Week 11: Weird Coats and Lip Gloss

Quick Recap: I’m getting through Quarantine 2020 by doing the 12-week creativity recovery challenge in the book, The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron.

Chapter 11: Recovering a Sense of Autonomy

“This week we focus on our artistic autonomy. We examine the ongoing ways in which we must nurture and accept ourselves as artists. We explore the behaviors that can strengthen our spiritual base and, therefore, our creative power. We take a special look at the way in which success must be handled in order that we not sabotage our freedom.”

Two sections of this chapter stood out to me: Acceptance and The Zen of Sports. In the Acceptance section, Cameron talks about how different we are as artists. We don’t live conventionally, and when we try to, we sabotage ourselves, and it seeps into our lives in negative ways. She gives us permission to accept ourselves and our artist, and to just work with it instead of against it.

“I cannot allow my emotional and intellectual life to stagnate or the work will show it. My life will show it. My temperament will show it. If I don’t create, I get crabby. As an artist, I can literally die from boredom. I kill myself when I fail to nurture my artist child because I am acting like somebody else’s idea of an adult…To be an artist is to acknowledge the astonishing. It is to allow the wrong piece in a room if we like it. It is to hang on to a weird coat that makes us happy. It is to not keep trying to be something that we aren’t. If you are happier writing than not writing, painting than not painting, singing than not singing, acting than not acting, directing than not directing, for God’s sake (and I mean that literally) let yourself do it.”

I resonated with a lot of the points in the Zen of Sports section, as Cameron explains why we need to get out of our heads and into our bodies in order to enable creative recovery.

“Exercise combats this spiritually induced dysfunction… the goal is to connect to a world outside of us, to lose the obsessive self-focus of self-exploration and, simply, explore… Exercise teaches us the rewards of process… Exercise, much maligned as mindless activity among certain individuals, turns out to be thought-provoking instead.

I usually work out five days a week, but have been struggling to make it a priority in the past three. I view exercise as a way to work through tough stuff and satisfy the ever-present, obnoxious question of whether or not I’m taking care of my body. Julia challenged my view of exercise this week, and offered some reframing: “The goal [of exercise] is connect to a world outside of us, to lose obsessive self-focus of self-exploration and, simply, explore.

I’ve decided to work out three days a week, with a walk or bike ride on the rest days. (Damn it sounds easier in a sentence). I miss working out at the gym, as it was my way to get out of the house. Exercising at home is tough, though, because everything around me is distracting and seems more important. Despite that, I’m going to figure it out and do it, because who am I to argue with Buddha: “To keep the body in good health is a duty…Otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.”

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This week, I:

  • Did my Morning Pages every day
  • Did my Artist Date and made lava lip gloss with my kids
  • Rewrote chapters 13-14, and wrote chapters 15 and some of 16 of my WIP
  • Took a long walk at a nearby park, worked out twice this week, and spent time with friends.
  • When I should have been writing, I spent hours searching for a new home or for an apartment/condo and always wound up frustrated with too many options.
  • Made an actual decision (Shh! The elusive decision emerges for its barely-annual visit) to rent a beach apartment for a year. We’re checking it out this weekend, so fingers crossed it’s not Jersey Shore gross. If you’re curious, here’s why I’ve made this choice:
    • In hopes of quelling my anxious, trapped feelings during quarantine (as I doubt we’ll be traveling for a while), it’s a great, one hour drive, get-away
    • It will give us a deadline to work on making our house ready-to-sell and we won’t have to be in it if there’s construction or work being done
    • To see if we’ve romanticized the idea of apartment/condo living and if it is actually a better option for our family than owning
    • To have a safe change of scenery if the kids are doing virtual school again this fall
    • I can rent it out when we aren’t using it, and gain experience in having an investment property. I’ve always been curious. If it is profitable in any way, this could lead to a slew of different future options. 🙂

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