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 nine: Reigniting a Sense of Motion (baby steps).
I continue to follow the four cornerstones of the program:
- Daily hand-written Morning Pages (wrote 7 out of 7 days)
- Weekly solo Artist Dates (reviewed scrapbook layouts)
- Two 20-minute solo walks per week (walking the basset…)
- Ten weekly Memoir prompts (this week focusing on ages 41-45)
This was a breakthrough week for me. Is it coincidental that it occurred during the week we focused on motion?! I don’t think so. I think the culmination of nine weeks of journaling memoir prompts opened my mind and heart to new possibilities – fostering the perfect environment for such a breakthrough.
In fact, this was the first week I did not complete the prompts. I will in time, but the breakthrough began early in the week and I followed that prompt instead.
I won’t go into all the details because quite honestly, I am still processing. In time, I’m sure a blog post (or two) will result. But I do want to explain the chronology of events and the transformation I experienced.
Last week I shared my struggle with having fun. I enjoy scrapbooking but rarely make time to pursue that hobby. Many of you offered kind encouragement and support to help me overcome this mental block. Some suggested I set a timer and allow myself twenty minutes of fun… and then slowly build up my stamina. As you rightly pointed out, my all-or-nothing personality told me I couldn’t scrapbook unless I had hours to complete an album. In reality, an album will be completed with a few minutes each day.
This segued nicely into one of Julia’s exercises for the week:
- List 5 large actions you dream of taking.
- Scrapbooking to leave a legacy
- Embrace a more active lifestyle (walking and yoga)
- Retire to a lakefront home
- Travel through Europe
- Start writing the second book in my Middle-Grade series
- Now list a tiny action you can take in that direction.
- review scrapbook layouts for inspiration
- review beginner yoga videos
- search through Zillow for available properties
- begin a bucket list of places to visit and things to do
- journal my mental block that prevents me from writing the first draft
It is the last dream … my writing dream … that helped me unlocked the mental jail cell I’ve inhabited for decades.
My journaling revealed that my block is due to Impostor Syndrome – something I’ve written about extensively. While the first book in the series has done better than I imagined, I reasoned “anyone” can write one decent book. Beginner’s luck … a one hit wonder. But only a true writer can write multiple books in a series. I fear once I start writing this second book and share it with others, they will discover that I am not really a writer at all. I am a fraud.
I then asked myself … what if I had the confidence to be a writer? What if I actually believed what others say rather than dismiss their compliments? How would my life change?
Through several journaling sessions, I discovered I have a warped view of confidence. I equate confidence with bragging – conceit – pompousness. I was always taught that pride goes before the fall. Blessed are the meek and humble. Unfortunately, I have a warped view of those words as well. I thought the Bible taught true humility was to think poorly of oneself.
In fact, the Bible says no such thing. It states we should not think more highly of ourselves than we ought (not constantly put ourselves down). It also states we should love our neighbor as ourselves (not “instead of” ourselves as I wrongly assumed).
How could I be so wrong all these years?! How did I miss the message of self-love and acceptance?
But more importunately, how can I banish these self-defeating lies and replace them with living truth? How can I move forward with confidence to go after my dreams?
And the answer is found in this week’s focus: Motion … Baby Steps.
Julia did not ask me to list twenty dreams and take several leaps toward each one. She asked me to list five. Then choose one. And take a single baby step.
She also asked me to lower my expectations. I don’t have to scrapbook hours at a time. And I don’t have to create award-winning layouts. All I have to do is preserve my family’s memories for the next generation… one page at a time.
Likewise, I don’t have to write the perfect first chapter. I don’t even have to write the perfect first scene. All I have to do is sit down for ten minutes and write. What I write could be total rubbish – or it could be the start of a rough draft. That is inconsequential. I need to sit down without judgment, lower my expectations, and simply type words on a page.
My young grandson is learning to walk. He does not judge the quality of his steps. He does not try to run a marathon or even keep up with his mom. He simply puts one foot in front of the other for as long as he can. And then he rests. He is satisfied and content. I can learn much from this innocent child.
My post rambled a bit this week. I apologize. But breakthroughs are hard to contain.
In conclusion, I want to leave you with this thought from Mary Oliver:
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and crazy life?
I plan to start living it with confidence, gusto, and a sense of great anticipation. How about you?