Monday, January 30, 2006

The Artist's Way Week #4

*Week 3*


"Eliminate something superfluous from your life. Break a habit. Do something that makes you feel insecure." -Piero Ferrucci

"Stop thinking and talking about it and there is nothing you will not be able to know. -Zen Paradigm

"It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do one dare that they are difficult." -Seneca


Working with the morning pages, we begin to sort through the differences between our real feelings, which are often secret, and our official feelings, those on record for the public display. Official feeling are often indicated by the phrase (I feel okay about that (the job loss, her dating someone else, my dad's death...) Okay is a blanket word for most of us. It covers all sorts of squirmy feeling; and it frequently signals a loss. We officially feel okay, but do we?

Ah, my word is FINE.

In short, extreme emotions of any kind- the very thing that morning pages are superb for processing- are the usual triggers for avoiding the pages themselves.

Ugh. That's me. All or nothing. Extreme emotions.

Over any considerable period of time, the morning pages perform spiritual chiropractic. They realign our values. If we are to the left or the right of our personal truth, the pages will point out the need for a course adjustment. We will be awatre of our drift and correct it- if only to hush the pages up."If you want to work on your art, work on your life." That's another way of saying that in order to have self-expression, we must first have a self to express. That is the business of the morning pages.

I am sooo out of alignment right now. AND I WANT TO BE DOING THIS? Or do I? I can't get myself through the morning pages/waking up early part of this course at all. Sigh.

The process of identifying a self inevitably involves loss as well as gain. We discover our boundaries by definition separate is from our fellows. As we clarify our perceptions, we lose our misconceptions. As we eliminate ambiguity, we lose illusion as well. We arrive at clarity, and clarity creates change.

I guess I am not seeking clarity right now?

People frequently believe the creative life is grounded in fantasy. The more difficult truth is that creativity is grounded in reality, in the particular, the focused, the well-observed or specifically imagined. As we lose our vagueness about our self, our values, our life situation, we become available to the moment. It is there, in the particular, that we contact the creative self. Until we experience the freedom of solitude, we cannot connect authentically. We may be enmeshed, but we are not encountered.

Enmeshed but not encountered. Interesting. And true.

Art lies in the moment of encounter; we meet our truth and we meet ourselves; we meet ourselves and we meet our self-expression. We become original because we become something specific: an origin from which work flows. Shifts in taste and perception frequently accompany a shift in identity. One of the clearest signals that something healthy is a foot is the impulse to weed out, sort through, and discard old clothes, papers and belongings.

And I have been shifting like nobody's business! Getting rid of everything. Carpets. Old furniture. Law school books. Selling more books online. Cassette tapes, clothes. You name it. I have been purging it if possible.

There will be a change in energy patterns. Your dreams will become stronger and clearer, both by night and by day. You will find yourself remembering your nighttime dreams, and by day, daydreams will catch your attention. Fantasy, of a benign and unexpected sort, will begin to crop up. Many areas of your life that previously seemed to fit will stop fitting. Half your wardrobe might start to look funny. You may decide to reupholster a couch or just toss it out. Musical bents may alter. There may even be spontaneous bursts of singing, dancing, running.

Nothing too spontaneous yet, except the rearranging of the inspiration room and living room and my bedroom for the first time in 2 years.

What you have been doing is wiping the mirror. Each day's morning pages take a swipe at the blur you have kept between you and your real self. As your image becomes clearer, it may surprise you. You may discover very particular likes and dislikes that you had not acknowledged. A fondness for cactuses. So why do I have these pots of ivy? A dislike of brown. So why do I keep wearing that sweater if I never feel right in it?

I am somehow wiping the mirror without doing the pages.

The snowflake pattern of your soul is emerging. Each of us are unique, creative individual. But we often blur that uniqueness with sugar, alcohol, drugs, overwork, underplay, bad relations, toxic sex, underexercise, over-TV, undersleep- many and varied forms of junk food for the soul. The pages help us to see these smears on our consciousness.

Oh, the days of TOXIC SEX. I actually, really, really, really hated myself last year during that time. And received my just desserts as well.

If you feel stuck in your life or in your art, few jump starts are more effective than a week of reading deprivation...It is a paradox that by emptying our lives of distractions we are actually filling the well. Without distractions, we are once again thrust into the sensory world. With no newspaper to shield us, a train becomes a viewing gallery. With no novel to sink into (and no television to numb us out) an evening becomes a vast savannah in which furniture- and other assumptions- get rearranged. Reading deprivations casts us unto our inner silence...Our own art, our own thoughts and feelings, will being to nudge aside the sludge of blockage, to loosen it and move it upward and outward until once again our well is running freely...Reading deprivation is a very powerful tool- and a very frightening one. Even thinking about it can bring up enormous rage. For most blocked creatives, reading is an addiction. We gobble up what words of others rather than digest our own thoughts and feelings, rather than cook up something of our own.

I agree and disagree. I need to spend more time with myself writing. But I do not think that excluding everything of word will help that? I need to stop the reading of the blogs. And endless playing on internet sites. And perhaps a week without magazine tidbits here and there. But I need to know what is going on in the world with the news. I feel more energized after reading through the papers in the morning. And I feel relaxed and accomplished with myself after reading in the evening. reading a book instead of napping, or wasting time on the computer over email. Hmmmm. Of course, I haven't been doing my morning pages either...


Buried Dreams---An Exercise

List 5 hobbies that sound fun:
Horseback Riding

List 5 classes that sound fun:
Cake Decorating
Grant Writing

List 5 things you personally would never do that sound fun:
Blue Heron Festival
Sing a Solo
Morning Yoga
Run a Marathon

List 5 skills that would be fun to have:
Know how to knit/crochet
More musical
Perfect grammar
Public speaking

List 5 things that you used to enjoy doing (do not do much of anymore?)
Organizing/Planning Events

List 5 silly things you would like to try once
Karaoke solo
Trip to Antartica to see the PENGUINS
Road Trip with no destination
Run for political office
(Cannot be mentioned here! :)

Describe your ideal environment?
Town? Country? Swank? Cozy? Yikes. I like em all. I guess it depends on my mood! I love the urban city living feel...walking to the market, bookstores etc. And I also love the country. The cozy bed and breakfasts. Animals and gardens. BBQs and picnics with family/friends. I guess I am not fond of the strip mall surburby places of the world.

What's your favorite season?
Winter winter winter winter. And I have been utterly depressed because this has been the worse winter I have ever lived through in WNY! Almost as bad as when I lived in Raleigh,. NC for that one year! WHERE IS THE SNOW!

Describe yourself at 80. What did you do after 50 that you enjoyed?
At 80 I hope to be rested yet still active in the community/politics. Up with current events. Playing with my grandchildren. And traveling. I want to do traveling after I am 50. After my children are grown and I have saved up (somehow) SOME money. See the world.All four corners. SOONER than later.

Remember yourself at 8. What did you like to do? What were your favorite things?
I pretty much loved playing ANYTHING pretend. House, college, rich kids, making musicals...anything that involved me making up a different (future) life. I think I most enjoyed my lil brother and auntie Carroll and cousin Brian and my grandparents. Being outside and running around the farm all day. Taking walks in the woods. Baking bread/cookies/candies. Listening to records.

Look at your house. Is there any room that you could make into a secret, private space for yourself?
Interesting...I did this without knowing it was a task! I love love love watching it snow and rain out my big picture window in the front of the house, so I moved the legless couch into the living room and put it in front of the window so I have a cozy place to snuggle up and watch the weather. :)

Open your closet. Throw out- or hand on or donate, one low self worth outfit. Make space for the new.
I also did this without knowing. I took all the shirts that are *too tight* but I still want *someday* and put them into a box and put them on the shelf in the closet instead of seeing them hanging everyday.

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