Chapter two of The Artist’s Way is all about restoring a sense of identity, or in the words of the author Julia Cameron: becoming mentally healthy. It sounds heavier than it is but is crucial. She first addresses how you can (re)learn to trust your creativity or, in essence, how to tackle your self-doubt. She then delves into how other people can hinder your progress for pages on end. She calls them toxic playmates or even crazymakers. Crazymakers are individuals who are creatively blocked themselves and feel uncomfortable seeing ou develop, or people who are jealous or overly perfectionistic and simply don’t want you to grow. People for whom nothing is ever good enough, who love drama, and always pretend to know and do everything. It’s clear that these types of people are not (or no longer) welcome, as they don’t consider your dreams and desires and prioritize their own needs, insecurities, and fears over yours.
In week 1 I impulsively signed up for 5 pottery classes at a nearby studio. It’s something I’ve been dreaming of for a long time, but there was always a reason not to do it. That changed this week because on Thursday morning, I attended my first class. I envisioned myself making all sorts of cute bowls and mugs, haha. I still laugh about it two weeks later. Lesson one consisted of kneading and preparing clay for 50% and frantic attempts to center a thick lump of clay on the wheel for the other 50%. It’s much more challenging than it seems. Bit by bit, I forced the clay up and down, and up and down, seeming to push it further out if alignment with each movement.
It’s clear that I didn’t choose the easiest hobby, and it’s going to be a lesson in patience for the coming weeks (months?). According to Julia Cameron, that’s perfectly fine because growing creatively means accepting that you’ll produce a lot of amateurish, bad, or simply ugly work at first. You can’t be good at something from day one, and that happens to be my biggest point of acceptance. I have ZERO patience, and everything has to be perfect right away. Sigh.
Week 2 exercises:
This week, I’m asked to reflect on a few things to determine if I’m truly in control of my time, assessing different aspects of life. Firstly, I need to look af where I mainly spend my time and wether I do that out if necessity or personal desire. I realize that in this aspect, I’ve made a lot of progress over the past few years. I hardly do anything anymore that I truly don’t want to do, and I have a nice circle of people around me who are very good at sensing (and respecting) when I don’t want to do something or even cancel at the last moment.
I also need to make a list of 20 things I enjoy doing. I immediately feel resistance. How can I come up with 20 things I enjoy doing? I start writing and indeed only get to 8. In the following days, I actively think about it, and every time I come up with something new, I add it to the list. In the end, I managed to come up with 20 things, yay:
- Going for walks
- Watching a series (currently watching Julia on HBOmax)
- Going to the market
- Going to the Bach (for a stroll and watching the sea, not sunbathing)
- Doing yoga
- Trying out new recipes
- Browsing thrift store
- Reading a book in a coffee shop
- Creating new combinations with clothes I don’t wear that often (anymore)
- Embroidery (used to enjoy it, but I wasn’t immediately good at is, so I stopped right away)
- Visiting the botanical garden (here in Valencia)
- Playing Yahtzee or Jenny; the only two games I have at home
- Getting a massage at a spa
- Visiting a museum (I rarely do it, shameful!)
- Watching the sunrise or sunset
And of course, I have to choose two things to do this week. It will be the botanical garden (where I will practice my photography skills) and reorganizing my wardrobe. So, technically that’s three things. And I consider the botanical garden as an Artist’s Date as well, so I’m hitting two birds with one stone!
The life pie
To identify areas where I still don’t feel fulfilled, I have to draw a life pie. It’s a circle consisting of six points; spirituality, exercise, play, work, friends, and romance/adventure. I must indicate how fulfilled I feel at each of these six points, and then connect the dots. A sort of a spider web is formed, indicating areas where it’s time for a change. For me, these are three areas: exercise, play and adventure (I have nothing to complain about in the romance department, but romance and adventure are probably connected for a good reason).
Time for change?
Looking at my life pie (I still find it a childish name), I the reflect on what I would like to change. Julia challenges me to write down ten things, from inconsequentially small to large, that I would like for myself. This has to be in the ‘I would like’ form…
- I would like to buy a satin pillowcase, seems so delightful to sleep on!
- I would like to pick up embroidery again (not that I have time for another hobby, but oh well…)
- I would like to take more time to meditate
- I would like to exercise more often
- I would like to read a book every month
- I would like to lose myself less in suggested content on Instagram
- I would like to launch my online shop, even though it’s not perfect yet, so I can slowly expand everything (extreme perfectionism going on here)
- I would like to be able to do nothing, without feeling the need to always do something productive. I don’t know how people do it, doing nothing. I certainly can’t.
- I would like to go away for a week or weekend more often.
- And the ultimate: I would like to start a Day Zero project because there is still so much (small and big!) that I want to do, which will never happen if I don’t write it down and actively make it a goal…
What an interesting week again, although I must admit it took me at least two weeks (plus the time I needed to finish the blog post, oh well, if I didn’t have work, hobbies, and friends, this blog would flourish, haha!)
On to week 3!
Currently working on: week 3. The blog post will follow soon! For updates, follow me on Instagram, xx Leonie.