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The Artist’s Way: Week 7

20 Nov

“Expect the universe to support your dream. It will.”  The Artist’s Way, pg. 119

“The Great Tao extends everywhere.  All things depend on it for growth, and it does not deny them.”  Tao Te Ching #34 (from Thinking Body, Dancing Mind)

The Artist's Way by Julia CameronPerfectionism is also a big focus of this chapter.  It’s something I’m trying to let go of and it’s getting easier.  One of my mantras is “progress, not perfection,” and that reminds me to move forward without obsessing over the details.  Fractal flowers are mentioned as well, but not by name.  Risk begets risk and action begets action.  Or, making dinner leads to cleaning the kitchen which leads to knitting which leads to morning pages which leads to blogging.

My artist’s date was…nonexistent, but I did practice abundance (as learned in Chapter 6) by buying myself a couple pounds of grapes.  Such a simple things, but I’m happy every time I go to the refrigerator and find them waiting.

Morning pages were also less than perfect — my computer died and I had to wait a week for the new one to arrive (Yay, new computer!  I named her Thrace.) which did terrible things to my routine.  I’ve been doing the morning pages online and I’ve been doing them every day and enjoying them, but I did not adjust to doing them by hand.  I wrote every day, but certainly not three pages.  I’m so very happy to be getting back to my routine.

And I think that’s part of what I’m learning in this chapter.  It’s all about a sense of connection, about being able to trust that if I put the effort in, there will be enough synchronicity, enough cooperation from the universe to inspire me and help me see my projects through.  However, I need to put forth the initial effort, and for me that means I need to have a routine in place.  It’s hard to create something new, but it’s easy to make creation part of my routine.

 * * *

What routines do you have?  How do they help you?  Do you have any routines that hold you back?

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The Artist’s Way: Week 5

6 Nov

Chapter six, Recovering a Sense of Possibility, was all about learning what we want and how we limit ourselves.  I found it the most interesting and approachable chapter thus far.

The Basics

Morning Pages: 7/7

Artist’s Date: Super hard this week; I could not relax and I did not feel terribly creative.  I finally just watched Battlestar Galactica in the bath.  It was more passive than creative, but it was some nice, quiet time with myself.

Tasks: This week I did the majority of the tasks.  I love making lists and this week was all about lists designed to give me a little insight into what I want and what I can do.

  • 5 Things I Would Do If It Weren’t Too Crazy
  • 5 Things I Would Do If It Weren’t Too Selfish
  • 10 Things I Love That I Am Not Allowed To Do
  • 19 Wishes
  • 5 Grievances I Have With God
  • 5 Things My Wealth, 65-year-old Self Will Do
  • 10 Ways I Am Mean To Myself
  • 10 Items I Would Like To Own

Affirmations

  • I can do this.
  • Progress, not perfection.
  • I am focused and disciplined.
  • I have a beautiful, healthy body.
  • I deserve the wealth of the universe; I return it with joy and enthusiasm.

What I Learned

I’m starting to see that my problems are very basic in nature: Fear of deviating from that core story poverty mentality is huge for me.  I still see life as a zero-sum game, so if I have something good now, that means I can’t have it later.  Next week we work on recovering a sense of abundance, something I think will be very helpful for me.

* * *

I found it illuminating to look at the things I don’t do out of fear of selfishness.  Are these things really selfish?  What does it mean to be selfish?

If it weren’t too selfish, I would…

  1. Get the hell out of Spokane today.
  2. Buy nice clothes.
  3. Resume my annual trip to my favorite music festival.
  4. Let go of the friends who rarely put effort into our friendship.
  5. Spend more time, money, and attention on my appearance.

What are your selfish desires?

The Artist’s Way: Chapter Four

30 Oct

I spent this week trying to recover a sense of integrity, or trying to discover what genuinely interests me.  The exercises seemed geared toward moving past my assumptions so I could be aware of desires that I’ve ignored.  I’m always ready to move on the next chapter at the end of the week, but it’s also typical for me to feel like I’ve only just begun the work I need to do.  Progress, not perfection; I can always come back and do more.

I did a few of the exercises, including the one asking me to write about my ideal environment.  I also spent some time thinking about where I’m stuck and what possible benefit there could be in staying stuck.  I still feel stuck at my job.  I just do not make enough money there and I can’t see the benefit to leaving myself stuck, even if that job does have its good points and even if it’s only for another five months.  I have to try to improve.

I’m still enjoying the morning pages and doing them every day.  I find them to be an excellent tool for helping me learn what I’m really thinking and what I really want.  Writing 750 words means that I do get past the surface thought patterns and eventually see what else is there, beneath the layers of habit and reflex.  I do learn things from the simple act of writing my thoughts down.

* * *

The question I found most challenging this week: What are five skills that you think it would be fun to have?

The Artist’s Way: Recovering a Sense of Power

23 Oct

Chapter 3 talked about anger and I felt it, along with fear, frustration, and resentment.  I’m very glad I’m keeping up with the morning pages; it’s a neutral place for me to dump all that negativity.  I can write it down, examine it as I type, and move on without having to dwell on it because it’s living in my head.

I’m getting better at identifying my fears which is very helpful.  If I look at them and see them for what they are, instead of just feeling afraid without quite knowing why, I can learn to move forward and not be held back by those fears.  All of this is an example of synchronicity — I set the intention to spend the week focusing on emotional awareness before I read chapter three.

This week’s artist’s date was fun.  I went for a walk and took pictures of autumn.  I have a tendency to use the word “should” a lot when it comes to the camera — probably the reason I rarely take pictures — but today I did a nice job of pointing the camera at things that interested me without worrying about what I might be missing.  That’s the big lesson I’ve learned from this project thus far: progress, not perfection.

As far as tasks go, I answered the 20 “detective work” questions, made a list of supportive friends, and made an effort to stay in touch with them.  I’m not geographically close to many of my friends, so I find Facebook very helpful…perhaps not what Julia Cameron envisioned in 1992, but I’m glad I have more options than the telephone.

* * *

Two questions from chapter three resonated with me and I would love to hear your responses:

1.  If I had had a perfect childhood, I’d have grown up to be…

2.  My God (whatever definition you use) thinks artists are…

The Artist’s Way: Chapter Two

16 Oct

I’m enjoying working my way through The Artist’s Way.  This book is making me feel more productive, and more open to my own potential.  In some ways, I feel like my life is coming together very nicely.  Of course I also feel like it’s coming together very, very slowly.  I’m not patient, but at least I can see progress.

This week I accomplished several tasks:

  1. I did morning pages every day.  (I do them at night — I am not a morning person.)
  2. I managed an artist’s date!  I really just stayed home and spent several hours doing creative things — baking bread, coloring, and knitting.  It was fun and relaxing, and those qualities have been terribly absent from my life lately.
  3. I made a list of 20 things I enjoy doing.  I also noted the last time I remember doing each of those things…I’m glad I’m actively working to make my life better.
  4. However, I am doing a few of those things routinely, so I made a point of continuing them, and I this week I tried to include a few of the neglected items.
  5. I made a list of ten tiny changes I could do that would make my life better.  I had some success with two changes, but it’s too soon to declare victory.
  6. I rewrote the basic principles to be more helpful to me.

I’m ending the week feeling focused, with a few ideas of what I could do to make myself happier.    What more could I ask for?

The Artist’s Way: Chapter One

11 Oct

Penguin Badge!I almost didn’t write this post.

I’m trying to do one chapter of The Artist’s Way per week, and Friday was the last day of chapter one.  I felt excited about starting chapter two, but I wasn’t satisfied with my progress in chapter one.  I didn’t go on my artist date and I didn’t do anywhere near as many tasks as I wanted to — some of them really appealed to me, so shouldn’t I take an extra week and do them?

No.  That attitude is why it’s so easy for me to start things, yet so difficult for me to finish them.

What tasks I did do, I found very helpful.  I started doing the morning pages, and I did them every single day.  (I’m using 750 Words and I cannot recommend it enough.  It’s easy, it’s secure, and it’s fun.  I’ve already achieved the penguin badge, which makes me happier than a small arrangement of pixels should.)

I also created a set of apothegms for myself, which I’m finding tremendously helpful.  I’m sure this list will change as my goals change, but right now each of these motivates me and reminds me of what I’m trying to do.

  1. I can do this.  It’s a simple statement of faith in myself and my own abilities; I’ve used it several times on the blog.
  2. I am focused and well-disciplined.  I’m trying to remind myself of the importance of focusing and that exercising a little discipline gets things done.  I added the modifier “well” because I don’t think it’s all about will power, or being in control — discipline can become abuse.
  3. Progress, not perfection.  The reason I’m writing this post instead of remaining stuck on chapter one.

Camilla helped me find a group that is working on their own The Artist’s Way project and I found After the Artist’s Way, a blog that I’m really enjoying.

So no, I didn’t accomplish everything I though I should in chapter one, but I did accomplish some worthwhile things.  It’s time to move on and see what I can accomplish in chapter two.  Besides, I can always go back and try those tasks any time I like, any time it feels like the best way to make progress.

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Does anyone else have any experience with The Artist’s Way?  Any blogs on the subject I should try?  Do you have any affirmations that are particularly helpful to you?  Tell me all about it in the comments!