How Following Inspiration Where It Leads You Can Create Magic

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Lisa is a freelance writer, consultant and life coach. She has her BA in English and Creative Writing from Princeton and her MPA from Harvard. Lisa recently finished the first draft of her book manuscript, Burning Down the House. Her dream is to publish this first book and teach the world how to discover their hidden joy. Her post day is Tuesday.
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When I first moved to San Francisco in July 2005, I was drawn like a moth to the lights, people, energy and Bohemian roots of North Beach.

This is San Francisco’s Little Italy, and it is where the Beat poets had lived and spouted out their poems, words tumbling out hot and urgent, creating shocking and sensual, provocative and fierce anthems for the era.  

I had looked at other neighborhoods, but none “felt like home.” I almost took a studio apartment in the Marina, and then got claustrophobic — it literally felt like the walls were collapsing in on me.

Later I would learn that that part of the Marina was hardest hit in some earlier earthquakes, and that part of the city could potentially be hit hard again. It was as if I felt the future quake, and wanted out!

I Feel My Way Home…
Periodically I get little flashes or visions like this that lead me to where I will land next. This was how it was for me with North Beach — I would walk along Columbus Avenue in the evenings, and see the twin spires of St. Peter and Paul Church and the phallic rise of Coit Tower, lit up against the night, and know that I was home. I felt it in my bones.

I would later learn from my grandmother, my dad’s mother, that her great-grandparents had lived right where I lived, at the foot of Telegraph Hill, generations earlier. She said they were told that if there was an earthquake they were supposed to join hands and run to the top of the hill, where they would be safest.

I somehow found my way back to the land where my ancestors had lived, without ever realizing that we had any roots in California (as far as I knew, my whole family was from the East Coast and Mid-West).

I remind myself of that today as I feel my way into the next steps of my life, which include finishing this book. Writing a book is a big undertaking, and a long process.

Creating, One Step At A Time…
I am walking through it a step at a time. I am definitely not immune to self-doubt — it creeps in sometimes — the nagging voices that ask me who do I think I am to try to write this book, when will I ever finish it anyhow, will it be any good?

And yet I keep on going, knowing that my instincts are leading me to write this now — it’s just part of what I feel called to do in the world.

Following My Instincts…
Today I followed my instincts to find my new “writing home,” a cute little café in Cohoes, New York called Bread and Jam. I normally go to a downtown Troy café to write but today wanted to venture somewhere new.

I had a vision in my head of curling up on a cushy red couch, feet tucked underneath me, feeling content as my hands flew over the keyboard, creating. I instinctively decided to go to this café that I had heard good things about, but never visited. I didn’t know how to get there but figured I’d find my way.

And indeed I did — I “felt” my way to downtown Cohoes by following the highway signs that seemed to make sense. I parked in front of Bread and Jam, grabbed my computer, and walked inside.

Sure enough, halfway across the room was a large red plush couch, the kind you just sink into. And when I settled into its soft velvety cushions, it felt how I knew it would feel.

There was great jazz music playing in the background, and hot chocolate flavored with Nutella (heavenly!). I think I’ve found my new writing home for a while.

Trust The Magic…
I have to keep the faith that life will unfold as it should, and that if I keep “feeling my way” with the book as I have always done with life in general, I will be where I need to be.

How has following your instincts created magic in your life? And where do you feel led to go, what do you feel led to do, next?


Lisa_avatar(Lisa has launched her dream by signing up for Ellen Sussman’s “Memoir-in-a-Year” class, speaking her story out loud at a Take Back the Night rally, and committing to a regular writing schedule – 50 pages completed by December 5th, when she also turned in her first book chapter! Her next milestone is to have 100 pages completed by February 6th. Being invited to join was a dream come true, and she looks forward to chronicling her writing process. Lisa is currently bi-coastal with her home in historic Troy, New York and her heart in San Francisco.  Lisa’s post day is Tuesday).


  • Leah Ferrer

    I quit a job that I didn’t like and decided to move to Spain for two months. I’ve never been to Spain and my Spanish was limited to the inside of classrooms, but like all inspired actions, everything worked out for me. A friend of a friend was willing to sublet my apartment for the two months and another friend told me about a woman I could live with in Seville. This was before the Euro, so my SF sublet rent paid for my Spanish living expenses and my plane ticket. When I met my new roommate, I sheepishly tell her that the reason I chose Seville was because I’ve been studying flamenco dance and have always dreamt of dancing with gypsies. She got really serious and warned me that gypsies are not the dancing romantic nomads of the silver screen; they are thieves, beggars and liars. I was saddened, but still felt comforted by being in the heartland of flamenco. The next day, I set out to look for a flea market. I get a little lost and then hear palmas (flamenco hand claps) and singing in the distance. I run as fast as I could to the source. In the walled-in parking area that I ended up with was a huge circle of gypsy women clapping and singing as they jumped in the circle one or two at a time dancing. I nearly faint with excitement and ecstasy, but manage to get a photo of them. I panic as they gather and start to leave, but I follow them closely as they sing their way down the street. Soon we were in another lot and the celebratory circle reconvenes. I get my camera out again, but this powerful looking gitana puts down her bongos and motions for me to enter the circle. I enter and I dance facing her. I dance with the joy and spirit of the music filled with the energy of the gypsies. Yes, my camera is laying on the concrete surrounded by “thieves, beggars and liars,” but I don’t worry because I am suffused with joy. I gestured towardsy dance partner in what can only be described as the gypsy way of saying, You got served!” and she laughed loudly and pointed at me while yelling, “Mi prima!” (my cousin) to the other gypsies. The circle broke into laughter and closed in on me. The gitanas were hugging and patting me on the back, overjoyed with my dancing. Then they open a jug of homemade wine and pass it around. I don’t drink, but when the jug came to me, I took a swig. After all, I’m with family.   

  • Remy, the photographer

    My experience of what you describe feels like instinct, trust your gut, keep saying yes to decisions that feel right in alignment with your passions, even if I dont know what it means, what the end result looks like…in the moment, it feels important and so it becomes the next step. I try to believe that this will ultimately lead me to my dreams – and at the very least, it will be VERY different than how I’ve approached life and decision making in the past…and I want a red comfy couch! :) Rem

  • Veronica

    Makes me want to move to the City….

  • Catherine, Site Admin

    Oking you. That was pure instinct.

  • Julita, I love that story about the hospital!!! Isn’t it funny how we someday have an inkling of our path sometimes long before it unfolds… Soooo proud of you that you made it happen! :)

    Learning to trust our instincts can be challenging because there are so many voices telling us what we “should” do (both our own internal voices, and those of others, of society etc.). Meditation has been really helpful for me so I can quiet my mind and try to listen to what my body/gut is telling me… Following my instincts, trusting my gut, always brings good results.. Following my logical mind only (because frankly it’s not so logical sometimes!), or my fears, generally not so much!

    I just love it when we “know” something somehow before it unfolds… So magical!

    Wishing you a wonderful year too Julita – sending love! :)


    p.s. and yes I want to meet your girls someday for sure!

  • Julita

    reading your post reminded me of JK Rowling sitting in a cafe writing her books.

    so, you asked:

    ‘How has following your instincts created magic in your life?’

    I married my husband based on my instinct. I knew he was the one I had to marry. we have these two amazing daughters whom I hope you will get to meet some day, :)

    well, NOT follwing my instinct in the past year has created havoc in my life, so from now on I will trust my instinct.

    here is one of my synchronicity stories for you. in late 80’s, when I was a student at Stevens Inst of Tech working on my degree in Electrical Enginnering I used to walk (or ride my bike) from Stevens in Hobeken to my mother’s house in Jersey City, NJ. and on the way to her house I would pass by St. Francis Hospital. I would look at the young nurses standing outside the hospital in their white uniforms and feel as I should be one of them. I still remember that feeling to this day. for some unknown reason I knew back then that some day I would be working at a hospital, not sure why I felt that way. twenty years later, in summeer of 2008, I was working as a nurse at Stamford Hospital, and loving every minute of it, :)

    I am hoping for a wonderful 2010!!

    best wishes to you Lisa, and keep writing your book, :)

  • p.s. I also challenge everyone to follow your impulses where they lead you this week – at least some of the time! Make it an adventure. :)

    The greatest synchronicity stories – and surprises! – of my life have often resulted just from me following an urge to go somewhere or do something that resulted in a totally unexpected happening or connection… I love my serendipitous life. :)

  • Love to hear any stories of how following your instincts led to magical surprises…

    And Happy February everyone!