Recovering a Sense of Identity ~ Week II of “The Artist’s Way” on Music Monday Care & Love

Welcome back ladies and gentlemen, how has your week been? Have you enjoyed starting your self-care and creative recovery?

For the time being, I am going to ask the questions of the so-called check-in in Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way”. It is important to look back on what has happened while doing the exercises suggested in the book and her questions help with that. These are this week’s questions:

  1. How many days this week did you do your morning pages? Seven out of seven, we always hope. How was the experience for you?
  2. Did you do your artists date this week? Yes, of course, we always hope. And yet artists dates can be remarkably difficult to allow yourself. What did you do? How did it feel?
  3. Where there any other issues this week that you consider significant for your recovery? Describe them

Source: Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way, Chapter I

Why “The Artist’s Way” on Music Monday Care & Love?

Before I do the round-up of the participant’s posts and invite you to visit them I want to go back to the question of why we use “The Artist’s Way” on Music Monday Care & Love. This question was niggling at the back of my mind the whole week. It somehow felt like I did not make the connection between self-care and artistic recovery how Julia Cameron suggests it clear.

As I said last week, to me, doing something creative is a way of self-care. You do something that makes your heart sing which in turn makes you more relaxed and then helps you to deal with life’s challenges. The questions Julia Cameron asks, about how we learned to neglect our artistic urges, to me, are the same you could ask yourself about your self-care. Her theory is that we learned negative messages about being an artist subconsciously.

We take messages like “You can’t earn with being an artist” or “Everything you do is not good enough” for granted because that is what we see and hear from the adults around us or how artists are depicted in books or films. In a way, we are “trained” to forget about what we need and want to fulfil a way of living that is dictated by society.

And to me being artistic is interchangeable with caring for yourself. Many of the exercises and questions asked in the book come down to caring for yourself and that is the reason why I think it is a good book to work with when you want to learn to care well for yourself. This book also has influenced my view of the world intensely over the years. So knowing the book will explain some things, I say and write about life and how to deal with challenges.

Maybe that was already clear from what I said last week. However, I have learned to listen to my inner voice. If something niggles, I need to follow it up. What do you think?

photo credit: theHiyL.com via rakeback4.me. Description for visually impaired readers: a low bench on the beach in front of a little sea and lots of blue sky with birds. An elephant and a sloth sitting with their backs to the reader. On the top right it says: “Taking time to do nothing often brings everything into perspective.” ~ Doe Zantamata
photo credit: theHiyL.com via rakeback4.me. Description for visually impaired readers: a low bench on the beach in front of a little sea and lots of blue sky with birds. An elephant and a sloth sitting with their backs to the reader. On the top right it says: “Taking time to do nothing often brings everything into perspective.” ~ Doe Zantamata

Fellow Self-Care explorers experiences

I was pleased to welcome JoAnna back to Music Monday Care & Love who has been occupied with sorting her parent’s house. It is wonderful to see how her journey to sort out her parent’s house has encouraged her to write a novel about her parent’s life. But she has also chosen to showcase more of her paintings. She asked a store if she could have an exhibition of her art in their premises. Good luck JoAnna you can do it!!!! Please find her self-care experience in the comments of last week’s Music Monday Care & Love post and her journey with her parent’s house and her wonderful good news on her blog.

Emilia had an eventful week. Her cat Misha wasn’t well and she had some trouble with her blog so she went private with it. I am not sure how much she wants to share publicly about it that is why I won’t go deeper into it. But ask her for permission to read her blog and you can find out. I highly recommend it. Her post Music Monday Care & Love – Enya – Paint The Sky With Stars shows how she made “the artist’s date” her own and I love that. That is what its all about in my opinion: Take suggestions and use them in the way that fit for you and help you to deal better with life.

I wasn’t very good with my journaling this week. Somehow my quest for an income in the online world has taken over a little. You might have seen the new design of this blog and the picture to the right that says “The Bee Creates”. Click on the image and it leads you to my homepage where you can find all my creative projects. They are all still work in progress but I believe I am on a good path to create an income that allows me to be independent of location. Just in case Brexit goes wrong next year and I have to leave the UK.

So to answer question one I have been journaling 7 days a week but not as long as I usually do. I got distracted fast and went on to work on my page rather than to explore what is going on. However, I used Monday morning to do all the suggested tasks in last weeks post. At first, I found it a little bit difficult because I have done them already twice before. But I did them anyway and learned a little which I choose not to share.

I did an artists date. Before I told you, that I usually play some Minecraft on the PlayStation. This week though, in honour to the new Dr Who, I started to watch the older episodes with the old doctor which I haven’t seen yet. The best husband (Jeremy Clarkson Voice) in the world is not a fantasy fan which is sad. So usually I do not watch anything in this direction when he is here. I am making an exemption with the new doctor. One has to celebrate the first female doctor!!! And it was so cool. I enjoyed myself thoroughly and it gave me some more ideas for writing too.

Anything else that I find important for my creative and self-care recovery? I am dreaming a lot. Very creative stuff: I have found more marrows in the garden, than we actually have, showed some women with children the way to a playground in Steinheim where I grew up where there never has been a playground and also seemed to have gone to a horse race. I do not approve of races neither greyhounds nor horses. So who knows what that’s supposed to mean. I will ponder that further this week.

As for the music I chose for a hymn last week: I didn’t really choose one it rather chose me. I have been listening a lot to Kaleo an Icelandic blues/rock band in the last couple of months. They have done an Icelandic song which speaks to me even though I do not understand the lyrics. There are subtitles to the video but I hardly ever read them. I just love to listen to the words and they seem to touch something in me. Something that wants to grow and create and cares. Here is the song:

copyright: Kaleo via YouTube

Recovering a Sense of Identity ~ Week II of “The Artist’s Way”

This week’s essays and exercises are supposed to lead us towards a more self-defined “me”. Julia Cameron says that we are lead to create more boundaries for ourselves which are not only important for creating but also for self-care. Our personal needs, desires and interests will announce themselves more intensely.

Going Sane

Julia Cameron describes here how the process of recovering creativity (and self-care for us) is a rather erratic process. As we develop a better understanding of what we need and want, self-doubt raises its ugly head. Whatever we achieve will be countered with thoughts like “yes you did it this week but next week you won’t” and “it’s not good enough anyway, so don’t bother”.

That is normal and the quest is to acknowledge these thoughts and then do whatever we are doing anyway. Julia Cameron suggests to work with positive affirmation as an antidote to self-doubt may it come from internal or external sources. Change the negative messages you receive into their positive opposite and repeat them to yourself as often as you can.

Poisonous Playmates

External sources of doubt might be friends or family who are stuck with their creativity and self-care. They are not ready to move forward and do what is good for them yet. They feel threatened by our changes and they seem to still get something from not being creative or not caring for themselves. Her suggestion is to avoid these people as much as we can. She also emphasises the fact that self-nurturing connects us more to the creative force and to our creativity and asks to repeat: The Great Creator has gifted us with creativity. Our gift back is our use of it. Do not let friends squander your time

Source: Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way, Chapter II

Now I personally always had a problem with this point. If its friends then its friends and I do not want to avoid them just because they do not agree with how I develop. However, experience has shown me that Julia Cameron is right. They do stop you in your tracks and set you back ages. So a gentle setting of boundaries is very important in this case. Don’t let them doubt yourself more. It goes against your needs.

Setting these boundaries actually helps those friends too. When you are through with your recovery they see that you are happier and it might encourage them to recover their creativity and their self-care too.

Crazymakers

Crazymakers are just another sort of poisonous playmates. You know those people around you who always have a drama going and if you are not there to help them solve stuff you are the worst person ever. They might be worse to deal with than still stuck friends because they work even more with guilt tripping you. No one wants to feel like a bad person because you do not help a friend or a family member in need. Julia Cameron’s theory is that if we let them get us into their drama we actually want to avoid a creative project that is rather scary for us. So the question to ask is “what creative project/what self-care do I want to avoid when I help my crazymaker.

Scepticism/secret doubt

Poisonous playmates and crazymakers are the outside barriers for us to recover our creativity and self-care. But there are inner barriers too as I mentioned above. Self-doubt is a powerful weapon against developing creativity and self-care. But there is another doubt. The doubt that there really could be a power that guides us to exactly the right courses, materials and ideas that make us happy and feel fulfilled. I quote Julia Cameron in the way they work: “Okay, so I started writing the morning pages and I seem more awake and alert in my life. So what? It’s just a coincidence… Okay, so I have started filling the well and taking my artist on a date and I do notice I am cheering up a little. So what? It’s just coincidental… Okay, so now I am beginning to notice that the more I let myself explore the possibility of there being some power for good, the more I notice lucky coincidence turning up in my life. So what? I can’t believe I am really being led. That’s just too weird…”

Source: Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way, Chapter II

She then goes on to explain that when we start taking care of us and our creativity doors open to things we are craving for. For example, the photo course you wanted to do suddenly offers a reduction so you can afford it. You suddenly find a way to do a homepage for free or you get tons of book suggestions that fit perfectly what you are working on. It often happens, that we do not take up these lucky chances because we are afraid. Woa, that goes much, much too fast. It can’t really be that because I take care of myself something outside happens. That is just not the real world. However, that is often exactly how the real world happens. It is just us who can’t believe it, and let those chances go. Julia Cameron suggests to try out openmindedness more and more and to believe in these synchronicities and go for them.

Quote: Your current safe boundaries were once unknown frontiers ~ Anonymous
Quote: Your current safe boundaries were once unknown frontiers ~ Anonymous

Attention

I love this bit in the book. Julia Cameron explains here, that paying attention to the now, is so important for a good life. She says that so often, instead of writing, gardening, painting, baking, we sit on the sofa, feel sorry for ourselves, and dream about what would be if we could write, garden, paint or bake. She then goes on to tell us the story of her grandmother. She was a very attentive woman who went through a lot of ups and downs in her life with her husband. But no matter how bad her situation was, she always found a miracle in her life and her garden: her husband’s cough gets worse but the tiger lilies under cottonwoods grow in June, the Shetland pony might drop her foal early but there is a quick lizard scooting around.

I think this chapter is the one that made me become more aware of the small wonders that are around us continuously. I become so excited seeing the rambling rose bloom, or a dragonfly sitting on the compost bin or the clouds flying by or the sunset. There is so much beauty in this world. It gives you unimaginable happiness if you allow yourself to see it, no matter what goes on in the world.

Julia Cameron puts it down like this: Survival lies in sanity, and sanity lies in paying attention. …success or failure, the truth of a life really has little to do with its quality. The quality of life is in proportion, always, to the capacity for delight. The capacity for delight is the gift of paying attention. 

Source: Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way, Chapter II

She then says that paying attention, heralds healing. I have never really understood this part of the book even though I always loved it until this year. That in a way is what I am doing since I left my job. I pay attention to the change the dog is making from a frightened rescue dog to a happy pet. How the beach changes every day. How the clouds play in the sky and I have started to keep track of them in my photographs. And I feel more healed than in a long line of therapies that I have done. I feel more myself and much more happy than ever. I still have to deal with the banks and paying off stuff and creating an income. But I more and more believe in myself, and that in fact, I am able to do what I have set out to do. It sounds so crazy but it does work.

Julia Cameron then describes the “Rules of the Road”

Rules of the artistic/self-care road

In order to be an artists/self-care explorer, I must:

  1. Show up at the page (Morning pages). Use the page to rest, to dream, to try.
  2. Fill the well by caring for my artists
  3. Set small and gentle goals and meet them.
  4. Pray for guidance, courage and humility.
  5. Remember that it is far harder and more painful to be a blocked artist than it is to do the work
  6. Be alert, always for the presence of the Great Creator leading and helping my artist
  7. Choose companions who encourage me to do the work, not just talk about doing the work or why I am not doing the work.
  8. Remember that the Great Creator loves creativity
  9. Remember that it is my job to do the work, not judge the work.
  10. Place this sign in my workplace: Great Creator, I will take care of the quantity. You take care of the quality

Source: Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way, Chapter II

Week II Tasks

Right, that is the summary of chapter two of “The Artist’s Way”. Now we get to this week’s tasks:

  1. Affirmative Reading: Every morning and evening read and concentrate on the basic principles (find them in this post). How does your attitude change? Be alert to it. Can you let go of skepticism?
  2. Where does your time go? List five major activities in your life and figure out how much of them do you want to do and how much do you feel you need to do. How much time do you give each activity? Has anyone triggered doubt in you? Take a piece of paper and draw a circle. Inside place activities you want to do and which need protection. Inside this circle also put people who support your activities. Outside put those who don’t. Add people out- and inside as appropriate. Place the paper with your morning pages. You can do this also online in a file.
  3. List twenty things you enjoy doing. Put a date beside it when the last time was you did them. It is an excellent list for activities for artists dates.
  4. From the list in no 3 take two goals and make them your goal for this week. Do them even if it is in a small way.
  5. Read your affirmations  from week one. Note which ones make you react the most. Choose three and write them down five times each day in the morning pages. This is actually an exercise I do continuously only I write them down once in my morning pages and they change depending on what I work with. Very powerful.
  6. Return to your list of imaginary lives. Add five more. Check if there are bits and pieces of that life that you can do in your life. Like I explore the area we are living in for my explorer life.
  7. Draw a life pie. Again draw a circle divide it into six pieces and label them with: spirituality, exercise, play, work, friends, adventure. Add a dot at how fulfilled you feel in these areas. The more outer the dot the more fulfilled you feel. Find some time to do more of what you feel is not present enough in your life.
  8. Write down ten tiny changes you want to make in your life. Choose anything that feels right and write: I would like to…
  9. Chose two and do them this week

I know this is a lot to take in and to do. Feel free to do whatever you can. There is no reason why you can’t do these tasks again and again or at a later point in life. This book and its lessons can be like a friend that stays with you for a long time.

photo source: quotesgram. Description for visually impaired readers: White background. Grey music note/key at the left. Black writing saying: Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything ~ Plato

Music Choice

I told you last week, that I want you to choose an encouraging song for your self-care journey. The idea is to choose another one every week. Make yourself a playlist of encouragement that helps you when things get tough. I have made one some time ago on YouTube which I first called “I am stronger than depression” but now it is called “I am done with my dying”. When things get tough, I get to it and it always encourages me. And I encourage you to find a new hymn to make you strong this week and add it to your “Encouragement Playlist”

And just to remember how to take part

SUGGESTIONS ON HOW TO TAKE PART IN MUSIC MONDAY CARE & LOVE

  1. ~ We invite you to appreciate yourself with a cup of your favourite beverage at the beginning of each week!
  2. ~Additionally Music Monday Care & Love offers exercises and ideas to increase self-care and self-love
  3. ~ We invite you to try them out and do this with music.
  4. ~ Feel free to write a blog post about your experiences and link them to the weekly Music Monday Care & Love posts.
  5. ~ But it is perfectly fine if you just explore our self-care suggestions for yourself and/or share your experiences in the comments
  6. ~ Go and visit your fellow self-care explorer’s posts & blogs and cheer them on so they can come and cheer you on too
  7. ~ I’ll share a round-up & invitation post with a self-care activity & suggestion on what sort of music to share on Monday Mornings.

NOW MY DEAR READERS,

GO, FIND A SENSE OF Identity

AND HAVE LOTS OF FUN

 

 

DISCLAIMER:

I am not a health professional. My posts describe my thoughts, my experiences and my conclusions about life, mental health and self-improvement. My described actions always go alongside therapy and do not substitute professional advice from a health professional be it a doctor, therapist or counsellor.
I invite you to try out self-care tools, however, if any of these make you feel uncomfortable please stop and do not go further ahead. Also, if any of the tools suggested bring up issues that need dealing with do not hesitate to reach out for professional help.
To recognise when you need to stop and when to reach out for professional or any other help is one important part to learn when it comes to self-care.

Please look here if you need further guidance:

UK:
Mind
NHS

USA:
MentalHealth.gov

Canada:
Government of Canada

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