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 eight: Reigniting a Sense of Joy.
I continue to follow the four cornerstones of the program:
- Daily hand-written Morning Pages (wrote 11 out of 14 days)
- Weekly solo Artist Dates (postcard journaling project)
- Two 20-minute solo walks per week (walking the basset…)
- Ten weekly Memoir prompts (this week focusing on ages 36-40)
Perhaps some of you noticed my absence on the blog last week. We were on vacation and where we stayed had no WiFi and spotty cell phone coverage. While forced to unplug I must admit, it was nice to spend uninterrupted time with the family (all 10 of us).
This week’s session on JOY had us focus on what makes us happy. Through memoir questions and self-reflection, we contemplated times when we were most joyful – and perhaps reconnect with a few lost dreams.
I found it more than coincidental that our family vacation at the lake coincided with this week’s focus. My most treasured memories involve spending time at my parent’s lakefront property in Bella Vista, Arkansas. Dad purchased a pontoon boat just for the grandkids and we would spend every Memorial Day – 4th of July – and Labor Day at their place. This year’s family vacation was an attempt to recreate those memories for the next generation. And I think we succeeded.
In fact, my husband and I returned with a new retirement dream. We would like to own lakefront property where the children and grandchildren are welcome to come anytime and enjoy escaping the stress of everyday life.
While we would love to have a large enough home to accommodate everyone at once – like my parents’ house – we would also be content living in a two-bedroom condo. It isn’t so much the size of the residence as it is the location and relaxed atmosphere.
Anyway… the vacation allowed me to reconnect with joy in my life, but so did the memoir questions:
- Describe major relationships at this time in your life.
- Where did you live?
- What brought you happiness during this time?
- Describe a sound.
- Describe a smell.
- Did you have any pets?
- What passions or interests did you explore? Did you ignore?
- What was your greatest challenge? Do you relate to that challenge today?
- What was the prevailing mood at this time? How does it relate to today?
- Describe other significant memories of this time period.
Question 3: What brought you happiness?
It was at this time in life that I discovered scrapbooking.
I’ve always taken pictures of life’s special moments. Whether it be birthdays, holidays or family vacations, I wanted a record of the events. I struggled, however, with a proper organizational system. Magnetic photo albums or plastic photo sleeves seemed insufficient. I wanted to tell the story behind the picture.
In 1997 I attended my first Creative Memories event and I was immediately hooked. I became a consultant – not because I wanted to sell the product but because I wanted to teach others how to properly preserve their family’s heritage. I am convinced it was my experience as a consultant that led to my first teaching job four years later – which ultimately led to a teaching career.
While scrapbooking is a true passion, I am sad to admit that I rarely allow myself the pleasure.
I still have boxes and boxes of old photographs. I have enough scrapbooking materials on-hand to complete several more albums. And yet… I do not make the time.
Julia asked us to do one more memoir activity this week: List 10 fun things you currently are not allowing yourself to do. She then instructs us to choose one and DO IT.
I’m sharing this with the hopes that you will keep me accountable.
Scrapbooking brings me great joy. It is in alignment with one of my life’s priorities: leaving a legacy. In this midlife season, I have the time. I just need to convince myself that I am allowed to pursue an activity for the sole purpose of having fun.