Chapter One: Recovering a Sense of Safety

 

I am my own worst enemy.

Do a book group, they said.

You love book groups, they said.

“They” being the zillion voices in my head telling me that I’m not doing enough.   For the sake of truthiness, the voices were probably closer to a million before I started doing the book group. Post chapter one, they’ve bred faster than Tribbles. Now they’re probably running in the zillions, certainly enough to generate 1.21 gigawatts of energy.

If only I had a Doc Brown equipped DeLorean.

Can Shatner hold the voices in?

And “they” are right. I do love book discussion groups. “They” are also right in that I don’t do enough. I’ve been expending tons of energy (discovering the bliss that is Nutella takes a lot of energy and one or more literal spoons. Walking away from it without devouring the entire jar takes even more energy) but haven’t really accomplished much.

I set goals. Easy goals. Tracking sleep. Tracking water. Tracking steps. I didn’t even get into the more complicated tracking of the food or PT exercises, and yet I don’t follow through.  It’s almost as if I’m afraid of seeing how much I suck at commitment.

And right now commitment is coming up quite often in everyday life.  It’s operating in that frightening space between motif and leitmotif.

I’m spinning; running in place (as if!), stuck on the proverbial hamster wheel with a whole lot of nothing to show for it.

Except for morning pages. Or in my case, daily pages.

A fellow Spoonie, IngredientsWeChoose  on Twitter (handle: @IngredientsWeCh) suggested a book group for creatives, and I jumped on it, breaking my whole “no-new-book” rule to try something different because what I’m doing is…well, what I’m goind is accomplishing a whole lot of nothing.

Running on the hamster wheel doesn’t allow for much creativity.  And it’s not really all that great an outlet for any creativity.

The book is The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.

I’ve just completed Chapter One, if I don’t count the week I took for “practice.”

There are two major goals for each week:

  1. hand-writing three pages each morning, ostensibly to get the “garbage out” that’s blocking the creative flow and
  2. taking yourself on an Artist’s Date once a week.

Writing every day. A commitment to write every day.

I  know for a fact that when I write I am more productive in other areas of my life, feel more connected to those around me and life in general,  feel more peaceful and general contentment, do not write every day.

Because excuses.

Writing gets lost in the day-to-day drudgery of going to work, doing laundry, doctor appointments, going to work, or any of the other bazillion things that may or may not get done, and, again for truthiness, in most cases those bazillion things remain undone.

I simply didn’t make time for writing. Not  enough quiet when the cats are antagonizing the dogs, not enough time when I’m running late for everything, not in the mood or have enough reserve spoons to actually make my brain work.

So Excuses with a capital E. 

And I’ve discovered that when I don’t write—anything—I feel emotionally and spiritually constipated.

And pissed off and constipated is no way to go through life.

So three Morning Pages each day. Every day.   I *try* to get up when the alarm goes off, but that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes my morning pages turn into daily pages, but with a single exception, I haven’t missed a day in 3 weeks now.

The first day of doing them, I wrote three pages front and back for a total of six pages, only to find that my hands refused to really work for the rest of the day. So no more of that nonsense.  The day I absolutely could not, could not finish them, I had awoken that morning with a weird sense that my hands and feet weighed a ton. They were so heavy, I don’t even know how long it took to physically get out of bed.  I’ve experienced it before, usually in the evenings toward the end of the work week, but I had never woken up to it before.

So. New-ish  symptom?

I did manage to write about half a page to a page before work and took the pages with me in case I had a chance. I didn’t have the chance, really, with the heaviness of limbs, extremities, and utter brain fog.

Sometimes I make excuses and they’re just that, excuses; something I know in the back of my mind I could have had a work around for.  Not this time.

I’m not taking it too hard, and I haven’t missed another day.  So that’s something.

The artist date, on the other hand, is another animal entirely.

An Artist’s Date is a block of time, perhaps two hours weekly, especially set and committed to nurturing your creative consciousness, your inner artist. (p18)

There’s also the actual reading of the book and the exercises in it, but the two are the constants for the duration of the study, which is 12 weeks.

I didn’t do it during the practice week, and, unless I count having two artsy friends over for coffee the other evening, I didn’t do it this week, either.

It’s a resistance thing, I know.  Something, for whatever reason, I really didn’t want to do.  So many things to do with so few spoons, and I can’t picture actually going and doing something frivolous when there’s so much undone around the house.

I did manage a couple of weeks ago an hour or two when I painted my fingernails blue and read in the rare spring (translation: when temperatures don’t rise to meet Albert Einstein’s IQ and the humidity is somewhat less dense than a concrete slab) day on the back porch.

I am a bit behind.

My fingernails are kind of like mandelas: I painted them blue, because I wanted to, even knowing that I’d have to take the polish off the next day before work.  The book was Christopher Moore’s Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal. 

Lighthearted, surprisingly funny at times. It was a good date.

But I haven’t done it since.

Funny how that works.

Maybe next week.

If you want to catch the discussion, check out #SpoonieWay on Twitter.

 

Artist’s Way: Chapter One
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2 thoughts on “Artist’s Way: Chapter One

  • April 23, 2017 at 7:23 pm
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    🙂 I’ve had The Artist’s Way for years (as well as her “The Artist’s Way At Work”, “Vein of Gold”, and – most recently – the Writing Diet). Unbelievably, I’ve never made it all the way through ANY of them. It’s like once I get back to writing morning pages (ie., journaling about EVERYTHING), I put the book down. The Writing Diet is about using Morning Pages for losing weight….sort of an interesting idea and I’ve made it further in this one than the others.

    I don’t know what a Spoonie is. Cooking?

    I love the photo on your blog. You look FANTASTIC.

    Hugs from California.

    xo

    Reply
    • May 6, 2017 at 2:40 pm
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      Woman! xox
      By far, the biggest impact it has had on me so far is that I’m still doing Morning Pages. I haven’t been consistent with my artist’s dates, and, other than side writing gigs I’ve been able to pick up, have not actually focused on *my* stuff. I’m definitely trying to change that, though.
      Thanks for asking what a Spoonie is; it’s a reminder I don’t have it prominently posted. It comes from the Spoon Theory by Christine Miserandino, and it can be found here: https://butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/
      It’s the best metaphor for the energy levels (or lack of them) that accompanies chronic illness.
      You. You are a wonder. I’m so glad you reached out.

      xox
      Nan

      Reply

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