Saturday, February 24, 2007

Artist's Dates

Welcome to week 2! Jessie has written a wonderful post about the week ahead along with some gentle encouragement. I don't have much to add, but Melba has asked for some inspiration for her Artist's Dates, so I decided to tackle that topic.

This group has grown large!! It's wonderful and inspiring, however, it also means that it takes a lot of time to visit everyone's blog in a day (which would be very hard to keep up with on a daily basis and get anything done!) Jessie and I decided from the start that we wouldn't let this overwhelm us, so I want to ask for your help. Not that you really need to be asked, I've seen already that you have been visiting the other blogs in this group and leaving supportive comments. That's awesome! We *all* need encouragement and support. So, if you have time, I ask that you pick a few blogs (perhaps ones you've never been to before?) and stop in for a visit. Leave some encouraging words if you are inspired to do so, but it's not required. I think just being a witness is very powerful. Do this when you can; the circle of support we've formed in this group is a huge part of what will keep us on track through the next twelve weeks.

Ok, I got off topic there a little bit, but that just popped into my head because I just clicked through every blog in this beautiful group of creative souls, looking for artist's date inspiration and these aren't all of them, but here are some great places to start looking for ideas!

I'd love to hear YOUR ideas! Put a link to a post about your artist date here in the comments (when you do yours this week or about last week's date or future dates) or just leave a comment with artist date ideas. I'm going to put an older post here that I wrote for the Artist's Way group last year because it was helpful for me to re-read and it has a bunch of artist date ideas. I hope it's helpful for you too! At the end there are ideas for ad's when you can't leave your house. This can be particularly helpful if you have small children (or you're snowed in or sick) and really can't get out alone. So, any other ideas for at home artist's dates would be great! One of my favorite artist dates to do it home is to have an art picnic, which I wrote about for CaC and I know some of you have tried and enjoyed. Whatever you do, have fun. Invite your creative spirit to play!


One of the basic tools in The Artist's Way is the Arist's Date (I may refer to artist dates as ads and morning pages as mps.) For some this is no big thing, in fact it may sound wonderful!...What? I get to go out by myself and do something fun? Sweet!!...For others, it's scarier...Go out by myself? How boring. or What will people think of me? or What the heck will I do? or I really don't have the time. Either way, the ads are a wonderful way to get to know your creative self better. That part of you deserves a treat, take yourself out as if you were a hot date. ;-)

What constitutes an Artist's Date? Well, it has to be done alone. You can't take your hubby, your mom, your friends. As for what you do on your date, well, sky's the limit. I recommend being playful, being adventurous and daring and creative, listen to that small voice inside you, ask it what it would most like to do, what sounds like fun? If it helps, schedule your date in advance and write in on your calendar, so you won't forget.

Sure, you could do something artsy, like go to a gallery or a museum (many museums have a free night, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is free from 4-9:45 every Wednesday night. You can often get museum passes at your local library. Galleries are also free and a fun way to see a variety of art.) But you don't need to do something that you "think" is what a creative outing should be. One of my favorite ads was a trip to a local greehouse. I spent about 45 minutes just wandering through the lush greenness, taking in the smells, giggling at the ancient bonsais, admiring the orchids. In the end I walked away with a sad little plant from the clearance area. Turns out it was a prayer plant, very cool synchronicity I thought. Your ads don't need to be expensive, I think almost all of mine were free.

Julia talks about Artist's Dates as being a way to fill your creative well, or stocking the pond. And it's interesting how effective this can be. Plus it's a fabulous self-nurturing tool that everyone could use a little more of.

Need some ideas? How bout: going to a flea market, browsing through gorgeous fabrics at a fabric store, going to a dollar store and buying something silly, going to a stationary store to pick out stickers to decorate your journal with, people watching, take your camera on a walk, take a bubble bath with candles and no reading material, draw in a coloring book, go to a bead store, check out the walking trails around your area and pick a new one to check out, make a chalk drawing outside your home or in a public place...maybe write an inspiring quote, go to a poetry reading, try a new restaurant, see an independent film. The idea is to think about what intrigues you, what fascinates you, and then go explore! What if you're stuck at home? Well, a bath is one of my favorite ways to have a date without leaving the house. But you can get creative with it, look through old photos, go on a treasure hunt in your attic, paint your toenails different colors. Play, explore, get silly, amuse yourself, stock your pond, have fun!

So you see, imagination needs moodling--long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling, and puttering. -Brenda Ueland

Week 2: Uncovering a Sense of Reality.

I love the way Julia Cameron begins each section of this book with a weather report. I've always liked this about her writing--and I'm attracted to it because it offers me a sense of "place." This week's chapter begins: "A fierce wind rattles the windows. The sky is a glowering gray."

It seems that nothing can be trusted this time of year--and maybe even more so when you start reading one of Cameron's books! Already, things are shifting and changing--both internally and externally. Outside my own windows the wind rages. There is a winter storm warning in effect and I have been waiting for it to hit all day. This afternoon, I even started a fire in the fireplace to welcome the 15-18 inches of snow that have been forecasted for our area. And, although the fire was nice, I am still waiting impatiently for the weather to do her thing. I want to get snowed in. I want the world outside to become a little bit more quiet so that I might hunker down and continue this interior exploration.

I don't know about the rest of you, but this past week felt slightly larger than life. The time went by quickly but, looking back, it feels like last Saturday was an eon ago. I am amazed by what a single week can hold. The first week, for me, was something of a roller coaster ride. It was mostly good, but contained a few rough patches as well. Or maybe it was the other way around? In the end, I guess it doesn't matter--because right now I am simply grateful to be moving forward.

Week 1 was about being a beginner; it was about encouragement, focus, grounding, and making room for possibilities. Mostly, it was about taking that first step--and (for me) that was the most important action of all. Cameron writes: "As artists, we must learn to try. We must learn to act affirmatively. We must learn to act as though spring is at hand--because it is." And when she says this, I believe her. Even though there is a storm on its way, I know that soon enough the snow will melt and warmer weather will return. Despite any struggles I might have had, this week felt good because it reminded me of the potential I am capable of when I have trust in the Universe. I think this happened somewhere between a shift in my work situation on Tuesday and my first Artist's Date on Wednesday. It dawned on me that I am capable of more than I sometimes give myself credit for and that the solution is often as simple as #1) giving myself a break and #2) being honest about what I really want.

I haven't been able to keep up with all of your blogs as much as I wish I could, but from what I've read so far it seems as though I'm not the only one undergoing this peculiar transformation. It's a bit confusing--like the weather. But it's also exciting and scary and downright amazing! Morning Pages alone feel a little bit like opening Pandora's Box! In my life and in my writing, I feel like I have just taken a giant leap. My arms are flailing and my legs kicking. I have no idea where or how I'm going to land--but, I admit, I'm enjoying the feeling of flying. In many ways, this week has taught me to loosen the reigns in some areas of my life and to take action in others. if this was Week 1, what is Week 2 going to do to me?! If Week 1 was rough on you, I hope you'll continue anyway. Maybe you missed some morning pages or didn't go for a walk or maybe you even stood yourself up for your first Artist's Date. Well, I'm going to suggest that you forgive yourself right now. Anyway, this is no time to expect perfection.

Week 2 is about facing, not only imagined barriers, but real ones, too. While Week 1 might have sent some of us flying, Week 2 is about becoming more grounded and farseeing. It's also about letting go of perfectionism, seeking out support, and teaching ourselves how to take action.

Here's to continuing on this strange journey...

Now show me some snow!


An artist is someone who turns his coat inside out and falls in love with the color of the lining. ~Jeanne Tardiveau

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Buttons, anyone?

If you are participating in Finding Water and would like to display a button...well, it's your lucky day because we have TWO to choose from!

This little beauty was created by the amazing Leah!


And this peaceful looking masterpiece was created by the fantabulous Krista!

If you need instructions on how to add a button to your template...
  • Leah wrote a brief tutorial here.
  • And (the very gracious) Olivia, from happyluau, wrote a Blogger-specific tutorial here.

Please give these ladies a round of applause. They are much more computer savvy than I!!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Diving In

I haven't made a peep here yet, waiting patiently for the first day and here it is! It seemed so far away when Jessie and I first picked this date, one she suggested and I was particularly drawn to because 17 is my lucky number. Last year, I helped facilitate a group of about 100 bloggers through the Artist's Way and it was a wonderful experience. This feels so very different because I'm going through this book for the first time along with everyone, which is wonderful and exciting. Once again, I am so thrilled to be part of such an amazing group. If you haven't already, be sure to check in with all the blogs of the incredibly creative women we have riding along this journey with us. I'm am awed and honored to be a part of such a powerful group. Powerful things happen in groups, the energy is swirling, so very exciting.

Having done the Artist's Way multiple times and worked through Cameron's other books, clearly I believe in this process. And this particular book came at such a wonderful time. I'll be writing more about my process on my blog, but I wanted to leave a few tips for my fellow travelers as we step across the threshold.

The first time I did the Artist's Way I did it alone. I didn't do all the exercises, I only made it through 10 out of the 12 weeks, and I definitely didn't take all the artist's dates. Yet, I still got something out of it. It was sort of like dipping my toes in the water, I wasn't quite ready and I wasn't in the right place in my life to dive in. It was still wonderful and the work helped me through a particularly rough spot in my life. Years later, I did the book again with a group of 5 women and I was so ready, I dove in head first. All 5 women approached the book differently and got different things from it. Working through the book had a profound effect on me that time around, I really committed to the process and the effects rippled out over the next couple years of my life, opening doors and pushing me to make changes that were huge in my life. I'm forever grateful. So, I want to say, yes, work through the book in a way that feels best for you, no matter what way you approach it, you will benefit, but I also want to encourage you, if you can, do dive in head first. Doing the work in a group is amazing, yes, in fact I credit the support of the small group I was in to keeping me on the path, but the biggest benefits are reaped from the work you put into it. It's worth it, really. (And I'm just realizing all the water analogies I'm putting in here. Heh.)

So, what do I mean by diving in exactly? I mean, do those morning pages! A lot of people, myself included struggle with these. They can seem meaningless and time-consuming and a sure fire way to cramp up your hand, but they do powerful things, so do give them a try. Do your artist's dates. They don't have to be elaborate outings, they could be something as simple as a candle-lit bath once a week, a trip to the library, a stop into a gardening supply shop just to browse or stopping into the coffee and tea shop to smell the teas. Just a half hour alone to carve out for yourself. I know many of you have young children, so don't beat yourself up if you can't do this, but I think it would be lovely to shoot for this small amount of time with your creative self, once a week for the next 12 weeks. And the walks, I totally struggle with this one, especially in this nasty weather in the northeast, but I'm going to go for it. Keep an open mind and an open heart. The author isn't perfect, you may not agree with everything she says, but I assure you, that there is a lot of good here.

One of the most powerful parts of doing this work in a group is feeling a sense of connection to others, to feeling like you're not alone on your journey, and the sense of feeling heard. I want to reiterate what Jessie said about not trying to fix anyone when/if you leave a comment on their blog. My group facilitator encouraged us to speak to what resonated with us when another person spoke instead of giving advice. Sometimes, just knowing that someone is listening is much more powerful than any advice you could give.

If you haven't already, read Jessie's post for today, it's beautifully written and says so much. Thank you for taking this leap of faith, beautiful things await.

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets:

Whatever you can do,
Or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius,
Power and magic in it.

-W.H. Murray

Leah, Creative Every Day

p.s. Here's an icon you can use on your page to link to this blog if you'd like!

new beginnings!

Finally! Week 1: Uncovering a Sense of Optimism.

I've spent the past week slowly reading "The Basics" and "Week 1: Uncovering a Sense of Optimism." And well...let me just say that I am looking forward to this! For the past several weeks I have been thinking about and preparing myself for the extra time I will need for things like morning pages and artist's dates and long walks. Since I already have a lot on my plate right now, I have (quite a few times!) doubted my sanity in taking on another commitment, let alone one that is 12 weeks long! But, the more I read of Cameron's book, the more I look forward to whatever this experience might have in store for me. Intuition tells me that this might be just the thing that helps me to accomplish the things I've already set out to do.

I suppose we have all had our share of doubt and excitement when thinking about the creative journey we are about to embark on. We are a community of fellow bloggers, together, adventuring into the creative unknown. Seek one another out for support, but don't be afraid to make this journey your own. There is no set method and no rigid rules. But, in case you are looking for some direction, here are some of the (abridged) guidelines, offered by Julia Cameron:
  • Do your Morning Pages and Artist's Dates.
  • Do not share you Morning Pages with anyone else.
  • Do not reread your Morning Pages until later in the course.
  • As a group, each person is equally a part of the collective, no one more than another. This is dialectic rather than a monologue--an egalitarian group process rather than a hierarchical one.
  • Listen. We each get what we need from the group process by sharing our own material and listening to others. We don't need to comment on another person's sharing in order to help that person. Please leave a comment if you feel inspired to do so, but refrain from trying to "fix" someone else.
  • Respect one another. Each person must be able to speak her or his own wounds and dreams. This is a deep and powerful internal process. There is no one right way to do this. Love is important. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to one another.
  • Expect change in the group makeup. Many people will--some will not--fulfill the twelve-week process.
  • Be autonomous. You cannot control your own process, let alone anyone else's. Know that you will feel rebellious occasionally--that you won't want to do all of your Morning Pages and exercises at times in the twelve weeks. Relapse is okay. You cannot do this process perfectly, so relax, be kind to yourself, and hold onto your hat. Even when you feel nothing is happening, you will be changing at great velocity. This change is deepening into your own intuition, your own creative self. The structure of the course is about safely getting across the bridge into new realms of creative spiritual awareness.
  • Be self-loving. Continually seek your own inner guidance rather than outer guidance. You are seeking to form an artist-to-artist relationship with the Great Creator. You have your own answers within you.
The complete version of this can be found in the "Creative Cluster Guide" at the back of the book (pages 272-276).

Cameron writes: "Creativity is like breathing--pointers may help, but we do the process ourselves. Creative clusters [like this one], where we gather as peers to develop our strength, are best regarded as tribal gatherings, where creative beings raise, celebrate, and actualize the creative power which runs through us all."

In the end, do what feels most comfortable to you. The content and quantity of what you share on your blog is up to your discretion. And so...

Here's to new beginnings!
I wish you the best!


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