Tag Archives: the artist’s way

Reverb11: “Well, you’re where you should be all the time.”

3 Dec
Secret Message Envelope

From sweetie pie press on Etsy

How Did I Have Fun In 2011?

When I thought about this question, I started to list specific events that I had enjoyed throughout the year.  It’s always nice to review fond memories, and it’s interesting to note that things that don’t seem fun in the moment can be remembered as fun, and vice versa.  However, creating a list wasn’t really the spirit of the question; the full question could have been written:

How did I have fun in 2011, and how can I have more fun in 2011.

Reverb isn’t just a review of 2011, it’s also a way to plan for an incredible 2012.  Something that will make next year better is recognizing that planning and anticipation are huge parts of having fun for me.  Gretchen Rubin frequently talks about how to have fun and how important it is to take the time to anticipate the good things.  Start enjoying them before they even occur.  As an example, I anticipated Thanksgiving by planning a menu; I enjoyed the process, so I was having fun with Thanksgiving a full week ahead of the actual holiday.  Unfortunately my roommate wound up with a concussion on Thanksgiving (she is now fine), so the holiday was not the fun I had anticipated.  However, the enjoyment I felt the week before was real, even if the event itself turned out very differently than anticipated.

So how can I leverage planning and anticipation into more fun?  Havi Brooks talks about leaving little surprises and gifts to be found by yourself at a later time, and I love that idea.  I’m going to spend the weekend coming up with a few ideas and putting them into practice.  I also planned out several artist’s dates so I can anticipate them and have fun with them instead of skipping them because I feel uninspired.

* * *

How do you have fun?  What are you anticipating right now?

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?

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


  • 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?

Seeds Planted #8

5 Nov

Future oak trees“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

I still find this exercise difficult: I end every week wondering just what I did that might help me move forward.  It’s hard to remember that seeds are often tiny things; hopefully they’ll grow into something healthy (and impressive), but right now they are so small as to be almost negligible.  However, I do this exercise every week because I don’t want to underestimate the power of small things, or small actions.

  1. I used Facebook to start some great conversations about faith.  My brother is creating his own brand of spirituality and it’s inspiring; I have a lot to learn from him.  One of my cousins converted from Catholicism to Evangelical Christianity, and I’m enjoying learning about her beliefs and the way they’ve changed.
  2. I’m getting sick, so I’m exhausted.  Instead of pushing myself to do all those things I “should” be doing, as would be typical for me, I’m actually going to be early and taking care of myself.  (Hence the recent lack of blog posts.)  Going to bed earlier is such a small thing, but it’s evidence of a big shift in my priorities.
  3. I showed my roommate some appreciation.  She deserves it.
  4. Two weeks ago I started the practice of a “responsibility date” as a response to the “artist’s dates” advocated by The Artist’s Way.  It’s a way for me to accomplish those nagging tasks I neglect without turning it into a daily ordeal of procrastination and disappointment.  They are wonderful.

* * *

What tiny, insignificant things have a huge potential in your life?

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?

People, Places, Things

27 Oct

PerfectI’ve been thinking about the environment I want to live in this week; moving to Spokane has made me aware of how important my living environment is, beyond my immediate home.

During my last trip home to rural Michigan I saw deer, coyotes, rabbits, raccoons, skunks, possums, porcupines, turtles, turkeys, and hawks.  There are a dozen lakes and two rivers within ten miles of where I grew up.  My community was small but close-knit.  Even now, years after moving away, I’m still welcomed with genuine affection every time I come back to visit.

When I lived in Tahoe I commuted 40 minutes each way in the winter; it didn’t matter how overworked, tired, or stressed I felt, I always enjoyed that drive.  Who wouldn’t?  I drove past Lake Tahoe, through picturesque mountain towns, and up to the breath-taking Donner Summit to go ski.  All of those gorgeous things were just part of my trip to work, part of my environment.  The people I met were usually interesting; everyone was pursuing some ambition.  My passion for skiing meant I fit in.

My brief stint in Reno was pleasant.  I could see Mt. Rose in the distance (but not too distant) and the Truckee River ran right through downtown.  At night the strip was a blur of neon and tourists.  Between the casinos and the high unemployment, there were a lot of desperate people, but I still felt safe walking alone.  I felt like I could be every part of myself there, without having to explain anything to anyone.

I haven’t found much to appreciate in Spokane.  The fall colors are nice, but that’s temporary.  The people I meet seem far more settled than I want to be.  People my age are married and own houses.  Good or bad, they have careers.  No one seems to be trying anything new, or deviating from the American dream if they can help it.  My wanderlust makes me an oddity, so I’ve stopped sharing much personal information.  I don’t belong here.

I think I have a lot to learn about the type of environment I want to live in.  I don’t think it’s the geography that matters (as long as I can ski), or the population density.  Instead, I think I want to live somewhere where there are interesting, ambitious people.  People who are eager to try new things, who like to experiment.  The people I surround myself with change my core story.

I plan to move  to Los Angeles this spring.  I’ve never lived anywhere like it, and I’m very interested to learn how I feel about that environment.  Will I find it challenging and stimulating?  Or will it feel too busy and overwhelming?  What will I learn there?

* * *

What makes an environment home for you?  Is it the people?  Is the setting enough?  Do you consider other things entirely?

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…