The Artist’s Way, Chapter 3: Recovering a Sense of Power
I am in an Artist Way group that is taking a chapter a month in the book. I find it so interesting to go through it at this pace because I have really slowed down to examined more closely the practical application of the material in my life. I loved going through the book in 12 weeks because it is its own type of emersion experience, but this way slowing it down, I have been able to read the chapter a couple of different times and really hone in on the lessons to be learned.
Chapter 3 is crucial in the process because it deals with anger and learning how to take back your sense of personal responsibility in your creative life. AND since we know that we are creative in EVERY aspect of our life, it is fundamental to making the life that you desire. The first couple months of Morning Pages can seem rather petty since you are becoming aware of the negative thoughts that you may be having on a regular basis. By slowing this process down, I remained in what I felt to be petty a good share of the time. I always used the end of the pages to write affirmations because I wanted to end my journaling on a positive note, but until I got to this chapter, I hadn’t really looked closely at where I was just handing over my personal power.
I am always struck by the crazymaker section in chapter 2 (people in your life that bring drama and distract you from your craft), and I believe chapter 3 gives the antidote for this issue. The four main topics are anger, synchronicity, shame, and growth. When you realize that the crazymakers are truly a distraction that you use to avoid your own vulnerability (practicing your craft authentically/knowing & expressing yourself deeply), you can realize it is you who you’re really angry with, can be open to God’s goodness and abundant giving in your life through synchronicity, release shame and live in a space free of it, and be gentle with yourself as you go through the growing and shrinking of your own creativity.
I had a major breakthrough this month with my more difficult relationships. I learned that God’s love is unlimited. I had misunderstood the source of my love for others to be coming from me. When we realize that love is coming from the same source of energy (God), it is possible to learn to tap into that unlimited source in every personal interaction. I think that in my own mind I felt that I could be used up and sucked dry. This is not a good space to live in. You end up feeling like people are there to take from you. It is a reason many people shut down who are more giving and loving by nature–they don’t feel that their need for a source of love is being filled and withdraw-the most extreme case in their social life. I learned that when you have people who seek a love source in you, you can simply tap into God’s love energy at that moment and since it was never really yours… you have lost nothing, but gained something very special. You are energized and both go away feeling uplifted and happy. People are more able to share their love with you as well. It’s amazing how much happier and energetic I have become.
I believe this is a lesson connected with many of God’s gifts and blessings. We must get out of the way and realize that we are really a receptacle. It is our own selfishness and ego that causes us to stumble and withdraw from the creativity source.. the love source. Our main job is to be open to the incredible power of love and creativity in our life–to be open and ready to receive.
The Artist’s Date: Week 7 Camas
Early that week I had a feeling to head over to Camas. It is a pretty small town outlying Vancouver. Growing up my memories of Camas were of its smell. I never liked driving through it with my parents because of the paper-mill gave off a rotten garbage odor. In the last few years the smell has not been as bad because of EPA rules that went into affect required upgrades that reduced toxins emitted into the air.
As I drove into the town I was surprised at how heavy the traffic was. It seems that the changes had encouraged growth since the last time that I had driven through the town itself. Right on the first block of the city was the paper-mill standing out like a sore thumb. Only a block away adorable shops lined the main strip. I always know where to find the shops of interest and in Camas it was no different. The shops that I love are always in the historical buildings which have their own special charm. I parked and the rain began to fall. I got out of my car and put my hood up. Rain stopped being a serious deterrent for me so long ago.
Sophisticated women were walking up and down the block and disappearing into the clothing boutique and antique shop. There were also hair and nail shops, natural medicine stores, body shops, a yoga studio, but of course my favorite was the antique and gift shop. The store keepers tended the front with check outs and people were moving from section to section. It was one of those stores that people rent a space to sell their items. You could find all kinds of trinkets from candles and lotions to Mason jars converted into soap dispensers. One section had all kinds of paper stamps. Another had a garden theme. The area that I settled in to search through for quite some time had antique pages from old books and encyclopedias. I imagined great ways to use these in my mixed media projects. I picked 4 maps of different areas that spoke to me.
A persistent customer seemed to be following me around the store and checkout was no exception. She moved right up to the counter as my items were being rung up and started a conversation about the prices. The clerk charged me almost double for the items before I questioned her. She rang them up at the correct price, but it still seemed inflated. I asked her about other points of interest. She said that a couple of new shops would be opening soon and to try back.
Some days I feel that my ability to be almost invisible works well for me, but on this afternoon I felt a put off by it. I didn’t feel like my needs were met satisfactorily. I continued walking up and down the street looking for other shops but didn’t find much else. It was now a charming town with a new appeal. I snapped some pictures and decided that I would come back on a sunnier day to try again.
The Artist’s Date: Week 8 Ridgefield
Ridgefield was another town that had been affected by industrial pollution, but doesn’t have an overly industrial feel to it. You can’t blink as you move through the little town or you will miss it. As I parked close to the overlook an old church caught my eye. I walked over to see the view of the overlook and could see the wildlife refuge below. It went for miles, but right below the overlook a train blasted by shaking the earth as it moved along. Next, I approached the lady outside of the wine/beer garden establishment washing her car. My friend had given me a tip that she also owned and managed the church for weddings and events and would probably let me take pictures of the grounds if I asked nicely. She was a little grumpy about it but warmed quickly up and wanted to have a conversation about my blog and such. She said that there was a lot of history in the town and that she would be happy to share it if I ever needed more.
I went down the street and looked at the antique store. Its personality reflected that of the town. It had bird post cards, bird art, doilies, tea sets and antique clothes. The owner wasn’t especially friendly, but did seem to be assisting other customers. I didn’t find anything that screamed at me so I moved on. I walked up and down the block and thought that the tiny bakery/cafe looked adorable. If I had been hungry I would have gone in to check it out. I remembered my friend’s suggestion of a store up on the hill, so I got back in my car to check it out. As I walked in, the owner immediately greeted me and was attentive to each customer that appeared. So much so that everyone in the store began talking to each other. I gave my own unsolicited advice to another customer who was having trouble deciding between two beautiful tops. I found some cute soy candles with subtle scents that I wanted to try. The whole shop had inspiring messages placed here and there. The kind that tell you to trust your ideas and to follow your dreams. She had journals for keeping ideas etc. Unique jewelry, candles, soups, lotions, specialty clothing, pillows, home decor, etc filled ever nook and cranny. If I had my own store, I would run it similar to this. Upon checkout I found the most beautiful wallet and commented on it. She told me that I have expensive taste. I agreed. I think it is more about having the artist’s eye. You recognize finery and quality when you see it.
From this exchange I learned that even though we go on our date alone, people still play an important role in our experiences and our take away. One week I felt ignored and feelings of being a burden crept in to my date. The second week I was intentional in my approach. I went out with the idea that I was going to be outgoing and interactive with those I came in contact with. The result was that the people that I encountered me noticed me. Additionally, the final clerk was skilled in her approach as she tried to “see” me. She was there in the moment with her shop full of customers and “noticing” things about each one that I’m sure aid her in successful sale numbers and return patrons.
Weeks 5-8: February Morning Pages
The Artist’s Way, Chapter 2 Recovering a Sense of Identity
Reflecting back on February brings recollections of emotional ups and downs. Moodiness crept in especially on days that I missed my Morning Pages. I noticed that I have began to depend on them to keep insight into my own thoughts and feelings. When that was gone, I began feeling foggy and out of touch with myself. It was like a barrier is formed between me and the outside world. When I completed my pages, the barrier was in place and I knew what I liked and what I didn’t like. I was aware of my inner desires. I was able to set boundaries more effectively with the other people around me as well. I felt more intentional. Also, in February, I noticed that I was more aware of my own negativity and not in a way that is personally judgmental. It was just more matter-of-fact. I was able to lightly think it over and just let it go without giving it too much importance. I knew when it was time to go for help. Sometimes we don’t have all the answers! Sometimes we need to go to other people for wisdom who we know we can trust. I am happy to say that even though I had a pretty challenging month, I was still able to move ahead in my creative endeavors and met my goals. I stayed the course!
Week 7: Artist’s Walk-Lacamas Lake Park
Recently, I have been feeling the urge to get out to places that I haven’t been to for a while or not at all. I have come to realize that a big part of the walk for me is the scenery. I want to feed my inner artist plenty of images and recapture the connection that I feel in nature with the trees, vegetation, and the wildlife.
I remembered that Lacamas Lake had some pretty great walking trails and thought that I should check them out again. As I pulled up to the park, several cars were in the lot and other walkers were also heading up the trail even though it had just finished a steady rain not 15 minutes before. I had time to get my camera ready and stop by the visitor’s reader board before heading out on the main trail. I find these boards answer quite a few of my questions about the location and even go into their history as well. In this case the reader board touched on the watershed system and why it was needed (it was made clear that their were many sources of pollution in addition to the mills). Another section talked about the Native American settlement when the European Americans arrived. The town had been named after the camas lily which was a staple for the Native American’s diet and still grows in the area.
As I walked up the trail, the first large manmade structure that I came to was a fish screen that had been placed there to keep the fish in the lake and not in the mills down stream. The next structure was a dam that had been constructed to aid the local mill operations. The contrast of the natural and manmade environment felt entirely contradictory in my mind, but somehow it was working. Sort of. I didn’t hear the chirping of birds or the rustling around of wildlife, but at time on the walk the roaring of the water crashing out of the dam was soothing and its power enticed me nearer. I went up the lower falls trail to get a better look from another angle. In the end, I got lots of pictures and had many thoughts and ideas, so I would say the walk was productive.
Week 8: Artist’s Walk- Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge Birding Trail
The next idea for a walk that came to me was closer to home. I had heard so many people rave over the bird watching spots in Ridgefield’s Wildlife Refuge. The place that people swear by is a drive through area, but I wanted a spot to get out and walk through. I asked my good friend who lives there and she told me about the walking trail. She offered me a water and granola bar and said that I should think about turning on my phone’s GPS since I like going out alone on my walks. I am so comfortable in my local woods that I don’t consider them to be unsafe. Only after I got home did I see the list of animals living in the refuge which included hundreds of birds and also a few carnivores (even the dangerous mountain lion).
My walk, however was peaceful. I have come to realize that I feel a deep connection with the chirping and calls of birds.
Like the park of the week before, there was another area for people’s information. This too was a Native American settlement that the Lewis and Clark Expedition encountered that consisted of 14 houses that a village of people were living in. They harvested wapato tubers that still grows in the wetlands.
Unlike the last park, few walkers were out and about. The day was overcast, but not cold or rainy. It seemed as I got there most of the walkers were leaving. I walked up the trail and the first structure that I came to was the Cathlapotle Plankhouse that had been a replica of the houses that were found during the early expedition.
The wetlands were filled with what looked like ducks and other water foul. I didn’t bring my binoculars or my high-powered camera lens. Both mistakes that I kicked myself for. I could see blue jays in the trees and other common birds. I wondered what else I was missing as I walked up the trail. The trees were what captured my attention first. They were big deciduous trees with branches sprawling widely, even some close to touching the ground. Trees that hadn’t been pruned by man, but had been left to their natural course. Some trees grew in one direction. This commonly happens with a persistent wind.
At one point the paved trail ended and became a real dirt trail. I followed it until I got a feeling to turn around, to go no further. Perhaps it was because I hadn’t passed another person in a good thirty minutes. Whatever the reason, I turned around and as I headed back up toward the beginning of the trail I saw a huge blue heron flying over the body of water. I wished that I could capture it with my camera, and tried. As it landed, it walked gingerly along the water bank. I did the same keeping pace with it. I wasn’t sure if its caution was courtesy of me or if it was looking quietly for food. Whatever its reason, I didn’t want to disturb its activity so I was still for a long time just observing. My need for connection had been satisfied. This was a place that I would come again and hopefully frequently.