Four years ago I journey through this book, now again I make the journey. I find it helps guide me and the shared experience of one who walked before. I love reading about life stuff and how others dealt with it...lessons through experience, strength and hope.
Week 1-Uncovering a sense of Optimism
Being a beginner, focus on the positive
JC-(Julia Cameron) It took courage to allow myself to pursue something that I loved. I had to allow myself the luxury of learning. I had to focus on process and not on finished product. Resign competition. Stop comparing myself to my idols. When taking lessons, I have noticed how often my "good" lesson come on days when I had the most resistance, When I felt myself to be the most rusty. I have learned good writing/creating and good moods do not necessarily go together. On some of my worst days, the best work emerges. How true this is for me.
Divining Rod-Don't rob ourselves of the opportunity to be a beginner, Being a beginner is very rewarding. It brings both excitement and self-respect. Write down a deferred dream....
Personal comment-I'm not sure if I have one....I feel that I've been living one big dream for a long time. And not by my own making either. But if I had to dream about the future it would be about this artist, old and gray still creating with passion and her love of paper, following the process and allowing it's flow lead naturally. Listening for guidance from something oh so much larger then herself. This deferred dream would be shared with a soulmate of equal creativeness and drive.
Encouragement-All artists need co conspirators to cheer them on in their endeavors.
Stay the distance. How do people do that? How did they keep their optimism and their courage intact? We needed help.
"You're lucky you've got other projects," Bruce told us. His hint was spoken as a true artist. He was reminding us that the joy had to lie in the process and not in the product. Doing the work was the best cure for the difficulty of doing the work. Julia shared the minute we were back at the piano in creative waters our anxiety eased.
When you get busy you get better is one I heard.
When waiting to hear back from something, a proposal sent out, a exhibit entry sent out, etc. It's good that you've got more than one project to work on, The wait is hard.
Encouragement- from a dear friend how understands all to well about the wait...What do we do now as we wait? "You keep the faith."
Divining Rod-Make a list of people you can do to for encouragement. These people are your "believing mirrors." There are a few that are close family members and then a few outside my core circle that are my believing mirrors, I owe to myself to be in regular contact with these individuals. and to be believing mirrors to them.
Focusing-As an artist, I must take the time to see. My artist's eye must be schooled in the particular.
It is not healthy for me as an artist to be tuned to the inner movies, always watching the "What if, if only I had's" as they unspool on the inner screen. ("what if I d' keep my ranch in New Mexico?" "If only I still had my horses.")
"What if" and "if only" are poison for an artist. They throw us into the past. They dull our lens on the passing world. And it is the passing world that inspiration lies in wait for us. For an artist to e vital, for the work to hold up, there must be primacy given to the here and now. Julia shares she knows this and must work to practice it. If I live in the "then" instead of the "now," the art dries up.
Julia shares...I must work to husband my own optimism. I must cling to the small and positive: walking the dogs, putting words on the page, taking time at the keys of the piano. I must not entertain the large and overwhelming. For me that is romancing trouble. this is so true.
Learn to live each day carefully. I must write, I must walk, I must pray. I must content myself with small amounts of progress. Above all, I must not binge on drama and despair. My sanity requires daily maintenance.
Divining Rod-we can choose to focus on the positive or on the negative. We can choose to see the beautiful or the ugly. We speak of "training our eyes" on something and that is a literal phrase. Our eyes can be trained to focus on those areas of life that reward us with grace and beauty. Make a list of five beautiful things you have spotted and write them down nightly as a new practice. I find that when I do this it rises to moment of pure gratitude too.
* the way my husband an son share about their days...it's their way to release, communicate and connect.
* the way the antlers of the big buck in the woods shine out when the sun hits them which I was able to spot far away.
* the way the whirling of falls leaves carry more then just the leaves as it spins around, like a wonderful energy of life.
* The way my oldest daughter wait for me to come back from my walk. She needed a believing mirror and I was there for her.
* Music to my ear when I hear my husband share that he knows I work hard at what I do as he shares with someone else, I feel that he understands and gets it...the grace of it all.
Grounding-I strive for a sense of optimism, a feeling that as small as I am, what I am doing still matters in the scheme of things.
Optimism is partially the happy accident of psycho dynamics and partially a trained response. Some people seem to be born optimists. The rest of us need to work at it a little. One way to work it is to find and talk to a friend that has some spiritual vitamins stored up to share. Some one with farseeing perspective. "You just need to keep the faith while things unfold." or become revealed to you. Unfortunately, Spirit is vague about timing. Soon it will happen...What "soon" means to me is to keep on trying." Don't quit right before the miracle. Show up bit the bullet and focus.
Julia shares, I cannot give up just because the going is tough right now. "Soon" there will be more interest. I must be ready to receive that interest by having kept the faith myself. This means I must buck the tide of discouragement.
Important stuff I find for myself....Julia shares, I walk for Guidance. One thing that I didn't anticipate when I was younger is how often the going gets rough. As an older artist, I tend to work on larger projects, projects that require years rather than months or weeks to germinate and come to fruition. There is not instant feedback loop. Nothing that says to me often and loudly, "You are doing fine." In order to have that sense of reassurance, I need to work at the spiritual practice-morning pages, artists dates, and walks. And I must listen also to my friends. Piggyback on their faith when my own faith wears thin.
Fatigue can make it hard to have faith. Too much busyness can make it had to have faith. Too much or too little solitude can impact faith. For that matter, so can ab out of hunger or overwork, anything carried to an extreme. Faith thrives on routine. Faith keeps on keeping on.
Here's a wild thing shared by a friend of Julia's...I had to do something with my creative energy or it was going to turn in on me. Doing something productive regardless of the outcome is an act of faith. The doing of a small something when a large something is too much for us is perhaps especially and act of faith. Faith means going forward by whatever means we can.
"Just do the next right thing," so as I type this out the
Divining Rod-What actions keep you grounded? The smallest and gentlest acts keep us grounded. As we husband our lives with care and attention, we are rewarded with feelings of peace and accomplishment. List five homely actions that are grounding for you. Execute one of them.
* chopping my veggies and preparing food for the week.
* walking in the woods
* my morning pages
* chatting with my dearest friend in Georgia
* sharing silly chatter with my husband...connecting.
Possibilities-Julia shares...I have two dogs with me, straining at their leashes, and they, too, are bundled int coats. While I admire the early flowers, Tiger Lily plunges in pursuit of a robin. I laugh ad tell myself she is a perfect artist's dog, always chasing something that is just out of reach- a possibility. I must work a little at a time, always laboring to bring into form something just beyond my reach. I am like Tiger Lily, leaping after that elusive bird. One day, I will catch it. At the least, I will certainly try.
As artists, we must learn to try. We must learn to act affirmatively. Wherever creativity is afoot, so is a blossoming. All creative acts are acts of initiative. We start with nothing- "the verdant void" -and impregnate it with our own creative spark. Art is born, but not without labor on our part.
In order to make art, we must be willing to labor. We must be willing to reach inside and draw forth what we find their. On an inner plane, we are all connected to a larger whole. This is what is meant by inspiration, this connections to something greater than ourselves. But it begins with where w are and what we are. it begins with possibility.
Entertaining the possible is the province of art. It is the possible that sets the creative engine humming.
"it is possible," the artist thinks, "that I can write a play."
"it is possible, I can make a sculpture."
"it is possible I can make a film."
Out of the notion, "I can" comes the next thought: I think I will." The impulse is playful.
Like the crocus that pushes into spring willy-nilly, the artist also pushes forward into growth.
Divining Rod-Very often we are our own wet blanket. We do not allow ourselves to see and to seize our opportunities. list ten phrase..."I could try_____" fill in the blank with what ever comes to mind. Write very rapidly and do not concern yourself with the practicality of your responses.
Personal note: Here I go again...but what a great time to be venturing into the artist way. I read most of this all before heading into the workshop I just presented in Arizona. What can I say but just what I needed to read. As I go through and read this Julia's books have always been my first choice to staying on track with my life. I know some people buck it as they go through and read this stuff but I understand what she talking about and depending on what I'm dealing with I can put it all good use.
So off to take a walk to keep grounding myself and staying focused in my faith.