Have you ever noticed someone doing something and think to yourself, that looks like something I’d love to do…I’m going to do that. Or, you’ll strike up a conversation with a stranger in line (or “on line” for those of you in New York) who’ll tell you something fascinating about her or his life and you’ll think to yourself, I’m doing that.
Once you get home, you’ll file that thought away. Or maybe you’ll write it down on a list of things you want to do, along with the other things you want to do that you’ve never gotten around to doing and you’ll file the list away somewhere.
Then one day, you stumble across that list that you filed away and you read it. Some are so old, you think, “Why the hell would I ever want to do that?” Bungee jumping? Skydiving? Hellz, no, but I had that on a list in one of my journals from years ago. Never did it.
Our I’m doing to do this one day list becomes so old that we literally outgrow it.
Coursework in Consciousness
I have attempted twice to go through the program of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. For those of you not familiar with this book, it’s been around awhile. It’s a new-agey 12-week course on steps to take to loosen up your creativity. Journaling about past experiences and other exercises, called “morning pages,” are supposed to clear your mind and your way to the creative you. Some exercises seemed childish; others would piss me off.
That’s the whole point, according to the Cameron. Challenging your comfort levels. Playing like a kid to bring wonder back. Those morning pages bring up all kinds of funky feelings. They bubble up from childhood, tracing back to that hateful teacher or kid or (fill in the blank of the person who was mean to you at some point in your life) that squashed your dreams. It can be exhausting picking through the remnants of that buried grey matter.
You begin to figure out which crook in the road set your life course spiraling in a whole different direction. It’s up to you to steer it back to what it was you wanted in the first place.
Buried Dreams Are Usually on Your List
Okay, so according to the book, we’ve all got buried dreams and now they’re so buried, we’ve got to go through some pretty tough looking at ourselves in order to dig them up. As I look over the weeks I went through these exercises, I penciled notes in the margins of the chapters, many of them angry—to myself, to the author, to someone (?)—a lot of eff this and effing that, this is stupid! as I doggedly did my “morning pages,” so vital to the experience.
I’d talk out loud to myself. Einstein did this and according to several studies, it’s very beneficial.
Back to those buried dreams. I was supposedly going to find the me I am supposed to be by identifying my blurts—those things I automatically say or think about myself. There is identifying (all the way back to grade school!) people who were and are now, “enemies of creative self-worth.” There’s affirmations to read and write and all kinds of writing, writing, thinking, writing, doing. I reached Chapter 7 and stopped. Twice.
One of the exercises is writing down your imaginary lives. What would you do if you had no obstacles? If you could do anything? From thumbing through my journal, I wrote this for some of my missed/imaginary lives:
- Forensic Scientist (say what now?)
- Voice Over Talent
I don’t think they’re in any particular order. I was supposed to just jot down quickly what I wanted to do. There were artist’s dates – things one had to do each week to inspire and release that creative spark.
I drew this and wrote on the next page: MerMe. Why?
The Wish List
Cameron believes that the best way to “evade our Censor” (that bad voice wired in your head) is to speed write. The reader is asked to be frivolous and just go for it. Here are a few of my wishes:
- I could be a best-selling author
- Go to Italy
- Take acting classes
- Get an agent
- Finish my book
- Have five dogs, goats and make goat products and live in a small ranch house with hubby and current pups
- Write a screen play
- Be editor of my own magazine
- Be a guest speaker (I’m terrified of public speaking)
Looking over those written pages of revealing myself, I realize that I am, as we all are, a work in progress. Those things on my wish list aren’t insurmountable, maybe some even doable. But, until I’m ready to take the plunge to DO THEM, I’ll keep hearing that big CENSOR voice in my head:
Who do you think you are?
ME, evolving and and staying the same in some aspects, all the time.
Now, first on my list:
- Finish the Artist’s Way and get on with it already.
Have you read The Artist’s Way? Did you finish? What are your imaginary lives? Your wishes? Be frivolous my friends and GO. ALL. OUT.
I faithfully did the morning pages until I came to the realization that a lot of the stuff that came up is best forgotten. They did not help my creativity at all. I read all of Cameron’s books–I did some of the writing; a lot of it inspired me–I did with her what I do with cookbooks–I took a little of this, a little of that, and some of the rest of it I expected to help my creative self by osmosis. I love Cameron; I hate morning pages!
Maybe where that’s where the anger came from. Some of the exercises did help though which is why I keep going back to it I suppose. I am determined to finish because I think it’s the not finishing that also angers me. :). I had no idea she wrote cookbooks! Some of the morning pages seemed repetitive but maybe that’s not accidental. We get better by doing something over and over, don’t we? As always, thanks for your insight, Lou. >
I live life as if my imaginary self exists. My imaginary self is creative, successful, and wise. My real self is creative.
I think your real self is ALL those things, my friend. 😉
B! You are an artiste! Love the Mer You! Right now my real self is calling the Humane Society to become a kitten foster parent 🙂 xoxox
Wow-wow-wee-woo! Maggie, my girl so good to see you! Hope things are fantastic in your neck of the country. And thank you and my Mer Me thanks you. Your real self is doing some awesomeness there, my friend. Thanks for stopping in. xoxox.
I like the journey, Brigitte. The destinations are many. I wouldn’t have skipped any of them and I’m looking forward to those yet to reach…whatever they are! 😉 xoM
You’re right but I think it’s okay to dream—one of those journey-like things we do along the way. ;). Thanks, M. >
Several years ago, my sister, who is a self-help enthusiast, gave me a copy of The Artist’s Way. I don’t think I got much beyond page 2. It bored the hell out of me. It didn’t make it from my old apartment to my new one. But, I hope it takes you to someplace you need to go, Brig. My problem has never been lack of inspiration and once I set out to do something, I’m pretty good at staying focused. My bigger problem in the last year has been lack of time due to the need to make a living while continuing to renovate my place and indulging my #1 addiction with Milton: seeing tons of films and plays.
That’s funny. I probably was like your sister. At one time in my life, I was a self-help guru myself. Ha! Some of it was boring I think, but I like the process of study (I was one of those weirdos that loved and love school and taking classes) so the ritual of doing something—writing, studying—that kind of thing was of help to me I suppose during stressful times in my life. And, you may be right, now that things have settled down, I may be more open to it. I focus like a madwoman when it’s something I want to do. I think, as the saying goes, we make time for those things we really want to do.
Renovating your new digs and feeding your cultural addiction sounds like a pretty great pastime to me. Thanks V.
Forensic Scientist? Thats an interesting curveball on that list. ( in that list for you Southerners)
I think you could do everything on your wish list. ( that goat is totally smiling)
Many points to ponder. Im not sure who or what or what wishes ….
Have a good Thursday 🙂
Maybe I watched too many SUV episodes, who knows? Not sure what being Southern has to do with anything — ? Are Southern people not forensic scientists? I think there are probably a few.
And thank you, A—you may be right about that list, besides the forensic scientist. Patricia Cornwell, a Southerner if you count Virginia as Southern (not sure what people up North count as Southern) began as a secretary at a forensic pathology office/lab then became a ME and forensic scientist, then a world famous author, so I guess anything’s possible. :).
This was all in fun. Was hoping the smiling goat in the intro would set the tone for fun kind of wishes…maybe I lead with a smiling bear next time. :).
Thanks, my friend and you have a great Thursday too.
I was making a play on your words– in line on line
Ohh! Sorry, I didn’t make the connection. I seriously need to pay attention more. ;). >
Nooo. I was being dumb 🤔🤔🤔
That on line thing was drilled into my head when I took a writing class in the city—about New Yorkers being the only people that said they stood “on line” instead of everyone else in the country says “I stood in line.”
Great post, Brigitte! I’m digging your list. Lists work, I do believe. I’m a list-maker. On a portable chalkboard and in my notebook. In fact, I never leave the house without my book and pen. I update the little and big steps on a daily basis. I think it’s working. “Bye Bye Censor Voice,” I say out loud throughout the day. I also love your “Queen Brigitte” pillow!
Why thank you Queen Theadora. ;).
And that pillow, a very dear friend gave it to me years ago. It means a lot to me. I love lists myself and I do believe they work too. I have a huge blackboard in my home office. I like to write things down and it feels good to check them off. That action in itself is motivating, at least to me. That Censor Voice—yeah, I’m not as kind as you. I tell it to SHUT UP when I need to. :).
Thanks as always for your lovely perspective and for stopping in.
I am sitting here and smiling, Bridgette, and remembering one of my most enjoyable writing experiences. I was spending a month in the little village of Mulege in Baja, California on the Gulf of California. My chore was to make it through Cameron’s book, which I did. It was during the spring of 2000 and I still have my notes. It was the beginning of my daily journal, which I have maintained ever since. Thanks for the memory. –Curt
I should have known that you would be familiar with this book and that you would actually finish it! I have five more chapters, but I think once you stop you have to begin all over again. I guess you get “there” when you get there, right? And you’re welcome for the memory, Curt. Sitting in a little village in that gorgeous part of the country most likely kickstarted a beautiful kind of catharsis since that seems to be part of the experience. Thanks, Curt. :).
Very nice mer-you. I like your list, other than actor. Perhaps I’ll borrow it for awhile. 🙂 Right now I’m just doing my best to be a good husband and dad. The next big work of written art will have to wait for a few months…
Well hello there. Long time no see here. Good to know you’re doing well and hope you and yours continue to do so, Bro Jo. Thanks for checking in!
Hello my long lost Brigette!!! Your word are always lovely and thought provoking!! I’ve read the Artist’s Way–I’ve done the morning pages for a long time, but I’ve fallen off the wagon recently. I’m excited to read your post about having finished it!! See you soon:)♥
Lisa! I left you a comment on your blog the very first time you published again–the one about your Christmas tree and it did not show up. So wonderful to see you again and I hope you and yours are great. We all need to get back to our blogging community, don’t we? xoxo