Write Your Way Through This S*#t
Here we are hurtling towards the end of 2020 . . . doing our best to keep well, safe, sane and our heads above water! I don't have human children and, therefore, I have much less pressure and some extra time for a deep dive into my artist self while spending so much time at home. Though I do have friends with children who are making time for their creativity and I'm BLOWN AWAY! Actually, anyone with a child or has any responsibility as a caretaker for someone other than themselves that's managing to shower is my s/hero! Or perhaps, like me, just taking care of yourself is a major accomplishment. If no one has applauded you today, I AM APPLAUDING YOU!
After meditation one day last week, I felt so strongly that I needed to pull a specific book off my shelf. If you never read The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron, it's incredible. Go get it. Do all the things it says to do. (This is not the book that came to me in meditation, but it relates). I started The Artist's Way seven (maybe nine?) times, and got through it twice. The two times that I completed it were doing it with others i.e. having accountability partners. So don't do it alone. And don't stop reading this blog just because you think you may not be an artist and this doesn't relate to you. We are all artists of our own lives. Be it the way you dress, break into spontaneous dance with your dog in the kitchen, take an interest in your community, decorate space, write a letter, post on social media, crack a joke, cook a feast, there are all kinds of ways to be creative. How are you creative? How would you like to be? Take a moment to answer that for yourself.
The two times that I did read/do The Artist's Way (all the way through the 12 weeks of exercises), there was incredible growth and change. It was also hard as growth and change can often be. For some of us, creativity shows up as performing and writing. Below is a photo from a solo show that came out of the first time that I did The Artist's Way in 2008. It's called My Journey of Decay and it was about all of my dental work. As fate would have it, as I was working on the show, my mom passed and the show in part became about her life and also her illnesses. It was powerful and dare I say life-saving for me to process all of this through writing and performing. There was other trauma that came up in the show - because teeth bring up a lot. People also told me that the show was also healing for them. That is the phenomenal thing about creativity. We help each other heal, feel less alone, get through the hard times, celebrate life.
Photo by Stacie Joy taken at Callen-Lorde Community Health Center in NYC.
The second time that I completed The Artist's Way, I wrote a pilot about my childhood working at a magic store. Nothing came of it (professionally). But I f-ing did it! Oh, and also after the second time, I left NYC after 21 years and moved across the country. I bring all of this up because the book that I was guided to pull off my shelf is also by Julia Cameron and drum roll, please, it is The Vein of Gold. Ten days into it, am moving. I walked 16 miles last week, which is about 15 more than I have been walking in a given week since I moved to California almost two years ago. In doing the exercises from this book, old wounds are coming up along with regrets, hopes and a deep discomfort along with excitement! Why do it? I guess I like a challenge and also I want to continue this spiral dance with creativity and growth. Here are some shots from one of my walks in Monrovia, California. That house is from 1887! Those deer are real!
I feel like a sleep spell just came over me as I write this blog post. Whenever I get really sleepy and want to stop something that I'm writing or creating, it can often mean that I am about to have a discovery & need to push through. For the past two months, I have been writing a book in 45-minute chunks Monday through Friday. Hopefully I'll increase the amount. Maybe not. It's what I can do right now without sabotaging myself and stopping altogether. The saboteur. I would say that this is a pretty universal archetype that we've all met internally at some point and perhaps, unfortunately, externally.
Different people will have different styles to their saboteurs. I think some saboteurs stop people before they even start . . . really, this is perfectionism showing up as procrastination along with some paralysis. Some people go out and do and make stuff, and then retreat and hide. There is a natural cycle of creation/resting where after a lot of output, we just need to take in and receive. That is certainly part of the creative process - viewing, reading, listening, observing, exploring. However I think when someone is just about to have a breakthrough and they stop the momentum, that is sabotage. Or they've just had a success and more opportunities are coming as a result, and the inner saboteur stops the person from following up on these opportunities.
Or there could be the saboteur that creates havoc with collaborators or chaos in our day-to-day lives so that we never get to our vision work. There's the saboteur that appears as a do-gooder and gets so caught up in helping people that they leave no time for their own vision. There's the bitter saboteur that says, "What's the use?" Or, "I'm too old." Or, "I'll never be as good as so-and-so, so why bother?" Or, "Those people doing that cool thing that I want to be doing don't even notice me. I'm a nobody." There's the saboteur that does the same old thing even though they're bored to death with it. There's the saboteur that is the shadow artist helping other people make art, but not making their own. There's the saboteur that needs the quick fix through some kind of addiction (so many to choose from in 2020!) rather than being still and seeing what unfolds. These are different shades of the same color. Though I don't think sabotage even has a color. It's more likely to drain all the color out of the room.
How does your saboteur speak to you? Go ahead. Write it out. Give me an idea of how mean or benign or sneaky your saboteur is. Ask your inner saboteur what they've been telling you lately that sounds like your own voice. I find that when you face them, they're pretty direct. Grab a pen, a notebook, a laptop, your phone. Say hello to your saboteur and ask them how they're at work in your life. How can you stop self-sabotage? It often involves taking the action regardless of how you FEEL about it. Oh, BTW this is a kind of channeling . . . so you may want to do a little protection prayer: "Archangel Michael, Goddess Durga, please protect me as connect with my inner saboteur. I am seeking answers only from my archetypes, guides, higher self and whomever else is available for my highest good."
I think that ultimately our saboteurs want to keep us safe. And it is programmed in our genes that safety means staying close to home, staying small, staying in the middle of the herd, doing what we've always done. But we know that safety in large part is boring. I mean, don't touch the hot stove. But when it comes to your creativity, don't be safe. And the first way to NOT be safe is to acknowledge it, give it room and time and care. What are three ways that you can do that? Go ahead. Think about it.
Did you come up with some ideas? Hopefully so. If not, do not fret - I have some for you.
Here's the first suggestion: put a dance, a poem, an artistic photo on social media like I did last week. (Mask by I.B. Anom, I.B. Ketut Rajastra, Per Brahe & music Wish I Knew You by The Revivalist):
P.S. I have not been moving at all and this happened spontaneously my first day of reading Vein of Gold. (Then I recorded it - which was less spontaneous - but still improvised). Whether it's a hike, a new recipe, a handwritten letter to your grandma, knitting, do something to move your energy because we all need that right now. Perhaps just sitting down with a journal and saying hello to yourself.
Second suggestion is to attend (virtually) Create with the Gemini Moon: A Writing Workshop for Expression at 7pm EST on Monday, 11/30 at The Alchemist's Kitchen.
Third suggestion: I'm being called to teach a creativity workshop again for making your own work - be it performance or writing or both. It'll be coming in January. If you're not already on my mailing list, contact me and I'll put you on so you can be updated.
Bonus suggestion because I'm a Libra sun and I love options and more is more: get one of these books and start exploring. If you do, let me know how it's going!
Read, leap, climb, eat, explore, watch, write, open, meditate, dance, kiss . . . just take that one first step, brushstroke, word and go for it! You have no idea who sharing your art and self could help heal. We're in this together.