Just shy of the half way point of the twelve week creative recovery program ‘The Artist’s Way’ by Julia Cameron, and it has been an enjoyable but sometimes frustrating ride. Week five was (literally) a walk in the park in comparison to the week four reading depravation challenge. While it was a gentle week of recovering a sense of possibility it did have some highlights that I will discuss below.
Reading Review: Week 5
This week forces you to reflect on what it is that keeps your creativity blocked and what are the positives that come from being a ‘blocked’ creative. The further you work into the readings and answer task questions the more you realise that there are few (if any) reasons to remain stuck, other than giving in to your own fear. Much of this chapter speaks about finding and trusting your ‘god’. This could be a little confronting for some, and had I not completed yoga studies a couple of years ago, my science brain would have struggled with the use of the term ‘god’ in this context. However, as a believer the laws of thermodynamics, specifically the first law that ‘that the total energy of an isolated system is constant; energy can be transformed from one form to another, but cannot be created or destroyed‘ I have felt comfortable for some time in the idea of a universal energy as ‘god’, and that this spirituality has served me well.
The section of week five readings that appealed to me most was the idea of being self destructive. In this context Cameron addresses self destruction living in a ‘virtue trap’. In a world where we are constantly trying to live up to the expectations put onto us by the media, our families and society as a whole it can be easy to appear like a well put together human on the outside while secretly imposing on this inside. The pursuit of being the perfect partner, parent, employee, friend, neighbour and social media participant can leave little time for pursuing our hearts desires. Yes, being all of the above things is a wonderful place to be, and will make you look successful but denying your true desires means that you won’t necessarily be happy despite your outward success (which really made me think back to the content of the book Thrive and our measures of success).
Task Review: Week 5
The tasks this week were designed to challenge your blockages towards being open to ‘god’s’ gifts. Rather than denying yourself the opportunity to enjoy the finer things in life due to a preconceived notions of ‘lack’, ‘poverty’ or ‘martyrdom’ cameron gets you thinking about what you really want in life be it possessions, experiences or careers. They were also designed to identify the sources of creative blockages, placing blame for people who cause you blockages and encourages you to spend the morning pages exploring the reasons you should stay blocked.
Checking in and Reflecting
This week was relatively easy in comparison to last week. The only issues I experienced revolved around my busy schedule. It was very difficult to seriously contemplate the ideas of the week when you are working around the clock. That being said, the process of working through this course has actually ‘freed’ time for me. Taking time to meditate in the morning and complete the morning pages has been starting my day off with a sense of luxury and allowing the rest of the busy day to breeze by.
I have really been enjoying my removing pages on a daily basis. Even if they are mostly a bunch of ‘junk’ words on paper it can be quite incredible the discoveries that can happen. Cameron state this week that there is a ‘page and a half truth point’ of morning pages. The point where you have synthesised the ‘junk’ and come up with a little nugget of discovery. I totally agree with this concept and have been experiencing this page and a half point on most days. Thursday morning was a tough one for me, having slept in I had to decide between morning pages and meditation. I chose morning pages. It was nice to get them done but I did feel a little off for the whole day without my morning meditation session.
Artists dates are my second favourite part of this course. The only problem I have been facing is finding the time to fit them in! This weeks artists date was squeezed in at midday today. I headed to the Blackall Ranges for a hikes and a swim under a waterfall. It has been a very long hot summer, and while it is now technically Autumn, it looks like no-one told the weather. The waterfalls provide great respite from the heat because unlike the ocean the water temperature in the mountains is colder than the air temperature. It was bliss! Unfortunately both my camera and phone battery went flat before I got to the rock pools, so there are limited photos today.
While synchronicity has been present this week I have found the biggest moments have come from me actually getting off my butt and taking action. I had the most lovely date this week with the incredibly inspiring Amanda Rootsey as a result of getting my act together and sending her an email. It was wonderful to finally get the chance to meet her (after much Instagram discussion about cups of tea together).
Reflection on Week Five
This week was definitely a less confronting week for me than the week four reading deprivation challenge. There were definitely some moments of discovery through both the morning pages activities and the weekly tasks, both of which shed some light on blockages in my own life. They were subtle discoveries but provided ‘lightbulb’ moments for me that will likely stick in the future.
My question for you this week is have you ever caught yourself being indirectly self destructive?
Sure we can all remember moments of obvious self destruction (usually involving a bottle of tequila with the little red hat on the top), but realising when you are being subtly destructive can be hard. I used to be terrible at saying no to invites and a few years back I was out every single night for nearly three months at birthdays, movie nights, BBQ’s, dinners, study dates etc. While friends thought I was awesome and super friendly, I pretty much collapsed in a heap every night. I realised that it wasn’t sustainable to be everyones best friend and since then have learn’t the power of ‘no’. It is difficult because you do loose friends and people stop inviting you places, but taking care of your wellbeing is vitally important and the true friends will stick around.
Feel free to share any thoughts, feelings or experiences on this topic in the comments section below.