Artist's Way,  MidLife

The Artist’s Way for Midlife – ADVENTURE

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 eleven: Reigniting a Sense of Adventure.

I continue to follow the four cornerstones of the program:

  • Daily hand-written Morning Pages (wrote 6 out of 7 days)
  • Weekly solo Artist Dates (reorganized the nook)
  • Two 20-minute solo walks per week (walking the basset… AND treadmill)
  • Ten weekly Memoir prompts (this week focusing on ages 51-55)

First of all, I want to thank all of those who left encouraging comments last week. I’ve come to realize the Fitbit wannabe is definitely an example of “you get what you pay for” (the step count is about 30% off the iPhone calculations), BUT… it is helpful in motivating me to get off the couch. I managed to walk 7,000+ steps for 5 out of 7 days (the other two days I was busy chasing my eleven-month-old grandson and too pooped to do anything else).

This week I learned that getting off the couch is also necessary for creative health.

When I was teaching full-time and raising my own children, I would collapse in front of the television at 7:30pm and not move until I went to bed at 10:00. I was too exhausted to do anything more than watch reruns of The Big Bang Theory.

But my life is no longer chaotic. I still have energy at night to work on projects, read a book, or write a chapter. I don’t have to adhere to the old routine.

So my Artist Date this week got me off the couch and into the nook. I decided to clean up and reorganize the room to foster a more creative environment.

I cleared off the desk and now have plenty of space for scrapbooking projects and writing endeavors. I culled through old books and have four bags to take to the library’s used book sale. I weeded through cardstock, stickers and other papermaking crafts and put them in usable order. After years of saying I’m going to scrapbook – I’m now ready to take that first step!

In one sense, I’m prepping for an adventure. I’m daring to create something from nothing. I’m daring to go outside my normal nighttime routine and envision some evening fun.

But this week’s writing prompts also revealed another kind of adventure. Focusing on the ages of 51-55, I answered the following questions:

  1. Describe major relationships during this time in your life.
  2. Where did you live?
  3. What risks did you take during this period?
  4. Were there risks you wanted to take but didn’t?
  5. Describe one sound.
  6. Did you travel? Where? Why? With whom?
  7. What goals did you have ~ did you accomplish them?
  8. Do your goals from this time period have anything in common with goals today?
  9. What was a source of adventure ! how does it compare to today?
  10. What are other significant memories from this time period?

What did I discover?

Travel dominated my life.

In 2011 I was fortunate to take a two-week solo trip to Paris. My dream of living in the City of Lights finally came true. Since second grade, I’ve dreamed of speaking French at the local cafes, walking through Tuileries Garden, and taking in the art at some of the world’s greatest museums.

Then in 2015 I led a group of 38 parents and students on a twelve-day tour of Europe: London-Paris-Florence-Rome-and Sorrento. This was my third group tour (I led my fourth in 2017 and I am now planning a possible fifth). I still enjoy visiting the sights, but now I have the added bonus of sharing a love of international travel with my students.

I still have a long travel bucket list.  But I didn’t realize the level of this obsession until I sorted scrapbooking supplies this weekend. I could fill an entire shoebox with travel stickers!

I love all aspects of travel. I dream of exotic locales. I research travel destinations. I plan detailed itineraries. I take tons of photos (to scrapbook). I bullet journal snippets while on the trip and then complete a travelogue when I return home. And I immediately begin the process all over again.

As I read through this week’s chapter, I was struck by this quote from one of Julia’s students:

Traveling is my artistic calling.

I thought only National Geographic photographers could have such a calling. Or mega-superstars like Rick Steves or Samantha Brown. It never occurred to me that this fifty-year-old dream could actually be a calling to go explore the world in my own unique way.

I am more than ready to embrace this adventure!



  • Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond

    Hello Molly Thank you for another wonderful post about The Artist’s Way and your experience working through the book. I saw your photos of your making space for your crafts on Instagram and I too love to travel. I hadn’t thought of it as a creative outlet but you have made me think. We are off to cruise around Japan in just under 5 weeks and I can’t wait. Thank you for being an active member of our #MLSTL community and sharing your wisdom. Have a beautiful day. xx

    • Molly Totoro

      A cruise around Japan?! That sound fabulous, Sue. How long will you travel (and do you plan to share with us once you return?!)

  • Joanne Tracey

    I haven’t seen this version of The Artists Way, but it sounds very much like something I’d enjoy. Travelling truly is a creative outlet – and the planning before and the sharing afterwards is sometimes as much fun as the actual trip itself.

    • Molly Totoro

      Yes, Joanne… I spend so much time planning, preparing and anticipating, that the actual trip is almost anti-climatic 🙂

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

  • Janet Mary Cobb

    Molly – so many congrats are due today. 5 days of 7000+ — and the days you chased your grandson was movement too! And cleaning the nook – and recognizing that you are called to travel in some way. You are making so much progress! Good for you!

    • Molly Totoro

      Thanks so much for the encouraging words, Janet 🙂 How did fare with weekly exercise goals? I tried emailing you last week regarding accountability – did you receive it? Or perhaps I should try again…

  • Leanne |

    No matter what fitbit you use, I think the motivation it gives us to move our butts out of our chairs makes it worth having. I had one I paid $16 for and it worked just a well as my $120+ fitbit does – so I’m a fan of both.
    Love how you’ve sorted out your nook – and I’m looking forward to seeing some updates on your creative pursuits. Also nice that travel is so important to you – I’ve put my travel dreams on hold for a few years until I retire and have some decent chunks of time to travel in – Australia is so far away from everywhere that going for a couple of weeks barely gives me time to get over jetlag etc before it’s time to turn around and return home.
    #MLSTL 🙂

    • Molly Totoro

      That’s so interesting, Leanne. Australia is most definitely on the bucket list, but I’m not sure I will ever make it because it is so far away. It didn’t occur to me that those living in Australia might have a difficult time traveling because of its remote location.

  • Debbie

    Hi Molly, this was a fun read. Good on you for chasing your dreams and working towards them. I love that travel quote and as a frequent traveller I can relate to it and your love of travel. #mlstl

    • Molly Totoro

      Thanks for stopping by, Debbie! I do love to travel, and when I’m traveling, I love to read travel blogs and discover new places to add to the bucket list 🙂

  • Leah

    Inspired by your posts about the “Artist’s Way”….I ave checked the book out from my local library to test it out. Exciting! And I’m all for travel being my artistic calling…just as soon as my teenagers are done growing up and out of the house.

  • Molly Stevens

    I never thought of doing an artist date at home. I have so many things I could work on that would also bring up memories for the memoir work from Cameron’s book. You’ve done a great job with your steps, Molly. That is something that this time of year isn’t a big problem for me, but in the colder months I struggle with it. As for travel, I am realizing that I have to push myself to travel. Maybe if I did it more I would enjoy it, but I have come to the realization that it is not my artistic calling. I wish it were, since it is so stimulating and refreshing to spend time in a new place. I am excited about the adventure of working through the book and we still need to do some brainstorming for ideas for artist dates. 😉

    • Molly Totoro

      I realize travel is not for everyone. While I thoroughly enjoyed my solo trip to Paris, I realized it is far more enjoyable to travel with someone. We don’t have to do the same thing, but we can get together in the evening over a nice dinner and share our day 🙂 Yes… let’s brainstorm some fall artist dates!

  • Christie Hawkes

    First, congratulations on getting prepared for your artistic endeavors. Next, I found the writing prompts for this week very interesting and your discovery that travel is an artistic calling. I also love travel and writing. Perhaps some day I can combine those two loves into an artistic calling. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Donna

    Hi, Molly – I can also relate to your love of travel and agree that travel can be an artistic outlet.
    Congratulations on achieving 7,000+ steps, plus chasing your eleven-month-old grandson around (which I am sure was triple the steps)! 🙂

    • Molly Totoro

      I hadn’t thought about triple steps! Unfortunately, the fitbit only counts steps where the left arm moves. It completely ignores steps where I am holding something in the left arm (groceries, book bag, 20-pound baby) or all those flights chasing a toddler up the stairs 🙂

  • Mary Lou

    For me, 51 thru 55 was a wake-up call to get going on some of my goals. My youngest child of 5 graduated from high school and I began to put in place plans to resettle. I also, finally, finished my up my bachelors degree during this time and graduated at the age of 56. Aaaand ….. I started to think about where I wanted to travel to before I died. Whew! I’m exhausted just thinking about all that I did between the ages of 51 thru 55. Oh! Most importantly, the first of my grandchildren made his appearance during that time. Thanks Molly! Going to share on social media #MLSTL

    • Molly Totoro

      Those five years were indeed a blur, weren’t they, Mary Lou? I experienced many of the same milestones as you 🙂 I’m not gonna lie… I’m glad to be on the other side and taking life a bit more leisurely!

  • Leslie Clingan

    So enjoying your posts on your progress through Cameron’s book. Interesting to think of travel from an artistic point of view. You need to keep seeing the world so you can use that shoe box of travel stickers. I am currently scrapping our trip to Germany last October. But I am so behind!! Have a trip to Cancun and a trip to the Dominican that happened close to five years ago that are still not scrapped. And the birth of a granddaughter! How do you decide what to scrapbook?

    I finally managed an art date this past week and the week before. Getting my walking in and so enjoying my writing, especially the morning pages. So thankful to have been introduced to this book through you.

    • Molly Totoro

      I think, Leslie, you hit the nail on the head. I have SO many scrapbook projects that I don’t know where to begin! I love to work on my travel photos (thus the shoebox of stickers) but I have this call to leave a legacy and think I should work on family pictures instead. I put such pressure on creating a legacy album others will like that I fear the blank page. I am a mess 🙂

      I’m so glad to hear you are enjoying Julia’s book. I’d love to see your scrapbook pages sometime!

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