Tonight, I had a great conversation with my cousin Doug. We talked about this, that and the other. These are my favorite kind of conversations!! At one point, we got to discussing how to find and know what it is we want to do and be… what it is that we love. I was reminded of this blog post again. I posted this almost 3 years ago and I’m finding it a good reminder. Hopefully, if you remember it from the first time, you’ll enjoy it again too.
Last night, Paul did some really good work and spent his evening writing out who he wants to be and what he wants to do. After he was done with his first draft, he read me an inspiring list of his dreams and desires. I was lifted up and inspired. But I could tell he wasn’t feeling the same. I asked him how it made him feel. He shared, with a heavy heart, he wasn’t sure what the bridge was from here to there. He didn’t know if he knew how to or could actually get there.
I totally get that. I relate to it in the marrow of my bones. As I was talking to him though, I felt that it was me being talked to. I hope it helped him a bit, because it REALLY helped me.
Here’s roughly what I heard in what I said:
Read through that description again of the life you want to live. Think about what it will feel like to be living that life. Imagine it. Not just for a minute, but really spend some time to be with it.
What does it feel like? How does it make you feel? How does it taste?
Embrace it, hold those sensations. Become familiar with the feeling and sensations you’d experience if you were living the life of your passions and dreams. Get so thoroughly acquainted with them that you would recognize them anywhere.
Now comes the bridge building part. For us, bridge building isn’t as stationary as it is when you literally construct a bridge from one side of a ravine to another. It’s a journey, where things are always changing, always evolving, and always moving. Our bridge building is happening on a spiritual, non-linear plane. Our spiritual and life landscape won’t have a set beginning ravine on one side and a set ravine on the other. At least, it won’t if we are seeking and following a path of spiritual and personal experiences and growth.
There is no real or certain way to have blueprints that you can unroll, look at, verify your materials and measurements, and then roll and tuck into your pocket for safekeeping. You won’t know exactly what you are going to have built once you are done. Not exactly.
But remember when we were talking about getting familiar with what it would feel like to be living the life we want to create and know for ourselves? Remember those sensations that we got intimately familiar with? That taste? That’s the closest thing to a blueprint we are going to have. We are on a spiritual and life path. With the declaration of our dreams and desires… with our intentions, we have put out a breadcrumb trail for ourselves. True, there will be breadcrumbs everywhere, in every direction. People have spread them all around, so thick that we can’t even see that there is a path at all. So how do we know where our path is? Where do we go? What crumbs lead to where we have set out to go?
Breathe. A deep breath. Get grounded and remember the taste of your intentions for your life. Remember the tang or the sweetness… the mildness or the rich buttery flavor… whatever your dreams and desires taste like… remember that. And then, observe first breadcrumb you find on the path ahead of you. You may look at some and instantly know – my breadcrumbs have a flaky light brown crust – not hard and dark. And you can readily dismiss it. Next crumb, it might take as little as a sniff for you to know FOR SURE… this isn’t how mine smelled. And you turn to the next. This one looks right, smells a little more familiar, but now, you have to take a taste. You might have a slew of crumbs that look right and smell right — and you might have to compare. None of them may be spot on – and if not, pick the one that is the closest. Then you proceed to the next crumbs placed before you, and then again. Follow those sensations that you memorized… the taste, smell and feel you recognize instantly as your path.
Sounds a little daunting in terms of getting that bridge built and getting from here to there, doesn’t it? But that’s only as you first start out. The breadcrumbs will thin. The paths will become more obvious. It will happen – as long as you set out. If you sit down for a time, it will take longer. That’s not always a bad thing. Sometimes we need rest. For others, there is a sense of urgency and they’ve strapped on their traveling packs and are setting out to find out. Some it will take what may be or seem like lifetimes to follow their breadcrumbs, and for others, it may take only what appears to be a day. It’s all good. It’s your journey. And, seriously, it’s all good!Leave a Comment | Permalink
I’m teaching a class called A Journey to Your Creative Heart inspired by Julia Cameron’s book, Vein of Gold. One of the practices we do is writing everyday. Julia calls them morning pages. She recommends you handwrite 3 pages of 8 1/2 x 11 lined pages each morning as soon as you get up. We have given ourselves some flexibility on this. For a variety of reasons, some of us just can’t do it that way. So, rather than miss out on the benefits all together – each of us has made tweaks to it. Rather than doing nothing at all because we can’t do it exactly as she recommends, we do it in a way that works for us and allows us to gain the benefits of the exercise where we can. A couple of us have been using this great, free website called 750 Words. (750 words is approximately how many words you would write on 3 pages of 8 1/2 x 11 paper… makes sense now, right?)
I’ve had the biggest struggle doing these. I intend to do them in the morning after I get Amira ready and to school and Paul off to work. And, with the exception of this morning and one other day, it has almost always happened between 10:30-11:30 at night (cutting it a little close, aren’t I?). Last night was even a closer cliff hanger. I literally made myself tense trying to get my 750 words before the clock struck midnight.
Now, of course, this exercise isn’t supposed to be about being dogmatic and rigid. That said, making the deadline mean something has meant the difference between my getting it done or not. So, I’ve allowed it to give me that umph. I’m using the deadline to get me to show up for this exercise until the benefits of it begin their work and have their way with me. I can already feel that because of the changes I feel and see in me, soon the deadline won’t be necessary.
Okay, that was a lot of background information on my way to sharing with you what I want to say. So, I’m tip-tapping on my keyboard this morning, working on my 750 words. While doing this, one of my biggest temptations is to get distracted. For example, I was writing about my ideas and goals for converting the things I love to do into an online business for myself. In the process, I thought of someone who is doing that very thing. I thought: “Oh hey! I should go check out her website and see how she’s doing. It’s been a while since I’ve been to her site. It’d be good research!” And my trigger-happy alt-tab thumb and ring finger were lickity-split ready to go. My fingers were already on the alt-tab keys and I, just barely, pulled them back to home row and back to my writing. What I noticed today is anytime my mind wandered, or… anytime I didn’t immediately know what to write… I wanted to alt-tab my way to another site. I found it interesting to notice that I wanted to, in almost a knee-jerk fashion, fill in any open spaces that arose in my mind. Sitting in front of my laptop, my fingers hovering over home row, I choose to wait in the space and not attempt to fill it with distraction.
As I was in that space, something simple but powerful, rose up within me.
The small victories are big!
It was a little thing by definition… but I realized what a HUGE thing it was for me to not move into distraction and stay right where I was. I could see all the small victories in the work I’ve been doing. I really got, like a bolt of truth-lightening…
THE SMALL VICTORIES ARE BIG!
So often we look for the shazam moments where everything in our life turns around for the better. We are trained to expect and hope for it. It’s the unintentional side to inspiring stories. We hear about the challenge and the triumph. We read or watch the story, collapsed together, without understanding and seeing the journey. Sometimes the shazam moments happen. For me, though, has rarely (if ever) happened that way. It has been the road of small victories…
It’s a little like this meme I saw circulating a week ago:
I’m buzzing with this sudden knowing that the small victories are big! These *are* the things that create change, BIG change! Anyone else feel the sudden urge to do a happy dance?
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Today’s discussion is going to be a relatively easy one. In it we will identify one of the tools that are available to us for digging through and out our ‘in betweens’…. and getting to the heart of our creative wells.
Julia Cameron first wrote about the idea of morning pages over 20 years ago. Most of you are probably well-acquainted with the idea of morning pages. For those of you who may not know, or need a refresher, here’s the gist:
Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. *There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages* – they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.
- Julia Cameron
The idea is for us to wake up and immediately pull out an 8 ½ x 11 single-spaced journal and write 3 pages. These 3 pages can be… are to be about anything and everything. These pages are stream-of-consciousness about whatever is flowing through your mind. You won’t share these pages with anyone. In fact, these aren’t the type of journals that you are necessarily going to want to go back and read either. They are a tool to simply create awareness and free your mind of the random chatter that flows through it at that time.
Now Julia Cameron has a few strongly held opinions about how best to do Morning Pages:
1) first thing in the morning
2) pen on paper, hand-written
3) 3 full pages long
She has sound rationale for recommending this format… and if you can accomplish your Morning Pages this way, I’d do it. However, if one or all of these don’t work for you – I’d suggest finding a format that does work for you. I think the value of sitting down to write 3 pages of uncensored, free-form thoughts, in whatever format, is more important than the exact way that you do it.
I did some online research to find benefits that people found from doing regular Morning Pages. Here are a few:
- Clarity – Your mind will feel less clouded and a lot clearer.
- Anxiety-reduction – All our less than stage-ready emotions that we want to express can be done safely in the Morning Pages. Often, once they are put on paper, they lose their power and the ability to release them becomes more natural and easy.
- Focus -You’ll find you have more focus and clear intentions about your projects and your day-to-day goals and activities.
- Less negativity, less complaining – Since you’re kvetching to your Morning Pages, you’ll discover you have less of a need to do it anywhere else.
- More Action-Oriented – As you write about things you want to get done, you’ll likely see yourself taking more action on those things. You’ll find opportunities are popping up in places you never expected. The more you talk to your Morning Pages about it, the more you’ll want to make it happen.
- Breaking of habits – This one intrigues me. By shining a mirror on habits both known and unknown, Morning Pages brings them into view. In doing this, you can learn to both have compassion for yourself and more readily see solutions and tools that you can utilize to release yourself from these habits.
- Increased conscious and subconscious problem-solving -You’ll tell your Pages about a problem you’re having one day, and a few days later (or maybe even later that same day), a solution will come up.
- Increased creativity – Your creativity will begin to flourish. You’ll have more ideas than you ever imagined.
- Clearing blocks - Many people say doing their Morning Pages facilitates a loosening and ultimate release of creative blocks they have experienced.
- Increased ideas flowing in - You’ll have so many ideas coming to you, you won’t know what to do with them all. The more you write your pages, the more your brain works on what you are up to – and it begins to generate ideas easily and readily.
So, to recap:
1) Morning Pages are a tool.
Morning Pages will center you, steady you, empower you, enlighten you. They will comfort you, console you, stimulate you, intrigue you, challenge, irritate, and activate you.”
- Julia Cameron, Vein of Gold
2) They are private – not to be read by anyone…. preferably not even reread by you for quite some time (many teachers recommend letting them sit at least a month before thumbing through them again).
3) Three pages of 8 ½ x 11 page of uncensored, free-thought/association writing about anything and everything that crosses your mind. (If you can’t write by hand, several sources I found recommended http://750words.com/ as an online tool for Morning Pages.)
4) These pages are not meant to be literature or art. Let you writing and mind flow without concern for content, structure or grammar.
This blog post, How to Start Writing Morning Pages Everyday, is a good one:
If you don’t already do them, incorporate Morning Pages into your daily routine for the rest of our class time together. Feel free to share with the rest of us, at any point, any discoveries/observations you make about the process as you experience it.Leave a Comment | Permalink
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10 week online course inspired by Julia Cameron’s The Vein of Gold – $70
A Journey to Your Creative Heart
I’m so excited to announce this course! I’ve had it in mind for several months now. And now, it’s ready and it’s going to be good! This online course is about overcoming obstacles within yourself and in your life that limit you.
When you succeed, even in small bits, you’ll find an abundance of energy and creativity waiting for you to apply it wherever you choose. It could be artistic, entrepreneurial, spiritual, or practical. Knowing how to find and use your innate creativity gives you a powerful tool that you can use to carve your life into the satisfying and beautiful work of art that you desire.
This class will be conducted online using Facebook’s groups. It will be a closed group, allowing for a safe and nurturing community environment. Together, we will explore what’s possible when we create our lives, making a series of choices, one moment at a time.
More about the course:
The course is inspired by Julia Cameron’s book The Vein of Gold. It is up to you if you want to read the book or not. It is not a requirement. Each week, I will send out the theme for that week. Every day, I will have a daily “lesson” for us to work through. It will not only discuss and cover the theme, but also provide you action items that you can practice through the week. You can be actively involved in discussions and course “homework”, or you can simply read along. (We all have different learning styles.) How much you engage and take on these topics and the practices for each week will be up to you. Keep in mind that what you put in is what you get out… although, graciously, I’ve found that what we put in is often multiplied in what we get in return. The Facebook group will be our forum for discussing the week’s theme and what we’ve found as we’ve implemented the practices. It’s for sharing what you discover and what you create (artwork, writing, a new way of acting and being in your life, a business breakthrough). It’s a place to come to for inspiration and encouragement.
Throughout the 10 week course, I will be available for some one-on-one coaching conversations via email.
The class will be February 3rd through April 6th. Open registration is today through February 3rd – after that, the class will be closed.
Send $70 to the Artwork by Janece PayPal account (firstname.lastname@example.org). Once I receive your registration, two things will happen:
1) I will send you a questionnaire regarding what you are hoping to get from the class. Please send that back to me as soon as possible, so I can have your goals in mind as I construct each week’s course.
2) I will invite you to join the Facebook group created for this course.
Please contact me with any questions at email@example.com.
I’m excited to take this class with you. While I will be facilitating – I’ve found with every class that I teach, I am the student as well. When we join together, we all learn and grow! See you February 3rd!Leave a Comment | Permalink
I’ve had three days to let it sink in that someone, a mysterious and generous benefactor, gave me a beautiful new camera. And I do mean beautiful! I’m so confused by this incredible gift. I don’t know who or why… but I am grateful. Paul hypothesized that someone wants to see the world through my eyes and I find that a terribly humbling, yet lovely idea. To my unknown friend, thank you doesn’t seem anywhere close to an adequate reply. Yet, it’s all there is to say without knowing who you are. I will do my best to make good, good use of this beautiful camera. Thank you, thank you!
Some of the first pictures I experimented with were on a hike with Amira in the dog park canyon behind our home. These two trees always strike me as two dear friends, joined at the hip, enjoying this amazing world together.
I adore having a camera again. Having it in my hands, looking through the lens at the world… it opens my eyes. When my eyes are open, so are my heart and mind. It’s one of my favorite feelings in the world!
I’m pretty practiced at keeping my eyes open in my life. Art, both the seeing and creating of, is one tool for continuing and expanding this habit. Whether it is painting, photography, written word, dance, sculpture… it’s all about what we see.
This beautiful red shouldered hawk, with his piercing and keen eyes, saw everything. I wish I had caught a photo of his splayed-wide, stunning black and white tail as he flew away. The image is clear in my mind and I wish I could share it with you.
I’m looking forward to seeing and “reseeing” my life with this beautiful camera by my side. She has been named Grace. The deepest and heartfelt gratitude to the person who saw her and believed, all the way to the bottom of their wallet, that she belonged with me.
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I search the realness, the real feeling of a subject, all the texture around it… I always want to see the third dimension of something… I want to come alive with the object.
- Andrew Wyeth
So, I’m up. Because I tend to stay up too late, being up this early is not a practice of mine. I built a fire and turned on the Christmas lights. I’m thinking now that I’ll take a quick break and make myself some tea. I was trying to decide whether I should write or paint since I have this extra hour or so before I normally start my day. I don’t paint in the living room, and since there is a fire crackling and holiday lights twinkling, it only makes sense that I sit down to write. Muta is moving in, to rest, on the little space on my lap that isn’t taken up by my computer. Tova is asleep at my feet. I hear the squeak of my neighbor’s screen door as he heads out for the morning… I’m guessing to go to fitness club and swim.
This morning all this is happening because I was woken, by a voice, around 5:20am. The voice said they were taking Grandma… somewhere. I couldn’t make out where they were taking her, despite the voice being plenty loud. On that last word, it was as though there was more than one word spoken. I couldn’t make out one word over another. I want to call her, but of course, it is far too early.
Being with Grandma, in my dreams and meditations this morning, has me present to connections. I imagine them as gossamer filaments. They are sometimes a thin as spider’s silk. At other times and places they are, ropes thicker than your arm, iridescent and powerful. They are ever-present. When I’m looking, I can see and feel them. And, if I really pay attention, I can see the difference between what the thickness and strength of what the connection could be rather than what it is. The temptation, when comparing the difference between the two, is to feel regret and shame. But no. I can see those emotions don’t change anything and paradoxically weaken those connecting filaments between me and other/another.
I’m meditating now, seeing those connections as they are to be. In doing that, I see, instead of what was a ghostly wisp… I see the unbreakable bond materialize. Strand by strand, holding steady and strong, those connections are weaving and binding. There is only love and connectedness now.Leave a Comment | Permalink