Fun for One

After reading the introduction in my new book, It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again by Julia Cameron, I completed the only task assigned in those first pages. I made a list of ideas for the weekly Artist Dates.

One of the foundational tools used during this twelve week creative course is the Artist Date. These once a week solo outings are assigned play. The purpose is to engage the inner artist, the inner child, and do something that feels fun and exciting.

I quickly began to anticipate these dates, when I worked through Julia’s first two books. I set aside Sunday afternoons as my time to do things I enjoyed, explore new places, or spend time outdoors in contemplative silence.

A strange synergy developed between me and the book, week after week. I deliberately avoided looking ahead at the next chapter as I completed one. And yet, somehow the activities I engaged in on my artist dates on Sundays connected strongly to the next chapter. I can’t explain how this foreshadowing happened. I only knew something magical was occurring.

It was with a sense of child like delight that I created a list of possibilities for upcoming dates with my inner artist. At the top of my list is a visit to the Philbrook Art Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma. As an elementary grade school student I got to visit the museum at least once a year, on field trips with my classmates. Philbrook is housed in a three story mansion that was the former home of Oklahoma oil pioneer Waite Phillips and his wife Genevieve. I loved wandering through that massive structure, admiring the renaissance style villa as much as the pieces of art.

And as gorgeous as the house was, the grounds were even more impressive. The developing gardener in me was drawn outdoors to the formal and informal gardens on the property’s 25 acres. I have not visited Philbrook since my childhood, and yet I think of it often. Although there will be driving time to factor in, I look forward to returning to the museum on an artist date, and seeing this place with fresh eyes.

Other ideas that made my list include movie matinees at the local theater, sketching, reading or journaling outdoors, attending plays, musicals, concerts or classes, and having a picnic lunch for one in a park. I’m not limited to the suggestions on this list. It is a springboard for other creative ideas.

Julia writes, “The point of the Artist Date is for us to capture the wonder and excitement that we had when we were young.” I am experiencing wonder and excitement already. It’s going to be an amazing twelve week course.

Surrender 17: One Lovely Thing

Today is Artist Date day, and with the cold temperatures, I chose to remain snug at home.  Further, I was inspired by an assignment from week ten in The Artist’s Way. The task I am charged with is to do ONE lovely thing for myself, every day this next week. I created a little chart with Sunday through Saturday written on it, and left room to record my daily lovelies.  

I knew exactly how to pamper myself this afternoon, and satisfy my creative inner artist at the same time. Recently I purchased a blueberry scone mix from my great nephew Kaleb during his school fundraiser. Today presented the perfect opportunity to make scones for afternoon tea. 


I just added oil and water to the mix and popped the scones into the oven. I chose to bake them in a round dish and cut them into wedges.  I thought of four year old Kaleb as I worked in the kitchen and sent him love and good thoughts. 


In fifteen minutes I had freshly baked scones. I brewed a cup of Scottish thistle tea and I was ready for the rest of the date with myself that was part of my one lovely thing today. 


I settled into my studio to watch several episodes of my newly discovered favorite series, Mozart in the Jungle. I love this clever show about how Maestro Rodrigo brings renewed passion and purpose to the languishing New York Symphony Orchestra. Rodrigo lives life full on, follows his heart, inspires or infuriates others, but he never leaves people where he finds them. If they are open to change, his companions grow. If they are not, they move on. I appreciate how the character thinks outside the box and leads those who dare to follow him to new experiences. I feel creatively inspired watching this show. 

It was a beautiful afternoon…a lovely afternoon, nourishing myself while also appreciating a well done show that appeals to me on so many different levels. 

I happily surrender to this challenge, and I’m excited to see what unfolds this week as I am intentional about doing something that nourishes my soul every day. I wonder what one lovely thing I will be guided to tomorrow?


Surrender 10: Bathing in Sunlight

Sundays are date days, time spent alone with my inner artist, my creative child. I am watching the Golden Globe Awards tonight, something I know my creative side enjoys.  That was also my intended surrender for today’s journey, as I lost myself in the fantasy world of movies and television. 

However, that’s not where the flow of life took me today. I was invited, instead, into a different surrender this afternoon. 


I was engaging in a favorite activity, puttering around the house. I’m in decluttering mode, and spent the early afternoon cleaning out closet space and drawers in my creative studio. And then my attention was drawn to the windows. 

During the winter months, as the sun sinks toward the western horizon, sunlight floods my home through the windows on the southern side of the house. I love this time of afternoon! I paused in my clearing to appreciate that beautiful sight. 


The sunlight spills across my favorite recliner in the living room, and suddenly, that chair looked so inviting. As I contemplated stretching out in the recliner for a few minutes, my heart began to beat faster. I was, truly, being invited to rest, in the golden warmth of the sun. I’ve noticed this year that when I am in the flow, and drawn a particular direction, that my heart rate increases slightly. How amazing is that? I have a built in surrender-meter, that guides me!

I did not hesitate. In moments I was snuggled beneath a comforter, bathed in sunlight. I closed my eyes and engaged in sun gazing, turning my face to the brilliance. Vivid colors appeared behind my lidded eyes…red, orange and yellow. I understood why my cats seek out sunny places to nap. I felt deliciously warm, and very drowsy.

As my body relaxed, I allowed myself to totally surrender to the moment. Rest. Relax. Sleep. I woke up an hour later, totally refreshed. 

I’ll still enjoy the Golden Globes this evening. Because what child, inner or otherwise, finds taking a nap fun? However, I am grateful for the pause in my day. And the invitation to surrender to the radiance that filled my home. 


Surrender 3: Gifts from the River

Today was Artist Date day, as set out by the book that I’m working through, The Artist’s Way. After a two week break over Christmas, I was excited to get back to this weekly practice. In keeping with my desire to surrender to life, I decided to go where I felt drawn this afternoon. And I felt drawn to walk along the river, specifically Shoal Creek. 


I have not seen the river since last weekend’s massive flood. I was surprised to find low water bridge still closed, due to two uprooted trees caught on the structure. Everywhere I looked, there were signs of how powerful the river is when it overflows its banks. 


Trees were down along the river. Picnic tables were clogged with debris, and empty concrete pads were stark reminders that tables had been swept away, in spite of being bolted down. Empty freshwater mussel shells covered the ground near the walking trail, along with river rocks deposited by the tumbling waters. 


The air was chilly and the sunshine welcome  as I slowly strolled along the river, thinking. The river did not intend destruction as it overflowed its banks. It was simply being what it was. The overflow happened because the river became full, filled beyond what it could contain. As I studied the churning water, still at an elevated level, I thought about how that happens to us too. We get full…of joy, of love, of anger, of fear…until we can’t contain it anymore either, and it overflows, spilling out. Sometimes the force of our emotions overtakes everyone around us. It reminded me that what’s in our heart is revealed and comes tumbling out when we are flooded with challenges. I want to overflow with peace, love and joy and leave evidence of these in my wake. 


My inner creative child asserted herself. Enough with the reflections. When I left the house, I grabbed a canvas tote to serve as a makeshift possible bag. As a child, I loved to walk along the creek in Noel and pick up treasures…interesting rocks, pretty leaves, sturdy sticks. Back then I had boxes of nature collections. I thought it would be fun to scavenge items today as I walked Shoal Creek. I looked past the devastation and began to notice the beauty around me. There was a tree wearing a woven garland. And little pools of water appeared in unexpected places. 


With the delight of a child, I picked up several rocks, a shell, and a piece of bark with grayish green lichen growing on it. Just as I was about to start the return trek to the car, I spied something interesting down near the river, at the base of a tree. The adult in me was willing to leave it there. The artistic child wanted it! 

Carefully I made my way down to the tree and inspected my find before I picked it up. Made of metal, the object was heavy and slightly rusty.  I didn’t know what it was, but my imagination immediately raced with what I could do with this treasure. 


Back home I happily cleaned up my little collection.  The piece of metal reminds me of a sign, a marker. I wrote 2016 on it with a white sharpie. Interestingly, the next chapter in The Artist’s Way, which teaches about having compassion for my inner child, suggests selecting a totem to place in my creative space. A totem is an object, imbued with spiritual meaning…an emblem or symbol that serves as a reminder. I have my totem, my reminder, of all the promises 2016 holds. The river gave it to me. 

Journey 347: Clearing Space, Creating Flow

A rainy day with periods of heavy downpours kept me house bound today. I cajoled my inner artist, my creative child, into a “date” at home. Happily, she not only agreed, but brought her creativity to the activity I decided upon today…clearing the rest of my studio and decorating it for Christmas.


Months ago I began clearing this small room, with its six windows, converting it from being a home real estate office, to more of a creative studio space. The big clunky desk was replaced with a writing table, boxes of accumulated stuff removed, and attractive storage containers purchased. And then I stopped, half done. Maybe a bit more than half. 

As happens when forward momentum is halted, there is often a reversal in direction, otherwise known as backsliding. This room tends to be a catch all space. So things began to accumulate again…coloring supplies, junk mail, old photos, and most recently, unwrapped Christmas gifts. I’m sensitive to energy, and the flow of it. When stuff clutters a room, I feel it as clogged, choked energy. Not what I want in my creative studio!

My creative child and I set the music on my iPhone to shuffle, cranked the volume up, and rolled up our sleeves. Starting at the writing table, I worked clockwise around the room, clearing, cleaning, and decorating, in that order. I was ruthless with old files and papers. I’m so very grateful that Keller Williams is now a paperless company. All records and docs are stored online, from active transactions to deals closed years ago. I carted out bags and boxes of old records and blank forms that I no longer need to keep on hand. 

I tossed duplicate class binders, extra play bills, quotes on scraps of paper that I no longer require. As I worked, singing along with whatever song popped up, the room felt lighter and brighter, even as darkness gathered outside the windows. I uncovered momentos that once held significance and a dream book that I created years ago, a forerunner of my vision boards. Here’s where things got interesting. I saved some items. Then reconsidered. Did I want that energy in my creative space? I pulled the dream book from the shelf I’d stashed it on. Flipping through it, I recognized that the dreams were old ones. Some, like a trip to Scotland, have been fulfilled. Others, including many business goals, no longer appeal to me. And some have lost the sparkle or promise they once held for me. I don’t need this old dream book, this old energy, in my fresh space. I threw it away, and instantly, a heaviness I hadn’t  noticed until then, lifted. 


I was very pleased with the room, after I finished. I made space. On shelves and in cubby holes, in drawers and the buffet top, yes. But I created additional space as well. For energy to flow. For ideas to flow. For my creativity to expand and grow, without feeling confined by clutter and pools of negative resistance. The room feels open and supportive of who I am and what I desire to do. I can breathe in this space. I can create. 


I read the next chapter in The Artist’s Way, Week Seven: Recovering a Sense of Connection. Well, I thought, I didn’t connect with anyone on my date today except my inner artist. I wondered if my date was in sync with the upcoming chapter, as it has been the last six weeks. I discovered as I read that the author isn’t writing about connecting with others in this chapter. She writes about connecting with our creativity and our personal dreams. Personal dreams. I thought again of the book I tossed full of old dreams I’ve outgrown. Ahhh…yes. I’m journeying with new dreams now. 
Further, the chapter for this week connected with my symbol for next year, the river, a symbol that had just been confirmed. Julia says, “Art is an act of tuning in and dropping down the well. It is as though all the stories, paintings, music, performances in the world live just under the surface of our normal consciousness. Like an underground river, they flow through us as a stream of ideas we can tap down into. As artists, we drop down the well into the stream. We hear what’s down there and we act on it – more like taking dictation than anything fancy having to do with art.” 


I love that quote. I understand what she’s talking about. I’m ready to immerse myself in that flow of ideas, even as I immerse myself in the flow, the river, of life. This creative studio has flow now as well. I’ve created a space where I can listen to that stream of ideas and “take dictation”. 

I’m looking forward to opening the blinds in the morning and welcoming the sunshine into my fresh space, and welcoming in creativity. I’ll be poised, pen in hand, ready to write. 


Journey 340: A Lesson in Abundance

Today was Artist Date day, which I have come to look forward to each week as I am working through The Artist’s Way course. As I have shared previously, in ways I can’t fully explain my inner creative child is in sync with the upcoming chapter each week. Although I have no idea whether this trend will continue, it does create a heightened curiosity as I set out on a date with myself every Sunday afternoon. 


As I was getting ready for the day, I was still unsure about what my creative date would be today. I was asking my inner child for ideas. It was as I was taking a shower that an interesting series of thoughts began. (I have to add that some of my best thinking occurs in the shower!) 

From nowhere, seemingly, a memory arose from long ago. I was 19 years old, newly married, and Greg and I were invited to friends’  house for dinner. I stood in the kitchen, watching my friend as she made biscuits. She didn’t have milk, so she used tap water to create the dough, talking cheerfully to me as she kneaded the sticky mass. I’d never seen anyone knead biscuit dough, but those were the best biscuits I’d ever eaten. We had a simple meal with our friends and their two children – fresh vegetables from their large garden, scrambled eggs and those tender biscuits. 

As I was helping to clean up after dinner, I opened the trash bin to toss paper napkins and such. I noticed empty baby food jars in the bin. I asked my friend if she had baby-sat that day. She smiled and explained that the baby food was left over from a prior baby-sitting job. She went on to say that her husband and kids had eaten the baby food for lunch that day. Seeing my look of surprise, she said that money was a bit tight right now. 

I was stunned. And I felt horrible that Greg and I had eaten food that would have stretched further otherwise. My friend was quick to assure me that all was well. The money situation was temporary, the garden was just starting to produce and would provide many meals over the summer, and there was always enough to share. Before we left, I whispered to Greg and he gave that little family what cash he had in his pocket. It wasn’t much. But it would purchase some basic groceries. 

That was the memory that surprised me in the shower. At the time, my youth and lack of life experience caused me to miss some vital things. What I realized today was that my friend truly was content and unafraid. As I watched her make biscuits long ago, she chatted, hummed and sang softly as she kneaded the dough, an indomitable woman who knew there was more to life than the circumstances surrounding her. She had a sweet spirit of trust and gratitude, and she was generous, sharing what she had, knowing more would be provided. I remembered that in the years I knew her, before she moved away, I never heard her complain about anything. 

To have those memories stir, out of the blue, alerted me that my inner creative child and the Divine were at work. I asked for an image, so I’d know where to go on my date. I saw myself at Wildcat Park, feeding the ducks. Perfect! It was a beautiful day. I thought the ducks would be gone at this time of year but I packed a couple of pieces of bread anyway. I saw myself sketching. Ahhhh…an even better idea. Take along my pencils and sketch pad and allow my artistic self free reign. And I knew that somehow my thoughts about my friend were connected. 


It was beautiful at the park. The ducks were, indeed, gone. I found a picnic table near the river. Set out my pencils. Opened to a clean page in my sketch pad. I used to draw often. I was a fair artist. But I’ve had this sketch pad for years and it’s barely used. I’ve lost confidence in my ability to bring to paper the images in my head. Today, I got out of my own way and allowed my inner artist, that creative child, to draw. Quickly I sketched, thinking about my friend, remembering how quietly joyful she was as she kneaded that biscuit dough, made with water instead of milk. I saw her hands, in my mind. I drew her hands. A quote came to mind, “Gratitude turns what you have into enough.” She knew that, way back then. She knew a deep truth about abundance, and experienced it as part of her daily life. I added the quote to my drawing. 

As the sun was setting, I sat in the peaceful stillness, and watched the river flow past. So many things are shifting in my life. I love how creativity is awakening, love the daily ongoing conversations with the Divine, love how rich and full life is as I allow myself to be drawn, to be guided. I feel that sense of abundance that my friend demonstrated all those years before. I’m grateful for that memory. I’ve now captured it and I’ll frame that little sketch and place it in my studio. I could title it “Abundance”. 

I read the next chapter in The Artist’s Way after I returned home. Week Six: Recovering a Sense of Abundance. I’m no longer surprised that this series of synchronicities is unfolding the way it is. I accept it. I’m grateful. And I’m excited to see what happens next!


Journey 332: Christmas Possibilities

I moved my Artist Date to today, since I have a birthday to celebrate tomorrow in Oklahoma. And this is also Small Business Saturday, when consumers are encouraged to Shop Small, Shop Local. I decided to combine my date with myself with a little Christmas shopping, and conclude the afternoon with one of my favorite activities. 


I was proud of myself that I got out today. It was cold and rainy and otherwise known as a perfect day to stay home and sip hot tea. I did that yesterday! I refuse to have a “date” at home. It would be too easy for me to rent a DVD and watch it in the comfort of my bedroom and call it good. So I layered on warm clothes and off we went, my inner artist and me, to support a couple of small local businesses and experience Christmas joy. 
My first stop was Blue Moon Boutique, located at 613 S Main Street in Joplin. I love this unique little shop that is marketed as a “modern boutique with a vintage soul”. The store  carries trendy clothes, accessories, gifts and home decor. And it is always so beautifully merchandised. Christmas items were all 50% off today. I carried out some lovely purchases that will look delightful in my home. 


My next stop was Gourmets, a kitchen and more store, located at 2800 S Main. This is another shop that I love to wander through. There is a plethora of kitchen accessories and gadgets, plus home decor and specialty items such as coffees, teas and soup and dip mixes. I happily crossed some items off my Christmas list here and enjoyed chatting with one of the owners. 

My inner artist graciously allowed me another stop to pick up a couple of gifts and then, thoroughly chilled, I opted to drive through Starbucks for a venti hot chocolate and a slice of gingerbread loaf. How festive is that? I didn’t mind the long line of cars, any more than I mind lines in the stores this time of year. There’s a camaraderie among us as we shop and  then wait in line to pay. People were in high spirits and chatty, which I loved. I heard about a pumpkin pie failure for Thanksgiving dinner and sugar intolerance, forgetful parents and decisions about a grandchild’s gifts, all from strangers. 


I carried my hot chocolate and slice of gingerbread loaf into the mall and settled into a comfy leather chair near the Santa Village. This was what I had been looking forward to all afternoon. Sitting among the bustle of shoppers laughing and moving in and out of stores and visiting Santa, while I engaged in a lifelong pleasure: people watching. I have been since childhood, a keen observer of people. I knew my creative child would enjoy this. 

The energy was high here as well. I loved watching parents with their kids as they approached a very authentic looking Santa, garbed in his red suit, with beautiful gray hair and a real, luxurious beard. Most of the kids were excited to see the jolly old elf. Even older kids called out to him and waved as they walked by, too old, they thought, to sit with him, but still young enough to notice him. I most enjoyed a young couple with a 9 month old baby girl. She was not going to cooperate with sitting on a stranger’s lap. She tightly clutched her daddy’s arm and leaned away from Santa, while her mom spoke to her in a high voice with exaggerated facial expressions, “Ooohhh look…it’s Santa!! Want to see him? Santa! Let’s see Santa!” Momma didn’t convince Baby, or Dad. They walked away. 

After a leisurely time of people watching while I sipped my hot chocolate, I stood to join the crowds and make another purchase. It was as I was preparing to leave the mall that I got a strong nudge to make one more stop. New pajamas came to mind. For me. Ah. On the way to Starbucks I had driven through the parking lot of a store, with the intention of looking for an item for myself. Not for the house. Not a Christmas present for a family member. For me. I never parked the car. I decided this was not the time to get something for myself and drove away. Now my creative child, my inner artist was getting my attention. 


When I get home in the evenings, the first thing I do is change into comfy pjs and soft fuzzy socks. That’s my home attire. I have to admit it’s been three or more years since I bought new pjs. While very comfy, the two sets that I have are decidedly worn. What a lovely thought, to purchase a new pair. I walked into JC Penney with the idea that I’d only buy a new pair of pajamas if I could find something decadent for under $20. I was being agreeable, going with the idea, but adding a condition. In hindsight, I didn’t need to do that. I’m learning. 

I found a beautiful, incredibly soft, warm pair of pajamas, in light gray and pink. Normally $54, today they were $14.99. I laughed. And I added two pairs of soft gray socks for $2.50 each. All for under $20, and barely over with tax. I’m enjoying the snuggly pj’s at home now. Thank you Little Cindy. 

I read Week Five in the Artist’s Way this evening, curious if my date today connected at all with the upcoming chapter. Called Recovering a Sense of Possibilty, this chapter is full of amazing truths, and explores how we might curtail our own possibilities by placing a limit on the good we can receive. There’s much to digest in Week Five and things I’ll share about later. These words caught my eyes: “We are stingy with ourselves.” Yes, I used to be very stingy with myself, and even today I held back. But my creativity is awakening, my awareness raising, and I’m listening to God and my inner child. I’m learning not to hold back. 

Journey 312: Searching for My Heart

Today kicked off Week Two in The Artist’s Way course. It was an amazing first week and I’m loving this twelve week journey, paired with reading Liz Gilbert’s Big Magic. Sunday is my Artist Date day as well, when I take myself and my artistic side out for fun and inspiration. I’ve been looking forward to Sunday afternoon all week, and yesterday, began thinking about what I’d do today. 

I learned last Sunday, as I prepared for my first artist date, to listen to my inner artist and be guided by the Divine and my intuition. So yesterday, I asked my artistic self, what shall we do tomorrow? What arose was to go searching for my heart. In reality, this year’s representation of my heart. 

Every Christmas, I purchase a heart ornament for the Christmas tree. This is my thirteenth year to do so. Most of my heart ornaments are silver, representing Mithril, a silver metal from the Lord of the Rings stories that is beautiful, strong, and valuable. Mithril is my soul name. It reminds me that I am more than I appear to be. Some of my hearts are clear glass, which represents a heart full of light, as I always hang these ornaments near one of the twinkling white Christmas lights. 


                              Last year’s heart ornament 

I haven’t  yet found a heart ornament this year. I checked my usual sources…Hobby Lobby and Cracker Barrel. There was nothing suitable at either store. So the nudge to go looking today was a welcome one, and I was exited to check out a few stores, confident the right ornament would be found. 

I read the Week Two chapter late last night, getting a head start on the week. I have deliberately not looked ahead in the book, not at chapter titles or the next week’s exercises. I was delighted, and not at all surprised, to find that Week Two is titled Recovering a Sense of Identity. The synopsis for this chapter ends with the words, “The essays and tools are aimed at moving you into your personal identity, a self-defined you.” 


This week, my inner artist was trekking just ahead of the upcoming chapter, when the suggestion was given to search today for my “heart”.  Those ornaments represent the deepest, truest essence of who I am, and who I am continuing to become. It is so easy for identity to become enmeshed with what we do, rather than who we are. I am a mom, grandmother, sister, daughter, realtor, writer, gardener, woman, reader. Those titles all relate to what I do, and I love doing all those things. And I am more than all those titles. They are part of the whole, not the whole. 

About 13 years ago, I began the process of drawing all the fragmented pieces of my heart, all the bits of who I was, together into a whole. As I reclaimed pieces of my heart that I had given away, or locked away, I envisioned my heart knitted back together, strong, healthy, whole and full of light. I asked God to show me who I was. The name Mithril was given to me, through a series of repetitions and synchronicities. And the tradition of buying a heart ornament, yearly, was born. 


As I drove away from the house this afternoon, on my date, I asked where I should go, in search of my heart. I was thinking of starting at the Hallmark Store. Surely a good place to find a heart ornament! But I strongly felt Michael’s, the craft store, was to be my destination. I loved wandering through Michael’s. The store has Christmas items prominently displayed. I wasn’t the only shopper out on this gorgeous day and the store was full, with a festive atmosphere. I walked through the whole store, enjoying the creative feelings that were stirring, and cheerful conversations with strangers, without finding a heart ornament. As I walked toward the front, down the last aisle, I spied an end cap display of boxed ornaments. Each set had four small glass ornaments nestled within. And there I found my heart. 

There were sets with gold hearts, and red and silver hearts. I had a box in my hand that contained a silver heart, thinking that would work, when I saw the box with four colorful hearts in it. My typical silver or clear heart ornament was not there, but I felt so drawn to those beautiful little hearts. It came to me then. I would tie the four hearts together with a silver cord or ribbon and hang them that way, as a cluster. The four hearts represent all of me…my spiritual side, the artist within, the relational me and my business side…all combined into one! And the colors are perfect for one who has rediscovered the joys of coloring this year. Those hearts are perfect. My artist within was pretty pleased with herself.

I’m loving this journey. And I’m excited to see what the rest of the week brings. 


I picked up an acorn ornament as well. The acorn has been my secondary symbol for the year, to remind me of my journey, the good times and the challenging ones, the people who have travelled alongside, and those who passed. 

Journey 305: Beginning the Artist’s Way – Week One

I mentioned Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way, after I heard Elizabeth Gilbert speak in Wichita. She recommended the book, which has the subtitle, A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. Liz explained that she works through the twelve week course before she begins another writing project. Every time. 

I was intrigued. Although I had looked at the book many times, I had not purchased it. The book is mine now. I read the preparatory sections last week and today, I officially began the course. The two most vital tools, for freeing creativity, are the Morning Pages, three pages of free writing every morning. And the Artist Date, to be experienced once a week. 


I purchased a new notebook, specifically for my Morning Pages. There’s something inspiring about opening a new notebook to a clean fresh page, and writing with a pen. The idea is to write whatever comes to mind, without editing, overthinking, or rereading what’s written. The act of writing allows for a flow of energy that clears the mind and frees up energy for new thoughts and creative ideas. 

I had no difficulty filling three pages with words. However, I’m not used to writing with a pen as my blogs are typed on my phone or laptop. My hand cramped. But as I continued to write, shaking out my hand occasionally, the cramping subsided. I want to be very intentional about writing the Morning Pages first thing, as I begin my day. And be diligent about doing them daily. I’m excited to see what opens within me as I write. 


The second tool, the Artist Date, is time set aside weekly to take myself on a date. Or rather, take my inner artist on a date. The date can be a walk through the woods, viewing an art exhibit, hanging out at the library, watching a sunset or going to a concert. Anything that feeds my soul…and my inner artist. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive. It doesn’t have to cost anything. I chose Sunday afternoons for date time. I focus on peace and caring for my heart and soul on that day already. It seemed natural to include this extension of self care. 

On this beautiful fall day, I thought I would go to the park and find a sunny spot to read or draw for my first date. But I was prompted instead to check the movie theater to see what films were playing. My inner artist didn’t want to sit at the park. I knew, as soon as I saw that Burnt was playing, that my first date would instead be watching this movie. 


I am drawn to movies about cooking. I rarely cook any more, so I’m not sure what the draw is. I just know I love the creativity, the artistry, that chefs have as they prepare exquisite meals that are as beautiful to look at as they are to eat. Movies such as Julie & Julia, No Reservations, and The Hundred Foot Journey have captivated me and stirred something deep in my heart. 

Burnt, starting Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller, was classy, smart and fun, with a life lesson about the balance between conformity and perfection. My inner artist was inspired, as I watched creativity expressed in a culinary way, while I pondered once again why these films speak so to me. I will watch this movie again…and consider taking a cooking class. 


Today’s journey was a great start along the path to greater creativity. Week One: Recovering a Sense of Safety provided much to think about along with exercises to be done throughput the week. Julia wrote of shadow artists, those caught between the dream of action and the fear of failure. Often, as children, we become fearful of offering our creative abilities because well meaning adults caution us against pursuing an artistic life. Or not so well meaning adults tell us we have no talent. 

I love this quote from the chapter for week one: “Very often audacity, not talent, makes one person an artist and another a shadow artist – hiding in the shadows, afraid to step out and expose the dream to light, fearful it will disintegrate to the touch.”  I determined several years ago to quit trying to be invisible.
And I understand why Burnt was the right movie to see today. Cooper’s character, Adam, teeters between fearfully hiding in the shadows and living audaciously, living his dream. He nearly gives up, ready to quit, willing to die. Another chef, his greatest competitor, saves him, telling him that he has to keep going, has to be who he is. “You are better than me. Which makes you the best. We all need you…need you to lead us to the places we would not go.”  That’s what offering my gifts, offering who I am looks like. It’s audacious…daring to take risks, daring to be bold. I want to go where I have not gone before, leading myself. No more hiding in the shadows.