Even though the event mentioned in this article has passed, I’m very happy to be part of the team supporting the Women At Risk Program, so I thought I’d share what I wrote about them. I also recommend emulating the model for the fundraising event described here in your community, wherever you are.
Last fall I responded to a call one of my neighbors put on FaceBook and joined a group to work through Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. I bought this book years ago and read through the first few chapters, doing some of the exercises. If you are not familiar with Cameron’s book, each chapter discusses recovering a particular aspect of creativity (from a sense of safety in chapter one to a sense of faith in the final chapter). Cameron includes tasks to complete and throughout the process, she invites readers to maintain two ongoing disciplines (insists on it, really): daily morning pages and weekly artist dates.
In the morning pages we write to clear the brain and open the channels. Not only are these mental downloads not intended to be read by anyone else, but for the first two months we don’t even look back over our own writing. The writing can be as inane as needed, reflecting our own crazy monkey minds, flitting from list-making to grudges to boredom and maybe to an occasional creative insight.
The other cornerstone of the work, taking oneself on a weekly artist date, sets the stage for child-like imaginative play to come back into our lives. Going out alone for at least one hour to do something silly, fun, or inspiring reminds us that creativity flourishes in a nurturing environment.
I began these disciplines back when I read the book on my own, but by chapter 4 or 5, my commitment waned. Then, about five years ago I saw a one-day workshop with Cameron and eagerly signed up. Maybe if I saw her in person I’d get back in the swing. Loved the workshop. Not so much on the commitment.
So here came another chance, another invitation. Join a group of wonderful, like-minded folks and try again. What a blessing! It took a few weeks before the characters of our group settled in (two left, one joined), but in the end we had five women exploring five different artistic paths: piano, painting, landscape design, writing and a course of study in a new career in ritual. Each week we met and checked in. Had we done the pages, taken ourselves on a date, delved into her recovery tasks?
Last night we met to finish the last chapter. But none of us are quite ready to be finished. We loved the accountability, the community and the support we experienced in doing this together. Several of us decided to go back to chapter one and start over. Since we started months ago, life changes make the weekly meetings no longer realistic for us, but we know we need to find a new structure to touch base and keep this good work going.
What about you? How do you keep the creative juices flowing? Where do you find support? Do you need more community around you to nurture your inner artist? I’d love to hear what works.