Saturday, March 31, 2007


This week focuses on resilience. How do you stay on course when you are full of self-doubt? How do you pick yourself up after a rejection? Are you able to see the silver lining?

I experienced a rejection this week. I might have taken it harder in the past, but I had this feeling that it just wasn't meant to be. I trusted, without knowing why, that something better would come along and amazingly enough, it did. Other times, I've felt completely rocked by a rejection. I have trouble shaking it off and I'll just stop working. That next small thing that Cameron talks about is helpful. And finding some way to get playful is also helpful for me. How do you find the strength to pick yourself up and get back to it?

Some resiliency linkage:
Books: Expecting Adam by Martha Beck (great book), The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion (haven't read this one, but I've heard good things), The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo (love this one.)
Art: Sacred Resilience by Cheryl Tamborello, the mixed media art of Miranda Lake.
Symbol: In China, plum blossoms (that survive harsh cold) and bamboo (that bend in the wind without breaking) are seen as symbols of resilience.
Movie: Frida (one of my favorites. I love her art too.)

Keep on keepin on,
Leah, Creative Every Day

Saturday, March 24, 2007

shared beauty.

I thought it might be nice to begin Week 6 with a little bit of beauty.

What sorts of beauty have you savored today?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Autonomy. I'm embarrassed to say that "autonomy" is a word that I recognize, but always forget the meaning of. Why is that? Why is the word "autonomy" such a slippery little fish in my mental vocabulary? It's not even that difficult of a word and, well, having an English degree under my belt I often feel obligated to know the meaning of most words under four syllables (ha!)--and so it probably isn't very surprising that next to this week's chapter heading I wrote a note to myself in the margin saying: "Look up this word!"

Just in case there's anyone else out there sharing a similar mental glitch over the word "autonomy," I thought I would share this little bit o' knowledge:

au·ton·o·my {noun}

1.independence or freedom, as of the will or one's actions: the autonomy of the individual.
2.the condition of being autonomous; self-government, or the right of self-government; independence: The rebels demanded autonomy from Spain.
3.a self-governing community.

Or my favorite definition from Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary:
  1. the quality or state of being independent, free, and self-directing
  2. independence from the organism as a whole in the capacity of a part for growth, reactivity, or responsiveness
1623, from Gk. autonomia, noun of quality from autonomos "independent, living by one's own laws," from auto- "self" (comb. form) + nomos "custom, law." Autonomous is recorded from 1800 (from

It's one thing to know the definition of autonomy--but it's another thing entirely, to understand it.

In many ways, Week 5 is about finding our "true north." What are we grateful for? What do we love most? Julia writes that "freedom is disorienting" and that "so much of being sane and happy begins with the doing of things that are sane and happy" (133). Knowing what we are grateful for is what helps us keep our lives in perspective. Knowing what we love, and seeking those things out, can often be the antidote to an otherwise fuglie day. Doing this week's Divining Rods, I have begun to notice that gratitude and love are often made up of the same things and that getting out of the crumb-dumbs often requires little more than partaking in a loving action towards one's self. Why is that sometimes so hard to remember?

For me, going back to the basics means putting on comfortable clothes, taking my wolfie for a walk, and then sitting down with a good cup of coffee and getting to work. But it also means giving my fears a rest and offering myself a chance to just breath (this is the part I am still working on). I feel best when I am writing or creating something that, in some way, authenticates my true and autonomous Self. However, sitting down to write or taking time to paint is only part of it. My whole day (my entire existence) is made up of small actions--each leading up to the next.

One small action that I've started to take towards a more autonomous Self is stopping to do nothing. This is a very hard thing for me to do, but it is something that is having a profoundly positive impact on my attitude and perspective. Every day I walk out in the woods with my dog. It has become a habit. But, recently, I have started to include the habit of stopping to sit on a bench, a bridge, a log, a swing set...and do nothing but quietly observe and breathe. My dog doesn't know what to make of this non-action, but eventually she settles in next to me and we content ourselves with watching the antics of a squirrel or the passing of a cloud. Sometimes I sit there for 10 minutes, sometimes only for 1 or 2 or 3. But, for me, the length of time doesn't matter so much as the act of doing nothing--even if only for a moment.

In Week 5, Julia Cameron includes a quote by The Talmud:
"We do not see things as they are. We see them as we are."

For some reason, these words speak deeply to me. In the end, how I experience the world is largely up to me. In "Focusing on the Positive," Cameron writes that, for her, God lives in the tapping of her typewriter keys or in stacks of snowy white paper or cleaning supplies or the joyous leaps of a young dog. She writes, "God lives in the details, the concrete, the knowable facts of your life" (130). If "God" is a difficult word for you, consider substituting with whatever word does work for you. My point is that uncovering a sense of autonomy means to find ways of locating a sense of independence, enjoying a heightened level of artistic freedom, and benefiting from self-directed growth. I think it's safe to say that becoming autonomous is a process.

As Mahatma Gandhi once said:
"Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony."

Things I've been thinking about this week:
  • What brings you peace?
  • Where does God live for you?
  • What do you love?
  • What are you grateful for?
  • How do you escape the dull-drum fuglies?
  • What part of your life and yourSelf could use a little more compassion?
  • Where does your "true North" point to?

What is your definition of autonomy?

Feel free to share your thoughts.

Peace and happiness to you on this (yes, for real!) SPRING day,

Friday, March 16, 2007

Week 4 Into Week 5

Wow, week 4 really flew by for me. So, what have we all been up to? Well, we have been:
Stretching, Getting excellent Self-Care, Finding Joy, Remembering our own Value, Reveling in Excitement, Noticing the details, Finding beauty, Recognizing our accomplishments, Encouraging ourselves, Naming our critics, and so much more. I'm really thrilled to be part of such an amazing group. You are all such brave, talented, fascinating, creative souls (and yes, that means you!) So, my deepest gratitude for all you've shared, the support you've doled out, the risks and baby steps you've taken. Remember to celebrate what you have done instead of beating yourself up for what you didn't!

This week we worked on a sense of balance. I did find a bit more balance in my life this week as I've been incorporating some art into each day and I also managed to do some walking and some yoga. Once again, this week's theme, Uncovering a Sense of Autonomy, seems to have such serendipitous timing. It just so happens that Wednesday is my last day at a job I've been at for 6 years. I'm about to undergo a major career shift, one that requires a lot of self-discipline and self-direction (something that doesn't come easy to me.) There are things that make it easier, such as knowing what works for me and what doesn't. Learning what works for us and doesn't is so important. For me, that takes some time to figure out, so I want to pass on a couple of things I've learned doing Cameron's books, in the hopes that it will help you find what works best for you. I've tried it both ways, reading the chapter over the course of the week and reading the whole thing the first day and I've found that it's better for me to finish the chapter early, so that I can process the information and work with it throughout the week. If I don't have time to read the new chapter during the weekend, then I at least like to read the divining rods. Some of them take a little planning, so it's good to know what they are ahead of time.

Doing this work in such a big group, it can be hard to keep up with what everyone else is up to. After the first week or so, I decided to make a bloglines folder for all the Finding Water blogs. This way I knew when people had updated and I wasn't wasting my time, clicking on all the blogs when maybe only a couple had a new post. (I heart bloglines.) It takes some time to set up, but once that's done it makes life much easier. While I'm speaking about the blogroll, Jessie and I have removed a few people who have said they can not continue with the book for various reasons and some who it seemed were not participating. If we have taken your blog off and you are still participating, please say so and we'll add you back immediately! Or if you are on the list and know you are not continuing with the group, feel free to comment or email and we'll take you off the list. I figure it's easier to remove links of blogs who aren't doing the book, so there will be fewer blogs to check in on! I'm not upset if people are not continuing on with the group, I believe Jessie said that this was to be expected in her initial post. This book won't be for everyone and for some the timing will be all wrong. That's ok. For those of us that are getting something out of it and are struggling a bit, hang in there, keep trying, don't give up. You will get out of this process what you put into it, whether that's a little or a lot, it's all good. I've enjoyed seeing the connections made, making new connections, and being inspired by all of you.

I think this process, particularly the artist's dates and morning pages are about building self-integrity. You are committing to treating yourself as the beautiful, creative soul you are and from that space, it's so much easier to bloom. It's snowing here in Massachusetts, big wet flakes, but my art is all about spring this week. I think it has to do with the growth I'm feeling under the surface of my own skin and all around me, in you. Remember to take especially good care of yourself!

Creative Every Day

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

finding balance...and a few side-notes

Whew! First of all I want to apologize for my absence from the Finding Water blogosphere. Where has time run off to? Lately, I've been playing a game of catch-up in my personal life and, in the process, seemed to have accrued a growing dose of guilt for not touching base with all of you.

Luckily, Week 4 is about "Uncovering a Sense of Balance." I can't help but agree (whole-heartedly!) with Leah that this week's focus on faith, simplicity, and forward movement comes with perfect timing. Sometimes I find myself wondering if Julia Cameron is reading my mind, or if we're just that predictable! I don't know and I don't care--because, either way, I'm left feeling a little bit amazed!

I also want to take this opportunity to say thank you to all of you for participating in Finding Water. We have grown into a very large and very wonderful group! I feel a powerful sense of support radiating out of this community of creative thinkers and, even though I've yet to figure out a way to keep up with everyone on a regular basis, I am so incredibly grateful for all of you!

An image that struck a chord with me from this week's reading was one of a fruit tree. Julia Cameron writes:

We are creations and we are intended, in turn, to be creative ourselves. Like the fruit trees, we are intended to blossom. The trees put forth their froth whether there will be admiring eyes or not. So, too, we are intended to flower in our art even if our art does not meet with a welcoming reception. We must make art for the sheer sake of making art. That is being true to our nature. That is being true to our path. (107)
I like to think of us as a forest of fruit trees. I like to imagine all of our roots and our branches overlapping, gently touching as we grow higher into the sky and deeper into the earth. In this way we become a network of growth and inspiration for one another. We are each connected to the next, simply by being true to our own inherent nature.

And so, thank you for that. From my heart, thank you.

* * *

A note on adding new Finding Water participants:

Now that we have entered Week 4, we will no longer be adding new participants to the blogroll. Why? Well, mostly because we feel that by beginning this late in the game it would be too hard for new individuals to catch up with the rest of the group. Anyway, rushing through it is only doing a disservice to yourself. There is something to be said for experiencing all 12 weeks of Finding Water in their entirety. Each week's experiences build upon the next--and between the readings, morning pages, artist's dates, walks, and unexpected synchronicity, you just never know what you might discover!

If you have just now stumbled upon this community of bloggers and hope to embark on the Finding Water journey, by all means, we invite you to do so! We won't be adding more participants to the blogroll, but if helps you to read posts here, visit other Finding Water blogs, or begin blogging your own experience, you are more than welcome to do so! You might be surprised by how much it helps to read about the experiences of others--even if that means digging through a few archives of fellow Finding Water participants. We are a community of creative thinkers who are blogging The Art of Perseverance; we're a circle of support, but our circle is not closed. Although we won't be adding any more people to the blogroll, please, feel free to stop by for inspiration any time.

If you've left a comment prior to this post then, yes, you should have been added. However, if anyone has already asked to be added to the list and you don't see your name, PLEASE let me know and I will add you! I've been doing my best to keep it all organized but I'm afraid that, with this many people, I'm bound to have missed someone!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Encouragement for the Road

Peering around the nooks and crannies of the Finding Water group this week, I noticed that some of us are struggling a little bit. Me too! This is actually quite normal. If you're like me, you start up a project all gung-ho and then a little time passes and it's not new anymore and it takes some extra motivation to do the work. Here's the thing, it's easy to give up. But here in this uneasy space is where you build your self-trust by following through with the commitment you made to yourself at the beginning of this journey. It's fine to fall, we all do from time to time, but we can get up and we feel better when we do. It's worth it. If you feel guilty over what you haven't done, let that go and give yourself credit for what you have done and then get back to it. I know beating myself up can sometimes freeze me in place. There's no need for that. We're all human beings here, perfectly imperfect beings. I'm sending loads of love out to each of you. I've been so inspired by the creative souls in this group. Be sure to keep checkin' in on your fellow FW-ers. I bet you will be inspired by the stories you read.

This week's "Uncovering a Sense of Balance" feels perfectly timed as I'm feeling the need for some balance along with a greater sense of the big picture. It's easy for me to get caught up in the details of the big changes happening in my life. I want to take a big step back and take it one day at a time. As Julia Cameron says, "Easy does it." Part of this finding balance piece for me will be to infuse more art-making into my everyday. I know that the mood I'm in doesn't matter, but I've been letting it. This daily art doesn't always have to be something "finished", something to post, or even something good, just something where I'm moving my hand across the blank paper/canvas. Just a half hour per day. I'm taking that "Diving Rod" on page 85 to heart. I am willing to make art in the time that I have. Even though I haven't finished this full time job, there's no need to wait. So, even though I felt like I had a rough week, this is a big step for me. Thinking about this gives me a better feeling about my week. Perhaps, if you look back, you will see the steps (even if they are baby steps) you have taken. Don't discount them! Celebrate what you did accomplish instead of stressing over what you didn't.

You are doing beautifully, we all are, in our own perfectly imperfect way.

-Leah (Creative Every Day)

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Week 3: Believing Mirrors

I wasn't too excited about the title of this chapter, "Uncovering a Sense of Support," when I saw it a couple weeks ago. I am a bit of a loner. I've never thought to blame it on my artistic sensibilities, I'm simply on the introverted end of the spectrum and need a lot of quiet time in order to function well. There's that and there's the part of me that wants to "do it myself." I have always had trouble asking for help, showing my vulnerabilities, showing that I'm struggling. I came face to face with this when my depression hit an all time low about 6 years ago. The silver lining in that rock-bottom-hitting experience was that I was forced to ask for help or give up all together. I chose to ask for help. And then I wondered why I'd waited so long. The support I received from family and friends was wonderful and it lifted me up in a way that was a huge revelation. I didn't have to face life alone. Yes, it's great to be able to take care of yourself, to know that you can depend on yourself when the going gets tough. But life is so much richer with people to share it with, to share both the successes and the failures. I've worked hard since then to ask for help when I need it, it's still a bit of a struggle, but when I forget, life usually reminds me (with a kick in the ass) how important it is to reach out (and how worthwhile.)

Blogging has also showed me how vital support can be. When I was recovering from the criticisms of past teachers and dipping my toes into the waters of making art again, the support of fellow bloggers was *huge* in encouraging me to keep going. Hearing from people who weren't family or long-time friends, cheering me on, gave me the push I needed to keep going with what was coming from my heart and be unafraid if it wasn't what I thought "real art" was supposed to look like. I don't know if I would have come so far without the support I found here in the blogging world and later in my first (in person) Artist's Way group. It was with this support, I found the courage to seek out places to show my art and have my first art shows in alternative spaces about 4 years ago.

I have continued to find great support and community through other groups online and in my day-to-day life. I still have trouble reaching out, showing my vulnerabilities, asking for help, but I work at it because it's important to my well-being and it often leads to wonderful, unexpected places. Julia Cameron calls these supportive people in your life, Believing Mirrors. They reflect back to you the beautiful being that you are when you are unable to see it yourself. Through their own beauty they inspire and speak the words you were thinking, but hadn't formed yet. And you in turn, without hardly any effort, will reflect the amazing creative beings that they are. And this just multiplies in a group. I agree with Cameron when she says that "creativity occurs in clusters." And here we are, a lovely cluster of believing mirrors. Feel free to ask for support if you need it and reflect back to others the creativity that you see.

I have seen some wonderful things happening in our group this week. Exciting leaps, small steps forward, and wonderful new adventures. I love to see the risks being taken, the support that lifts up a talented person who has been doubting themself, and all the small steps that move us forward day to day and add up to something great. Keep doing the work, remember to take care of yourself (remember you agreed to take excellent care of yourself these 12 weeks!), ask for support when you need it, and send some support out. I'm sending loads of love out to all you, sparkling creative souls. Thank you for being along on this journey with me!

-Leah (Creative Every Day)