Sunday, January 29, 2006

Checking In--The Artist's Way--Week Three, Recovering a Sense of Power

This has been a fairly consistent week with regard to the ATW. I still struggle with morning pages. My artist's date was great. I visited Miki's Paper in Berkeley; this is a store I must have passed a hundred times but it was closed, I was in a hurry, etc. The store sells beautiful paper, in notebooks, in sheets, in picture frames, in paperweights. It is as good as a trip to Japan.

Suprisingly, I didn't buy anything. I didn't need to. This is a first for me. I looked, I enjoyed, I reminsiced about my time in Japan. However, I'm well-stocked on notebooks, photo albums, paper, etc. It was just wonderful to enjoy a visual feast and think about my favorite places in the world.

I was hoping for synchronicity this week. It didn't appear in any expected form. Danny Gregory is doing a new sketch crawl in NYC; alas, I'm scheduled for travel there exactly one week late. I did a fantastic Artist's Date on Saturday (technically, Week Four), taking a haiku class at Stanford. I was simply amazed by the degree to which our instructor (Gary Gach, an established poet and teacher) saw the same things I did (or vice versa), albeit expressed a bit differently. Maybe that's sufficient.

More about the Artist's Date (Week Four) to come, including poetry to share. Here's to discovering a "Sense of integrity." And here's to a significant breakthrough: I'm comfortable writing and sharing poetry. Who knew?

Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Artist's Way, Week Three: Discovering a Sense of Power

As I work through Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way, I find myself responding less to the negative aspects of blocked creativity and more to the positive or potential aspects of unleashing creativity. I'm trying to select a quote for each week to guide my thoughts. This week, my quote is from Loius Pasteur who said "Did you ever observe to whom the accidents happen? Chance favors only the prepared mind."

Checking In--The Artist's Way, Week Two

The theme for "The Artist's Way" this week is Recovering a Sense of Identity. This week, I learned more about myself. I guess that's "mision accomplished."

First up, morning pages are a struggle. I already get up at 5:00 a.m. (ish) to get a jump on the commute and get into the office early. Trying to layer morning pages onto that is tough. When I get home, it's time to be Mom. That puts a damper on what could be "evening pages." I do have a Moleskine daily journal and that is space where I can be a bit more present . . . but it's not three pages worth. Nevertheless, morning pages are a worthy goal and I'll keep trying. Part of what may help is not just writing whatever is on my mind but working through Cameron's exercises at those times. I hope that's not at cross purposes for the morning page process.

I am beginning to embrace the affirmations Cameron suggests. At first, I was skeptical . . . period. As I read and reflect on her words, I do feel a shift in my attitudes. This feels very New-Agey to me but I'm open to it. I especially like the taking care of quantity and surrendering the quality. This speaks to being present and trying. Everything else flows from that effort.

I realize I need to be rather fierce about my time. With work, kids, husband and general life stuff, it's easy to do everything and accomplish nothing. Living with more intent is a key goal for me. Carving out space for myself is critical. I'm aware enough of my priorities to know where I have flexibility and where I have less. The answer is not in trading off family time; my family is an inspiration to me. In fact, one of my wished-for lives is to be a child again. My kids have such a wonderful exuberance and headlong enthusiasm. Good stuff to learn from. I have a long commute, about an hour each way. I listen regularly to audio books on the drive. I just need to make sure those choices are feeding my creativity and addressing those "impoverished areas" of life wherever possible.

My artist date this week was a cooking date . . . making Portugese Caldo Verde, a simple soup with potatoes, kale, and chorizo. Despite the simple approach, I tried to focus on each step, to notice the extraordinary green of the kale, the flecks of red papper in the chorizo, and the green glisten of the olive oil. The soup was magnificent and I felt wonderful cooking it.

I look forward to exploring more goals and the immediate actions that can lead to achieving them. I am enjoying the idea of imaginary lives. I very much respond to the "tiny change" philosophy. I did respond actually, submitting a photograph of a pink aster for this week's Photo Friday challenge.

On to Week Three and Recovering a Sense of Power.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Checking In--The Artist's Way, Week One

Week One of The Artist's Way has concluded. This is going to be a fast, twelve-week trip if Week One is any indication. It's going to be a challenge to not be carried along by sheer momentum but rather to engage with each moment, each day, each week.

So how did I "do" during Week One? I'd say okay, not great.

Morning pages . . . clearly not 100%. The week started strong but two sick children, followed by a sick husband, and an increasingly intense week at work left me falling short. At one level, I wanted perfection. However, I'm willing to live with less than perfection. At least I'm putting words on a page and I've never really done that before. I'll call that progress.

My Artist's Date came to me, with a large box from Photo-Eye books arriving on the doorstep. A glass of wine, silence and a host of new photography books can engage me like nothing else. What can I say but "ah . . . ." The challenge is to be inspired to go take more photographs myself; that is a worthy goal.

My five "other" lives came easily: a monk, for simplicity, focus, and being in community; a writer, for the sheer joy of expression; a professor, for the joy of disseminating knowledge and asking good questions; an artist--any medium--for the passion to pursue a vision; a chef, for the passion to experiment, create and nurture through food.

My actions following the "other lives" exercise include: challenging my business teams to confront tougher questions, challenging them to find the big idea in their work, writing wherever and whenever I can, and, of course, cooking to nurture my family and myself.

All in all, this was not a bad week, by any means. Cameron writes of "A Return to Safety." I'm not sure that this theme resonated as much with me as this coming week's theme "A Sense of Identity" will. My path has been less about what is denied and more about what is embraced. I'm looking forward to the stronger sense of identity as a creative person.

Friday, January 13, 2006

A Little Spooky

Friday the 13th. A hauntingly beautiful full moon. Weird energy. I couldn't help commenting on the strangeness in the air today.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Blogging the Artist's Way

I can't quite believe I'm actually doing this but I am. I read the intro Chapters to The Artist's Way last week and am digging into Week 1 right now. What a great way to begin the New Year.

One of the cornerstones of the program is Morning Pages, three longhand pages each and every day. So far, I'm on track. I thought "hey, three pages can't be too hard." I realize now "three pages is a long journey, with some very big silences." The good news is that I am finding my voice. Writing longhand is a different experience than writing at the keyboard. It seems to have a greater connection to my head and heart. I'll be shifting over a fountain pen tomorrow; I don't know why I started using a rollerball. As a fairly enthusiastic fountain pen collector, I have about seventy pens to choose from. There's no excuse for not having a great pen at hand.

The Morning Pages seem to be singular exercise. I'm not sure whether we go back and mine them for information or insight. Cameron recommends sticking the pages in an envelope. I have a standard notebook for the purpose.

I am excited about the Moleskine journals I have for the new year. I have the daily calendar (large size) so that I can make notes, musings and observations on the day. This will help with my goal of being more present every day. I also have a blank Moleskine (large size) for drawings, projects, lengthier thoughts and reflections. I keep reading comments from the Moleskine obsessed that these little notebooks work magic all their own. I'm looking forward to falling under their spell.

That's all for now. Dinner awaits.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Welcome, Welcome 2006!

How else to begin other than with a hearty "Happy New Year!" Of course, "Akemashite Omedeto Gozaimasu" (Happy New Year in Japanese) works just as well. The Japan connection is worthy of a different post entirely. The New Year always takes me to Japan where the holiday is revered and celebrated with singular symbolism and zest.

I've spent a wonderful week with my two children, enjoying them and seeing the world through their eyes. It really is the simple things that give great delight . . . running in the park, climbing the monkey bars, swinging high, reading books, singing, jumping everywhere, having exactly what you want for breakfast, drawing page after page of "mysterious creatures" (Thanks, Graham and Lauren).

I always feel a bit of hesitation at the beginning of the New Year. There is a little bit of anxiety for me at this time, driven by things both done and undone. However, this year I have a new attitude. It's all about being present, of experiencing the moment. The great news is that I'm finally DOING something about it--not just thinking about it.

I have registered with an internet group to blog the Artist's Way (Julia Cameron)--thanks to KatsPaws. I truly cannot wait to experience the creative energy from this undertaking and am incredibly excited; I also admit to being a little intimidated by the fact that people will actually see this blog . . . and a lot more of me. I'll post links and logos for the experience as soon as I figure out how to make my blog pages bend to my will.

I've committed to a more creative, more engaged year. Over the holiday, I read Danny Gregory's The Creative License and found his advice and encouragement incredible. I will journal and I will draw this year. You cannot read his book and not want to crack open a sketchbook and try.

I've also found a terrific website called (I'll link as soon as I figure out how . . . ). The idea is very simple . . . you chronicle what you want to do. At the same time, thousands of other people are doing the same and you can see where there is linkage and where there is not. More than numbers, I've found the process of saying "I want to do this" or "I want to go here" incredibly affirming and motivating. I drop into this space and update my list with surprising regularity. Some goals are short term, others are long term but at least they're in front of me and ready for action.

I cannot tell what the year ahead will hold. I can tell you that I will live it with greater intention. Here's to new beginnings!