Interview With Cynthia Morris: Tapping Your Juju

I’m happy to welcome Cynthia Morris, author of the novel, Chasing Sylvia Beach, and owner of Original Impulse. First: her novel, which gives readers a passport into Paris before World War II and insights into the life of Sylvia Beach, founder of the Shakespeare and Company bookstore. Her other passion is to guide women toward tapping their juju, their unique energy. Her website here (but don’t go away yet!) offers fabulous tips on artist’s travel tools and 15 places to write.

Diana: I love the name of your website, Original Impulse. It reminds me a bit of Natalie Goldberg‘s fast writing technique. Is that what you have in mind?

Cynthia: That makes me smile, but no, I didn’t have that in mind when I named my company. I don’t remember exactly why I seized upon that name. I do remember trying to puzzle it out and going for a walk. On the walk, it came to me. I liked it immediately. Luckily it still holds up, a name that calls people to be true to their deepest selves.

Diana: I am curious about your concept of “creative autonomy.” In a recent post, I wrote about emotional autonomy – becoming our own independent nation. Could you share some more about this?

Cynthia: The people I coach want to be in charge of their lives. In charge of their creativity. It’s a deep desire to create what we want on our own terms. Yet doing it isn’t so easy. It turns out we need help. We need constraints. We need someone nodding yes, encouraging us to go forward. We need someone saying, wait, think about this from all angles. We need help to find our own best creative practices so we actually can be creativity autonomous – living and making art on our own terms as much as possible.

Diana: My blog talks about making this the best chapter of our lives. What are the things you do on a daily basis to make this your best chapter?

Cynthia: I practice yoga, taking classes at my favorite yoga studio. That always helps me feel I’m living my best life.

The basics help me feel I’m living my best chapter – really good, fresh food, the best coffee I can buy, making my cappuccino every morning. These little things help emphasis my gratitude and pleasure in the simple things In life.

Other than that, I am always challenging myself. I’m always seeking my best self in thought, feeling and action. I don’t know that this is my best chapter, but I can always seek my best expression.

Diana: I like the idea that runs through CHASING SYLVIA BEACH that Lily Heller turned her disappointment into a strength. Why does this theme resonant for so many people? How can we learn from it in our lives?

Cynthia: I don’t know about others, but I am always battling disappointment. I think this is the bane of having an over-active imagination. We tend to live life in another realm, in our minds, in the vast realm of our imagination. There, everything is scripted according to our internal vision. But things don’t usually turn out the way we imagine, do they? Usually they’re better than we think, but often we’re disappointed.

People don’t get back to us as soon as we want. They say no. The minute we enter the world, try to communicate or collaborate, we’re likely to be disappointed when people don’t act the way we want.

The better strategy is to have no expectations. But that’s not so easy. I’m always trying to figure out how to have intentions and goals but not expectations. It’s a tricky balance.

As a coach, I try to turn disappointment into information I can use. Where was my thinking out of alignment? Where could I have stepped back for a larger view? How did I contribute to this disappointment? What can I take from this going forward?

These are all questions we can ask when we’re disappointed. Usually our inner critic will answer these questions in ways that belittle us and dissuade us from trying again. But if you can be objective and look for points for improvement, disappointment won’t sting so much.

Diana: Finally, I am inspired by the phrase you use in CHASING SYLVIA BEACH, “Trouver sa voie.” You found your voice! Good for you! Can you give readers 2 tips on finding their voice, their path, their power?

Cynthia: I think it starts with the content. What are you drawn to write about? What is the subject of the art you create?

Look for the subject matter that excites you, and that is perhaps a bit daunting or risky. The thing that scares you a little bit is often the thing that helps you tap into what’s really important to you.

Then, give yourself permission to write or create that thing without having to put it into the world. Don’t seek approval so much. Give yourself time to find satisfaction from your own voice and your own creativity. The more you seek approval from others, the further your voice will be from you.

Thank you so much, Cynthia, for your inspiring words!

Thank you, Diana, for your inspiration and for inviting me to share my story with your readers.

English: The author James Joyce photographed w...

English: The author James Joyce photographed with Sylvia Beach and Adrienne Monnier at Shakespeare & Co. in Paris in 1920. Image courtesy of the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

About dianabletter

Diana Bletter is the author of several books, including The Invisible Thread: A Portrait of Jewish American Women (with photographs by Lori Grinker), shortlisted for a National Jewish Book Award. Her novel, A Remarkable Kindness, (HarperCollins) was published in 2015. She is the First Prize Winner of Moment Magazine's 2019 Fiction Contest. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, tabletmag, Glamour, The Forward, The North American Review, Times of Israel, and is a reporter for Israel21C, and many other publications. She is author of Big Up Yourself: It's About Time You Like Being You and The Mom Who Took off On Her Motorcycle, a memoir of her 10,000-mile motorcycle trip to Alaska and back to New York. She lives in a small beach village in Western Galilee, Israel, with her husband and family. She is a member of the local hevra kadisha, the burial circle, and a Muslim-Jewish-Christian-Druze women's group in the nearby town of Akko. And, she likes snowboarding and climbing trees.
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5 Responses to Interview With Cynthia Morris: Tapping Your Juju

  1. Hi Diana & Cynthia,
    I enjoyed the upbeat, positive interview.
    And I love a great cup of coffee too! 😀

  2. Thanks, Tracy! Glad this was useful for you. I love coffee, too!

  3. I thought “Oh, no,” when you said a strategy is to have no expectations. Then I breathed a sigh of relief when you said that wasn’t easy, and a better strategy was to turn disappointment into information you can use. That’s so much better for me to consider; it’s sounds like a active response to a setback, much better than trying to have no expectations.
    Excellent interview, Diana and Cynthia!

  4. cynthiamorris says:


    Consider it a good practice to keep ratcheting back expectations. To keep noticing them. To keep noticing what they do for you.

    Hopefully we can minimize setbacks and/or rebound from them quickly!

    Here’s to your creative adventures!


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