do with Original Impulse is very creative. Same with creating content for my blog…totally creative. Making food, making plans with friends, making travel plans are all very creative for me.
In terms of making art or writing, I love having space to play, to doodle and to experiment. I love my Instagram feed for inspiration. I tend to follow only artists who are showing their work or their world. This really motivates me. It makes me happy to see beautiful things and then I ask, okay, what are you going to make today, Cynthia?
I also take art classes and business classes for artists. I get a lot of inspiration there.
In a more focused way, I tap my creative energies by taking on specific projects. Making something from start to finish and putting it out into the world is very inspiring to me. I learn so much about the creative process and about my own creative practice from doing specific projects.
What does “to be” mean to you?
To simply be ourselves. To not have to do anything or change anything about our nature, but to be our authentic selves.
How do you spend your time when you are procrastinating?
Hmmm…I don’t know how much I procrastinate. I don’t really use that term for myself. Procrastinating to me means avoiding something you’re supposed to be doing.
I know my creative process enough to know when I have the focus to work or create and when I need to rest and relax and wander.
I also always have many different kinds of activities that need to be done. I like to move among them. For instance, I can’t come up with a lot of titles for the reading list now. So instead of sitting here in frustration, I will just go do something else. Ideas will bubble up and I’ll capture them when they arrive. No forcing needed.
Ideal READING LIST – books, websites, blogs, podcasts, magazines, etc. that you would want on your Swiss Family Robinson deserted island?
That’s hard to say. I’m always reading so many books. (Find me on Goodreads to see what’s on deck now.)
The three books that have made a big difference in my creative life are:
- Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
- The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
- Art As a Way by Frederick Franck
Another must-have book: Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus by David Auburn
- Jonathan Fields’ Good Life Project podcast
- Debbie Millman’s Design Matters
- On Being by Krista Tippett
Favorite song with “be” in the title?
Let it Be by The Beatles (version by Jennifer Hudson featuring The Roots)
LINKS & RESOURCES…
- Original Impulse
- Cynthia’s Blog
- Cynthia’s Instagram
- Chasing Sylvia Beach by Cynthia Morris
- Capital Hill Books – Denver, CO
- Jonathan Fields’ Good Life Project Immersion
- Uncertainty by Jonathan Fields
- Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED Talk
- Lisa Congdon Art + Illustration
- Sylvia Beach
- Cynthia’s bike dancing!
Images via Chapter Be