Monday, November 15, 2010

Week 8: The next right thing

This week, Julia asked me to think about how I use my time. Ugh. Maybe that's why I feel like I'm in a slump. I always feel guilty and lazy about not getting enough done every day, which is overwhelming and slows me down even more. Spending a whole week contemplating time and goals and every step it's going to take to get there was not fun.

But I kept thinking about the idea she introduced of just turning away from all those big intimidating ideas and fears and simply doing "the next right thing." That is manageable. That is doable. Here I go to do it. Getting a tiny step down the road is a lot better than sitting here discouraged by how long it's going to take.

I did go on a real Artist Date this week. It was cold and crowded, but I saw Chihuly at Night at Cheekwood Gardens. So magical and it surprised and dazzled me just when I thought I'd seen it all. What more can you ask from art? Here's a daytime pic of the Blue Marlins:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What happened to Week 7?

Week 7 explores issues of Perfectionism and Jealousy. I've done some work about this before, but it is always good to have a reminder. I went to Texas and back this week and got pretty distracted and pulled by all the demands of traveling and seeing tons of friends. I kept up with my morning pages, and I'm sure all the lessons were simmering in my subconscious, but in some ways I felt like I took 4 days off from the Artist's Way and that kind of concerned me. So many people have told me that they started reading the book and stopped after Week 5 or that they've started it several times and never finished it. I don't want to be one of those people! I want to do the whole thing all the way through, on time, with blogs to go with every chapter and amazing revelations every week! Wait, wasn't there something about perfectionism in this chapter?

So I gave myself a few extra days on Week 7 and even skipped a few of the tasks. I didn't worry about whether or not I made a giant step forward. I just thought about all I had done that week: played a great house concert, attended a gorgeous Texas wedding, listened to two audiobooks, saw a bunch of wonderful friends, swam in Barton Springs on a 85 degree October day, bought some hot pink feather earrings. I just trusted that it was all happening for a reason and subtly moving me somewhere great. Actually it was pretty great right at the moment. And isn't that really the big lesson anyway? To live in the moment?

One more thing: I'm looking for synchronicity all the time now (little coincidences that lead you along) and I had a funny one on my drive. I was listening to my audiobook and one of the characters served Sweet Potato Pie. It sounded so delicious, my mouth was watering and I wanted it. I talked on the phone to Alison and told her about my craving. I said I'd stop at Cracker Barrel and see if they had some sweet potatoes. She said No, No, they never have sweet potatoes at CB, it's not on the menu. Not even a weekly special? No, she said. I went to Cracker Barrel anyway and can you guess what the vegetable of the day was? (Well now of course you can because I already gave it away by saying this paragraph was about synchronicity. I need to work on saving my punch lines.) Sweet Potato Casserole! With pecans and brown sugar!  Mmm hmmm. So I was satisfied. More like really full cause I had a whole veggie plate with Mac and Cheese and cornbread and and and oops.

So I'm not sure how all this is leading me to my creative destiny, but now I know Thursday is sweet potato day and I'm sure that knowledge will be crucial at some point. Maybe I'll happen to be at a cocktail party on a Thursday with some amazing super-famous singer who says she has a craving for sweet potatoes and I'll know where to got them. We'll go eat and become best friends and write a ton of hit songs together. About sweet potatoes. Yep, I can see it all now.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Week 6: Converted

I think it was in Week 3 that I decided that I love the Artist's Way and that I want to continue with morning pages and Artist Dates after I finish reading the book.

In Week 4 I "happened" to have some existential conversations with friends and family. We talked about our religious upbringing and the all-important "What happens when you die?" question.  I heard myself describing my beliefs and understanding of my existence in the terms that I had read in Deepak Chopra and Julia Cameron. Other people were talking about Heaven and Absolute Nothingness and I was talking about my consciousness being dispersed into the infinitely creative universe.

In Week 5, it struck me that if I want to practice this whatever-it-is every day, if it connects me to the metaphysical plane and explains for me what exists beyond what we see and what happens when we die, that maybe this is a religion, and maybe it's my religion. It just doesn't have a name or any particular organization. Maybe that's OK? But what do I call it? What do I call myself? And will I ever have a community of like-minded people to celebrate with?

In Week 6, I was invited by a friend to go to an event at World Music Nashville where Beth Nielson Chapman was performing, talking and teaching. It was free and they were giving away food and wine and prizes like guitars, why not? She played some really great songs, gave some helpful feedback to the people chosen at random to play for her, and spoke so eloquently about the creative process. It was right in line with everything I had been reading and discovering.

And then she talked about how creativity is God and it confirmed for me all the things I had been thinking. And I realized that I was at church. And I was with like-minded people. It was a Wednesday night retail marketing event and I was holding a plastic cup full of cheap Chardonnay and a chicken quesadilla, but I was surrounded by my people. We are searching for fame and fortune and hit songs, but also for truth and the joy and satisfaction of creating something new and beautiful. And we come together in all sorts of unexpected times and places.

And now I don't think my religion needs to be organized in any kind of obvious way. It's flexible and surprising and doesn't need a power structure or rules about who's in and who's out. I like that I can have a spiritual experience hanging out with friends and playing songs, or walking by myself through the woods, or watching kids or seniors perform their hearts out. But I still want a name for it. "Creativity" doesn't seem right. Better keep looking. Or maybe just live for a while with no name. Seems like a lot of trouble has come from naming religions.