Still Going Strong

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I cannot believe I have made it to the 8 week mark!  While I still continue on the highs and lows, the most current lesson is the one which made the biggest crack in the armor.  Specifically Julia Cameron’s writings in regards to three topics:  Perfectionism, Jealousy, and Risk

As stated in the book, “Perfectionism is a refusal to let yourself move ahead.  It’s a loop – an obsessive, debilitating closed system that causes you to get stuck in the details…Instead of creating freely and allowing errors to reveal themselves…we often get mired in getting the details right.”

Being a perfectionist runs in the family.  I grew up believing no matter what you do, it can always be improved upon.  The details kill me.  Obsessed is an understatement, if it ever can be.  What happens then when we allow ourselves to get caught up?  Our creativity never has a chance to appear.  It’s crushed from the get go, suffocated by the very person desperately trying to give it life.  In being a perfectionist, every task taken on suffers the ridiculous notion that errors are not acceptable.  There is no warm up period allowed, instead there is an expectation of instant perfection.  Then enters the criticism, which kills the creative process, which creates so much frustration that we give up, and nothing is accomplished.  If we were to allow room for error, maybe say yeah, this is good enough, a whole new world of acceptance can trickle in and make room for growth.

Herein lies the Risk factor!  On the topic of risk, Julia asks a great question.  What would I do if I didn’t have to do it perfectly?  Her answer… A great deal more than I am.  As blocked artists, we are too caught up the assurance of success.  When do we really allow ourselves to be bad at something?  When I first started yoga, I felt ridiculous in class.  I was intimidated by some of the other students who were doing rather advanced poses.  There was a false sense of “all eyes on me,” so I was rather shy on my mat, but I still went to class.  Today, I still make mistakes, I still have bad days, I still fall over and out of my poses.  What’s changing is my take on the risk. I’m no longer playing it safe when I practice.  One stand out point Julia wrote is that, “safety is a very expensive illusion.”

What I didn’t notice was that I was taking my beginning point and comparing it to someone else’s masterpiece.  I didn’t think to wonder what their beginning point must have looked like.  Probably very similar to mine, maybe even worse!  These masters of yoga, that I turn to for guidance, have been practicing for 20+ years.  How can I possibly compare myself to them?  Why would I want to?  I am my own creative artist, on my own creative path.

Safety leads us to jealousy, even if we are not willing to open our eyes to it.  This past week I created a jealousy map.  It consisted of three columns, one being the who, another being the why, and a last being the action antidote.  I found this super informative and eye opening.  Especially the action antidote, specifically due to how simple solutions are.  Jealousy is simply fear.  The inability to take the risk and the exact thing that strips us of our will to act.  Yet it is in the action alone which leads us to our freedom.  After doing my own jealousy map, I realized there were no reasons for my jealousy and the way out is to take action.  Do I want a deeper practice, absolutely!  What’s the solution?  Simple, get on the mat every day, no matter how awful I think I’m doing, and I too will get there.  Nothing happens overnight.  Everything begins with a small step, followed by many more small steps.  All we need is to be willing, and keep in mind that there is plenty of room on this earth for more than one of us to do the same thing.  Our personal creativity is what makes our approach appealing to like minded people.  What works for me will not work for you.  So drop the jealousy and step into your own creative force towards doing that thing you might be dying to do.  It doesn’t matter if someone is better at it than you, they’ve probably failed more times than they’d be willing to admit.  All success is, is being open to trying the same thing a hundred different ways until one of them works!

I think I’d like to spend a little extra time on this chapter.  It’s absolutely helping me release many of my fears around my practice, as well as my fears on risk with my new side gig.  There is such a release involved when you can create a space for imperfection.  It’s almost as if I can see my growth potential more clearly when I take the pressure off of myself.  Plus it makes things much more FUN!

Take care my wonderful yogis.  Have a wonderful week and I’ll be back again soon.  As always…so much love and gratitude for all of you!!!

 

 

Week 4 Check-In!

We are always doing something, talking, reading, listening to the radio, planning what’s next.  The mind is kept naggingly busy on some easy, unimportant external thing all day. – Brenda Ueland

I have two words for you to describe this last week of my creativity training…READING DEPRIVATION!  This was the restriction for the week.  No reading.  None, nada, zilch.  No television watching, no mindless listening of music.  I even added in my own no social media restriction figuring this would have been included at the time she wrote her course.

According to Julie Cameron, “Reading deprivation casts us into our inner silence, a space some of us begin to immediately fill with new words – long, gossipy conversations, television bingeing, the radio as a constant chatty companion.  We often cannot hear our own inner voice, the voice of our artists inspiration, above the static…”

I did not expect the resistance I encountered during this exercise.  By the end of day one I found my entire home clean and I was bored with myself.  With all the options out in the world, I couldn’t think of much to do besides my normal routine.  How. Fricken. Sad.

I sat there on Tuesday, staring out the window, noticing how shabby our backyard looks.  I got up and busted out the lawn mower.  Spent the morning weeding then had the brilliant idea to move indoors with my boredom and decided I wanted to paint my bedroom.  WTF?  Where did this come from?  It isn’t a large master bedroom, but it isn’t a 10×10 space either!  I told myself the next day I was going to tackle this project which I’ve wanted to do since we moved in.  Total excitement was rushing inside.  I was stoked!

Wednesday has now arrived, I’m writing my morning pages and WHAM…ego shows up to the party.  Anger starts to creep in, resentment follows, then a complete take over of old issues arrises.  All of these ridiculous questions pop into my head.  Why hasn’t this already been done?  We’ve lived here for over 10 years and this is just happening now? Why can’t anyone in this house get shit done other than me?  (here comes the victim role) My husband and I have talked about this for years, so why am I the one to have to paint the bedroom?  Whoa, whoa, whoa….Ummm what’s happening?  Took me a little bit of time, three pages of writing, and remembering a phone conversation the day prior to see what struck.  In that one moment of recognition, I took a breath and made the space necessary to stop this Censor in its tracks.

Now a whole week later I’m thrilled to say that I’m writing this blog post in my newly painted bedroom.  HA!  And it makes me seriously happy.  What’s even better is I do not miss television, social media, or long drawn out gossipy conversations in the least.  Music, yes…reading, hell yes!  That was the hardest part for me.  Not being able to read other blogs, books, emails, ACIM, and a whole bunch of other things I am itching to soak my eyeballs into.

But it worked.  In fact, this whole course is working on some level.  Do I feel more creative?  Not exactly, not yet.  Do I feel more connected?  Absolutely.  Where my creativity lies in life is still a mystery to me.  Maybe it’s in simply feeling connected, maybe it’s in yoga, maybe it’s in my new business venture with R+F, maybe it’s in being a light worker.  Or maybe, it’s still out there waiting for me to discover it.  Either way I’m ready, open, and willing to find it.  Rather excited in fact.

As I head into week 5, I’m no longer so focused on finding one specific niche for creativity.  Exploring different avenues is where the curiosity is held.  I figure as long as I keep writing these morning pages and actually make time to have a real artist date, my inner artist will pop up eventually.  Oh, and staying away from too many mindless distractions.  That was the greatest lesson from this past week.  So that’s my goal for the current week.  I’ll check back in with my progress and experiences soon.  Until then…

Much love + gratitude for you guys and God Bless you for reading!

Michelle

 

Morning Pages – 2 Week Check in

Well, it’s been two weeks of my 12 week program for The Artist’s Way and I have to say I’m diggin’ it.  It’s challenging for sure and awfully revealing.  I’ve woken up with the intention to write my morning pages every single day, and am happy to report I have been successful, woo-hoo!  Have also completed one of my check-ins for my journal and will tackle my second check-in tonight.  While I wasn’t able to get around to many of the first weeks tasks, I happily found the time to accomplish almost all of this second weeks tasks.  Surprisingly I haven’t been on one artist date, bummer I know, but I have faith.  10 more weeks left and I’m pretty positive I can find time to fit them in.

What I have experienced in these past two weeks was not what I expected.  My first week turned out to be a crazy roller coaster of emotions.  And I mean crazy at both ends of the spectrum.  Some days I was on such a high, while other days I found myself way down in the dumps.  It sucked, a lot.  I experienced so much fear pop up in every single area of exploration of my life.  Yoga, homeschooling research, a new side business gig with Rodan and Fields, and of course this blog.  That darn Censor kicked in hard and had me in its grip screaming that I will fail no matter which way I turn.  I was convinced that every avenue was closed to me.  I fell into serious worry about these darn morning pages too!  Can you believe that?  I knew what to look out for, after all, Julia Cameron tells us in the book what to expect.  Yet still, I was blind sided by such insane worry.  Come on man, it’s just stream of consciousness writing, how can you possibly get that wrong?  Didn’t matter though, it happened and I asked myself over and over again if I was doing my morning pages right. Hello ego!!!!

The second week began with a massive high, and took a turn by the end.  Not as drastic tough, more of a slight deflation.  I loved almost all of the tasks, which I found to be eye opening and highly helpful to sort out creative points in my life.  I learned that during these early stages, it’s best not to share your morning pages with anyone and to do an exercise which helps you figure out who your biggest supporters currently are.  These friends and/or family will be the best people to spend your time with.  Part of this exercise is to weed out those who will not be of great support to you as well, and to steer clear of them for awhile. I pretty much had an idea who fell into each category before I did the exercise, but turned out quite surprised at some people that popped up in the non supportive category.  Pretty interesting.

After two weeks of writing and exploring, I see myself currently in a bit of a holding pattern.  I am still questioning my creative ability.  Not even sure how I will recognize when I’ve had a creative moment, or if it’s possible for me.  I wouldn’t say I’m jumping with joy about my discovery right now, since most of the work I have done revealed negative outcomes.  Still, I am finding these challenging moments deeply helpful for my spiritual practice.  I am catching my thoughts quicker and recognizing ego at work.  Each time I have a great moment or end up on a high point, ego steps in and places serious doubt in my belief.  Only now, I’m realizing it moments after it has happened and can stop myself from spiraling into the darkness.  So thumbs up for that!!!

Wish I had more to report on after these two weeks.  I’m aware this post isn’t all that exciting, kind of parallels my last 2 weeks. Even so, I was hoping to have something awesome to speak of.  Soon enough, I can feel it!!!  I have no clue what to expect in week three, but I hope it reveals something refreshing.  God knows I could use a pick me up right about now.  I’m eager to get to writing tonight and tomorrow.  I have some good vibes swirling around currently.  Maybe this wonderful blogging world can shoot me some more good vibes during the week as I continue on this creative discovery assignment.  More to report soon and cheers to a wonderful week everyone!!! Positive thoughts & high vibes my beautiful tribe.

 

Much love and gratitude as always,

Michelle

The Artist’s Way

Julia Cameron - The Artist's Way
Julia Cameron – The Artist’s Way

A little over a year ago I was introduced to the book, The Artist’s Way, during my first yoga teacher training.  I wasn’t completely sure it would be a good fit for me.  I’ve never once in my life considered myself an artist.  I do not think myself creative or whimsical or anywhere near talented with a pen & paper, dancing, painting, drawing, singing, etc… Not until I read through the first portion of this incredible course designed by Julia Cameron, did I begin to understand what an artist is.  A huge part of my spiritual study is through ACIM ( A Course In Miracles) which tells us that our purpose in life is to, in a sense, co-create with God.  Now, without getting into a whole different topic in regards to ACIM (I’ll save that for another time) I am surprised with myself, it didn’t hit me earlier.  Afterall, I’ve read this book a few times and never made the obvious connection.  Why I do believe, I fell right into the labeler category on this one.  I assumed artists were well, artsy.  Is that even a thing? People who work with their hands, craftsmen, actors, singers, and all the other labels I listed above.

Doh, facepalm! How did I not recognize that we are ALL ARTISTS!!! Super simple right, so simple I missed it.  No matter the “profession” we pick or find ourselves in, our God given purpose is to create.  We are designed to tap into our divine essence and spread it all over the damn place.  Creation = Love and the biggest obstacle in our way is ourselves.  Inadvertently, our connection to the creative line has become cut off.  Sadly it is slowly dying by our belief in societal norms.  Time and time again we are fed an idea in which there is a societal box to fit into, and if we deviate, we’re doomed.  Success in the world ends up non attainable, followed by believing we are a big fat loser, served with a helping of complete self-doubt and some fearful I am not enough judgement. Mmmm, yummy dish, please let me dive right in.  After eating this plate of (pardon my language) shit, what follows is the endless cycle of hating ourselves.  Am I the only one who finds this sad and disturbingly jacked!!!! How warped is this mentality?  Yet we do nothing to change it.  Even worse, we continue to pass it on to future generations.  It was passed on to us, and we bought into it.  The same will happen with our children and their children and all future generations, unless we wake the heck up and start living consciously.  We have to be the change. NOW. Not tomorrow, not a week from today, NOW.

So why haven’t we bothered up to this point?  It’s simple.  FEAR.  EGO. Our Censor, as Julia calls it.  The Censor is our logic brain.  Its function is to keep us safe, on the linear path, where nothing too scary can happen.  It tells us that the fear we know is better than the fear we don’t, so why venture out.  What we need to do in order to create a change in ourselves is allow our artistic brain to thrive.  Our artistic brain is our inner child, the holistic brain, or as Julia puts it, our very own absent minded professor.  It wants to play and explore and create.  It’s the voice of a child that says “wow” when it sees something super fricken cool.  I don’t know about y’all, but I want that!

I’ve done the beginning parts of this course a few times now.  For whatever reason it trailed off.  I wasn’t committed enough, or made excuses, and I allowed ego to stand in my way.  I was completely focused on other areas of my life and it wasn’t high on my list. This year, I’d love to make an honest commitment and thrive.  I have a few other areas I’m committed to this year.  ACIM, Ashtanga practice, getting prepared to potentially homeschool, and now the morning pages.  They have helped me tremendously in the past and I believe they are going to help me now.  It’s a 12 week commitment, completely doable.  The only part which usually continues would be the morning pages and possibly the artists date.  I think I can handle that.

Alrighty, so a brief run down of the first week goes a little something like this:

  • Morning pages first thing upon waking up, allow about 30 minutes.  Write 3 pages of whatever is on your brain.
  • Pick one day to have an artists date.  This is a date for only you and your inner artist.  It’s a solo thing allowing you time to do anything your inner artist wants to do.  Something fun!
  • Weekly tasks you can spread out through the week which focus on affirmations and blurts.  Those are negative beliefs we have about ourselves.
  • A weekly check in to journal your progress

That’s the first week.  I’ll be starting this Sunday if any of you want to join in.  Hopefully I’ll last the entire 12 weeks and post my progress with everyone.  To close off here, I have to say, I highly recommend this book.  If you are searching for a way out of your funk or block or just want some answers, grab this book and get started. I added a link down below to amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=the+artists+way

So much love and gratitude xoxoxo

Michelle

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