As I mentioned in last week’s introduction to this Artist’s Way series, I am spending the summer working my way through Julia Cameron’s newest book, It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again – a program specifically targeted to help those in midlife discover creativity and meaning.
The Artist’s Way program is built upon these four cornerstones:
- Daily hand-written Morning Pages
- Weekly solo Artist Dates
- Two 20-minute solo walks per week
- Ten weekly Memoir prompts
The first chapter of the book is entitled: Reigniting a Sense of Wonder.
Since this week’s memoir prompts ask us to reflect on the first few years of life – a time when everything is new and we are filled with curiosity – wonder seems an appropriate focus. Wonder aptly describes our childhood – and wonder can also describe this new season of life.
I’ve spent the last thirty years raising three children, taking care of ill parents, and teaching full-time. I used to long for a spare moment to call my own. Now each day is a blank slate. The children are grown and raising families of their own. My parents have both passed on. And I have cut back teaching to one course a year.
I’m not complaining, mind you. But life is different and I must learn to renavigate the lay of the land.
Productivity is a trait I admire. In fact, I judge whether a day is good or bad by how much I accomplish. Unfortunately, I also measure my self-worth by the size of the to-do list. While this system accommodated the workaholic life of my 30s and 40s, it fails in this retired empty-nester phase. I struggle to find a purpose to the day when no one is depending on me. I find it difficult to remain motivated when I am accountable only to myself.
Self-doubt is a constant companion and when it is combined with a lack of focus, malaise sets in. This is where memoir prompts help get our lives back on track. By reconnecting with our past we can find possible directions for our future.
This week’s prompts had me reflect back to when I was 0-5 years old. Granted, the memory was a little rusty, but it is amazing what I could recall after a few days of focused concentration:
- Where did you live?
- Who took care of you?
- Did you have any pets?
- What is your earliest memory?
- What was your favorite book? What was your favorite toy?
- Describe a smell you remember from this stage of life.
- What was your favorite food?
- Describe a sound from this period of your life.
- Describe a location where you remember spending time.
- What other memories occur to you from this period?
What came to mind when you read through these prompts? If you feel comfortable, please share in the comments below. I’d love to hear!
For my Artist Date this week I decided to try painting. How is that linked to a sense of wonder?!
I’ve always wanted to paint. The idea of transforming a white canvas into a colorful picture is nothing short of miraculous to me. There’s only one problem. I cannot draw a stick figure. No… really. I can’t.
I also love quilts. I adore the colors and patterns of the fabrics. I am fascinated by how different geometric shapes can be combined to form a multitude of unique quilt designs. The only problem is… I can’t sew. I can’t stitch a straight line – really.
But I have a feeling five-year-old Molly would not let lack of talent stand in her way. I’m pretty sure she would splatter paint on a canvas and call it a masterpiece. So I decided to give into my inner child and paint a quilt block.
Fortunately, Pinterest provided the inspiration. I searched “barn quilt patterns” and found numerous options – from ultra simple to extremely detailed.
I then took myself on a shopping spree to Michaels where I bought 8×8 canvases (buy one get one free) – acrylic paint (in colors I like but not necessarily colors that match my home decor) – and paintbrushes.
I made myself a paper draft of the pattern so I knew where to place the colors and I lightly penciled in the lines on the canvas. Then it was just a matter of paint-by-number.
I so enjoyed doing the first one that I quickly painted another. I have a third one almost finished and then I think I am ready to put away my artist supplies for now. While I had a good time expressing my creativity in a new way, I am no Picasso. But who knows… I may try again another day.
In the meantime, these colorful quilt blocks will go nicely on the blank wall in our beach-themed room. Not planned, but a serendipitous surprise.
Please join me again next week when the Artist’s Way focus will be: Reigniting a Sense of FREEDOM.