I have a home of thirty years cleared out and sold, all in the space of the last four weeks.
Whew and wow.
I’ve been thinking about doing this for a few years. And suddenly it is now. Let’s quit talking and do it. And we have. Done.
I feel lighter. Excited and exhausted both. There is a new horizon out there. Can’t quite see it yet, but I can feel it. It feels like home.
After thirteen years of seasonal moving between two places that didn’t truly feel like home, I am approaching something that does. How strange that I don’t know what it looks like or exactly where it is, yet the feeling is clear and certain. I feel my feet on the ground. I feel the path in front of me.
Some small part of me is trying to not trust this, saying ‘scary’. The biggest part of me is saying ‘This feels right, feels good. I trust this.’
Trust. A blessing gained from growing into my creative self, trusting the artist-me who knows who she is and what she wants. I am now all artist-me. Not only creating image and word. Creating my life.
I remember doing Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way tasks of clearing out and making room. I’m not sure she meant a whole house, but then again, she might have. I’m laughing, thinking how I’ve taken task number eight in week six to the extreme.
The task says, “Clearing: Any new changes in your home environment? Make some.”
Make some changes? Have I ever!
In this post:
Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way, 2002 Edition, Tarcher/Putnam. http://juliacameronlive.com/ The clearing tasks are on pages 90 and 114. Julia connects clearing out to creativity on pages 83, 197, and 198. “You’re either losing your mind—or gaining your soul. Life is meant to be an artist date. That’s why we were created.’’ Page 198.
I’d say the quote from my last post applies even more so.
I have a secret agent who helps me create. ‘’Call me Pages, Morning Pages,’’ she says, and smiles. She holds sharpened pencils in one hand, sheets of paper in the other.
Yes, I am talking about Julia Cameron’s invention, morning pages. Three handwritten pages, whatever comes to mind, each day before I move to the writing or drawing, coaching or blogging. Letting my mind wander. Letting thoughts surface and have their say. Letting emotions move through me, easily or not. Letting beliefs and memories show up to say ‘notice me’. Planning to do this, then this, and this.
I’ve been writing morning pages for years, since October 1994 to be precise. Not constantly, but mostly, daily. They show me who I am in this moment, where I have been, where I am going, where I’d like to go and what I’d like to do.
These daily pages are my place to gripe loudly and to discover inspiration. Yes, both, sometimes the first leading to the second. Funny that, and true. Reassuring that I can be off balance, feel it, then move on and into my creative self, the clouds having cleared.
This, for me, is why morning pages are my secret agent. They clear my way to walk into my creative self, whatever I am doing this day. Pages open me to a clear mind and a clear heart, pair my mind and heart so they partner each other in whatever I am creating.
This is when my writing, drawing, coaching, and blogging are their best. This is when my mind and heart speak as one voice. Try this, they say, and I do.
What comes of this mind-heart partnership are choices, actions, and creations that connect me to other people, heart and mind to heart and mind. Connection, communication, understanding. Realizations that are clear, heart-felt, accepting, inspired, wise.
I have my days of resisting my morning pages, even now after twenty-two years. I don’t feel like it. I’m too tired. I’m too lazy. I want to go direct to my creating and not waste any time. I need to get other things done.
I have lots of excuses.
None are valid.
I know better, yet I will use the excuse of the day and not write my pages. I move straight to my creating, bringing with me a mind hazy with complaints and cluttered with random thoughts, a heart holding unexpressed emotions that should have been felt and acknowledged.
For me, this is not the way in which to create. What I do this day will likely need to be undone tomorrow. I know this from long experience. Yet still, once in a while, I have to test it again and choose to ignore writing my morning pages.
What is this resistance, this obstinate choice I occasionally make?
I think I do this to remind myself of why I write my pages. I re-experience how I feel and think and the not-quality creating that results from a hazy, cluttered, random mind and heart that are not working together.
Today, before I wrote this post, I wrote my morning pages. True, they were more like noon pages. That is alright. The pages got written. The blog post got created. And all is right in my world because my secret agent was on the job today.
I’m reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Just past halfway through. I love this book. A conversation about creativity and creating and living a creative life. There are parts of this book I wish I had written. I didn’t because they did not come to me. I am glad they came to Elizabeth, and glad she has shared them.
Elizabeth says let yourself live a creative life. She gives you permission, if you need it, on page 90. What she is really saying—you do not need anyone’s permission. Just create a life for yourself out of what you love.
How do you make a creative life?
You let inspiration and ideas in.
And where do ideas and inspiration come from?
Elizabeth’s ideas visit and stay if she is ready and available. Inspiration, looking for a partner who is ready to play. If she isn’t ready or available, inspiration moves on to someone else. So, not really her ideas. Rather, ideas and inspiration moving in the air around her, around all of us, all the time.
Natalie Goldberg says the same thing in a different way. Inspiration and capability as the water table below the surface of the earth. It’s always there and we tap into it through our effort and action.
Julia Cameron talks of dropping down the well when she is engaged in listening through writing. Moving below normal consciousness into the stream of ideas that live below the surface and flow through all of us. Alternatively, Julia describes inspiration and ideas as radio waves, always being broadcast on all frequencies.
This is where my ideas come from. Inspiration Radio. I can tune in any time. It is always broadcasting. 24/7, as my son describes it.
I love this. Ideas and inspiration are always available to all of us. Always flowing, always moving around and beneath us.
How do we connect with this flow?
Elizabeth’s words: ready and available.
Natalie’s words: effort and action.
Julia’s words: engaged in listening through writing.
Action. We connect through our action. I am writing and drawing, and my action is an invitation to inspiration to connect with me. I am open, ready, available, tapped in, listening. I am saying, come and play with me.
I am not waiting for inspiration to show up first, and then acting on it. I am acting first, and this opens a space for the ideas to come in.
There is something else going on as well.
When I am writing and drawing, I am fully present. I’m not in my mind, thinking over yesterday or planning tomorrow. I am right here, right now, with the words and lines and colours. With the feel of the pen and the pastel in my hand, and the sound they make as I move them across the paper. I am in my senses and my body, and in my heart too, because I am doing what I love.
I am sure that love is an equal part of this. I’d much rather spend time with someone who loves me, and I will bet that Ideas and Inspiration feel the same way.
There is another piece, before the action and the listening and the loving.
Give yourself big permission. Elizabeth says we don’t need anyone else’s permission to create. Absolutely totally true. We don’t. But most of us need to give ourselves permission.
Give ourselves big permission to play. To waste time and materials. To make ugly art and bad writing and sing out of tune. Give ourselves big permission to hear the crazy idea and the huge inspiration, and big permission to say this is mine and I know we can create this. And then do it.
Ideas and inspiration are always here for us. Learning how to connect with them, partner them, play together and create something from what looks like nothing–this is the magic. And we are all magicians. A creative life is ours for the making.
Say it out loud and with love.
I am a creator. I am a magician.
Inspiration is listening, and she knows an invitation when she hears one.
In this post, books full of inspiration and ideas (and don’t just read about creativity, do creativity—it’s actually a verb, not a noun.):
Think The Wizard of Oz. The 1939 movie with Judy Garland as Dorothy.
Dorothy and Scarecrow and Tin Man are walking through a forest. It is creepy. The light is dim. They start talking about what might be hiding. Lions. Tigers. Bears. Oh no! They manage to scare themselves silly by the end of the scene, even though there are no lions or tigers or bears. The Cowardly Lion, who they eventually meet, is nowhere near scary.
This is what I have been doing the last two months. Scaring myself silly. Imagining lions and tigers and bears. Blocking the writing on my book.
I’ve been doing other things instead of my book. Useful good things, I tell myself. Yes, true, they are. But it is odd how I do those useful good things first, plan to get to my book writing second, and somehow never get there.
I’m watching this happen. Two months of watching and not doing. I can’t seem to break the pattern. I’m not choosing to. What is stopping me?
Over my years of creating, I have run myself into blocks and scared myself a lot. I see what’s happening and I find my way through. Every time. Except now.
I could blame it on the fact that this is my first experience writing the second draft of a book. I don’t know what to expect, don’t yet know my process for this kind of creating, or how long it might take me. I do know this long at not-writing is too long.
My first and favourite creativity book, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, has tasks I go back to once in a while. Checking in with the artist writer creator inside of me.
Where am I right now? What am I thinking about? What am I realizing? What am I letting go? This is what I am asking myself, but these questions sound a bit dull. Julia has questions that are much more fun and go just as deep, deeper if I let them.
Here is where the artist writer creator me is right now. The questions are from ‘Detective Work’ on pages 73 and 74.
My favourite childhood toy was: crayons, skipping rope, roller skates, Spirograph, paper dolls, chemistry set (so many things to love; re the chemistry set, only 2 minor explosions and/or smoke)
My favourite childhood game was: hopscotch, skipping, tree-climbing, chinese skipping (again, so many things to love)
The best movie I ever saw as a child was: Japanese anime movie of Pinocchio, The Wizard of Oz, Herbie the Love Bug (I wonder where someone found a Japanese anime movie in the late 1960’s?)
I don’t do it much but I enjoy: rollerskating (the old 4-wheel skates, not those inline ones), swimming (lake, not ocean, not swimming pool)
If I could lighten up a little, I’d let myself: throw out ALL my clocks and never buy new ones, well, maybe a sun dial
If it weren’t too late I’d: live in Europe and be artist-writer all the time (I have the second bit down, now I just need the first bit)
My favourite musical instrument is: piano
The amount of money I spend on treating myself to entertainment each month is: not enough!
If I weren’t so stingy with my artist, I’d buy her: six months living in Amsterdam, Florence, and Venice
Taking time out for myself is: necessary, not always easy
I am afraid that if I start dreaming: I’ll do whatever I want without consulting anyone
I secretly enjoy reading: trashy magazines
If I had a perfect childhood I’d have grown up to be: artist and writer (oh, look, I did)
If it didn’t sound so crazy, I’d write or make a: drawing the full length of a roll of Fabriano paper (coooooolllll!)
My parents think artists are: not them
My God thinks artists are: everyone (no exceptions) and essential
What makes me feel weird about recovering my creative self is: my creativity keeps expanding and I am sure it has no outer limit (ooo, interesting, what do I want to create next?)
Learning to trust myself is: perfect and sometimes difficult
My most cheer-me-up music is: 70’s radio rock songs and Vince Guaraldi Charlie Brown music
My favourite way to dress is: comfortable, colourful, funky, decorated
Yes, I like where I am and who I am right now (mostly). You just keep goin’, grrl! (Grrl is not a typo.) Go, Cat, Go, XO!