(Note: This post is part of a series I am doing on my progress through Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way with a cadre of creative ladies. More info about this venture can be found in an earlier post and all of my related posts are under the artist’s way category.)
Unbelievable. Have I really not posted about The Artist’s Way since week four? Yikes.
Week 5: Recovering a sense of possibility
I was really in tune with the messages of this week, feeling quite strongly that it’s immensely important to make time in life for the things you love. Not only is there an if-not-now-when? impetus, but I do believe these things refill our wells, recharge us, and empower us to do all things better.
I know I believe these things, but I still have to make the time. Walk the walk, as it were.
For week 5, I went to an art museum with my husband, and the trip had highs and lows. Overall, I think I learned an important lesson about making my artist’s dates solo endeavors. Even though it feels selfish, even though I like sharing so much with him, it’s important to have the time entirely to myself.
List ten things you love and would love to do but are not allowed to do.
(My excuses for why I’m not “allowed” to do these things is in parentheses and italicized.)
- Make paper (Messy. Should be doing other things. Not a lot of space right now in the garage.)
- Get out of the house (I work from home and don’t have a car. Getting places on weekdays is challenging.)
- Go on day trips, exploring Florida (My husband, on the flip side, commutes three hours a day; the last thing he wants to do on the weekend is get back in the car, and I feel guilty when I go off on adventures without him.)
- Take a course or workshop (Money. Transport.)
- Travel, other than to see family (Money. Guilt.)
- Carry a sketchbook (Would people try to look at my in progress drawings? Would I have to make excuses for my doodles?)
- Get a tattoo (Isn’t there something more practical we should do with that money?)
- Meet new people (Energy. Transport.)
- Buy nice art supplies (I’m cheap, I should use the stuff I have, I’m still learning and don’t need to worry about the quality of my materials…)
- Be only responsible to myself and for myself for 48 hours (I’m a parent, I’m married, it’s selfish.)
If I were 20 and had money…List five adventures.
- I would learn to SCUBA and go to Australia
- I would teach English in Poland for 6-12 months
- I would go to college or just take classes at Bennington, St John’s or the New School in NYC
- I would have gone to Mexico with M
- I would have traveled more during my year of study abroad
If I were 65 and had money…
- I would travel
- I would start an artist’s colony
- I would raise awareness of FAE/FAS
- I would teach workshops (eg, papermaking, collage)
- I would give microloans to others, encouraging their creativity, helping them to live in more ecologically sound ways, to go to school
Week 6: Recovering a sense of abundance
This week was quite something. Though much of the chapter was about our understanding of and relationship to money, it was the work in the morning pages (“…write about the god you do believe in and the god you would like to believe in”) that was the true epiphany. While I was raised Roman Catholic, I identified as Wiccan/Pagan for more than a dozen years, my spirituality—the way I understood and celebrated the universe—dissolved with my mother’s cancer diagnosis in 2005.
Up until that point, I would attest, like many others, that my spirituality had helped me through rough times. ‘’Til then, I approached all adversity as a learning experience and felt the sum of my experiences, good and bad, had made me into the woman I wanted to be. With my mum’s cancer diagnosis, it was like an unspoken line had been crossed: Anything. But. That.
With the boundary crossed, it was like everything spiritual in my life turned to ash. From my morning pages:
That was my line. If that’s how the Universe works, I didn’t want to celebrate its flow, didn’t want to rejoice in its patterns and cycles. I became stingy with my spirit, like a child done wrong I picked up my toys and went home. Well, tried to—there’s no escaping the flow of the Universe, so even though I wasn’t interacting back, it still brought me gifts. Still gave me moments of magic and connection, even when I had no energy or interest.
I knew I had stopped interacting with my circle in Baltimore. I knew I hadn’t even acknowledged a solstice since then, but I hadn’t been able to discern what had happened to my spirituality…or, more honestly, I hadn’t even brought up the question to myself. But, through the morning pages, the entire thing was uncorked.
I found myself wondering, was I even Wiccan any more? I pulled down my Margot Adler, wondering if I needed to start entirely from scratch.
The world is holy. Nature is holy. The body is holy. Sexuality is holy. The mind is holy. The imagination is holy. You are holy.
A spiritual path that is not stagnant ultimately leads one to understanding one’s own divine nature. Thou art Goddess. Thou art God. Divinity is imminent in all nature. It is as much within you as without.
Margot Adler, Drawing Down the Moon
I immediately pulled out my sketchbook and drew out those words, that amazing reminder of what my connection was to this universe. Not all of my questions and issues surrounding my spirituality are answered—When are they ever?—but at least I knew I still connected to those words, those values, that sense of the world.
I rewarded myself for the hard work of all that digging by another trip to a museum as my artist date, this time solo. I sketched in the galleries and studied some amazing techniques. I refilled my well.
Week 7: Recovering a sense of connection
Sometimes, in doing these chapters and tasks, I find one week to be a lot of work and quite difficult, but it is usually followed by an easier one. Not so here: Following up my hard personal research into my spirituality (or lack thereof) came some very hard lessons about perfectionism and risk. The former particularly hits me where I live: I want to do things perfectly, I want to do it right the first time, I want my efforts to amaze. Over and over, I have to remind myself that a perfectionist leads a very narrow and ultimately rigid existence.
This was also a week of “treats,” encouraged by the coursework; I bought myself a new purse, plus a new wallet and pencil bag to carry around inside said purse, and bought a DVD player for the studio, so I can continue to watch inspiring films and programs while I’m working in there (I’m steadily working my way through the PBS series art:21 and loving it).
Overall, despite my silence on the blog about the coursework, I’ve been steadily at it, working on my tasks and writing my morning pages (I estimate I get them done at least six days a week and usually every day).
Thanks for reading!