Artist’s Way Challenge: Week 12 update

I know, the last week of this book has been a very LONG week (:D) but I was distracted creatively by ICAD and the Summer of Color challenge and this week was done in a very scattered, but no less incredibly useful way.  :)  First things first.

OH MY GOSH!!!!  I have actually finished.  I have wondered if this day would ever come.  I have been trying to read this book and get into it for so many years, I am so glad I finally made the effort.  Before fully reading the book I would say my rating may have been a 2/5.  To be honest I undertook this challenge not expecting to get much out of the book, however the true magic in this book is in actually doing it.  I have gotten so much out of it, and it has been such a valuable exercise.  I truly feel like I am the most in touch with myself I have ever been, and a lot of that is because of this book.

That is not to say it has always been plain sailing and some weeks I have struck a lot of resistance and the going has not being easy, but {deep breath} I am finally finished!

The book I used for this, was one volume in an old Atlas set (which originally belonged to my grandparents), and I like that map connotation for this, it fits well in my head with the concept of mapping ourselves so to speak.  The book is also completely finished (meaning the pages all have something on them, though there are some pages that I want to work a bit more on), apart from the cover.

I also had an OH MY GOSH moment.  I worked on this page for the Summer of Color Week 2.

She knowsThe journaling on the side in pink reads: She is not always sure what she knows, but she knows.  And she knows she knows.  And that is sometimes enough, that is sometimes all she has.  She knows. She knows.  She knows.

The following week I began the readings and I read this:

Each of us has an inner dream that we can unfold if we will just have the courage to admit what it is.  And the faith to trust our own admission.  The admitting is often very difficult.  A clearing affirmation can open the channel.  One excellent one is “I know the things I know”.  (Julia Cameron)

I got goosebumps!  This really was a powerful week for me and it started on the first page with a goosebump moment.

Here are the journal pages I have been working on for this week’s readings.

Especially for the past few chapters of the book, it has being a meandering, and as I was pondering the “failure” of that because it was not how I thought it should be, I realised that I was still making forward progress regardless.  It isn’t just big actions, but the little steps along the way that keep propelling us forward.

A gentle strollYou may remember this background from Week 2.  It finally got finished this week.  I loved this quote from Julia Cameron.  As soon as I read it, it resonated with me so much, and while I was thinking about it, I decided I was going to put it on this background.  I love it.  LOVE it.  This is what this blog is about for me, the shared connection with others.  Love this quote.

The miracle is one artist sharing with anotherThis was another Julia Cameron quote from this week that really resonated with me, though I added the last line after half the ink in my pen came out during the writing of the quote.

Trust the darknessFinally, the book starts with a contract of what you will undertake while completing the course, there was another one for the time period after the course.  I modified mine a bit, but I did one as well to close the book off.

Creativity ContractThis book was really about keeping it real, looking at where we sabotage ourselves, and making sure that we don;t let ourselves sink into those moments of darkness, or follow a false lure rather than pursue our dreams and real purpose.  Ensuring that now we have tools to help ourselves, that we remember to use them.  I really liked this week!

The tasks were a mix of writing tasks and doing tasks, things mending, and potting plants etc, against exercises looking at our fears and pay-offs, assessing how far we have come since week one (which for me personally, was incredible).

Here are the quotable quotes from this week’s chapter (there are a lot this week!!), all by Julia Cameron herself:

We are meant to be bountiful and live.  The universe will always support affirmative action.

It is the inner commitment to be true to ourselves and follow our dreams that triggers the support of the universe.

There is a path for each of us.  When we are on our right path, we have a surefootedness.  We know the next right action – although not necessarily what is just around the bend.  By trusting, we learn to trust.

Creativity – like human life itself – begins in darkness.

We need to trust the darkness.

We must work at learning to play.

We are intended to create.

You’re either losing your mind – or gaining your soul.  Life is meant to be an artist date.  That’s why we were created.

As recovering creatives, many of us find that every time our career heats up we reach for our nearest Wet Blanket.

We must learn to keep our own counsel, to move silently among doubters, to voice our plans only among our allies, and to name our allies accurately.

Do not indulge or tolerate anyone who throws cold water in your direction.  Forget good intentions.  Forget they didn’t mean it.  Remember to count your blessings and your toes.

Finally, would I recommend this?  Yes.  Yes.  Yes. :)

The trick is to actually do it.  To not let the “God” part bother you if that is your trigger, or any of her other phrases that you may personally struggle with, to move past that.  That is not what this book is about.  It is ultimately about ourselves.

You will not get a lot out of the book without actually doing the activities (or most of them at least), I got more out of the activities than the readings.  There will be things that don’t resonate with you, but overall, working through this book as a whole has been an amazing experience for me, and I don’t say that lightly.  It hasn’t all been sunshine and roses, but it has been amazing and powerful for the process and for what I have gotten out of it.

And now this chapter is done…or is it just beginning {cue cheesy laughter} :D

If you are interested in the other weeks you can find them all here.

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Artist’s Way Challenge: Week 11 Check-in

:)  The money that could have been made but thankfully no one contacted me!

I think the theme of this chapter for me would be whether I was disconnected, resistant (in which case what do I need to deal with), or just making excuses to not do it.  In any event this week was SO hard to get through.  It is not a tough week emotionally, so I have no idea what was going on.   I have had to force my way through this chapter of the course.

Disconnect or resistanceThe journaling reads:
What is the difference between disconnection and resistance? Does some work just not resonate with us? At what point does that become resistance and something that points to resistance and procrastinating and avoiding or just something that does not call to us. Is it all just excuses?

:) I suspect it may be!!

But none of that speculation has anything to do with this chapter that was actually about nurturing myself as an artist, and what that means. To continue to develop our artistic selves and grow creatively. In advocating self-care she also went into the importance of getting out of our heads and outside moving, even if only a twenty minute walk each day.

All good stuff, so no idea why I stalled on this. There was nothing confronting in what I was reading. If you have any insight while you are reading, then don’t hesitate to share!!

What is valuable, (and this did not come out this week, but maybe week 9 or 10), was going through the morning pages, looking for insights and action points. It was interesting because most of it is just blahs going through my head as it should be and is meant to, but every now and again there is surprising little nuggets in there. What is really exciting is the other side of doing morning pages, and where it is really helpful.

Everyone advocates doing them, but to go through them looking for insights and action points was a really useful exercise that I can recommend. There were surprising little ideas that came out of them, things for me to look into and follow up, things I can’t even remember writing. So I advise morning pages reflection every now and again.

The tasks this week involved recording yourself reading different things aloud so you can listen to them, wish making, assessing how you will change, and how you will nurture yourself through the changes. There was also another letter written. Task wise it was a relatively easy week, especially given how involved some of the other week’s tasks have been.

The quotable quotes from Julia Cameron this week in Chapter 11 are:

Creativity is oxygen for your souls.

To be an artist is to recognise the particular. To appreciate the peculiar.

To kill your dreams because they are irresponsible is to be irresponsible to yourself.

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

Creativity is not a business, although it may generate much business. An artist cannot replicate a prior success indefinitely. Those who attempt to work too long with formula, even their own formula, eventually leach themselves of their creative truths.

Creativity requires action and part of that action must be physical.

The act of motion puts us into the now and helps us to stop spinning.

This is the end of Chapter 11! Now onto the final chapter!!!! (Oh my gosh, that is exciting!!)

You can see my other check-ins for the previous chapters here.

Artist’s Way Check in: Week 10

Standing in her own power

There has been some resistance this week (if that is what you call the complete desire to do anything else but this), and then yesterday there was an emotional breakthrough with some old family patterning and suddenly I was much more inspired. I then realised that the task I had been avoiding actually took less than five minutes!! In my head it seemed it would take so much longer.

Actually in light of reviewing the chapter for this post it is ironic that I had so much resistance when the overview talks about dealing with toxic patterns that we cling to that impede our creativity.

The chapter starts out discussing the blocks we use to stifle our creativity such as food, alcohol or busy-ness.

There was a bit of journaling this week, and perhaps some of the resistance was being honest about how close to home some of it was. However, the tenet of the chapter was about not only acknowledging the blocks we use to sabotage ourselves, but also to come up with strategies to aid ourselves and treat ourselves with compassion.

This chapter also deals with creative droughts, fame and competition and how we can twist these to stifle our own creativity. The chapter then deals with the other side of that and what are the touchstones and practices we can hold onto. I found this week quite challenging but it could have been other stuff going on.

TouchstonesThe quotable quotes from Julia Cameron in this weeks chapter are:

We turn to our drug of choice to block our creativity whenever we experience, the anxiety of our inner emptiness. It is always fear – often disguised but always there – that leads us into grabbing for a block.

As we become aware of our blocking devices – food, busyness, alcohol, sex, other drugs – we can feel our U-turns as we make them. The blocks will no longer work effectively. Over time, we will try…and ride out anxiety and see where we emerge. Anxiety is fuel. We can use it to write with, paint with, work with.

The phrase “I’m working” has a certain unassailable air of goodness and duty to it. The truth is, we are very often working to avoid ourselves, our spouses, our real feelings.

Even an hour of creative work/play can go a long way toward offsetting the sense of workaholic desperation that keeps out dreams at bay.

In any creative life there are dry seasons….We feel we have nothing to say, and we are tempted to say nothing. These are the times when the morning pages are most difficult and most valuable. During a drought, the mere act of showing up on the page…requires one footfall after another to no apparent point….For all creative beings the morning pages are the lifeline – the trail we explore and the trail home to ourselves.

In a creative life, droughts are a necessity. The time in the desert brings us clarity and charity.

Art needs time to incubate, to sprawl a little, to be ungainly and misshapen and finally emerge as itself.

There have been times this week when doing the morning pages was the last thing I wanted to do, and they have been filled with feelings of being stagnant and stuck and not going anywhere. General blahness, and then some processing as things happened. What I credit morning pages with is that I acknowledged those feelings every day on the page, and by the end of the three pages I was working towards potential solutions or things I could do, which definitely is an improvement over just moping about those feelings but not doing anything productive. The feelings did last for a good few days, but I suspect they may have lasted longer had I not shown up on the page every day.

And this week is done!!  Two more weeks to go.  :)

Artist’s Way Check in: Week NINE!!

Wow.

Another big week, with the questions being asked and actual answers sought with details and dreaming.

Not a lot of art journal pages this week.  I remember at the start when I was doing quite a few I worried I was actually going to run out of pages by the end, but I am not sure that will still be the case, although I don’t know what the last three weeks hold.  Needless worrying, and maybe some preparation by my inner critic for me to fail miserably for another time as I tried to go through this book.

Also, I have to mention here for the people that were worried about the amount of “God-ness” in the book, that I can’t remember the last time I read about God.  From memory it was only in the few few chapters (almost aiding you in setting up a foundation) so if you are interested in this book then don’t let that put you off.

So this week.  Again a lot of doing and writing.  More affirmations (I don’t know if I use them properly or if there is even a proper way, but I do repeat them when I remember, but if there is a proper way to use them, then please feel free to let me know!); gathering of symbols and another vision board!  Journaling on creative goals and getting to the nitty gritty of what that success means at various milestones.

The one task I haven’t done is to go through my morning pages with a highlighter, but that will be taking place this weekend (exciting plans around here! :)).

Here is the vision board for this week.

Visioning DreamsThis week is very much about having compassion for your inner artist and talks about the way we talk to ourselves and label ourselves as lazy. It also discusses our creative u-turns where we are close to achieving something or doing something and then we sabotage our efforts at the last minute.  It also gives you a strategy for confronting any resistance or resentment about any projects we are working on and working through it…the chapter of no more excuses!!  :)

The quotable quotes from Julia Cameron this week are:

Setting impossible goals creates enormous fear, which creates procrastination, which we wrongly call laziness.  Do not call procrastination laziness.  Call it fear.

We get more sympathy as crippled artists than as functional ones.  Those of us addicted to sympathy in the place of creativity can become increasingly functional.

A successful creative career is always built on successful creative failures.  The trick is to survive them.

Faced with a creative U-turn, ask yourself, “Who can I ask for help about this U-turn?” Then start asking.

All my morning pages have been completed so far, and they have been worth their weight i gold this week just to process the resistance I have felt and the questions I am mulling over.

I feel very much like I am on the precipice of …something…what that turns out to be will become known eventually I am sure.  The unnknown-ness is causing some unease however, but I am naming it and in naming it, it becomes less of a potential obstacle.  :)

 

Artist’s Way Challenge: Week 8 check-in

Another week!!  I am two thirds of the way through which is exciting.  Uncharted territory!  There was A LOT of resistance this week.  There was a bit of a disappointment early in the week and it was interesting in that I actually saw how I generally managed those feelings of upset.  Also that I managed to be aware and stop myself.  A step in the right direction.

I don’t know how I will feel at the end of the book, but right now I am glad I have done this.  I don’t know if it is life changing but I am definitely feeling very connected and creative at the moment, though that could be my natural creative cycle as well.  Morning pages are definitely keeping me focussed and productive and I am feeling really positive about the whole experience.  Some of this is that I am completing the tasks each week and actually doing the book, not just reading the book, and that is the crux of it I think.  You only get out of it, what you put into it.

So.  The resistance.  This week was focussing on time and our conditioning beliefs, and planning.  Ugh.  The resistance came in here as we looked at goals and dreams and what that would look like in five years, three years etc. BUT, not only what our dreams and goals would like, but what we can do now, and next week, and in a month, and in a year to get there.  Committing and planning.  BIG RESISTANCE was felt.  I delved into whether I was picking the right goals and dreams.  What would that mean if I wasn’t and had to change course.  So many big questions this week.  I felt the resistance though and I figured it was good growth and what I needed and so I buckled down and did it.

I am going to transfer the planning and journaling into my planner and try and keep track of it and see what happens.

We were working with affirmations again this week, so my affirmations page was updated, we had to choose from options she had.  This page is not finished (I am less than thrilled) but it is for this week.  :)

Affirmations page update

Because I did some of the writing with my dip pen it is hard to read so the affirmations in order are:

  • I now share my creativity more openly
  • I trust and benefit from sacred energy exchanges
  • I have a right to be an artist
  • I have a real talent
  • I now act affirmatively
  • I nurture and maintain real connections with people who care about what I do
  • I am a good person and a good artist
  • I am willing to create
  • I constantly develop my creative skills an abilities
  • I am a prolific artist
  • I am a talented person
  • When I create with an open heart I am seen and respected

This page started off very heavy with journaling and drawing with charcoal and a mess, and then I saw myself “drowning in my own resistance” and I saw the ocean and the boat…no drowning was had though as I sailed into the resistance! :)

Sailing into resistance

I don’t know if you remember this page from Week 3:
Shadow rewards

This page was never finished (just for that week), and during my walk one day this week as I was contemplating stepping out of the shadows, and the idea of that, I saw this page with a striding silhouette on it, so this is what it has become now. Not disregarding all that was there (and is there), but taking that forward as we move into the light. I love this now.

Shadow page update (now known as Out of the Shadows) :)

Quotable Quotes from Julia Cameron in this week’s reading (there was a lot of juicy stuff {AKA resistance inducing} this week):

The unmourned disappointment becomes the barrier that separates us from future dreams. {Very appropriate to read in light of my own disappointment this week, which has been well mourned and now released}

For an artist, to become overly cerebral is to become crippled.

Younger artists are seedlings. Their early work resembles thicket and underbrush, even weeds.

Often audacity, not authentic talent, confers fame on an artist.

When hit by loss, ask the right question: “What next?” instead of “Why me?”.

The grace to be a beginner is always the best prayer for an artist. The beginner’s humility and openness lead to exploration. Exploration leads to accomplishment. All of it begins at the beginning, with the first small and scary step.

As a rule of thumb, it is best to just admit that there is always one action you can take for your creativity daily.

A creative life is grounded on many, many small steps and very, very few large leaps.

Take one small daily action instead of indulging in the big questions. {HAHAHA!! Another message I needed this week}

Large changes occur in tiny increments.

This post is now plenty long enough, so thank you if you have managed to read all the way down to here.  I also want to thank you for being my accountability monitors in this challenge, I really do appreciate it.  :)

Artist’s Way Challenge: Week 7 check-in

Week 7!!

Next week I will be two thirds through this book.  I am so pleased to be finally getting through it, even if I did have to commit to paying people money if I didn’t finish it.  Whatever the motivation, it is certainly giving more pause to think, and I am getting more out of it this time than any other time I have attempted it!

This week was centered on recovering a sense of connection with your own creative interests and dreams.

A lot of the tasks were experience based again, although there was also a bit of journaling that took place as well.  Some of the tasks included listening to music and doodling, going to somewhere you consider a sacred space, wearing a favourite item of clothing, and creating scents in your home either from baking, incense, candles etc.

She also introduces the concept of the jealously map where you look at jealousy as a healthy feeling, and look at what you are actually jealous off and what step you can do to move you in the right direction. All very interesting and powerful work.

I did have to create a vision board this week that reflected my life or interests.  She said it was okay to include images that called to you, so I did though there are many aspects that I am not too sure about yet. (I am also linking to Aimee’s Glue it Tuesday because there was a WHOLE lot of gluing that went on in the construction of this vision board, so I figure it counts)

Vision board

Here are the close up photos of the three panels (all in my Artist’s Way Challenge Journal):

Panel 1:
Vision board close up #1

Panel 2:
Vision board close up #2

Panel 3:
Vision board close up #3

You then had to list down your 5 top movies and 5 top book genres and assess whether they are represented in the vision board.

My top 5 movie list was problematic, I found it so hard to limit myself to 5, I would have much preferred 10, but my top 5 movies I finally decided on are:

  • Edward Scissorhands
  • Dirty Dancing
  • The Castle
  • Sound of Music
  • Whale Rider

My top 5 book genres are:

  • History
  • Science Fiction
  • Crime/Justice
  • Politics
  • Art

I see elements of some of these movies or books in the vision board, but I don’t know how much I am reading into the images either (I have a special talent of reading between the lines!! :)). I don’t see all of them represented…not at the moment anyway!

The last page to show is an art journal page. It started off as the doodle page from listening to music and then became the background for a sentence that Julia Cameron wanted you to write up.

What will make me strong

On to my quotable quotes from this week, all from this weeks chapter by Julia Cameron!

Art is not about thinking something up.  It is about the opposite – getting something down….If we are trying to think something up, we are straining to reach for something that’s just beyond our grasp….When we get something down, there is no strain. We’re not doing; we’re getting.

Perfectionism is not a quest for the best.  It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves, the part that tells us that nothing we do will ever be enough – that we should try again.  No. We should not.

Jealousy is always a mask for fear: fear that we aren’t able to get what we want; frustration that somebody else seems to be getting what is rightfully ours even if we are too frightened to reach for it.

Selecting a challenge and meeting it creates a sense of self-empowerment that becomes the ground for further successful challenges.

My artist date this week was to the beach, I went to a windswept isolated beach to gather stones for me new stone obsession (see here and here), and also to take some time to myself in a space I consider sacred.

I am also pleased to say that so far I have done the morning pages every day as well, and I do feel so much more productive and organised, like I am actually getting stuff done.  Which is a much better feeling than feeling like I am trudging through sticky mud.

My other Artist’s Way Challenge posts can be found here.

Artist’s Way Challenge: Week 6 check-in

Week 6!

The furtherest I have ever been, and half way through!  I am not sure if there have been any life changing moments so far, but definitely doing the morning pages each day and all the tasks each week has made me feel very productive.

This was more of a “doing” week task wise, rather than any writing/journaling leading to art journal pages.  Although I did do some more collecting of images for my vision boards from last week.

Updated vision board

Updated vision board

Updated vision board

This week the focus was on our attitudes to abundance and money.

The tasks included collecting rocks (which ended up tying in beautifully with my new obsession of rocks which I will be posting about soon! :)), baking cookies, decluttering wardrobes, keeping a record of all the money we spend and making changes to the home environment.

The quotable quotes from Julia Cameron that stood out to me this week are:

All too often, we become blocked and blame it on our lack of money.  This is never an authentic block.  The actual block is our feeling of constriction, our sense of powerlessness.  Art requires us to empower ourselves with choice.  At the most basic level this means choosing to do self-care.

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.

What we are talking about when we discuss luxury is very often a shift in consciousness more than flow….
Creative living requires the luxury of time, which we carve out for ourselves…
Creative living requires the luxury of space for ourselves….
Designating a few things special and yours alone can go a long way toward making you feel pampered.

My artist date this week was a visit to an art gallery that I have been wanting to visit for such a long time.  It left me totally inspired and excited.  I took my notebook and recorded ideas and sketches as I luxuriated in the time and space I had from the school holidays that are happening around me.  I was totally juiced up.  Just thinking about it now makes me smile and think about all the ideas I have in my head.

Now I just have to start doing them!  :)