I am currently working my way through Julia Cameron’s newest Artist’s Way series, It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again – a program specifically targeted to help those in midlife discover creativity and meaning.
This week I focused on chapter three: Reigniting a Sense of Connection.
I continue to follow the four cornerstones of the program:
- Daily hand-written Morning Pages (wrote all 7 days)
- Weekly solo Artist Dates (visited the library and spent time in the kitchen)
- Two 20-minute solo walks per week (struggling with this because I hate to sweat)
- Ten weekly Memoir prompts (this week focusing on ages 11-15)
By design, the week’s theme of Connection is born out of the memoir. Before I started delving into the assigned prompts, I didn’t consider connection a theme for this period of life (grades 5-9). And I certainly questioned how it pertained to the present. However, I am learning not to question Julia’s direction but instead trust her wisdom. It always leads to insight.
This week’s writing prompts ask us to answer the following:
- Whom do you form new major relationships within this period? Briefly describe the dynamic of the most important ones.
- Where did you live?
- What was your community in this period? Did you have one? Was it satisfying – complicated – dramatic – supportive?
- Describe one sound from this time period. Was there a song you listened to over and over? Try listening to it now. What does the experience bring up?
- Describe one taste from this period.
- Describe one smell from this period.
- Describe a time when you felt lonely during this period.
- Describe a time when you felt supported during this period.
- What was a source of stress during this period?
- What other memories feel significant from this time?
By far the most significant event during this time in my life – and I might go as far as to say one of my top five “traumatic” moments – was our move from Houston, Texas to Weston, Connecticut when I was twelve years old.
Sixth grade is a difficult time. Halfway between childhood and adolescence with hormones raising beneath the surface, it is a time when we don’t know exactly who we are or how we fit in. However, the move from Texas, with its classic drawl and southern hospitality, made it especially hard.
I attended parochial school from the time I was in kindergarten. Boys were separated from girls and we attended chapel once a week. Manners were required and the expectation was that “children are to be seen and not heard.”
I vividly remember my entire sixth-grade year. I remember the snickers when I would respond “Yes ma’am” or “No sir” I struggled to understand my English teacher with the Boston accent. I endured the mocking of my southern drawl and then would go home and practice how to speak properly. By the end of the year, my relatives teased I spoke like a Yankee.
It was a lonely period – and I yearned for connection.
Of course, I eventually made friends and adapted to the New England lifestyle, but I have never forgotten that feeling of isolation and the desire to belong.
Interestingly, I think my recent interest in genealogical research is rooted in this desire for connection. I no longer struggle with fitting into a social group, but instead, I wonder how I fit into the world at large. Where did I come from? What legacy will I leave behind?
My ancestral background is akin to a human mutt. I’ve researched three generations on both sides of the family and so far I have determined I am southern: Texas, Tennesee, and Alabama are predominant birthplaces.
My husband, however, is 100% Italian. Both of his parents are first generation American. Which means my children are 50% Italian. And while I do not have the Mediterranean DNA, I’ve chosen to adopt this country as my own.
So this week’s Artist Date took me to the library where I checked out multiple Italian cookbooks. I perused the recipes, finding those that reminded me of the Totoro family dinner table. I then purchased the ingredients to make authentic meatballs and Italian gravy. It’s been a while since I spent so much time in the kitchen preparing a meal other than for holidays. And I loved every minute of it.
There is definitely room for improvement. Visible bits of bread in the meatballs detracted from the presentation – and I forgot to brown the beef bones for the sauce. But overall… the meal was delicious and my husband was thrilled.
I look forward to many more afternoons in the kitchen – honing my culinary skills and connecting to past loved ones through food.