…because I am a joyful girl
The words above are from an Ani Difranco song, a favorite of mine. And it only seems appropriate to begin with song lyrics, a habit of Xiane’s, since she is the inspiration and instigator behind our artist’s way cluster.
The Artist’s Way is a book by Julia Cameron, a 12-week “course in discovering and recovering your creative self,” that I am undertaking in the company of Xiane, Magickal Realism, and DigitalMayhem. I picked up this book once before, after it rose off the sale table at Waldenbooks to me. I got a few weeks into the book, but then got an extremely last-minute call that I had, in fact, been accepted into my master’s degree program and would be starting classes at The University of the Arts in, oh, ten days.
In the flurry of activity and the commitment to my coursework that followed, I let The Artist’s Way, the healing work of the morning pages, and all other associated tasks and inquiries fall to the wayside. In picking it up again, you can imagine the hilarity of reading the following on page two:
As you work with the tools in this book, as you undertake the weekly tasks, many changes will be set in motion. Chief among these changes will be the triggering of synchronicity: we change and the universe furthers and expands that change. I have an irreverent shorthand for this that I keep taped to my writing desk: “Leap, and the net will appear.”
My leap, earlier that summer, had been leaving my job and fairly comfortable post-college life to move to the other side of the state, hoping for something better to come along. After a month or two of temping, “something better” had utterly failed me, and I was considering accepting permanent employment in my current temp position…with a mortgage company. I was, in a word, unthrilled. Another word? Discouraged.
My husband had received the call from my faculty advisor that afternoon, explaining exactly how my application had been lost in the shuffle and inviting me to join the fall class. Unaware of these events, I arrived home, and he greeted me in the driveway. I was work weary, but he insisted, “Drop everything, come with me, hurryhurryhurry.”
He led me down a short flight of stairs and into the bathroom, turned on the light, and faced me into the mirror.
“What do you see?” he asked, practically singing.
“Someone who loves me very much?”
When I gave up at the guessing game, he had me look in the mirror again. He stared into my eyes through the mirror and, his lips close to my ear, said, “I see a graduate student.”
Retelling this story always gives me a slight chill. My life and plans changed dramatically in that moment. The mortgage company’s offer of gainful employment wilted away, and in its place was a future of challenging classes, inspiring professors and peers, an internship at Philadelphia’s Fabric Workshop + Museum, and a fellowship at The Baltimore Museum of Art. Had we not made the leap in moving earlier in the summer, I don’t know how I would have managed to get myself, husband, and all the components of our lives essentially from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia in just over a week—plus sign up for classes, buy supplies, and orient myself to the new locale!
So, for those of you joining me on this adventure or anyone else considering picking up the book, heed Ms Cameron’s words: Many changes will be set in motion!
I will write more specifically about week one of this course in the next couple of days, but wanted to use this opportunity to introduce the book, its purpose, and my participation. Thus far, I have successfully read the introduction, principles, tools, and chapter one, as well as written my morning pages daily starting Monday and begun work on this week’s tasks.
In the future, it’s my plan to introduce the week’s tasks on Monday and do, at the very least, a mid-week check in and a summary at week’s end. Some of the exercises will be personal in nature and the details of that work will remain in my journal, but as much as I am comfortable sharing and think might help others will find its way here, under the new artist’s way category.
Thanks for reading!