Hey ya, Hi ya!
August is upon us and I have been out roaming in the “real” world. Two whole days went by when I didn’t log into my computer at all at all…. and it was rather blissful.
Today, the sun is out and I’m aiming to get some on my skin. But first…. I gotta do a bit of catch up here in blogland.
First up… a peek at my adventures during week three of The Artist Way. In Week 3, Julia looks at Anger, Synchronicity, Shame, Dealing with Criticism, Detective Work (an exercise) and Growth.
There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost. ~ Martha Graham
I received this quote TWICE in the same day from different sources. The second time it came, I marked it, and copied it out. It is encouraging … and it carries a weight too, doesn’t it?
We must use our gifts.
This is what this week was about for me in my journey through the book.
Morning Pages: 7/7
I’ve begun to do the 3 pages BEFORE I even…. get out of bed.
It’s working well.
Artist Date: Took me a while this week to settle on an artist date. I’ve been wanting to COLOUR lately. I thought… well, i should draw some nice mandalas and then colour them in. A good plan, yes?
Except that Lil Arty didn’t feel like DRAWING…. she likes to draw, but this week she really just wanted to colour and go for walks. She wanted to colour a mandala with BEES. And so I found this one….
We had a lovely afternoon on the big bed surrounded by pencil crayons, sipping mango juice, colouring and humming to our happy happy selves.
1. I intended to “hew to my morning pages and do one kind thing for myself each day (and record it in the Random Sacreds each evening.)”
I did pretty good, though I sort of forgot to record the small kindness each day, in the wash of lovely blessings that rained down upon me. My evening blessing book grows fat with loveliness.
2. I made a list of clothes I wish I had as an experiment to see if they ARRIVE…
I don’t NEED any new clothes but she set up the challenge as a “scientific” experiment and so… I have made a list. It’s secret.
3. I continued to practice Self Compassion by checking in with myself several times each day just to take a beat and honestly ask myself how I am feeling and LISTEN. I did my UTMOST to respond kindly and, when I was doing something difficult, I promised myself a break and a treat when I finished and I DID IT. Small, simple treats. 30 minutes to read, a short break down on the beach, my walk was a treat SEVERAL days.
4. From the TASK list, I chose:
Take a look at your habits:
a) List three obvious rotten habits. What is the payoff of continuing them?
b) List three subtle foes. What use do these forms of sabotage have for you?
I chose this as the “easiest” task this week. It fits in so well with Sea Change and alla that. It was interesting to take a bit of time to explore the payoffs that I get from my “negative” habits.
5. Describe five traits you like in yourself as a child.
This was the most… unattractive task for me. I wrote…
“I’m not sure why this feels so hard, except that I don’t want to spend anymore time back there. The 20 questions thing (Detective Work pg 8 see below) tossed me back there and I don’t want to fucking dwell on it any damned more.”
So…. there was that.
But I came back to it later in the week. I actually came up with the 5 things while I was on a walk and then came home and scribbled them down. I just reread them and they make me smile. YAY. Imma keep ’em secret though. Just for me.
Extra Tasks Done –
Anger is meant to be listened to.
Anger is meant to be acted upon. It is not meant to be acted out.
Sloth, apathy and despair are the enemy. Anger is not. Anger is… a very very loyal friend. It will always tell us when we have been betrayed. It will always tell us when we have betrayed ourselves.
… The universe falls in with worthy plans and most especially with festive and expansive ones…
Understand that the WHAT comes before the HOW. First you choose WHAT you would do. The HOW usually falls into place of itself.
I read this and I wrote in the margin….
But here I am. I am not working? Am I not entirely committed to finishing the novel? Are WE BOTH not WORKING? Doing our true WORK???
My chest was tight. I was thinking about… lack. Lack of money – of steady income. Lack of… productions for the Raggedy Man. Lackedy lack lack.
And then… I kept writing…
Yes. You are doing the work.
And you have been given the means to survive for all these years. You have shelter, you have food, and you have all this beauty. Something always comes—enough comes. Enough to get by on. And for this novel specifically, you have been gifted/honoured/blessed with 2 years to work. To dedicate yourself to the work. What more SUPPORT would you have? Open your eyes Pam, open your eyes. SHEESH.
I sure told myself! Heh heh.
I love this actually. It shows that even though I have made the supposedly “big leap” and dedicated myself to writing…. and despite the fact that I have been absolutely supported in this by the universe for…. lordy lordy… for YEARS… Seriously folks…YEARS! I still hold that crazy fear, that crazy belief that it is all about to come tumbling down around my ears. Any moment. It jumps out and I need to grab hold and talk myself back into seeing reality.
I am fine.
We are fine.
We are fricken AWESOME!
Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace and power in it.
Ah shame….my old companion… here we go down the bunnyhole…
Making a piece of art may feel a lot like telling a family secret……HOW DARE YOU?
Oh right. There was that.
There was my sister refusing to speak to me for 2 years after the first novel came out.
There was my hunger, my need, to be forgiven for leaving home and leaving her behind – laid bare and offered up – and there was her response. Anger. Silence.
Yes. There was that.
When people do not want to see something, they get mad at the one who shows them.
The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run. – Henry David Thoreau
Oh yeah. I get that. There is a cost—and it isn’t just time and energy and focus needed for the physical…CREATION— it is deeper.
What I also hope is that there might also be a… feeding. A nourishment that comes along with these creations. I hope, I strive, with this new piece to not only give but to begin to receive. To not only bleed all over the page, but also to… be filled up by the act of creation.
I have often experienced the pain of creation, the wrenching wracking very real physical pain. Writing Saddles in the Rain, barefoot and Mostly Happy – I was often sick to my stomach and sick in my heart, re-living things or seeing them fall onto the page and actually FEELING them for the first time there. But…. I have also been healed and made stronger by working with this material. By turning it in my hands and my heart. By turning the raw and ragged into art.
I know this… but I forget.
For the artist who endured childhood shaming – over any form of neediness, any type of expectation – shame may kick in without the aid of a shame-provoking review. If a child has ever been made to feel foolish for believing himself or herself talented, the act of actually finishing a piece of art will be fraught with internal shaming.
Many artists begin a piece of work, get well along it and then find, as they near completion, that the work seems mysteriously drained of merit. It’s no longer worth the trouble. To therapists, this surge of sudden disinterest (‘It doesn’t matter.’) is a routine coping device used to deny pain and ward off vulnerability.
Adults who grew up in dysfunctional homes learn to use this coping device very well. They call it detachment, but it is actually a numbing out. “He forgot my birthday. Oh well, no big deal.”
A lifetime of this kind of experience, in which needs for recognition are routinely dishonoured, teaches a child that putting anything out for attention is a dangerous act.
… Often we are wrongly shamed as creatives. From this shaming we learn that we are wrong to create. Once we learn this lesson, we forget it instantly. Buried under it doesn’t matter, the shame lives on, waiting to attach itself to our new efforts. The very act of attempting to make art creates shame.
How do I FORGET this shit? Duh.
And how interesting that this comes up as I head into this month of … paying attention to my expectations. Here we, once again, have some seeming conflict. Oh the tangles of life…
Needs or expectations… I see that there is work to be done on untangling the two for myself. I see that there is a danger for me in this month of “tossing my expectations in the ocean” – the danger, for people like me, is that we can head back into the ‘bad’ detachment, the numbing out of our feelings.
I don’t want to go back there. I have worked hard to get to this place where I can see and name and FEEL my feelings. Where I can welcome sadness and joy… I can greet them, as a wise friend reminded me this week. I can say, “Oh hello, Sadness, thank you for coming back.” I can thank them for what they bring to me. I can thank them and feel them and sit with them, now. I can learn from them.
That said, there are many expectations that I must let go of. Certainly. I am an adult now. I am not dependent on a parent or “big person” for my survival. I need to take of my own business. Absolutely.
But I also need to remember this deep and ancient shaming that happened in my childhood and the power that it still has over me.
I work on it… work through the layers of the spiral of healing from the violence done. And here we are again. “Hello shame. Hello.” May I be curious. May my eyes see clearly.
May I do the work on the novel and trust that it is a worthy creation. It was when I started. It still is. The nearing of the end is… scary… but my job is to keep moving forward, Keep creating, keep listening and trust that I am being led.
I didn’t realize how afraid I am of FINISHING this novel. I keep saying –“Oh Lord, I can’t wait til it is DONE and I can move on.”
But reading TAW this week, it hit me. I am bone deep afraid. Afraid it won’t be “good enough” sure. But also afraid of… not knowing what to DO with it. Do I go forth and seek a literary agent this time? Do I leap into Self Publishing? Will there be another after this? Another novel? Some stories? A play? What will I DO? Good lord, what will I do????
Keep reading and working…. I will keep working on the novel and working through TAW. That’s what.
As artists, we must learn to create our own safe environments… We do this by defusing our childhood shamings, getting them on the page, and sharing them with a trusted, non-shaming other.
We must learn that when our art reveals a secret of the human soul, those watching it may try to shame us for making it.
And oh… oh how I needed to be reminded that the antidote for shame is self-love and self-praise. And oh… how hard those still are for me to muster. But yes, I know Julia is right on the money when she says…
We simply cannot allow the first negative thinking to take hold. Taking in the first doubt is like picking up the first drink for an alcoholic. Once in our system, the doubt will take on another doubt—and another. Doubting thoughts can be stopped, but it takes vigilance to do it. “Maybe that critic was right…” and, boom, we must go into action: “You are a good artist, a brave artist, you are doing well. It is good that you did the work.”
Lordy lordy…. Thank gawd for the last sentence. I can do that one. I can say, “It is good that I did that work. It is good that I wrote Mostly Happy.” The first couple statements are tougher for me… still.
The Dealing with Criticism section is fantastic and I love all her rules of road for this. The only think I MARKED was….
Art matures spasmodically and requires ugly-duckling growth stages.
I did the Detective Work on page 84. I love those type of exercises. There is always something revealed. On a weird and interesting note… I just kept typing reVEILed there…. Hmm…. Think I need to go back and look at the work I did and see what is there?
Writing up these notes, I realized that doing the Detective Work actually threw me a bit. Isn’t it interesting that I totally forgot about that when I crafted the sentence above?
The exercise took me back, of course, to some childhood stuff. Stuff I’ve looked at before but it always comes out fresh with this type of exercise if you just let your hand whip across the page. There was some “ouch” but it was good to do.
…log ten slow miles for ever fast one…
Easy does it is actually a modus operandi. It means, “easy accomplishes it.” If you will hew to a practice of writing three pages every morning and doing one kind thing for yourself every day, you will begin to notice a slight lightness of the heart.
So good. Dovetails nicely with my newly deepened Self Compassion practice. Taking a moment, just a small moment to consciously do a small kind thing for myself each day…is flipping HUGE.
And I embrace the reminder to…
Be alert for support and encouragement from unexpected quarters.
Ahh…… Like those small miracles that surround me every day.
I can’t wait to leap into week 4. And yes, it will be a shorty week as I’ve taken advantage of the “long weekend” this week. Yoik.
This week’s strongest take away for me circles right back to the beginning of this post.
… there is only one you in all time, this expression is unique
There is so much here… in this chapter. So very very much, but for me, right now, as I move forward with the new novel, I shall take Ms Graham’s words to heart and they will strengthen me for the final push.
I create, I listen, and I am led.
~Amen (and a little woman)
Thanks for stopping by.
Wishing you a happy week ahead filled with small miracles and beauty abundant.
Go easy ~p
Kim Fahner's Blog
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Jamie writes about whatever.