Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Time Travel Tuesday- Checking in to Recovery

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.
-Reinhold Niebuhr

Do you ever read the last page of a book first? I do. In the case of The Artists’s Way by Julia Cameron, I read the entire book first before committing to the workbook exercises. Cameron is a famous filmmaker who was married to another famous filmmaker, Martin Scorcese. She is also a well-known author, who produced a trilogy of books on how to discover/recover your creative self. The premise in her writing is that we are all creations and we are all born with creative gifts. It is our gift to God to express those gifts. She likens our inner artist to an inner child, that must be encouraged and supported. While Cameron doesn’t directly use the word "innocent" when describing that inner artist child, that is the interpretation I took away. She talks a lot about a creative journey being a spiritual journey that brings you closer to divinity.

There are a million and one reasons why people deny their divine gifts. Stereotypes kill creative dreams. Artists are poor, gay, alone or crazy. Excuses are plentiful. I am not that good. Creative activities are only acceptable as hobbies. I can’t take time away from my steady paycheck or my family.

Repeat after me: Hello me name is ------- and I am a recovering artist. Whether it is cooking, gardening, drawing, writing, singing, strategizing or organizing. There is something you are uniquely capable of  doing that could be an art form.

Cameron offers a twelve-step "creative recovery program". She asks for a twelve-week commitment to do the work necessary to identify your talents and dreams than protect and nurture them. As I said, I am doing it a bit backwards. I already read the book before signing the pledge. Today is my first official day in recovery. There are several different homework assignments. But there are two constants every week. First, wake up early and write three pages of stream of consciousness every day. Call it meditation or getting the garbage out of your head. Cameron calls it “morning pages”. I got up at 5:15 am and it took me 44 minutes to fill three pages. The second commitment is a weekly “artist date”. I already enjoy weekly “play dates” for the Time Travel Tuesday segment of this blog. The difference is my play dates are not always just for me. Cameron believes it is essential to schedule time alone for some activity that gets you either moving or in contact with nature or both.

For my first “artist date” version of Time Travel Tuesday, I  simply walked in my neighborhood. No big deal. I have done that before. Wasn’t even sure that counts as a date. Except, in my thirty-minute excursion, I found a yard filled with amaryllis bulbs on the verge of blooming. I discovered a hopscotch board painted on a stretch of nearby sidewalk. I witnessed a herd of eight manatees playing in the dazzling white morning light.. When I turned the corner for the final stretch of my walk, I thought a car was driving by with the radio blaring. I quickly realized there was a woman singing Rhianna at the top of her lungs:

 “Shine bright like a diamond. Shine bright like a diamond. We’re beautiful like diamonds in the sky.”

The woman, if in fact she was real, looked to be in her fifties. Dressed in work out pants and jacket, her long hair was pulled back in a pony tail. I question whether she was some figment of my imagination because the song was a perfect reflection for how I was feeling at that moment on my first “artist date”. It seemed so unreal to have this seemingly normal looking neighbor singing with such confidence and so completely immersed in her music. I was going the opposite direction across the street. If she saw me, she certainly didn’t dial it down. I slowed and stared hoping to make eye contact. The woman just walked ahead with her head tilted up, completely oblivious (in a good way).

Maybe she read the same book.

Do you give energy and time to your creative gifts?

For today's "sky's the limit" on what you can learn: The serenity prayer was first included in a sermon by American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr in the 1940's. Around the same time, the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous adopted the prayer as the motto for recovery. The famous prayer has been compared to a Mother Goose rhyme: 
For every ailment under the sun There is a remedy, or there is none. If there be one, try to find it; If there be none, never mind it. 

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