Friday, September 30, 2011

The Artist’s Way: Week Four, Post One - PSYCH!

So, full confession, I wasn’t going to be honest with you about attempting Week Four.

I was going to tell you that I was doing it, ALL OF IT, but secretly, I wasn’t going to. Or, more specifically, I wasn’t going to do ONE PARTICULAR thing that Julia says YOU ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO DO – NO EXCUSES!

Now, I hadn’t planned on being a Liar-McLiar-Pants, but what Julia asks us to do this week is hard. HARD!!! And it’s not fair. And it’s dumb. And I don’t wanna!

What is it, you ask?

She wants us to stop reading. For a whole week! NO! READING!

Not books, not magazine articles, not emails, not newspapers, not online, not in-print, not on the back of someone’s T-Shirt (I might be making that last one up).


She calls this “the week of reading deprivation” (p. 87).

And what are we to do instead, you ask? Watch a lot of TV?

No. TV is not on the list of substitutions.

Then what are we supposed to do? Sit and stare at the wall?

Julia provides us with a list of suggestions (which I won’t go in to now). But, to summarize, you are to complete little tasks you’ve put off (like pay bills, sort closet) and/or do fun things (dinner with friends/dance).

Here’s what she says “sooner or later, if you are not reading, you will run out of work and be forced to play” (p. 88).

Why does she want us to do this? Is she being mean-spirited?

Here’s her explanation:

“For most artists, words are like tiny tranquilizers… [r]eading deprivation casts us into our inner silence, a space some of us begin to immediately fill with new words—long, gossipy conversations, television bingeing, the radio as a constant, chatty companion. We often cannot hear our own inner voice, the voice of our artist’s inspiration, above the static” (p. 87).

I understand what she’s saying here, and I’m a big fan of silence and solitude. I also know what it’s like to not be able to hear your inner voice for so long that the voice sounds like a stranger (or crazy person).

But, to not be able to read, (while I’m currently reading three books at the same time), is something I wasn’t prepared for! Hence, my choice to ignore it.

But, the more I’ve been thinking about it, (or avoiding thinking about it), the more I’ve realized that she might be on to something, and that I should give it a shot.

“For most blocked creatives, reading is an addiction. We gobble the words of others rather than digest our own thoughts and feelings, rather than cook up something of our own” (p. 87).

What she’s saying resonates with me. It’s a lot easier to read other people’s words than to write my own.

So, starting Sunday, I’m going on a week-long reading moratorium. (Let’s hope I can do it!)

Care to join me?

UP NEXT: The real Week Four…

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Artist’s Way: Week Three, Post Four

The Check-In:

1. I did my Morning Pages 7 days this week. Hooray!  My first time at 100%.  I’m feeling pretty good about it.  I wouldn’t say it’s a habit, but it’s definitely not a struggle.

2. I took my Artist’s Date and once again had a fab time. (More to follow down below.)

3. In regards to experiencing any synchronicity, I will say that I was hesitant to go on this particular Artist’s Date because I wasn’t really sure if I could count it as such (though I always find it inspiring).  But, once I entered and saw a particular thing (which you will see down below), I knew that it was the right call.  So, was that synchronicity?  Maybe?

4. No issues really came up for me that I felt were significant for my recovery.  Well, I did avoid doing the exercises for a long time (and only completed a few of them).  This lack of a memory thing bothers me.  So, is that an issue?  Maybe?

Now, on to my Artist Date recap!

I decided to go somewhere that is one of my favorite places.  I gave myself a strict budget of $20.  And I stuck with it (for the first 15 minutes).  By the time I left, I spent the $20 times two and times that amount by two again.  Sigh.

Here’s some pictures.  Can you guess where I went?

I took close-ups of some of these paintings because they were so awesome!

Can't you just imagine me snuggled in this chair with a good book?

Alright.  Here's a big clue! Any ideas on where I went?

Here it is! Did you guess the right place?

So, what did I buy?  Well, I'm glad you asked!

When I saw this bottle, with the Hula Girl on it, I knew it was meant to be! Remember my first Artist Date?

Why, yes! I'd love to be inspired 365 days a year! And this sign surely guarantees it. Right?

Hi! I'm Liz's inner critic, Claire. I think all she writes belongs on the bottom of someone's shoe.

I know this kit works. I've already told them all about my fears of becoming a hobo, and I feel better already!

When writing gets too tough, and I feel like I just can't lift another metaphor,  Hugo reminds me that I can. And that I better make it snappy!

If I feel like the Inspiration Fairies have flown the coop or staged a coup, I can now put on my own wings!

So, as you can see, I purchased all necessary items as every responsible adult should do.  

Now, use your imagination: See me sitting at my desk with wings on the back of my chair, Inspiration 365 sign hanging in front of my window (covering the oh-so-pretty dumpster view), Hugo the Strong Man cornering Claire the Inner Critic, and my Worry Dolls absorbing all my, well, worries.  With all this support, how could I NOT be a successful writer/painter/creative life-maker. Right!?

UP NEXT: Week Four!

P. S. And lest you think I forgot, here's a picture of the next stage of my Artist's Way Painting.

"Hey, Liz, what'd you do?" Well, I tore up some of my Morning Pages and glued them on! 

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Artist’s Way: Week Three, Post Three

When I attempted to complete the exercises for this week, my lack of a memory really got in the way. I couldn’t even do the first three exercises.

Exercise One: Describe your childhood room.

Exercise Two: Describe five traits you like in yourself as a child.

Exercise Three: List five childhood accomplishments.

Would you like to know my answers to these exercises?

1) I know it was indoors, had four walls, one window, and a closet.

2) I liked five childhood traits that I can’t remember. I know “sharing” wasn’t one of them.

3) I learned to read, write, do basic math, recognize colors, and “share,” sort of.

That’s all I had.

Now, when I got to Exercise Four, I started to feel better about myself, because even though the topic, “rotten habits,” isn’t exactly fun to dwell on, at least I didn’t have a problem listing them.

You have to list three obvious rotten habits and three subtle rotten habits. And then you have to explain what the payoff is for you to do them. There’s ALWAYS a payoff or you wouldn’t do it. Period.

As an example, I’ll share two of mine.

Obvious: I watch TV shows that I don’t like.

This was actually one of Julia’s examples, and when I thought about it, I realized I totally do this. I’ll start watching a new show, and then after a few episodes, I’ll lose interest. But there’s some part of me that thinks I need to remain loyal, so I’ll keep watching (or keeping recording them and watch them pile up in the queue.) It’s such a burden to me. And when I was thinking about the payoff, I realized that I use it as an excuse to not do things when I get home from work: “I’d love to start that new draft, but I have 5 episodes of Single Lady and her Friends to watch.”

Subtle: I read other people’s blogs without setting any limits.

This one is sneaky because it starts out all innocent and friendly. I look at someone’s blog and in the post s/he links to another blog, so I visit that one, and then that post mentions another blog, so I click that link, and then that person… you get the idea. What started out as a plan to get a 15-minute dose of inspiration on an artist’s blog turns in to a 2 ½ hour trip around the blogosphere where I end up looking at a website of earmuffs for cats. (And I a) don’t have a cat, b) don’t live in an area where earmuffs are required even for humans, nor c) am I the kind of person who would put earmuffs on a cat if I owned one and lived in inclement weather.) But, there went my evening.

So, question for you: What are your obvious or subtle habits that are standing in your way? You might be surprised!

UP NEXT: Week Three Wrap Up and Artist’s Date … where I left with wings (both physically and symbolically)…

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Artist's Way: Week Three, Post Two

Synchronicity. Have you heard of this?

You know, when things occur by “coincidence” but seem to be connected or related to exactly what you needed or wanted at the exact right time? You’ve heard of this, yes?

Well, Julia tells us to be prepared for synchronicity showing up in our lives. Because the more we try to connect to the Creator, the more he’ll show up!

This is especially true if we pray (which she recommends) for connection, guidance, and greater creativity and inspiration.

Julia offers an interesting insight about prayer: “Answered prayers are scary. They imply responsibility. You asked for it. Now that you’ve got it, what are you going to do? … Answered prayers deliver us back to our own hand” (p. 62).

Have you found this to be true? I’ve never really thought about the responsibility that comes with answered prayers. I’m normally more focused on getting an answer than on what I’ll do when it happens. But, I’m giving it more thought.

Since reading this chapter for the week, I’ve started to pay attention to possible serendipitous moments. Though, I will admit, part of my problem is I talk myself out of accepting something as synchronistic.

But, I’m working on it!

Because it’s a lot more fun to think that miraculous things are happening all around me, guiding every step of the way and making life wonderful.

The alternative is to think that things happen by chance and no one cares either way. That’s a bummer.

So, I’m all in for synchronicity! And I’ll let you know if anything happens…

UP NEXT: A sampling of this week’s creative exercises and why my lack of memory ruins everything!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Artist’s Way: Week Three, Post One

Week three is about Recovering a Sense of Power.

You see, the more we let go of our previously accepted limits, and the more we counter our negative beliefs with positive affirmations, the more we step into our own power.

Do you feel very powerful in your life?

Do you feel like you have a lot of possibilities?

Are you letting fear hold you back?

Are you using anger as a tool like you should?

What? Anger as a tool?

Did I get you with that last question?

In this chapter, anger is the first thing Julia talks about. Her views on anger completely blew my mind! (And frankly, I’m not quite sure how I feel about it.)

Let me give you some quotes so you can see what I mean, and form your own opinions: 
This is how I feel on the inside!
“Anger is Fuel. We feel it and we want to do something… But we are nice people, and what we do with our anger is stuff it, deny it, bury it, block it, hide it, lie about it, medicate it, muffle it, ignore it. We do everything but listen to it” (p. 61).
I’ll admit, I’ve done everything but listen to my anger. In fact, I’ve never even thought about listening to my anger. Have you?

“Anger is meant to be listened to. Anger is a voice, a shout, a plea, a demand. Anger is meant to be respected. Why? Because anger is map. Anger shows us what our boundaries are. Anger shows us where we want to go” (p. 61).
Wow, right!? You’ve never thought about anger that way, have you? Me neither.

“Anger is meant to be acted upon. It is not meant to be acted out … With a little thought, we can usually translate the message that our anger is sending us” (p. 61).
I’ve been angry recently. I told myself that it’s because of my boring job, my cramped living arrangements, my student loans being due, my blah blah blah. But in all honesty, I’m really angry at myself. That’s why it stings so badly.

“Anger is a tool, not a master … Anger is not the action itself. It is action’s invitation” (p. 62).
So, if my anger is an invitation, what’s it an invitation to do?

What action am I supposed to take?

This is what I’ve been asking myself this week. It’s what I’ve been writing about in my morning pages. It’s why I’ve become consumed with reading blogs, magazines, and books about change, passion, and taking a leap.

I think my anger is telling me that I need to be brave, and that’s something I don’t want to hear.

But, I’m listening now.

And I’m grateful for the message.

UP NEXT: Synchronicity. Do you see it in your life?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Artist's Way: Week Two Wrap Up and Artist Date

I’m just going to jump right in to answering the three questions, though not in numerical order.

Question 3: Were there any other issues this week that you consider significant for your recovery?
This week I did notice that I attempted to put more creativity into my every day life. Even if it was a small thing, like choosing a pink pen, I found that creative choices came much more to the forefront of my mind. Also, I’ve been paying more attention to how I spend my time (much of it wasted) and trying to change that little by little.

Question 1: How many days this week did you do your morning pages? How was the experience for you? How did the morning pages work for you?

I did them 6 out of 7 days. My goal for this coming week is 100%! I’m actually finding them enjoyable. (Though my penmanship is atrocious since I try to write as fast as possible. I'm a busy person, after all.) I just make myself keep writing, even when I don’t know what I’ll write next. It’s kind of surprising to see what comes out of my head because I’m writing fast and without much thought. I go from what I’m worried about to what I hope to accomplish in the next year to what I’m having for lunch to how much I hate going to work to how I want to start a painting, yada yada yada. Thus far, after writing for a total of 12 days, 36 pages, I haven’t been out of something to write. Maybe that will change at week 10? We’ll see. But, I’ve liked venting and being honest with myself. It’s been illuminating.

Question 2: Did you do your artist date this week? What did you do? How did it feel?

I’ve decided to organize my artist dates into two categories: 1) things I go and see, and 2) things I stay and do. Since last week I went to a new museum, this week I chose to have an Artist Child Saturday. 

First, I got all the pesky adult errands out of the way. Then, I indulged in something that I actually remember (miracle!) doing as a child: watching re-runs of H. R. Pufnstuf (thank you, KCET for broadcasting!). Do you remember that show? By the time I watched it as a kid, it was already re-runs, and so to watch it again, some 30 years later, was fascinating. 

Everything was familiar and I remembered the introduction. It made me feel nostalgic and silly all at once. But, it touched a place I used to live as a child, where trees could talk and houses had smiles and magical flutes were my friends. For a half-hour, nothing seemed impossible. (And then I made the mistake of looking up the little kid in the show to see what happened to him and got bummed out. Don’t look! Child stardom is a curse.) 
After watching the show, I took some time to jot down any idea I had, no matter how dumb, in regards to the two short stories I’m attempting to write for competitions. And I have to be honest, some ideas were really lame. It’s not like after touching my childhood imagination the inspiration fairies paid me a visit and all I had was fabulous ideas. But, I did think of a few possible starts for one story and came up with a whole new idea for the other. 
So, that was my artist date. Exactly what Julia recommends: “artist dates are a necessary frivolity” (p. 59).

Now, as I mentioned in my last post, I had some exciting news of sorts. I’ve decided to create an Artist’s Way painting, something that will represent the journey that I’m taking. And I’ve decided to let you in on the process (even though it makes me kind of want to pass out).

What I decided I would do is post a picture at the end of each week so you can follow the many transformations/incarnations the piece will take. Some weeks it will look horrible, other weeks it might look okay, and other weeks it will not look like anything it had the week before. But, I felt it was important to document it, if only to show myself how far I’ve come.

So, I thought I’d start by showing you a picture of where I keep all my art supplies and then the first two shots of the painting. [As a side note, this is the largest painting I have ever worked on to date: 18 by 24 nerve racking inches!]

This was a cheap MDF cupboard I bought years ago, and last year I decided to make it pretty with a painting technique and inspiring words.

Here's the inside. You can see I painted it a rich blue and have my art supplies crammed in it. (And two more boxes in my closet.) And, yes, that's Shakespeare on the bottom shelf. It's my extra copy that I use for projects.

If you recall, last week I put gesso all over the canvas. Step One complete.

Step Two is to add the first layer of color. Will any of these be seen at the end of the process? Who knows!

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Artist’s Way: Week Two, Day Five

Today, I’d like to talk about 3 of the 10 creative exercises I did this week.

These three have really been eye-opening in regards to how I spend my time, and thus, how I spend my life.

Like I mentioned yesterday, we often feel that life is repetitive and we stop noticing all the bits of magic that fill our days. The same can be said for how we spend our discretionary time. And a number of the exercises this week made me realize that I squander it watching other people live.

But, no more!

As I alluded in the last post, I found out in Exercise Three that I am not an interesting person and am not very interested in other things, like, say, anything in the world. How did I come to this conclusion? Simple. I had to make a list of 20 things I enjoy doing. ANY 20 things, big or small, and I got to 7 and then was stumped. Seven! That’s all I could come up with! How boring am I?

Now, I forced myself to think of 20 (as examples to my desperation for interests: thinking and studying –sad), but I was shocked that I couldn’t easily think of things I enjoy doing.

Can you think of 20? Well, if you can, the next step in the exercise is to place a date by each, indicating the last time you participated in the activity. This was also a sad experience for me, because for some I couldn’t remember any time I ever did them (no memory of my life, you recall) and others, like “thinking” I do every day, so I wrote “every day” by it. Not exactly earth shattering information.

All in all, I realized I need to get more things that I enjoy doing. If you have any suggestions, let me know!

(By the way, Exercise Four then has you pick two from the list and do them this week. You should try it! I’m “thinking” right now!)

Please ignore my penmanship. And, yes, I practice juggling!
The other exercise that was instructive to my lopsided existence was number seven. In it, (as you can see by the picture), you draw a Life Pie, with the sections: Spirituality, Exercise, Play, Work, Friends, and Romance. You then place dots in the sections to indicate where you think you are. Towards the center is none, and towards the rim is tons. And then you connect the dots.

You see where I stand.

In no section did I feel like I was great, but one in particular (hint: Romance) was almost non-existent. (I gave myself some credit because I watched Persuasion last weekend.)

Julia comforts us by saying “it is not uncommon for your life pie to look like a tarantula. As recovery progresses, your tarantula may become a mandala” (p. 57).

So, that’s my goal for this process. I want my life pie to become a mandala!

And I want that for you too!

Lastly, I want to touch upon Exercise Ten. Here you list Ten Tiny Changes you’d like to make. For example, here are two of mine: I would like to do more things with my friends. I would like to clean out my car trunk.

Then Exercise Nine is to make one of the ten a goal for the week, and Exercise Ten is to do that item!

(And in case you’re wondering, for my goal, I chose a tiny change I didn’t mention so as to maintain an air of mystery for you readers…)

Hopefully you can see from these examples how powerful these exercises can be. I’m quite surprised, actually, on how much I’m learning about myself and what I really value, not what I say I value.

Our time is our life.

And The Artist’s Way is helping me shift how I spend my time to more productive and enriching activities.

UP NEXT: Week Two Wrap Up, my Artist’s Date, and an exciting announcement! (Well, sort of.)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Artist’s Way: Week Two, Day Four

A large portion of chapter two deals with crazymakers.

What is a crazymaker, you ask?

Crazymakers are people who enter our lives and completely take them over by pushing their own agendas. It doesn’t matter what we have planned or what we’re going through, crazymakers have it worse, and have more important issues to deal with.

As Julia defines it “Crazymakers are those personalities that create storm centers” (p. 44).

Here are some of the ways you can identify a crazymaker:

• They like drama. EVERYTHING happening to them is the end of the world and all consuming.

• They interrupt your schedule by running late, popping over, and calling at weird hours.

• They have no regard for what’s going on in your life, and your opinion doesn’t matter. They just want you to agree with them.

• They absorb your time and money.

• They expect to be treated as special.

• They never see anything as their fault.

• And they completely deny that they’re crazymakers.

Now, all of us have aspects of crazymaker-ness. I, myself, can see how I’ve done all of the things listed at one time or another (and if I’ve been a crazymaker in your life, I apologize –I’m working on it).

But, Julia’s point is to identify if we are allowing crazymakers to consume us. Because if we are, it’s hard to find the time and energy to be creative.

We need to protect ourselves. Sometimes this means setting parameters (and sticking to them) for the crazies in our lives. But, this also might mean that we need to end relationships. And that can be a tough and painful experience.

Ultimately, it’s for you to decide.


Now, I want to shift gears here, and talk about one more thing that really struck me in this chapter. Julia discusses our need to pay attention to life, and that when we do, that’s where we find truth and inspiration.

Think about it this way: If you’re like me, there are times when you get in your car to go to work or to a friend’s house, and before you know it, you’re there! You don’t remember anything about the drive. You were on autopilot, and missed the entire experience!

You didn’t notice the woman with the colorful umbrella, or the little boy holding hands with his father on the way to school, or the beautiful way the sun reflected off the clouds, or the woman singing in the car next to you, or the vibrant flowers outside the Target.

Moment after moment of inspiration went completely unnoticed!

It happens all the time in life. We check out when we get lost in our heads, and we miss the world around us.

For the rest of this week, try to notice what you’re not noticing.

That what I’m trying doing.

Up next: the exercises for Week Two, and why I feel like I need to be more interesting and interested.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Artist's Way: Week Two, Day One/Two/Three

Sorry about the delay, this week's chapter has given me a lot to mull over, and I wasn't sure how to formulate it into a post.

If you recall, Week One was all about recovering safety as an artist. If we don’t feel safe, we don’t create. (And most of our lack of safety comes from our own critical thoughts.)

Week Two is about “Recovering a Sense of Identity.”

What does that mean, exactly? Well, one way to understand it is that it’s about defining your needs and desires, and then protecting them from others who would disregard (or crush) them.

Think of it this way: If you don’t know what you need (to live a happy, creative life) and you don’t know what you desire (to push you towards growth), then you don’t know who you are. You're kind of just going through the motions of life, but not really living life.

And, most importantly, if you can’t define these things for yourself, then it’s easy to lose yourself in others’ lives.

This isn’t about selfishness, but self-protection.

We lose ourselves in two ways:

1) By denying that we are creative beings and have a right to creativity. (And this occurs through our negative, self-defeating thoughts.)

2) By allowing others to define who we are, and impose their needs and wants over our own.

Today, I’ll talk about number one, or the “you” factor.

If you’re like me, you believe what you think. You take all your thoughts as truth, and live your life based upon those truths. (Really, everyone does this.) And it’s absolutely wrong!

When it comes to our thoughts, what you and I consider truths are actually subjective opinions that we habitually think about. And this is true for every thought we have. (This is not to say that our thoughts can’t be true, because many are, but only that we don’t have to consider them true and then base our lives on those misinterpretations.)

Maybe a personal example would help, yes?

I have always thought that to be a “real” artist you had to be able to paint completely realistically, as if a picture were taken of the object. And because I defined an artist in this manner, it became my truth. And therefore, I did not consider myself an artist.

I have based my whole life on a “truth” that I told myself was true. Does this make any sense?

And many of our “truths” lead to doubts and skepticism.

“I can’t possibly write a poem! Poets are people who dress in black and have the collection of T. S. Eliot memorized.”

“I’m not an artist! I just like scrapbooking. Artists are people who make art that hangs on walls.”

A limiting belief that we take as “truth” leads to a doubt, fear, and inaction.

Now, where does skepticism come in to play?

How about another personal example:

“It was just a coincidence that a poem I posted on my blog was published in a literary journal. It had nothing to do with any actual talent or guidance/influence from God. In fact, God doesn’t care one way or another if I’m creative.”

Skeptic of talent, skeptic of guidance, skeptic of purpose, and all because of a thought I chose to believe as the truth.

[I’m going to stop here on this issue. But, I could go on and on about our thoughts and how they affect our lives. (I’ve done a lot of reading on the subject, and it’s a secret passion of mine. Next time you come over to my apartment, ask me to show you the collection of books I have dealing the topic. You’ll think I’m a nut!)]

Up next, the second way we lose ourselves, and what Julia says about the crazymakers in our lives!

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Artist’s Way: Week One Wrap Up

So, can we just pretend that my absence last week didn’t happen?

I had every intention of continuing with The Artist’s Way, and then I got a stomach bug.

‘Nuf said.

But, now, I’m back on track for week two!

However, before I can tell you what’s in store for this coming week, I first need to conclude week one.

Let me start by answering the three weekly check-in questions:

1). How many days this week did you do your morning pages? How was the experience for you?

I completed the morning pages 6 out of 7 days and I have to say, it was difficult. Mostly, because I’m not used to writing three pages by hand. You would not believe the cramping your hand experiences by the end of the second page. Most of the text on my third page consists of “My hand is cramping. Oh, man, my hand hurts! Why, why hand!?” etc.

Surprisingly, I haven’t run out of things to say. My thoughts are constant and I just write them down. Something that has developed from this exercise is that I’ve challenged myself to write one FULL page of affirmations. It’s tough to come up with a page of positive things to say about yourself, day after day. Try it! It’s eye-opening.

2). Did you do your artist date this week? What did you do? How did it feel?

For my first artist date, I decided to do something cheap (as in free) and I visited a local museum that I have driven by my entire life, but never stopped in. Despite my reservations about feeling dumb and friendless, I LOVED IT! I had no time schedule to bother with, no other person to worry about, and no expectations to meet. I was able to stand in front of one exhibit as long as I wanted, and then skip another in its entirety. And it was fun. Really. FUN! I spent about an hour walking around the little museum, learned about my former city (Ontario), and was impressed by old-timey things.

It made me realize that you don’t need to travel far, or even travel at all, to be inspired. I took a lot of pictures (see below for a sampling) and came away completely recharged. When asked by the docent why I was there, I answered “I’m on an artist date with myself.” She thought that was fabulous! And so did I!

3). Were there any other issues this week that you consider significant for your recovery? Describe them.

The only issue I had this week was with my lack of memory. It really bothers me, and it makes me feel like I don’t know myself. It’s a tad unsettling, really. I’m not quite sure what to do about it. Maybe the more I try to consistently remember, the more I will? Who knows.

Now, on to some pictures from my Artist’s Date:

Here’s the Ontario Museum’s Entrance. Proof that I actually went!
Here’s a picture of the old-timey stuff I mentioned. This is the inside of Ford’s Diner which used to be on the corner of Euclid and Holt.

Here are some symbols from the local Native American tribe that I found intriguing.

Did you know that on the outskirts of Victorville there used to be a magical land called Hulaville, a sort of hand-made Disneyland? Road trip, anyone?

Tomorrow: What’s week two all about?

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Artist's Way: Week One, Day Five

I completed most of the exercises listed for the week. But, I really struggled with some.

This was mostly due to the fact that I have a terrible memory and couldn’t remember anything prior to 2001. Was I even alive? (My mother assures me that I was.)

For example:

  • In Exercise Three, you list three “enemies” in your past that destroyed your creative self-worth by saying something critical, or just plain jerk-y. Now, I can’t remember anyone ever talking to me about anything from ages 5 to 25, let alone commenting that my picture stunk. (My mother assures me that people talked to me.) So, I could only list myself as my own enemy. (Which has made me think of that P!nk song, and now I have it stuck in my head.)

  • Exercise Four, you write down a horror story in regards to one of your “enemies” and I couldn’t remember a thing. (I'd ask my Mom, but who wants to remember a horror story they've already forgotten?)

  • Even for Exercise Six, where you’re supposed to list three “champions” of your creative self and the compliments they gave you, I could only remember one teacher who said something nice about a poem I wrote during some year in High School. (Thank you, Mrs. Little! (Incidentally, Mrs. Little is one of only two teachers I can remember from High School. The other was my math teacher whom I T.A.’d for, Mr. Wilson? Johnson? Erikson? Well, I know it had a “son” in it. Or, was it that HE had a son? Hmm…))

Needless to say, any of the Time Travel exercises bummed me out because it made me feel like a weirdo for not being able to remember anything about my entire life.

Tangent: Is there something wrong with my brain? Is this a sign that I’ll be getting Alzheimer’s later in life? (Don’t tell me if it is.) Do I have a mental deficiency due to a lack of vitamins? Potassium, maybe? Am I blocking out some sort of horrible trauma that will eventually come forth, (probably while I’m at the grocery store (a trauma in and of itself to me)), and I’ll leave my cart in the aisle (rudely) and fancy myself the store “crier” announcing to one and all the sales price of canned beans as tears roll down my cheeks because the prices were cheaper last week, and then get hauled off to the loony bin after I’ve disrobed? These are the questions I’ve been obsessing over… (Not that I’ve given this much thought…)
Anyway, one exercise I DID like was Exercise Eight!

You list five imaginary lives you would live if you could. You’re to list them really fast, without much thought. Here’s my list: a painter, an English professor, a writer, an archeologist, and a philosopher (like Aristotle—I’d just roam around, talking to people about life, making them think about the BIG questions, and asking them if they could spot me a twenty for travel costs and new sandals. Eventually, I’d get a large enough following to set up shop (probably on a hill with a veranda), with my own school of thought (Elizabethilian Theory) and people would flock to me for my wisdom (not that I’ve given this much thought…)).

The next part of this exercise is to pick one of those lives and live it for the week in any way you can. I chose “a painter” (because I wasn’t sure my family would volunteer to stand around me while I pontificated on Elizabethilian Theory) and made myself paint (despite hyperventilation) on one of the canvases I’d been saving for something “good” or “profound” or “revolutionary.” After a brief dialogue with myself, (and then concern that I had already gone crazy and should be sent to a loony bin), I talked myself into to just painting it with white gesso. It doesn't even look like I did anything. But I know I did something.

Baby steps, people.

Question for today: What imaginary lives would you live, and how could you incorporate one into the upcoming week?

TOMORROW: Weekly check-in questions and I’ll tell you about my Artist Date!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Artist's Way: Week One, Day Four

We’ve all heard of, and maybe even used, affirmations. (I know I have.)

And it’s always been interesting to me how false saying “I am a wonderful person!” feels, but how easily I believe “I am a horrible person.”

I don’t know why we have a harder time believing the positive about ourselves, and yet, believing the negative is like second nature.

Maybe it’s a natural man thing?

Or we think it’s prideful to be positive about ourselves?

That it lacks humility?

That it means we’re cocky jerks?

I don’t know.

Julia says “Affirmations help achieve a sense of safety and hope” (p. 34). And she has a list of 20 that can be incorporated when talking to ourselves (and we’re always talking to ourselves).

Some that really resonate with me, (I think because I resist them), are:

• I am a channel for God’s creativity, and my work comes to good.

• My creativity heals myself and others.

• I am allowed to nurture my artist.

• I am willing to create.

• I am willing to be of service through my creativity.

• I am willing to use my creative talents.

(pgs. 36-37)

Bathroom Inspiration. Does that sound gross?

In truth, I’ve been pondering all the affirmations she offered, and have even listed some of my own while writing my Morning Pages. And I’ve tried to come up with ways to remind me of them. (As you can see by the picture, I’ve written a little message to myself on the bathroom mirror. It says “I deserve a rewarding creative life!”)

I think we believe the negative because it stops us from trying, and thereby, gives us the illusion of safety (since we take no risks).

But, negativity is not safety, it’s destructive (and depressing). And nothing can flourish from that kind of place.

So, how do we combat this? What I did was take the list of core negatives from yesterday, and reframed each one as a positive.

For example:

I’m not talented enough = I am filled with talent!

It’s only worthwhile if I can make a living from it = It’s worthwhile because it gives me joy!

I only have one or two good ideas = Creative ideas always find me!

You get the point.

And then I just keep repeating them whenever a negative pops up (like last night, when I took out a paint brush, a canvas, and some gesso). The affirmations may not resonate with my mind (yet), but I know they do with my spirit.

So for now, that’s what I want to leave you with. Challenge your negative core beliefs and replace them with positive affirmations.

It makes a world of difference. In fact, it makes a different, more creative world!

Tomorrow: I’m going to discuss some of the exercises I’ve completed this week. Some were fun, some were upsetting.