Walking in this World

I’m very excited today to have started another 12 week course written by Julia Cameron. Titled Walking in this World, this book continues the journey toward unbridled creativity that was begun in her first book, The Artist’s Way

Read my review of The Artist’s Way


Subtitled The Practical Art of Creativity, this sequel presents the next step in discovering and recovering the creative self. The book includes:

* A new tool for creativity – The Weekly Walk

* Strategies and techniques for breaking through difficult creative ground

* Guidance on developing the ability to see the extraordinary in the ordinary, and use this new awareness to fuel the creative process.

The two foundational tools from The Artist’s Way will be continued. 

The Morning Pages are three pages of free flowing writing, first thing every morning. The purpose of the daily Morning Pages is to clear energy from the mind, by transferring thoughts to paper, creating space for new ideas and inspiration to enter. 

The Artist’s Date is a once a week, hour long solo adventure, used to explore something festive or interesting to the creative consciousness, often referred to as the inner artist or the creative child. The Morning Pages are assigned work. The Artist’s Dates are assigned play! 

Although I have taken a break from doing both, I benefitted greatly from these two exercises as I worked through the last 12 week course. I’m ready to embrace and use both of these tools again. 

Picture taken on one of my walks through Wildcat Park near Shoal Creek. 

I am thrilled to add this third tool to my repertoire. The Weekly Walk is a weekly 20 minute walk, anywhere I choose. The purpose is to focus my thoughts, as I walk, and allow creative breakthroughs and inspirations to come. Walking puts my body in motion, while freeing up my mind. I know from experience that a body in motion attracts life, and an abundance of ideas. Some of my greatest “aha” moments have arisen as I walked, deep in thought. 

I have recently felt a tug to return to walking more frequently, especially in nature. In spite of the title of this new Julia Cameron book, I had no idea that a weekly walk was going to be an ongoing assignment. 

I’m not surprised. As I worked through The Artist’s Way, I encounter synchronicities and a Divine leading that was very in tune with each upcoming week of assignments. It would appear that the guidance and synchronicities have already begun. Those are my strong signals that it’s time for this next journey. 

I’m ready. 

Surrender 28: Recovering a Creative Life

I have completed the twelve week course as laid out in The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. What an amazing journey it has been. I love that this book came to me at the perfect time, at the recommendation of Elizabeth Gilbert, whom I greatly respect and appreciate. All that I had been learning before I heard Liz speak, and my awakening creativity that was nudged into greater awareness by my return to writing, confirmed that now was the right time to take the artist’s journey. 

 

The foundational pieces of The Artist’s Way, the daily Morning Pages and the weekly Artist Dates, have become an important part of my routine and my journey. I’ve discovered that the flow of words, from my mind onto a blank page, creates an astounding flow of energy as well. It continues to amaze me what shows up in my Morning Pages. I’ve often begun writing with the words, “I’m not sure what to write about this morning…” and then proceeded to rapidly fill three pages with fluid script and even more fluid thoughts. 

  
And I joyfully anticipate the Artist Date every week. Sunday afternoons are set aside for this time spent with my inner, creative child. I’ve gone to movies, walked in nature, viewed art exhibits, created a variety of things, from blueberry scones to vignettes in vintage containers, and discovered a wonderfully artistic and creative series on Amazon Prime. I will continue both practices. 

  
Julia suggests again and again that art and imagination are best served by playing. She reminded me that my inner artist is a creative child. The liberation of my creativity has come by embracing that truth. I make sure that I am having fun as I create. I am made to express myself creatively, whether I am writing, gardening, coloring or rearranging my studio. If there is no joy in what I am doing then that is an indicator that I’m out of alignment with my playful inner artist. 

 

Some of the deepest work that I did during this course involved examining what holds me back in my creative life. I have released a great deal of fear during the last five years, only to discover pockets of it as I explored my desire to write. Fear creates blocks. And blocks clog the creative process, often stopping that flow of energy completely. I’m grateful for the opportunity to banish fear once again. 

I spent much time as well delving into my childhood and reconnecting with the quirky kid who grew up to be an independent woman who doesn’t mind being different. I’ve learned  from Little Cindy and I have new admiration and appreciation for her. I have ideas for ways to further explore the gifts she offers, that I’m excited to carry out. 

 

Trust has been another integral part of this journey. In the final chapter, Julia writes that while we may know the next right action to take, we don’t know what’s just around the bend. By trusting, I learn to trust more deeply. Trust is my companion this year, as I surrender to the flow of life…and the creative process. I can see the Divine at work in my life. This book so closely paralleled my own journey as last year concluded and 2016 beckoned. It has been the perfect accompaniment. I am delighted to discover that there are two more books in this series. After a brief break, I’ll begin in Walking in this World to continue along the creative path. 

Lastly, The Artist’s Way confirmed multiple time that Surrender was my word for 2016. I love the quote below, which I also found in the final chapter. I am surrendered. I am trusting. I am excited to see what’s around the river bend and content to thoroughly enjoy the journey now. I join Liz in highly recommending The Artist’s Way, to any who desire to discover more about his or her creative self. 
  

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 6: Resistance = Fear = Blocked

I had one of those aha moments today, maybe more of an Ooooo, as I was doing my Morning Pages. These three pages of free writing allows thoughts I didn’t even know that I had to flow onto the paper and surprise me.

  
  

This has been a heart opening chapter this week in The Artist’s Way. As Julia discusses having compassion for our inner artist and re-parenting that child who yearns for creative accomplishment, I have felt deep love, acceptance and understanding for that part of me. 

In the section where Julia writes, “In order to work freely on a project, an artist must be at least functionally free of resentment (anger) and resistance (fear)”, I began to have a suspicion about myself. In this year of surrender I am very aware of resistance. Resistance signals to me that I am moving out of Life’s flow. I have not equated resistance with fear before. I was so struck by that realization that I wrote in the margin of my book, something I don’t normally do in any book. 

  
  

I suspected that I might be blocked, as a writer. Yes, The Artist’s Way is designed to bust through those blocks, yet I haven’t felt that I had any. I’ve expanded my creativity so much since I began this 12 week course, learned incredible things about myself, but I didn’t see myself as blocked…until today. 

As I wrote the Morning Pages, I explored the connection between being blocked and resistance (fear). I wrote this quote from my reading in chapter nine this week. 

“Do not call the inability to start laziness. Call it fear.” 



That hit home. June 2015…I met with a literary agent at the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference and pitched a book idea. I was strongly encouraged by the agent to proceed with my idea and to submit a query letter and proposal to her. It’s seven months later and I haven’t submitted either, yet. I thought hard about that today, and called my inability to move forward what it is, for the first time. It’s fear.

Fortunately, I’m working through the perfect book to overcome fear and resistance, and to bust through blocks, entrenched or newly recognized. As an assignment, I answered a series of questions around my fears about writing this book. I couldn’t find any resentment (anger) in me as I searched inward. But as I moved to the second part…listing resistance (fears)…I wrote, and wrote. 

On the list appeared statements such as: 


This book won’t be accepted. won’t be accepted. This book will forever change my life. It will be expected that I will only write on this topic. 



It was very liberating, to see those fears in black and white, and see how small they were really, how untrue. I know, now, why I’ve resisted this project, and I know how to deal with fear. I know how to release resistance. I’m ready to move forward. I surrender to writing this book. 

  
  

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 363: Finding My True North

What perfect timing it has been, to begin again in The Artist’s Way this week. Chapter 8: Recovering a Sense of Strength explores making practical and immediate changes in my current life. I have been encouraged to examine ways in which I have settled for less than I desire in my creative life. 

The perfection is that I traditionally use this final week in December to reflect on and release the past year, as I prepare to embrace the upcoming new year. One of the assignments in Chapter 8 was to put a name to my dream and write it down. 

I did. I wrote, “I am a writer, an author.”

Next Julia instructed me to name one accomplishment that would signal the realization of that dream. On my emotional compass, this would signify true north. 

I wrote, “I want to know that I have created the best writing that I can, and have it published. My true north is to create my best writing for publication.” 

 

As I am preparing to surrender to next year’s journey, I appreciated this opportunity to become clear on the direction in which I’m heading. 

So what does it mean to find my true north? 

In Bill George’s book, True North, he says, “It’s the internal compass that guides you successfully through life. It is your orienting point – your fixed point in a spinning world – that helps you stay on track. It’s based on what is most important to you, your most cherished values, your passions and motivations and the sources of satisfaction in your life.”

Knowing my true north lets me start exactly where I am, get oriented, and head out, moving in the right direction, using my internal compass as a guide. I can align myself with the Divine, make my desires known, and trust the guidance I receive. 

I continued with the assignment, writing out long and short term accomplishment markers to guide me, now that I had my true north. These actions included sending out a query letter and book proposal and researching submission requirements for several magazines I’d like to submit articles to. 

I recently finished Liz Gilbert’s book, Big Magic, in which she shares her own true north. Toward the end of the book, Liz shares about having fierce trust and doing what you love to do, creatively, because success or failure, it is what you must do. She says do it for you. Not to help or inspire other people. Do this because it helps or inspires you, and then it cannot help but inspire others. 

I am a writer. My creativity has roared back to life as a result of my year of firsts and my year of journeys. My desire to write was at the heart of both adventures. I write because I must. I write for me. I trust that what helps me, in turn helps others. 

As I journey next year, I have my true north and the Divine to guide me. I have fierce trust, and people like Julia Campbell and Liz Gilbert who are shining examples to learn from. I am about to launch out, my heart open, knowing that the flow of life will take me exactly where I need to go, bring me exactly what I require, as I travel with clarity and purpose. It’s going to be another extraordinary year of adventures. 

  

Journey 361: I Am a Precious Treasure

The rains continued today, after heavy downpours yesterday and overnight. With the excessive precipitation, area rivers and streams quickly over ran their banks, creating widespread flooding. It was a good day to remain indoors, and not just to avoid getting soaked. The Joplin Police Department asked citizens to remain at home and off of streets, to limit accidents and the risk of cars being swept off road by torrents of rushing waters. 

  
I chose to stay at home today, effectively creating Pajama Day 2! During the busy days preceding Christmas, I temporarily stopped working through The Artist’s Way book. Today I began the Morning Pages again, three pages of free writing, looked through past assignments, and read the next chapter. 

I had a wonderful afternoon catching up and completing all unfinished tasks. Using Google, I found more images to save that will go onto my vision board for 2016. As I am growing and shifting, my vision board is shifting too. I look forward to bringing this source of inspiration together for the new year. 

The process of looking for images that are in alignment with my desires brings clarity. I realized the board quit being a collection of goals for the year and has evolved into being a representation of who I am, at this moment in my journey. It is a yearly snapshot that captures me as adequately, or perhaps more so, than a photograph. 

After I had collected images for my board, that I will print out later, I had one more task left undone. The assignment was to create a piece, by way of calligraphy, drawing or printing, that contained the sentence, “I am treating myself like a precious treasure.” 

I understand the significance of seeing myself as a treasure, and treating myself that way. As I display one of my vintage pieces, and I could certainly be called vintage, I handle it carefully, but without fear, appreciating its beauty, creating interesting vignettes, finding new ways to work with the piece while honoring still the purpose for which it was created. 

The same truths apply to me. I want to care for myself…physically, spiritually, emotionally…without fear, without envisioning a negative outcome for myself as I continue to journey. I am appreciating who I am, who I am becoming, honoring my past journey, for every moment has led to this one, while being open to growth and new ways of looking at the world and at life. I see the beauty of my heart and soul. 

I created a design with the words written on a piece of paper. A single rose bud that I drew and then colored adorns the corner. I like the simplicity of it. I may color in the background, or leave it as it is. After I frame it, I’ll hang the saying in my studio as a reminder of my willingness to recognize my value. And accepting and seeing my own value allows me to more readily see and accept the value of others.  I see me, and treasure what I see. I am able to see you, and treasure what I see as well. 

  

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.