Two weeks into Artist’s Way: big shifts and a return to 1980s crafting heaven

I just completed week two of the 12 week Artist’s Way program for recovering your creative self.  I need to put to page (er, screen) some of the shifts I have already seen in this short time. And I of course want to share with my readers because I know so many of you are artists, creatives, writers, spiritual seekers, and dreamers like myself.download

Here are what I’ve seen so far as being some of the biggest shifts and interesting outcomes thus far:

  1. A wonderfully delicious morning routine. Long ago I had a fabulous morning routine that involved waking at 6am, writing on this blog nearly daily, and gulping down copious amounts of cuban coffee. This routine ended up unraveling. The kid’s sleep routine changed and everything fell off the rails. The Artist’s Way has me back on track with waking early again (6am) and writing my morning pages. (Freestyle, stream-of-consciousness writing/journaling, for my eyes only.) It is awesome. I’m once again leaping out of bed, excited each morning for my time alone with a cup of chai and time to write.
  2. Unexpected creative bursts and ideas. One of the week 2 exercises was to list all sorts of activities you love and the last time you did them. My list included a lot of things that I hadn’t experienced since the late 1980s or early 90s. As I brainstormed, all sorts of related but unexpected things came to mind. Like, oh I remember making friendship bracelets and loving it. Wait, that reminds me, didn’t I used to make things with beads? What did I make? In my mind’s eye I could picture the tiny beads and remembered the feel of holding them in my hands. So, “bead making” went on the list. And this led to the next discovery….
  3. Unexpected parenting wins. Guess who would like to do 90% of the things on my list that I did when I was a kid? Why, my own kid! In fact, I shared the list with her and she was beyond ecstatic. I suddenly had a partner in crime. I went to the craft store without a plan, only following my whims (WOAH so right-brained of me!) and came home with bracelet making supplies.
    It turns out I like making beaded bracelets. What the what?!
  4. I made a bracelet! My daughter did some beading and actually was pretty amazing at working with the tiny beads (which I thought would be too difficult for her five-year-old motor skills. I was wrong.) Overall, I’m becoming a more playful parent and I’m also doing a lot more creative stuff with my daughter. Y’all I bought puffy paints and did them with my daughter. We are having a blast! WIN-WIN. But not everything is fun and games…
  5. ANGER. AND. FRUSTRATION!  Guess what. When you have a lovely morning routine and your child suddenly realizes you are waking an hour earlier and wants to join you, you get really sad and annoyed. I know it’s not her fault that she wants to hang out with me – I am pretty awesome with the beads and puffy paints after all. BUT. . .my morning routine! My precious, precious morning routine. I did not like this disruption at all. Which is why it was no surprise that when I turned the book pages to read about WEEK THREE, it was all about…
  6. Gaining Power and setting Boundaries. I laughed when I opened the chapter. OH. SO I AM RIGHT ON TRACK HUH? Because it turns out when you start having the creative bursts and experiencing the joy of creativity again, guess what? You don’t want that time taken away from you! But instead of becoming resentful or cranky (not that I was either of those things…never, not me!), Cameron writes how you can–guess what–address the boundary violations and fix them.
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    The morning sunrise view from my writing spot. Oh, so glorious!!
  7. I’m still figuring out the morning routine. Today I had my time to myself, but I decided if my daughter does wake really early on future days, I will swap the morning routine – get her ready for preschool, take her to school, and then return home for the writing pages time alone. It isn’t ideal (because frankly there is something quite magical about sitting with my journal watching the sun rise…ahhhh) but I also need to find solutions that ditch the resentment and allow for flexibility when parenthood throws me a curve ball.

Facing Anger (And Reluctantly Admitting My Husband Was Right)

Every window in my house is currently steamed up. (No, it’s not what you think! Jeesh, don’t make me blush.) The reason? I live in Florida. It is summer. The humidity is higher than Donald Trump’s bangs.

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high hair, high humidity. (photo source)
I just returned home to this heat from 

vacation in the cool, humidity-free Northeast. No matter. I am loving the all-consuming stickiness.

At last: the outside world is matching my inside world.

As vacation ended and some unpleasant realities of life creeped back into my consciousness, anger began seeping out in all the ways that Oprah would advise against. Projecting onto my husband. Snapping at my daughter. Scowling about towels left on the floor and muttering loudly under my breath.  A tiny voice within squeaked, hmm you seem pretty CHARGED UP about this…perhaps something else? To which my ego (angrily) replied, NO! Really, I  AM this angry over my husband whining about needing a nap after he slept ten hours last night! (Yes this really happened. Normally I would I would chuckle and lovingly mock him and tell him to shut his pie hole. I would not be full of PRIMAL RAGE.)

I was full of PRIMAL RAGE.

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Who knew? A google search for “primal rage”returns this fantastic image from an early ’90s video game.
I’ll spare you the details of the who and what that led to my anger. It isn’t necessary. What I will share is how surprised I have been at the depth and fierceness of the anger—and my unwillingness to simply name it for what it was.

Why, I wondered later, is it so hard for me to just say, “I AM ANGRY AT X AND I NEED TO JUST SAY IT OUT LOUD!”

Many wise souls have pointed out how resisting what is is the source of our suffering. Certainly it was the source of the suffering between my husband and myself, as he threw his hands up and said, “Whoa, why are you so upset with ME? I know this isn’t about me, this is about x! Stop projecting!”

He even predicted that ten minutes later I would be back, apologizing, and admitting he was right.

Damn it, I hate when he is right.

I think it all has to do with anger being a secondary emotion.

I read the term “secondary emotion” for the first time a year or two ago. I had this major “AHA” moment. I had been lumping anger as an emotion with all the rest. Turns out, anger is special. It is just the first layer of a delicious cake of emotions. Perhaps it is the crispy charred caramel bit atop a Crème brûlée. You have to poke through it to get to the creamy, smooth center, the meat of the thing.

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If only anger tasted as delicious. Image source.
Which, in my case, turned out to be sadness. So. Much. Sadness. Once I finally admitted to my husband that he was right (sigh), that I was not actually angry at him, I crept into a spare bedroom and wrote a little. The tears started flowing and they wouldn’t stop. Streams and streams of tears. I hadn’t cried like this in a very long time. I let it run its course but it took an awfully long time for my eyes to dry up.

No wonder I was hiding behind the anger. Who wants to unearth all that hurt and sadness?

I’d love to carry my metaphor forward about the dessert and crème brûlée, something trite about how sweet it is to finally break through all the flavors and eat the gooey custard middle. But that is not the case. There is nothing fun or delicious about resisting anger, feeling anger, and then crying for twenty minutes.

For me, the closest I can come to that happy ending is through my writing, which always helps me unpack what I’m feeling and find some self-compassion in the process. Not as tasty as a French dessert, but I’ll take it.