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CHECK!

I DID IT!!! I MADE IT ALL THE WAY THROUGH THE ARTIST’S WAY! I get to check that off my Bucket List now. 🙂  What a great feeling.

  • Week 12 Theme: “Recovering a Sense of Faith.”  In this chapter, we learn to trust and protect our creativity and recognize signs of slippage.
  • Morning Pages: I forgot to bring my journal to Breckenridge this weekend (AGAIN), so I missed two days.  Right back into it though.
  • Artist Date: No.  No excuses this time.  Answer is just no.

Any “Aha” Moments? 

  • This chapter asks us to write down any resistance or fears about going forward from here.  I already know my big resistance is in the Artist Dates.  I realize that, aside from a few of the weeks, I pretty much blew them off.  It always seems to be impossible to find the time.  I am good with the “grand gestures,” which are artist dates in the form of BIG events like conferences or travel, but not very good at all in the daily care and feeding of my artist.  I need to spend some time with that knowledge and figure out how to make changes.
  • I will have no problem continuing the morning pages.  They are life blood to me now.  I’ve even noticed that on days when I forget to write them, I feel off-kilter.
  • Even though I’ve “finished” the program, I realize I’ve only just begun.  I’ve barely scratched the surface.  For that reason, each week I intend to randomly choose exercises throughout the book that I didn’t get to and work on them.  So let the artistic miracles continue!

A few favorite quotes from the Week 12 chapter:

“It is a paradox of our creative recovery that we must get serious about taking ourselves lightly.  We must work at learning to play.” (This, by the way, ties in quite nicely with George Shannon’s post on this blog earlier in the month).

“Life is meant to be an artist date. That’s why we were created.

“The truth is that this is how to raise the best ideas. Let them grow in dark and mystery. Let them form on the roof of our consciousness. Let them hit the page in droplets. Trusting this slow and seemingly random drip, we will be startled one day by the flash of, ‘Oh! That’s it!

So, what did you think of this series?  Did it inspire you in any way? Do you think you might try The Artist’s Way?

Week 11 Check-In

Week 10 Check-In

Weeks 8 & 9 Check-In

Week 7 Check-In

Week 6 Check-In

Week 5 Check-In

Week 4 Check-In

Week 3 Check-In

Week 2 Check-In

Week 1 Check-In

The Artist’s Way

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Exercise as artistic and spiritual practice. Hiking Cinque Terre

Could it possibly be right that I have just one week left to go? I might finally make it all the way through this time! 🙂

  • Week 11 Theme: “Recovering a Sense of Autonomy.”  This chapter teaches us ways to nurture and accept ourselves as artists by exploring behaviors that strengthen that artist.
  • Morning Pages: I forgot to bring my journal to Breckenridge this weekend, so I missed two days.  I’m back in the saddle now though.
  • Artist Date: No.  My planned artist date (and Valentine to myself) was to go to yoga class on the 14th.  But my son came down with the croup overnight, so I couldn’t go.  I guess that’s what I get for saving it for the last minute.

Any “Aha” Moments? 

  • Learning to focus on and honor the process rather than the product is VERY difficult to do, especially if you hope to one day make money from your art.  This chapter made me realize that our best chance at both being the best artist we can be AND to make money is to do work that is authentic and true.  There is a LOT of process involved, and let’s face it, who ever feels like a piece of work is “done?”  Just keep moving, keep working.
  • Likewise, I totally agree with Cameron on the importance and benefits of exercise to the artist.  I often get my best “writing” done while I’m running.  I need to treat the time to exercise as just as vital to my writing as the writing is itself.  Because it is.

A few favorite quotes from the Week 11 chapter:

“As an artist, I must be very careful to surround myself with people who nurture my artist–not people who try to overly domesticate it for my own good.. I may be a good cook, a rotten housekeeper, and a strong artist (caveat: I have NO idea how Julia Cameron snuck into my house to figure that out :-)).”

“The stringent requirement of a sustained creative life is the humility to start again, to begin anew.

“We learn by going where we have to go. Exercise is often the going that moves us from stagnation to inspiration, from problem to solution, from self-pity to self-respect.”

In what way do you nurture your artist?

Week 10 Check-In

Weeks 8 & 9 Check-In

Week 7 Check-In

Week 6 Check-In

Week 5 Check-In

Week 4 Check-In

Week 3 Check-In

Week 2 Check-In

Week 1 Check-In

The Artist’s Way

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For the record, I did NOT put that much cheese on mine. 🙂

This week I offer one quote from Charles Dickens in honor of his 200th birthday and because it tied so nicely into August McLaughlin’s Beauty of a Woman Blogfest which I participated in.

Quotes on Gratitude

“Cheerfulness and contentment are great beautifiers and are famous preservers of youthful looks.” -Charles Dickens

“The source of love is deep in us and we can help others realize a lot of happiness. One word, one action, one thought can reduce another person’s suffering and bring that person joy.”Thich Nhat Hanh

“Be like the sun for grace and mercy. Be like the night to cover others’ faults. Be like running water for generosity. Be like death for rage and anger. Be like the Earth for modesty. Appear as you are. Be as you appear.” — Rumi

Gratitude List for the week ending February 11

  1. My application to the Highlights Foundation Poetry for All Workshop was accepted! So I’ll be heading to Honesdale in May.
  2. In the light of less than a half moon, the stars in Breckenridge are brilliant.
  3. Fresh snow for skiing!
  4. Homemade 3-way Cincinnati chili – YUM!
  5. Another Margareaders meeting, and everyone enjoyed the book I chose – One Thousand White Women.
  6. Julie B.  She knows why.
  7. Meeting with my in-person critique group. Go Boulder Picture Book Writers!
  8. Rocky laying at my feet under the desk while I work
  9. Watching Em have fun selling Girl Scout cookies – AND the fact that the sale is over! (We still have three boxes of Thin Mints left if anyone is interested)
  10. Reading easy readers with Jay. He never tires of it and is getting better and better.  Soon he will read on his own!

What are you grateful for this week? 

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Books about self-calming, loving-kindness, meditation and gratitude are still relatively few.  This beautiful book is based on the teachings of Thich Nhat Hahn, and in the simplest of terms, introduces children to the use of their own breath as a way to slow down, calm down and appreciate the beauty in the world.

Written by Sister Susan, Illustrated by Nguyen Thi Hop and Nguyen Dong
Plum Blossom Books, February, 2002
Suitable for:  Ages 3 and up
Themes/Topics:  Mindfulness, Meditation, Breathing, Zen Buddhism, Multi-cultural
Opening and brief synopsis: Opening Lines: “Dear little ones, let us sit very quietly.  Listen… Listen to the wind.  Listen to the birds.  Listen to the crickets and the frogs.  Listen very quietly to your breathing.”
Activities: In my opinion, the best activity based on this book is to do a little meditation with kids having them pay attention to their breath.  When we do this at home, I ask my kids to pay attention to what they hear as they breathe.  It’s amazing how perceptive they become.  Once my son even said, “I heard my own heart beat.”
Why I Like This Book: Every time we read this, especially at bedtime, the kids emerge more peaceful and calm.  I think it also helps them to understand that listening to their breath can be calming at any time.  It also increases their awareness of their environment and their own feelings.  The language is also so lovely.  Here are a few more lines: “Breathing in, I see myself as a mountain.  Breathing out, I feel solid.  Breathing in, I see myself as space.  Breathing out, I feel free.  Space, free.”

For more books with resources please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog and find the tab for Perfect Picture Books!

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My first FULL morning pages journal

Per my post last week, I’m combining Weeks 8 and 9 into one check-in. It is way later than usual because, well, the vagaries of life got in the way this week – grocery shopping, cooking dinner, transporting kids all over hell’s half-acre.  BUT, this one is a doozy so hold onto your seats! 🙂

  • Week 8 Theme: “Recovering a Sense of Strength.”  This chapter focuses on surviving artistic losses by turning them into gains.  It also works on freeing us from using time as an avoidance strategy and creative block.
  • Week 9 Theme: “Recovering a Sense of Compassion.”  This chapter deals with our biggest creative blocks – the internal ones.  We learn that creative blocks are born from fear and only fear, and that it is artist-abuse to call it anything else – laziness, untalented, unworthy, etc.
  • Morning Pages: I missed a couple of days over the past two weeks, even though I didn’t intend to.  Here’s what I’ve learned about morning pages.  If I say to myself, “I’ll do them later,” I won’t.  They have to get done first thing after I wake up or they just don’t get done.
  • Artist Date: I didn’t go anywhere, but I did indulge myself in a couple of different activities.  First, I have been participating in a free online business boot camp called Women on Purpose.  The calls are an hour a day a few days a week.  Normally I would not allow myself the luxury of a whole hour to do something that is seemingly not directly related to my work.  What I’ve found, however, is that the topics addressed on these calls ARE directly related to how I want to run my business.  They are fun, encouraging and inspiring to listen to.  Second, when I found myself feeling run down this week, I allowed myself a couple of long naps in the late morning.  Very restorative.

Any “Aha” Moments? 

  • Chapter 8: One of the tasks for the week was a “memory mining” exercise.  I discovered that I had done several things in my youth to sabotage my budding writer.  Out of nowhere, I remembered that in my freshman year, my creative writing professor wanted to submit a couple of my papers (which were really personal essays) for publication.  I said no.  He encouraged me to take more creative writing courses.  I didn’t.  I know exactly why I didn’t, which I’m not going to say here, but what’s amazing is that I had forgotten ALL about it.  From there, I was able to remember other things I did over the years to squash myself before anybody else could.  Must. Stop. Doing That.
  • Chapter 9: The big assignment this week was to read the morning pages so far.  Wow.  In a way, that was extremely painful, and in another way, both enlightening and encouraging.  All along I’ve been pleased with my progress.  Just making it to Week 10 is an achievement.  Yet, I hadn’t yet felt that I’d experienced any major transformation.  Well, I was wrong.  My early pages contain lots of name-calling (of myself), feelings of lack – of accomplishment, creativity, discipline, etc.  Somewhere in the middle of my journal (because I have now filled an entire book!), more often than not the name-calling and feelings of inadequacy gave way to insights, ideas and excitement.  After I finished reading, I started thinking about all I have done and everything that has happened since I began November 9, 2011.  A few examples:
Things I’ve done since I began The Artist’s Way
  • Was a PiBoIdMo Winner
  • Set up the 12 x 12 in 2012 challenge.  This idea was just a twinkle in my eye at the beginning of November.  Now we are one full month into the challenge with 400+ members!
  • Completed revisions on my primary WIP from the second half of 2012 and sent it off for final comments
  • Continued work on a plan for a soon-to-be-announced side business, including networking and setting up meetings
  • Was a guest on Katie Davis’ Brain Burps About Books podcast!
  • Got three assignments (so far) to write articles for the Tools of Change conference in Bologna and the Bologna Children’s Book Fair.
  • Got a press pass for ToC Bologna
  • Established four-year goals for all aspects of my business, working backwards into each month for 2012
  • Outlined rough ideas for two potential e-books
  • Wrote a picture book draft in January of a story I’ve wanted to write for more than a year
  • Had my very first school visit and got invited for three more as a result
  • Set my networking and continuing education schedule for 2012 – conferences, seminars, etc.
Not too shabby, right?  And I still have three weeks left to go!  The best outcome so far, however, is all of the friends I’ve made along the way, especially from PiBoIdMo and 12 x 12!

A few favorite quotes from the Week 8 chapter:

“Creativity cannot be comfortably quantified in intellectual terms… (T)he entire thrust of intellectualism runs counter to the creative impulse. For an artist, to become overly cerebral is to become crippled.”

“Pain that is not used profitably quickly solidifies into a leaden heart, which makes any action difficult. When faced with a loss, immediately take one small action to support your artist.

“At the heart of the anorexia of artistic avoidance is the denial of process. We like to focus on having learned a skill or having made an artwork. This attention to final form ignores the fact that creativity lies not in the done but in the doing.”

A few favorite quotes from the Week 9 chapter:

“Fear is the true name for what ails the blocked artist. It may be fear of failure or fear of success. Most frequently, it is the fear of abandonment.”

“(B)eing an artist requires enthusiasm more than discipline… Enthusiasm (from the Greek, “filled with God”) is an ongoing energy supply tapped into the flow of life itself. Enthusiasm is grounded in play, not work.”

“Remember that art is process. The process is supposed to be fun.”

How have you overcome avoidance (fear) and/or internal blocks to your art?

Week 7 Check-In

Week 6 Check-In

Week 5 Check-In

Week 4 Check-In

Week 3 Check-In

Week 2 Check-In

Week 1 Check-In

The Artist’s Way

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The flowers I bought myself this week

I am now officially halfway through The Artist’s Way and twice as far as I’ve ever made it before.  That in and of itself is an accomplishment, but it’s beginning to feel likely that I will complete it this time.

  • Week 6 Theme: “Recovering a Sense of Abundance.”  This chapter asks us to tackle our beliefs about money and its connection (or lack thereof) to art.  Artists of all stripes tend to convince themselves that it is not possible to make money by making art, or even worse, that money corrupts art.  Clinging to these beliefs limits the ability for all kinds of abundance to enter our lives because we somehow feel unworthy, or that the art is not worthy.
  • Morning Pages: I did the morning pages every day except the day Katie Davis and I recorded the Brain Burps podcast.  I got out of bed that day charged up and ready to go.  What’s interesting now is that I’ll realize I missed later in the day and then everything feels “off” somehow.  I guess that’s what happens when a practice becomes a habit.
  • Artist Date:  I had two full days at our Breckenridge ski rental to myself.  I spent most of the time dreaming about and planning not only 2012 but the years beyond.  Then I made a tactical plan to support the goals and dreams.  The time I wasn’t working was spent walking the dog with the views of mountains all around or soaking in the tub with a book.  So yes, I’d say it was one heck of an Artist Date!

Any “Aha” Moments? 

  • Because money and abundance is such a charged topic, I actually thought this chapter gave it short shrift.  It dealt mostly with the ways in which we can be miserly with ourselves, suggesting we allow more luxuries, however small, into our lives.  One thing I did was buy myself fresh flowers.  I love the sight and smell of flowers in the house, but I almost never buy them because it seems like such a frivolous use of funds.  I’ve decided that I’ll buy them once a month from now on.  I didn’t notice any additional flow of prosperity into my life as a result of allowing myself that luxury, but maybe over time… 😉
  • One thing I realized is that I have to confront my overall fear of numbers. I’ve been living in avoidance of them for so long because I consistently tell myself I’m no good with them.  Can’t do that if you want to run a business and make money.  My most common recurring nightmare is that I have a math exam of some sort coming up and I haven’t attended any of the classes so I know nothing and have no way to pass.  Maybe if I believe I can learn to manage numbers (and actually take steps to learn), I will one day have a dream where I pass that exam!
  • Overall, I do believe that doing what you love leads to abundance of all kinds, that there is enough money to go around and that creating art is a worthy livelihood.  I don’t feel deprived in any way.  I’ve always had everything I needed and most the time what I’ve wanted.  I want money to support my family, yes, but I view luxury as experiences – travel, classes, dining, recreation, etc., rather than things.  I view money as the means to have those experiences and the freedom to choose how to live my life.  If there is one word I associate most with money, it is freedom.

A few favorite quotes from the Week 6 chapter:

“Most of us harbor a secret belief that work has to be work and not play, and that anything we really want to do–like write, act, dance–must be considered frivolous and be placed a distant second.”

“When we do what we are meant to do, money comes to us, doors open for us, we feel useful, and the work we do feels like play to us.”

“Because art is born in expansion, in a belief in sufficient supply, it is critical that we pamper ourselves for the sense of abundance it brings to us.”

What are your beliefs about money, art, and doing what you love to do?

Week 5 Check-In

Week 4 Check-In

Week 3 Check-In

Week 2 Check-In

Week 1 Check-In

The Artist’s Way

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After giving myself a buy week to focus on promoting a story I entered in a contest, I went back into The Artist’s Way with gusto.  I continued the morning pages during my week “off,” and that helped maintain continuity for me.

  • Week 5 Theme: “Recovering a Sense of Possibility.”  This chapter forces us to examine our limiting thoughts and all the ways in which we sabotage ourselves and our art.  We often want to stay within the safety of appearing good to the outside world as opposed to being our authentic selves.  The ways we sabotage ourselves include never taking time alone, sacrificing creative time to meet the needs of others, scarcity thinking (i.e. if so and so gets a book deal, that’s one less chance for me), discounting possibilities and undermining success.
  • Morning Pages: I did the morning pages every day except Christmas.  When the kids wake you up at the crack of dawn bursting with excitement, just try asking them to wait while you write!  And no, I don’t consider that an example of self-sabotage. 🙂
  • Artist Date:  Given that the whole family is home for to the holidays, there isn’t much solitude.  However, on Monday I did have a few hours to myself.  I used those to write, read and exercise.  Normally I would have convinced myself to work, clean, cook or plan.  Instead I allowed myself to do only enjoyable things.  I supplemented that by waking up early on Tuesday morning to write through some of the questions and tasks from Chapter 5.

Any “Aha” Moments? 

  • There is a section in Chapter 5 called “The Virtue Trap” that nearly brought me to tears because I recognized so much of myself there.  Solitude, it says, is mandatory for creatives.  We need it as we need air to breathe.  I have blogged about the importance of solitude before – here and here.  When this chapter asked the question, “Are you self-destructive?” I figured I could say no because I do take time for myself to “fill the well” so to speak.  But what I realize now is that the question is much more nuanced, and my answer is not simple.
  • I am good about carving out blocks of time for solitude at least once or twice a year, but I must admit that I have always felt at best strange and at worst terribly selfish about asking for and taking alone time.  The need to be alone doesn’t fit the world’s perception of a good person.  Giving to others always comes before giving to self.  As such, I kept waiting for Cameron to come forward with the section about balance.  That section never came.  This lady does not pull any punches.  She tells you like it is.  If you want to produce art, you need to nurture your creativity.  To nurture your creativity you need time alone.  Every time you sacrifice that need on the altar of other people’s expectations, you die a little inside.  Period.  The End.
  • I struggled with this question all week. On the one hand, I felt such relief at seeing another person admit to sharing a need that is so strong within myself.  On the other hand, I still have serious questions about how to take the necessary time while still sharing myself with others.  I know Cameron is not suggesting that all artists go out, be hermits and cut all ties to outside world. I think she is saying is that when we don’t meet our artistic needs, we sabotage ourselves and become more puppet-person than real person.  In so doing, nobody benefits.  I think she is also saying that if we stop sabotaging our true selves, we become closer to others and experience the world more fully.  We might find that the world bends around our need to be alone so that it is not an either/or choice.
  • THAT has always been my problem – viewing it as either/or.  My aha moment was realizing that I feel divided most of the time into the “real world” person who functions as everyone expects her to and the “inside” person who rages with creative desire so potent that it tugs at me almost continuously.  I don’t know how to bring these two together, so I’m hoping more answers will emerge as I continue the program.  Obviously my family and friends are just as important to me as my creativity, so I do need to find a way to merge these beings, or at least get them to live in harmony with one another.  For the moment, when I take time for creativity, I feel bad for my family and/or friends.  When I take time for family, friends, or other activities, I feel I am neglecting my artist-writer.  So I need to move from “no-win” to “all-win” situations.  Somehow.

A few favorite quotes from the Week 5 chapter:

“An artist must have downtime, time to do nothing.  Defending our right to such time takes courage, conviction, and resiliency… For an artist, withdrawal is necessary.  Without it, the artist in us feels vexed, angry, out of sorts.  If such deprivation continues, our artist becomes sullen, depressed, hostile..”

“We strive to be good, to be nice, to be helpful, to be un-selfish.  We want to be generous, of service, of the world.  But what we really want is to be left alone.  When we can’t get others to leave us alone, we eventually abandon ourselves.  To others, we may look like we’re there.  We may act like we’re there.  But our true self has gone to ground… Afraid to appear selfish, we lose our self.”

“Many people, caught in the virtue trap, do not appear to be self-destructive to the casual eye.  Bent on being good husbands, fathers, mothers, wives, teachers, whatevers, they have constructed a false self that looks good to the world and meets with a lot of worldly approval…  The true self is a disturbing character, healthy and occasionally anarchistic, who knows how to play, how to say no to others and “yes” to itself.”

Are YOU self-destructive?  Do you sacrifice your creative desire in order to tend to the needs of others?

Week 4 Check-In

Week 3 Check-In

Week 2 Check-In

Week 1 Check-In

The Artist’s Way

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