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 twelve: Reigniting a Sense of Faith.
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 (I went clothes shopping and actually bought a new back-to-school outfit!)
- Two 20-minute solo walks per week (walking the basset… AND averaged over 7,000 steps a day)
- Ten weekly Memoir prompts (this week focusing on ages 56-58.5)
I can’t believe this is the final chapter of the book.
On the one hand, I feel as though I am saying goodbye to a dear friend. Julia and I have spent over three months together and shared many in-depth conversations. She helped me view my life from a different perspective. She told me to let go of old mental tapes that were holding me back from becoming a better version of myself. Julia taught me the value of taking baby steps, lowering expectations, and allowing myself to fail in the name of fun.
On the other hand, I know Julia is now a part of me. These lessons will continue to guide me through midlife. And when I need a word of encouragement, her wisdom and companionship are as close as my bookshelf.
The final list of memoir questions, which brought us to the present-day, included:
- Describe major relationships during this period of life.
- Where did you live?
- What were the major changes during this time period?
- Describe a time when you felt guided during this period.
- Looking back at your memoir, do you see the hand of guidance?
- Do you have a sense of purpose or calling now?
- What one thing did you see in your memoir you can now appreciate about yourself?
- What patterns do you now see, related to your creativity, as you look back on life?
- What other memories seem significant?
- What would you like to do next?
Three months ago, when I first glanced at the weekly titles, I wondered why the final chapter focused on faith. It did not seem a logical follow-up to the previous chapters: Reigniting a Sense of Vitality or Adventure. But now that I have completed the 12-step program, I understand. FAITH is what makes life worth living. FAITH helps us to persevere even when times are tough. FAITH is knowing that taking one baby step will lead to another – and another – and another.
Julia talks a lot about faith in a higher power. My faith rests in Jesus Christ. For others, faith may rest in God, Allah, Buddha or Mother Earth. The most valuable lesson I learned over this summer, however, is that it is faith in this higher power that enables me to have faith in myself.
I shared a few weeks ago the major breakthrough moment I had regarding Baby Steps.
Actually, acknowledging the value of baby steps (vs. giant leaps) was only half the breakthrough.
The other half – the most important half – involved this idea of Faith.
As a Christian, I know Jesus died for my sins. I’ve known that since the day I was born. It was drilled into me throughout my parochial school years: we are all sinners and in need of a savior.
But I am a “good” girl. I strive to follow the rules. I’m constantly accepting responsibility for any infraction of the law – and asking for forgiveness.
At the same time, I am also a perfectionist. Practice makes Perfect was the battle cry in our household. In second grade I learned the motto: Good, Better, Best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better. And until your better is best.
I lived by these axioms. But the harder I worked, the more exhausted I became. I never seemed to get ahead. And all this striving led to low self-esteem and a sense of never being good enough.
Then one day someone told me that self-deprecation is unflattering. That false modesty is pride in disguise. What?! I was working so hard to earn the Lord’s favor only to learn my low self-confidence is a deadly sin? I was damned no matter what.
Where is the Good News in that?!
But here’s what I discovered: Christ not only died for my sins, he died for my insecurities.
Christ does not want me to live with low self-esteem. He wants me to live with confidence that I can do all through Him.
Christ does not want me to be a slave to my inner critic. He wants me to release that stronghold and set me free from her cruel lies.
Christ does not want me to live in fear of failure. He wants me to trust Him. And that requires taking baby steps of faith.
He has gifted me with talents. He has gifted ALL of us with talents. But he doesn’t want us to bury those talents in the sand. He wants us to use them to the limit. He doesn’t want us to play it safe. He wants us to take risks and be vulnerable. He isn’t looking for perfection from us, only a willingness to try and trust.
So while I am sad to complete this Artist’s Way program – and blog series – I am excited to see what is in store for me next. No, It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again, and in some respects, I feel as though life is just beginning.