Week 12: Forest Adventures, Phone Calls, and a Beach Apartment

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 12: Recovering a Sense of Faith

“In this final week, we acknowledge the inherently mysterious spiritual heart of creativity. We address the fact that creativity requires receptivity and profound trust-capacities we have developed through out work in this course. We set our creative aims and take a special look at last-minute sabotage. We renew our commitment to the use of the tools.

I did it! I finished the 12-Week Artist’s Way Challenge!

This challenge has been invaluable while living in the last 3 months of ambiguity and unanswered questions. Will they create a vaccine for Covid-19? Will the country re-open? Will my kids be able to go back to school? Will I ever be able to travel again and delight in planning trips?

Twelve weeks later, and I still don’t know what’s in store for the future. However, thanks to this challenge, I’ve realized I can get through hard times and still enjoy my life without having answers to everything. The first section of this chapter—Truth—reminds us to focus on what we do know and trust our inner guides: “I know the things I know.”

I know that my family is healthy and thriving. I know that my kids can be educated virtually. I know that I can escape to my office/playroom when I need to be alone. I know that I can start a 12-week challenge and finish it. I know that I can show up every morning and do my morning pages. I know that I can wake up early and to workout and get work done. I know that I am close to finishing my book. I know that my high intensity and passion when I commit to something has a solid three-ish month lifespan, then I tend to get bored or burned out.

“Once we trigger an internal yes by affirming our truest goals and desires, the universe mirrors that yes and expands it. There is a path for each of us. When we are on our right path, we have a surefootedness. We know the next right action-although not necessarily what is just around the bend. By trusting, we learn to trust.”

I went into this 12-Week Challenge wanting to finish my YA Fantasy book and become a better writer. However, now at the end I can look back and see that those were clearly not my main goals. They were secondary wishes.

My truest goals and desires during this challenge were (I feel real basic for admitting this) to not be stuck in quarantine. I wanted to escape and “get out” when I needed relief from cabin fever and find some much needed alone time. Therefore, I can honestly say twelve weeks later I reached my true goal: having purpose, focus, direction, and the tunnel vision needed to climb my way out of all the ambiguity and anxiety, and escape.

For the first time, I submitted work to a short story contest (no, I did not win…But at least I tried and put myself out there!), I tried writing Erotica and joined a erotica literary group meet up (which was interesting and fun), I wrote 16 chapters of my YA Fantasy, I wrote new essays for a funny memoir I want to one day publish, and I wrote a never-ending, 120+ word book of morning page nonsense. I now have new author mentors (Natalie Goldberg, Dani Shapiro, and Lisa Cron to name a few), a closer relationship with my Onteejo (*smooches*) and I have a playroom that is the perfect space for my wild, playful mind to write and create.

I am more confident in my feelings, my writing, and what is most important to me. I let go of things much quicker, since I practice that daily in my Morning Pages. I get it out it in the pages, and then it’s gone. Who cares what it was or where it went? It’s garbage. If it comes up again and again, however, I know still have work to do. Maybe I have to have a conversation with someone, maybe I need to schedule an appointment, maybe I need to make some time commitment changes. Do the practice of Morning Pages has taught me how to bring all this stuff to light, making my life easier and, well…lighter.

I highly recommend this challenge to any blocked or stuck artist. Actually, even if you aren’t blocked or stuck, or even if you don’t consider yourself any sort of artist, you can still get a lot out of it. I promise! (Who doesn’t want permission to play?)

I am grateful for all I have gained from this journey, and have already started mourning the loss of it during this final week. What will I do next? How I will I structure my days if I don’t have daily tasks? Will I keep doing weekly calls with my Onteejo? Will I finish my book?

Every page of the Artist’s Way has quotes in the margins. The quotes in this last chapter were particularly inspiring:

“Adventures don’t begin until you get into the forest. That first step in an act of faith.” – Mickey Hart

“Do not fear mistakes-there are none.” – Miles Davis

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.” – Albert Einstein

In order to find a semblance of control in this chaos and some hope for the future, here’s what I’m doing—the mistakes and adventures that I’m making—now that the Artist’s Way Challenge is over:

  • Continue to do my Morning Pages (writing practice) every morning and the weekly artist dates and blog posts.
  • Finish my rough draft of my WIP
  • Help our company, SuperFriendly with its marketing by writing content, posting to social media, and creating an email newsletter
  • Continue my weekly calls with my Onteejo. Even though I hate phone calls (small talk makes me want to shoot myself), I’ve enjoyed our these past few weeks, as we have structure and purpose, and they often end up going easily over 30 minutes. We’ve both agreed to be each other’s “creative colleague” and committing to weekly check-ins as outlined in the Creativity Contract at the end of the book. I really do a ton more writing because I know I have our call coming up and want to have work to share!
  • Redo the Artist’s Way challenge in a few months. I will buy a new book to destroy again with pen, sticky notes, and highlighters, and recommit to the challenge to see what new goals and desires come up. Instead of typing the morning pages on my laptop, next time around I’d like to do them by hand and see if that makes any sort of difference. I’d also focus more on the spiritual stuff in the book, as I found that resisted it HARD these past 12 weeks, and only started to really give it any importance in the last three.
  • Rent a beach apartment. I just adventurously signed the lease! I mentioned this in my last post, but as someone who loves to travel and isn’t able to right now, it’s been rough. I started house hunting then realized I don’t want to commit to anything in this moment, so why not rent for a year? Despite the perceived waste of money, it will provide our family with a LOT. A place to “travel” to during quarantine, a change of scenery if the kids end up virtual learning (which seems likely), the ocean!, ability to see if we like renting vs. owning, trying out renting property, distraction, figuring out what is reasonable for our income, decorating!, make new friends, socializing our yorkie puppy, a weekend getaway spot, etc.

“One does not discover new lands without consent to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.” – Andre Gide