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 seven: Reigniting a Sense of Resilience.
I continue to follow the four cornerstones of the program:
- Daily hand-written Morning Pages (wrote 5 out of 7 days)
- Weekly solo Artist Dates (started to teach myself PhotoShop)
- Two 20-minute solo walks per week (walking the basset…)
- Ten weekly Memoir prompts (this week focusing on ages 31-35)
The malaise of last week lifted by the weekend which is good because this week I need to prepare for our upcoming family vacation. A close friend volunteered her lakefront home and we are excited to get away together and relax. As a family of ten (and growing), we prefer to eat meals at the house and linger around the dining room table. I have already made the menus. This week I need to shop for the groceries.
I still plan to keep up with Julia’s program. I am in the final stretch (only five weeks left) and I don’t want to lose momentum.
This week’s memoir prompts were particularly thought-provoking:
- Describe your major relationships.
- Where did you live?
- What was a source of humor during this time?
- Describe one sound.
- Describe one taste.
- Describe one way in which you were resilient.
- What was your concept of God?
- Were there experiences/decisions made during this time period that are still a part of life today?
- What was your relationship to exercise? How does it compare today?
- Describe other significant memories of this time of life.
Interestingly, I used the word resilience to describe last week’s prompts. And the term still applies during this time of life.
While I could wax on and on about my answers to all ten questions… I will focus on just two:
What was your concept of God?
My relationship with the Divine is complicated. As a product of the parochial school system, my basic concept of God was that of a Divine Accountant… and the Book of Life his financial spreadsheet. Admittance into heaven was based on the bottom line. Did life choices land me in the black? Welcome to paradise. In the red? So sorry… but to hell with you.
Somehow in all my parochial teachings I completely missed the message of love. The God I envisioned was critical, judgmental and his love extremely conditional.
It was during this time of life, however (at a very low point) that I was introduced to the concept of a loving God. A God who is for me and not against me. A God who desires fellowship with his creation.
I’ve always heard we are made in the image of God. It never occurred to me, however, that this resemblance extends beyond physical attributes. Since He is the ultimate creator, we are also creative. He wants us to have fun – to play – to experiment. I much prefer this God to the one I learned about in elementary school. I want to spend time with Him and get to know Him better.
What was your relationship to exercise? How does it compare today?
This relationship needs major work. Please understand, exercise… it’s not you, it’s me.
As a child, I remember playing the neighborhood game of catch or four-square. I was not particularly good, but neither was I last the one picked for the team. And I was okay with that.
I was not particularly coordinated nor athletic in high school. Therefore, I never participated in team sports. I enjoyed volleyball and tennis, but only in a non-competitive way.
P.E. was a class I endured. I didn’t like the constant comparison on the field and in the locker room. I didn’t enjoy sweating or labored breathing. I assumed it meant I was out-of-shape, so every class was a reminder that I was not good enough. Once I graduated. I reasoned I didn’t have to exercise if I didn’t want to. And a rather sedentary life followed.
I’ve always watched my diet, so weight was not much of a problem… until the age of 55. Now the middle is a little thicker – a little flabbier – and clothes are a bit too snug.
In 2015 I embarked on a 10,000-step-a-day routine and truly LOVED it. I lost a few pounds but more importantly, I toned up and gained a positive mental attitude. I enjoyed walking and I voluntarily pushed myself to sweat a little.
But then the weather changed. And the daylight hours waned. And I used any excuse to stay inside. In 2016 I broke three bones within five months. The bedrest prescription led to a sedentary life.
But I no longer like the reflection I see in the mirror. I have no problem stretching and conditioning my brain – why do I resist doing the same for my physical body?
This is a constant topic in my morning pages. One day I know I will grow frustrated with all my complaining and eventually take action. I want to try yoga. I enjoy walking. And I know from past experience …. putting on the sneakers is the most difficult step. Once I walk out the door, I am good to go.
This week’s Artist Date:
Leaving a Legacy is important to me. I want my children (and their children) to understand where they came from. I want them to know my parents – to know me – and to understand how they fit in this world.
For years now I’ve had this concept of marrying one photograph with one essay to tell the stories of my life. I am in the process of scanning older photos for long-term storage. I then plan to use the original for this memoir project. However, I couldn’t find a proper format. Scrapbooks were too big and bulky. Journals were too bland.
This weekend I discovered Cathy Zielski’s Designs. I LOVE the clean minimalist look. And I like the 8.5×11 format. As an added bonus, her process uses PhotoShop … a skill I’ve wanted to learn for years.
The learning curve is steep. And this perfectionist had to give herself LOTS of grace. But in the end, I liked my first page. And I look forward to working on this long-term project a little bit each week.