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.
Here are what I’ve seen so far as being some of the biggest shifts and interesting outcomes thus far:
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.
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….
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.
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…
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…
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.
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.
I recently re-listened to the On Being interview with Elizabeth Gilbert and gleaned a whole bunch of stuff that didn’t even resonate the first time I listened to it in 2016. (I love that by the way–how we come back again and again with new eyes, as we ride the spiral of life.) Host Krista Tippett discussed Gilbert’s description of creative work as a both/and similar to “the work of a farmer” (need to put in the sweat equity) AND occasionally being sprinkled with fairy dust (look for the magic).
“[the creative process is] a collaboration between a human being’s labors and the mysteries of inspiration.And that’s the most interesting dance that I think you can be involved in. But you are very much an agent in that story. You’re not just a passive receptacle. And also, it’s not entirely in your hands. And standing comfortably within that contradiction is, I think, where you find sanity in the creative process if you can find it.”
….[T]he universe is looking for collaborators because creation’s not finished. It’s not something that happened in seven days and ended. It’s an ongoing story that we’re part of. And it’s a much more interesting way to be part of that story to work in collaboration, and in partnership, and in friendly curiosity with it than to be terrified of it.”
-ELIZABETH GILBERT, interviewed in On Being (July 7, 2016 – Choosing Curiosity Over Fear)
The heart wants what it wants. If the heart wants something that triggers intense pain or strong reactions, resist the urge to shut it down. The goal is not to repress what the heart is stirred to express (hopes, losses, despairs, longings) but rather to hold it all in love….and then release. Staying in the flow of life means feeling what needs to be felt. This alone does not make you a victim of life–it’s the story you tell about the feelings that create liberation or victimization.art by Lori Portka.
I sent this awesome illustration to my friend Jen who is doing the Artist’s Way journey with me (hooray!). And I thought, wow we all need to see this. Such inspiration.
Interestingly, even though I was staring at the illustration I still wrote the title of the post as “I give you permission“–but the illustration actually says I give you courage. Apparently my inner child/creative is in need of permission to join this adventure, so permission I shall give her. You have permission to play and create! Go forth, creative one! And heck, here is some courage too!
(As a funny aside, I also read the image as saying “let Louise Inside you” and it made me very confused. Perhaps I just need new glasses? 🧐)
Anyway, day three with Artist’s Way and I’m digging it big time.
If anyone wants to join along on the Artist’s Way journey, feel free to comment and connect with me! I’m going to tag posts with “artist’s way” and feel free to do the same! Let’ play!
Any Artist’s Way fans in the house? I started the 12-week book-guided journey today. I’m really excited!
If you aren’t familiar with the book, it helps to unblock and tap into the innate creativity we are all (yes all!) born with. The author does this by guiding the reader through twelve weeks of creative exercises along with two simple routines: daily writing called morning pages and weekly artist dates with yourself. The writing is for your own eyes only, serves as a brain dump primarily. The artists dates (time you carve out for yourself, for whatever strikes your fancy!) then helps fill your creative cup.
If anyone knows of a blogging community that does the program as a group, let me know!
I’m excited to see where it takes me.
We are all artists, as the author reminds us, though our dominant culture would like to deny it. Check out the book’s guiding principles below. Any favorites? I love number 5–the idea that using our creativity is not indulgence, childish or frivolous but rather a gift back to God/Goddess. Beautiful!
I woke up determined to be in a bad mood but life conspired against me.
The mourning doves were cooing and even surrounded me when I sat on the back porch (well, technically a lanai to us Florida-folk). My husband brought me an iced coffee! (Even splurged for cold brew at Dunkin’ Donuts. Talk about fan-cy!) All the while, one of my daughter’s favorite GoNoodle songs was going through my head. (Positivity, positivity, do-do-do-do-posivity!)
AND THEN, it dawned on me. It is finally MAY! April is history, at long last.
May life conspire in your favor today, too. Happy May 1st. Put on your fanny pack and do a little dance, for life is good.
p.s. The original post had a typo in the title (OOPS) and I DON’T EVEN CARE BECAUSE… MAY!
I thought I had writer’s block. For three months (almost) I despaired that the writing gods had gone away and it was officially over. No more. All hope was lost.
What I did not see (or more accurately, did not want to see) was that I was avoiding my truth.
We write to expose the unexposed. If there is one door in the castle you have been told not to go through, you must. Otherwise, you’ll just be rearranging furniture in rooms you’ve already been in. Most human beings are dedicated to keeping that one door shut. But the writer’s job is to see what’s behind it, to see the bleak unspeakable stuff, and to turn the unspeakable into words–not just into any words but if we can, into rhythm and blues.
ANNE LAMOTT, Bird by Bird
I didn’t want to look behind the door. Behind the door was pain and despair, and only a writer would want to open that door!
I forgot that I write in order to know myself. It isn’t optional, this writing thing. It is core to my being and how I experience the world. I need to put words on the page–whether anyone sees them or not. I have over a hundred “draft” posts in my blog for that reason. The truth needs to be seen–even if only be me in the early light of the morning.
None of that can happen if I don’t sit in this chair. So sit in this chair I will, once again. Some days it will appear that I wasn’t writing, but those are days that I need to see my own truth before I can share it with the larger world. And then you too can have a glimpse into these rooms.
The Wasteland burns us up and burns us out. Instead of following your own instincts, instead of discovering what it is that gives us joy, what makes our heart sing, we spend most of our lives trying to make other people happy…living from our head rather than our instinct for what is good and healthy.
The Heroine’s Journey for these times is a journey out of the Wasteland. Each of us has our own unique set of stories to tell: the story of the years we spent in the Wasteland, the story of our awakening, and the story of the path we took out of it.