“It wasn’t until I dared to fully show up as myself – to write without hiding behind the words and to hold the metaphorical eye contact with the reader without looking away – that I really had a breakthrough and big things started to happen in my career.”
Enjoy the second interview in the The Creative Life series, (the first one’s here), with writer, speaker and coach Marthe Hagen. Marthe and I are practically neighbours, she living in Norway and I in Sweden, but (so far) we’ve only meet online. That’s where I first found her a few years back, at her beautiful online temple The Freedom Experiment, and I was immediately hooked by her honest writing.
Back then, she did not have the impressive following that she has now, but I’ve watched her grow both her audience and her authority as she supports women dealing with trauma and painful life challenges in a creative and constructive way.
When I got a chance to work with her as a coach last year, I went for it. I trust a coach who is not afraid of the dark, and just as I had hoped, she made me feel safe enough to go to the depths necessary to create real change.
Marthe continues to inspire me as a writer and business woman, and I – along with thousands of others – feel a kinship with this vulnerable and powerful woman, who instead of hiding her scars has found a way to turn them into her greatest strenght.
What does living a creative life mean to you?
In one short word: everything. For me, creativity and creative work isn’t something I just do – it is how I do it and who I am. It infiltrates all parts of my life; from how I coach and work with the women I support, how I write and how I run by business – to how I live, cook, learn, problem-solve, travel and carry out seemingly mundane tasks.
My mind works in mysterious ways, and sometimes my creative brain will even come up with new ways to clean my kitchen floors! It can be chaotic sometimes, but what I love most about it is that as a creative person, my life is never boring!
What do you wish you would have known when you started this work?
My best advice to someone just starting on this creative journey is to stay present with the work you are doing in the moment. It is so easy to start to think waaaay too far into the future and get caught up in questions about what it all is going to amount to. In my work, I teach and guide women who have been through trauma and life challenges how to use their experiences to create a meaningful life and business, and many start from a point where they have to completely re-think their profession, work and passions.
Often in this process, they get stuck thinking about what it will look like in the end, instead of starting to try out different things from the beginning. At this point, I’ll borrow from the great creative writer Lewis Carroll and illustrate with this little conversation between Alice and the Cheshire Cat:
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
The same goes for starting and creating a creative lifestyle and business. It doesn’t matter so much what choices you make, especially not in the beginning. What matters is that you take steps forward, on any road. Do that, and it will take you to magical places you didn’t even know existed.
What trips you up? What kind of resistance do you struggle with the most, and how do you move through it?
I work a lot from coffee shops and I’ve realised that a huge thing that is holding me back isn’t so much resistance, as it is a compulsive attraction to new and exciting things. Instead of sitting down to work in a place I know I can be productive, I often choose to walk to a new coffee shop, in a new neighbourhood, in a new city, in a new country, on a new continent… you get the drill!
All the way through my work, I have also struggled with allowing myself to be visible – in my work and as who I am. It wasn’t until I dared to fully show up as myself – to write without hiding behind the words and to hold the metaphorical eye contact with the reader without looking away – that I really had a breakthrough and big things started to happen in my career.
I still feel the urge to hide from the raw honesty that my work requires, and maybe that’s when it is tempting to run after shiny new things … I try to move through it by getting my work done as early in the morning as possible, when I am too sleepy to follow that temptation, when my desire for coffee wins over my urge to procrastinate, and when my connection with something bigger than me is the strongest.
What are you currently working on that you’re exited about?
Right now, I split my time between two creative coaching and writing projects. Heart Wide Open is my inspiration and love-fest online community where I guide women through a full year of connection (we offer rolling admission, so you can start your year at any time). Along with a daily inspiring, educational and uplifting e-mail, we hold the space together in a private Facebook group for our members to be themselves fully and wholeheartedly. It’s a space where we’re each other’s champions, cheerleaders, shoulders to cry on and testing ground to safely experiment with opening up, letting our guards down and just be ourselves in a supportive environment. Seriously, the women in our group are so amazing!
The other thing I am working on right now is writing a second e-book/e-course tentatively called Fire From Within – an exploration of your self. It will feature five modules on the topics of self-awareness, self-confidence, self-love, self-care and self-fulfilment.