Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Possibilities! Week 5

One thing that I've really been having trouble with since I started the Artist's Way is making time for the "Artist Date." This is one of the key elements of the program and you are supposed to do it every week. Basically, it's spending a couple of hours doing something that seems fun or interesting, that might stimulate you or make you think or feel or want to get up and dance. It's supposed to be done on your own and it's supposed to have no real purpose or productive side to it. It's just playtime, exploration.

I have a To-Do list 2 pages long and thinking about trying to get all that done and still have a couple hours left to play, by myself, has not been easy.  In fact 4 weeks went by and I didn't really do it. I'd read magazines for 30 minutes and say that was my Artist Date. Or I'd count my walks, even though I have been walking and running forever and the main reason I was doing it was for the calorie burn, not to gaze at Autumn leaves. I realize this is all me choosing how to spend me time and fooling myself into thinking I can't spare a couple of hours. I procrastinate hours away. I have found time to keep up with Glee, exercise, laundry and dirty dishes, but not the Artist Date. I do have a little tiny side-list of potential artist dates, but when I would look at them, they didn't really seem that compelling. Museums I've already been to and stuff like that.

Week 5 was when I "moved" to Nashville. And in the Artist's Way, Week 5 is about Recovering The Sense of Possibility. When I went to the Nashville Scene website and looked at the Calendar listings, I recovered my sense of possibility in about 2 seconds. I'm in a city! There are all sorts of places to go and events happening! And the site has this great feature: next to each event is a little link that says "Add to iCal." I must have clicked that button 20 times putting concerts and lectures and art openings on my calendar. I won't go to all of them, but they are here. And I could do them. I might just wake up for the "Laughter Yoga Club" or get my black light out for the "Untitled Glow Show." I don't really have a black light, but I could get one. I could do anything and be anyone now!

For my first real Artist Date, I went to the Finals of the Senior Stars talent contest. This is a local Star Search type of talent show for people 65 and older. It was at the Ryman, which in an amazing place to hear any kind of music, and these guys had so much talent and energy and love for performing. I was tearing up at almost every act, I was up on my feet clapping along with the gospel numbers and on the edge of my seat hoping the baton twirler wouldn't miss a toss. It was overwhelming, not just because people were giving their all, but because they were older. Some of them in their eighties and very stooped and still able to produce a lovely alto sax sound or beat a mean rhythm on the spoons.

When the winner was announced, a couple of women sitting near me went bananas. They must have been related to Robert Shipp because they were jumping up and down and screaming and hugging each other like he had won American Idol in from of 20 million people. It was contagious and I was crying and clapping and screaming, too. I was happy for him. He had won $5000 after all. But also he was an old man, taking a chance,  doing something he loved and getting recognized for it. That's worth cheering for.

So I do have a renewed sense of possibility. Not just from the lengthy calendar listings, but also from the senior stars and the thought that it's never too late to chase your creative dreams. Good morning Nashville, here I come!

Y'all check out Robert Shipp's audition...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Week 4: No words for you

So the big activity or challenge for Week 4 of the Artist's Way is Reading Deprivation. The premise is that as blocked artists we consume other people's creations as a way to avoid our own thoughts or the scary prospect of creating something (that might fail) ourselves. So the task is to spend a week NOT reading and see what happens. Julia isn't too specific about what forms of media are to be avoided. She casually mentions avoiding magazines and newspapers and TV, but the book was written before blogs and email and social networks became such distractions. So I threw those in, too. Also, she several times suggests that you might listen to music when you aren't reading. But as a musician, I recognize that I often listen to other people's music instead of creating my own. So I decided to have musical deprivation, too.

In some ways, this was an incredibly easy week to do this task. Since I had just moved into a new apartment, there was a lot to do so I didn't have a lot of downtime to read anyway. Plus, I didn't have internet set up in the new place so that meant I had very limited access to blogs, twitter, and TV since I only watch Hulu and Netflix. So it was easy in that it didn't take much self-discipline to avoid reading. Self-discipline is hard for me. But there were several times when I'd been unpacking for hours and I sat down on the couch and reached for the latest New Yorker. No. Get up. Go tackle one more box. Go for a walk. Do something else. And by golly, I got that whole apartment unpacked. And I got myself packed up for Nashville.

That's the other thing that happened in Week 4. I packed up my car full of stuff (Not too much, though. I purged, remember?) and drove part-way to my new part-time home. And there were other people in the car and there was a wedding and a family trip to the mountains over the weekend, too. So not much time to squeeze in reading or TV even if I had wanted to. I was way too busy hiking and dancing and toasting hearing about my friends' love lives and travel adventures and job woes. I didn't have a second to miss reading at all.

Music was harder. I listened to silence in the car when I was running errands and several days while I was unpacking. But I did put on some old CDs while I  was emptying boxes. And I put on a record when a friend came over for dinner. And of course, there was lots of music at the wedding. But I think my true break-down came on Sunday afternoon when Alison and I had pretty much spent 48 straight hours together, had discussed everything we could think of, had been driving for 6 hours and NEEDED the radio on. Still, the stations faded in and out as the road winded around the mountains, so we had to talk anyway. And it didn't distract us from seeing a bald eagle swooping over the farmlands of western Virginia, so I think it was OK.

The first chance I really had to go back to consuming media was Tuesday when I had a 10 hour drive to Nashville. I probably would have gone crazy trying to drive 10 hours by myself in silence, so I was really glad I had some audiobooks and music and phone calls (on the headset!) to keep my brain alive. But I also spent some time with nothing playing, because I really see the value of being quiet with my thoughts. And when I got here and spent a day "working" with my 12 different windows open, flipping around between playing videos and checking email and Facebook and music listings, I felt like a total scatterbrain. I want to go back to that place of focus I had last week. So maybe a little bit of reading deprivation every day is in order. If you all would just stop creating such interesting things for me to read and watch and listen to, it would be a lot easier!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

This is kinda creepy. And kinda awesome.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Week 3: Nothing dramatic

I was thinking that nothing really dramatic has happened in Week 3 of the Artist's Way. I mean, no dramatic creative breakthroughs. But I did move to a new apartment, so that was a lot of life drama. And it feels good. A new start.

Also, I found myself feeling very confident in my decision-making about the move. I'm declaring things. I don't want that! This chair goes there! The plates must be on the bottom shelf and glasses on top! This feels good, too. I've been so indecisive in the past and it brings me down and wastes my time. I like feeling sure of myself about something. Even if it is just that dresses are on the left and pants on the right. I'm creating my own living space, so I should make it the way I want. Baby steps in using my own power to change things.

After 4 solid days of packing, moving and unpacking, I got cleaned up and headed to the Dream Away Lodge to play. I ate a huge pork chop and a drank a glass of wine and sat in the cozy music room and sang songs. It felt sublime. I felt like me. I like what I do.

Off to donate another box to Goodwill. Then to pack for two months in Nashville. Did I say nothing dramatic was happening?