Saturday, September 14, 2013

Chapter 9: Compassion and Creative U-turns

I’m nine months into Living The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron’s, “Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self,” and I am EXHAUSTED! So I’m taking the easy approach today and just writing my blog. Sorry folks… no video this month.

Thank you to EVERYONE who has watched and posted comments on the corresponding YouTube videos since I started posting them as part of this experiment back in April. As I mentioned in last month’s video on chapter 8, this journey has been much harder than I expected. Your words of encouragement have been wind in my sails, helping me to keep moving forward when I want to give up. Which is just about every day.

So it is appropriately timed – as it is each month – that in chapter 9 Julia discusses having compassion for ourselves and offers advice for overcoming creative U-turns. That’s when we reach a certain point in the creative process and then, often as a result of fear, we turn back. I haven’t done a full U-turn yet, but I’m certainly at a cross roads.

The day after my chapter 8 video blog post last month, I got promoted at my day job. That day was my last Wednesday off, the day of the week I had dedicated to my creative pursuits. The following Monday I went from working 32 hours/week back to 40+ hours. Enter exhaustion, coupled with fear that I’m at risk of not honoring my creativity again.

I feel torn. I love my day job. Everything we do there is in complete alignment with my values. It’s why I have worked there almost 5 years, the longest I’ve ever worked anywhere.

But if I don’t make time to make art my soul will shrivel. So how do I do both? Work full-time and make art? HOW?! THAT is what I want to know Julia!

My husband Sean and I play that game, what we would do if we won the lottery. My answer is always the same. Quit my day job, travel around the world, then settle somewhere in the states, preferably near the ocean, and dedicate myself to my art and writing full-time.

So there it is. Quit my day job. But would I really do it if money was no object and I had complete financial freedom to live as I choose? I don’t know. As I mentioned above, everything about my day job is in alignment with my values. I stand behind the work we’re doing in the world and cannot imagine not working there. 

What I am having a hard time imagining is what honoring my creativity looks like. I thought this was the year I would up-level my art business. But it’s my day job that has up-leveled, while making time to make art feels like a struggle.

In addition to Living The Artist’s Way, I began reading Gabrielle Bernstein’s latest book, May Cause Miracles: A 40-Day Guidebook of Subtle Shifts for Radical Change and Unlimited Happiness. It causes miracles all right! I was just a matter of days into the book when I got promoted at work to a position I have wanted for the 4-1/2 years I have worked there.

Early into, May Cause Miracles, Gabby offers the affirmation:

I have forgiven my past,
released my future,
and shown up for the present with love and faith.
I have the affirmation written on a post-it note on my bathroom mirror. It serves as a reminder to me that every day is a miracle – an opportunity to shift my perceptions and have the courage to change. Change behaviors that no longer serve me. And change ideas about my future that no longer excite me. 
At the beginning of the Living TAW journey I thought my goal was working towards becoming a full-time working artist. But today I am realizing that my goal is simply to learn how to honor the various facets of myself while living in the present moment.
I also thought Living TAW for a year was going to help me cultivate the discipline necessary to become a successful full-time working artist. But in chapter 9, Julia says that, “…discipline is dangerous…. The discipline itself, not the creative outflow, becomes the point.”
She goes on to say, “Over any extended period of time, being an artist requires enthusiasm more than discipline. Enthusiasm is not an emotional state. It is a spiritual commitment, a loving surrender to our creative process, a loving recognition of all the creativity around us.”
Throughout this nine month journey I have allowed my spiritual practice to evolve. I am disciplined in that every day I do something to support myself spiritually, whether it’s do yoga, meditate, write my pages, or all of the above. But I’m not so rigid that I do the same thing every day. I check in with myself each morning, ask myself what I need, and respond appropriately.
It’s dawning on me that if were to approach my artistic practice the same way I approach my spiritual practice – with flexibility and patience with myself – I just may find the balance, and self-compassion, I have been searching for. And avoid a creative U-turn in the process.

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