Tool Two: The Artist’s Date

The Hellfire Club

I haven’t discussed tool one incase you’re confused. I would just like to talk about this one first. According to Julia Cameron, this is an essential tool to unlocking one’s creativity. She describes it as ‘play’. Basically, for two hours a day, or more if you can spare it, we are to do something we enjoy with just ourselves and our inner artist. This can simply be going to the library, the Museum of Art, or a gig.

For me it wasn’t so simple. I still live at home with my parents and you may think that finding time to myself would be an easy task. This would be the case if I didn’t have a flexible job and I felt the need to make my mother’s life easier by splitting the chores. No, I’m not feeling sorry for myself. Helping my mother is the least I can do. In fact, I have managed to get away from the house and embark on some interesting Artist’s Dates.

The first one I’m quite proud of was going into the city one Tuesday morning when I wasn’t working. I grabbed breakfast in my favourite cafe, got my hair cut in the most polite salon I had even been to, purchased some Winter clothes at bargain prices in my favourite clothes store and basically just browsed. It felt good to be out on my own, there was just one issue. I cannot turn off my phone, not even at night, you never know when there might be an emergency. No sooner had I finished my breakfast, right at the beginning of my Date, when my best friend rang me freaking out because he was being evicted from his house. I managed to enjoy my day, but this dilemma niggled at the back of my mind throughout. In the end, he wasn’t evicted so the whole drama could’ve been spared.

Another Date I am proud of was walking up to the Hellfire Club in the Dublin mountains with my dog. I had only ventured to these ruins during the night with my boyfriend and a group of Americans two years back. It was Halloween night, but I didn’t experience anything paranormal, though one of the American girls fainted at the bottom of the stairs.

My dog had a great time. It was a long trek up to the club and I was amazed at just how many people had the same idea. I even got a high-five from a girl who loved my panda hat. There is a beautiful view of Dublin from the club and I sat down at burnt out campfire to appreciate it. Unfortunately, I still hadn’t turned off my phone and was given the task of collecting smooth rocks for my mother and her pet memorial garden. If I had have brought my backpack it would have been no trouble at all.

That was last Sunday. It is now Friday of week six and I have yet to figure out what do for two hours by myself. Right now, all I want to do is read without having to worry about my to-do list. I’m in work in a couple of hours and I have to bring my dog out before then. To be honest, I think the perfect Artist’s Date for me right now would be to simply turn off my phone!

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Recovering a Sense of Abundance

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I am about to begin week six of The Artist’s Way course. The course itself focuses on ‘recovery’, therefore every week is entitled ‘recovering a sense of…’ So far I have, according to Julia Cameron, recovered a sense of safety, identity, power, integrity and possibility. This week will be all about abundance.

To be honest, I don’t really feel abundance is something I have issues with. I’m not rich, but I do have a spending problem. I spoil myself too much. For example, for my birthday a couple of weeks back my brother bought me a €40 voucher for my favourite bookshop. Naturally, I went out immediately and bought about four books I have been wanting to buy. But I didn’t stop there. What about the other books I wanted? With just €6 left on my voucher, I bought myself three more books that obviously went over the margin. I just can’t help myself. It is rare when I talk myself out of buying something, yet one of my biggest fears is falling into massive debt.

This week, Julia is asking me to spoil myself, even just a little. Spoiling myself a little would certainly be an improvement, but not in the way she describes it to be. I feel as though this chapter is aimed at those who deny themselves any treats. I respect those people, I really do. I won’t deny myself completely, but my biggest aim this week is to reduce my spending as much as possible. According to Professor Richard Wiseman, happiness is buying experiences, not materials. And I do want experiences.

The Artist’s Way

If you have never heard the name Julia Cameron, she is, put simply, a woman on a mission. That mission is to help people become unblocked so that they can uncover their creative potential. Whether you are a writer, a painter, a sculptor, an actress, Julia believes she has the tools to help you realise your full potential.

I was introduced to this course over two years ago by my creative writing teacher, Stella*. She saw that I had a talent for writing and encouraged me to put more time into it. It is because of her that I am applying for my Masters in Journalism this year. However, whilst I carried out 12-week course set out by Julia, I did what I usually do whenever I finish a course – I forget everything I learned. I said that I am applying for my Masters, but what I didn’t tell you was that I applied for the exact same postgraduate course two years ago, and I was accepted. Somewhere along the way, however, I convinced myself that I was dreaming. I could never be a professional writer. So I turned down the offer, and it has haunted me ever since.

There’s no denying that a sensible person should aim for the highest paying career, even if that means putting your dreams aside. I spent two years not sure what I wanted to do. I had convinced myself that I wanted to be a counsellor, to help those who were too afraid to speak about their anxieties. I had finally gained an interview for a Masters in Psychotherapy last summer, and…

…it was a disaster.

The college had no intention of taking me on. They wanted me to do their foundation Psychotherapy course first, which would have been too much money for me afford. I cried in the interview and I cried afterwards. I’m the kind of person who needs to have a direction in life, and at that moment, I was stuck at a crossroads. No doors had closed, and it took me a while to realise that I just needed to set myself a new path. I kept thinking of the missed opportunity I had with the Journalism course. I went as far as asking for spiritual advice on what to do. The reply came to me very clearly: you already know what you want to do. I wanted to do Journalism.

At this stage it was too late to apply for the academic year of 2012-2013 so I decided I would explore my new road map. Over the past few months I have discovered that I have a talent for proofreading, and I find it quite enjoyable. I invested in a worthwhile eBook on Proofreading and began doing freelance work online. I haven’t been paid a whole lot, but I didn’t expect to be. I wanted to experience, but more importantly, I wanted to know if this was what I truly wanted.

I would be lying if I said that I am now certain that this is the direction I want to take. Part of me is still terrified of perhaps choosing the wrong option. I am surrounded by both supportive people and sceptical people; conflicting arguments ringing in my ears day in and day out. I had to find a way to help myself to block out the negative and listen to my inner artist.

The Artist’s Way once again lay in front of me and I made it my New Year’s resolution to redo the course, this time with more commitment and determination. I am currently on week four, and I would like you to follow me as I try my best to do this course right and become the confident, self-motivated person I have so long craved to be.