Recovering a sense of identity

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 one category.)

Week two considers other barriers to our creative recovery, both from others (folks Julia Cameron calls crazymakers and poisonous playmates) and from within (the skeptical voice in my head that says, “You’re not an artist!”).

I’ve done a couple of this week’s tasks, which I’ll share here:

Life Pie

This is a great visual exercise—not just for those using The Artist’s Way, but anyone—to make you consider and own up where the imbalance in your life can be found. To play along at home, simply draw a circle, divide it into the six pieces below, and make a dot in each “pie”—closer to the outer rim signifies greater fulfillment, closer to the center reveals displeasure in that area.

My life, in pie form

No matter what your final pie looks like, there will be some areas where you have achieved greater satisfaction than others. Give yourself a pat on the back—but also pay attention to the areas where you could be happier. In my Artist’s Way journal, I’m keeping a running list of the things I can do to improve my happiness in the areas of friendship, exercise and romance/adventure.

Di and Cassidy have already completed their “20 things I like” lists, so I ought to also join in. The following is an alphabetized list of activities I enjoy doing, followed by the last time I had the pleasure of said activity:

1 being pampered August 07
2 brewing beer 2 years
3 camping/hiking March 08
4 chatting w/ girlfriends late into the night November 07
5 cooking for friends March 08
6 embroidery November 07
7 enjoying thunderstorms currently
8 going to the movies w/ husband couple of months ago
9 making my own clothes September 07
10 meeting new people this week
11 reading today
12 seeing live music/theater 2 years
13 sex today
14 shopping thrift stores/estate sales February 08
15 spending time out of house w/ brother & husband this month
16 staying in bed with husband this week
17 traveling to new places 5 years
18 visiting galleries/museums November 07
19 volunteering w/ Habitat for Humanity 2 years
20 walking the dog yesterday

What surprised me in doing this was the disparity—so many things I had done in the last month or so (approx 40%)…and then things I haven’t done in two years or longer (45%, italicized). Any of the things in italics which can be done for little cost are now officially on my to-do list. Others—travel and homebrew, for example—need to wait on other things, but this has certainly put them on my radar screen. (Note: I specifically didn’t mention my artmaking activities, one, because they are many and I could have used slots 1-10 just on that; and two, because they are obviously a priority for me else I wouldn’t be reading this book, maintaining this blog, etc!)

On that note, I’ll close with some advice from Ira Glass of This American Life about being creative and enduring that has definitely helped me squelch my Inner Censor and Skeptic as of late:

The thing I would just say to you with all my heart is that most everybody I know who does interesting, creative work—they went through a phase of years where they had really good taste, and they could tell what they were making wasn’t as good as what they wanted it to be. They knew it fell short. [...] The thing I would say to you is everybody goes through that. The most important possible thing you can do is do a lot of work.

That tidbit comes from the video below, which is part of a series of four clips; I recommend you watch them all and soak up the inspiration and compassion for what it means to be driven to create:

Thanks for reading!

Published in artist's way, quotes on Tuesday, June 17, 2008
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  1. Tuesday, June 17, 2008, at 11:09 pm | Permalink

    awesome… :) Your list reminded me of some things I love to do, but haven’t in a while, too!

    * museums/galleries
    * live music / theatre
    * making clothes
    * late-night girlie chats

    It’s nice to remember the good stuff all at once… and it’s a little funny how the stuff that comes so difficult to the memory, for me anyway, were the things that I actually miss most ;o) suppression at its best.

  2. Wednesday, June 18, 2008, at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Really enjoyed this post. Thanks for tweeting it. I will browse some more when I have some computer time on the couch. I have really enjoyed most of J. Cameron’s books and exercises and worked them all at one or more times… BUT, I warn against one of the most recent, Finding Water, the Art of Perseverence. Let’s just be kind and say, I couldn’t persevere through it — the exercises were’nt bad, but the narrative was quite a downer. I’m counting on the next one to be better.

3 Trackbacks

  1. [...] exercise and physical playtime, and spirituality has a way of working itself into that with me. Miscellaneaarts has a really nice life pie; I wish I knew how to alter those things. I might, now that I think about [...]

  2. By the artist’s way - i plant the seeds - June 23, 2008 on Monday, June 23, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    [...] seem to have failed to add my post to this week’s carnival; [...]

  3. [...] realization, combined with the sign Cameron suggests posting in your art space and the interview with Ira Glass I posted during week 2, prompts me to remember that art comes not through osmosis or moments of genius, but through [...]

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