Category Archives : Read.Write.Heal


The Artist’s Way Toolkit: Create Despite Your Fears 2

I don’t know how many times I’ve almost purchased The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, so when I heard about the online, interactive Artist’s Way Toolkit, I was thrilled.

The original Artist’s Way is a bestselling book on creativity which is described by the publisher as “…a twelve-week course that guides you through the process of recovering your creative self. It aims to dispel the ‘I’m not talented enough’ conditioning that holds many people back and helps you to unleash your own inner artist.”

As someone who has had issues with perfectionism in my own writing and creativity, this idea really speaks to me. Over the years I’ve been working very hard to let go of my fears of being “perfect,” thus giving me the ability to feel more self-confident and productive, especially in my writing.

I was hoping the online toolkit would provide an easier outlet for me to use the ideas and tips from the book, because as a mother of a two-year-old with one on the way, I find it pretty difficult to finish a book from cover to cover! While the toolkit is meant to work in conjunction with the book, I did find that I still got a lot out of just using the toolkit on it’s own.

By forcing you to write everyday, The Artist’s Way exercises help to  demystify the creative process by making it a part of your daily life. As Cameron says, “The more you do it, the more inspiration or “reinforcement” you find from the universe.” I’ve found if you’re constantly looking for it (inspiration), then you will constantly find it.

I found it hard to write the “morning pages” every day, especially because I’m more in the mood to write in the evenings, though I did find it was a good way to focus myself and give structure to my day.  I also found it hard to complete the “artist dates” (a once a week, solo expedition to  get the chance for your imagination to kick in) because I’m home with a toddler, though it was a great excuse to get out on my own and do some thinking. I really love the way Cameron describes the two, saying, “With the Morning Pages we are sending. We are notifying the Universe of our likes and dislikes. We are, if you will, telegraphing. With the Artist’s Date, we set our dial to receive. We allow ourselves to be receptive to inflow, no longer concerned with outflow.” I think the idea of sending and receiving really opens up our  creative process more than if we are just focused on one or the other.

One of my favorite quotes came from an interview with Cameron in which she describes the process in saying,

“You will learn not to be fearless, but you will learn to create despite your fears.”

I hope that as I continue the journey of my own creative process that I can learn to follow this mantra and never let perfectionism hold me back again.

You can follow the online discussion on BlogHer to read more about others’ experience with The Artist’s Way Toolkit!

*I received access to The Artist’s Way Toolkit for review and discussion purposes and was compensated for the time involved in crafting the review, but all opinions and views expressed here are impartial and not influenced by the sponsor.*



What’s Great About Today 6

Have you ever felt like nothing can go right, one “bad” thing happens after another, and you just can’t catch a break?

Lately I have fallen into that trap…

And I’m starting to take it personal.

I can’t help but wonder why nothing seems to “go our way.”

I’ve even gone as far as asking, “What did we do to deserve this?”

Welcome to my pity party. It’s not a fun place to be.

You know…the SUV needs all new ($1,000) tires, all the windows in said SUV refuse to roll up at the same time, a huge business deal falls through, you get sick and rack up an ungodly ER bill…

None of it is earth shattering, or life-ending, or tragic.

And my husband and I find ourselves constantly saying, “It could always be worse.”

And it could. We don’t need a reminder of that. We hear of horrible things happening around us every day.

We know our life is good. Great. Ideal.

I’m not here to compare troubles.

As always, I’m here to try and learn something.

And I’m just not happy with, “It could always be worse” as the lesson.

So, then what am I supposed to be learning from all this?

How to be more patient? How to live simply? How to be frugal? How to appreciate the small things?

I’m starting to think the lesson is how to focus on what is already good rather than what “could be worse.”

I know you’re thinking, How perfect and cheery and pleasant!

Well, it’s not as easy as it sounds. A few weeks ago I asked my mother-in-law to borrow the book, One Thousand Gifts. I was determined to “dare to live fully right were you are” as the cover promises.

I read the first ten pages and had to stop due to uncontrollable crying.

Okay, maybe I’m not ready for this lesson yet. 

After my poor hubby accidentally backed into someone’s car in the bank parking lot today, we started questioning things again. Not sure if I was ready to revisit the-book-that-made-me-cry, tonight I serendipitously came across this article which invites us to ask, “Do you know what’s great about that?” every time a challenge arises.

The car needs all new tires! You know what’s great about that? It will be super-safe and easy to drive once we have them!

My outlook  finally started to change and just when it seemed like one more “bad” thing had happened to us, I remembered to ask, “Do you know what was great about today?”

And I had the best possible answer.

We got to witness the miracle of life today.

We got to see our daughter’s beautiful face for the first time.

We got to hear her healthy heartbeat.

And we got to watch her stick her tongue out at us, as if to say, “How dare you need reminding of what is great about today!”

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I hope to push the tears aside and read more of One Thousand Gifts, start keeping a gratitude journal, and continue to ask, “What’s great about that?” when more challenges arise.

A helpful journal topic to explore this idea is making a cluster of your current gifts and challenges.

I’m excited to share this journey with you!

 


Write Every Day

I’ve made a sort of “silent resolution” with myself to start writing every day (again).

Not necessarily blog, but write…just for the sake of writing…in my journal, on the computer, on a napkin…it doesn’t matter. I used to tell my students, “to be a writer all you have to do is write,” and there are sadly days, weeks, and even months that go by when I don’t take my own advice.

So many parts of me need writing to survive…my brain, my heart and all of my insides swirl with thoughts all day that need an outlet. Sometimes I just need a place to dump them, but most times I long to share and connect them to others, which is why I’ve always loved the blogging world.

I’ve asked before, why is it that we deprive ourselves that which we need to survive?

I make excuses…I don’t have time, I’m too tired, I’m afraid >>> it won’t be good enough, it won’t be perfect and if it’s not good or perfect, then what’s the point? (We all know I’ve “been there/done that” on that particular topic…)

Now is the time to give up the expectations and just write. To write. Because I need it. I love it. I want to share and connect. It makes me happy. And it provides an awesome way to look back and say…oh, yeah…that’s what I was thinking and feeling and loving and hating on that particular day.

And when I feel lost I remember.

I am not lost. I am right here.

In these words that overflow and spill into an awkward, jumbled and sometimes “beautiful” mess.

I am not lost. I am right here.

(And while there may not be perfection

I find great

security.comfort.happiness

in being grounded

in these words.)