Friday, 28 January 2011

Me......and my Shadow......doo be doo

I've been reading The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron and following her suggested process with a group of ten or so other people who also want to claim or reclaim their creativity.  I'm not an artist in the painting sense or an artiste in the performing sense;  I do like to write and I want to expand my thinking so that it gets more curvy, less linear and analytical.

Cameron talks about shadow artists - people who have suppressed their own creative impulses and so align themselves or get close to those who are doing the thing they most want to do.  So a frustrated writer may work for a publishing house, an unexpressed artist marry a sculptor and so on.  There's more to it than that but it struck a chord with me.

Guess who gave up her corporate job and now works for a theatre company?  I don't think I want to perform.  I did once stand on the stage at the Dome Concert Hall in Brighton (as part of a tour, I hasten to add) and it felt great.  Does that mean I want to perform?  The idea of joining a clowning workshop fills me with horror. Acting?  Nah.  Stand up comedy?  Aaargh.

Still, food for some curvy thought...


Monday, 24 January 2011


My Psychology course is assessed entirely by exams and I sat one last Monday and one this morning.  Both went fine.  What was interesting was the process of studying for these exams.  Exams, pah, I thought.  Sat hundreds of them, know how to do well in them.  What I hadn't accounted for was the huge amount of time that has passed since I learned anything truly new, as opposed to building on existing skills and knowledge.

It took several attempts to really grasp the material and be able to construct coherent arguments in essay form (or, truth be told, any form - including explaining Freud to a friend over coffee). I'd become so used to being an expert, being able to grasp problems & solutions quickly that it was a bit of a shock to discover my learning skills could do with quite a retune.

I even contemplated not completing the course because I found the exam preparation so little fun.

So, I've learned a lesson.  I can learn new stuff.  I need to keep learning new stuff, especially if I don't want to go back to my old career and I will have to work at it to pump up those learning muscles.

Oh yes, and last minute cramming really isn't clever at all.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

It's all part of the process...

Now is it Blue Monday on January 17th or 24th?  The debate rages.  Regardless I seem to have hit the bumpy panicky bit of the change process at just the same time that most of the Northern hemisphere experiences its week of gloom and doom.  Clever that.  And boy, what a trough of self pity and doubt it has been.

Thank God for wise and kind friends, tolerance, and general forgiveness all round.  I've tried to practice gratitude, giving, expressing, exercising and a whole bunch of other stuff but the truth is, I think, that in the end you just have to sit it out and know it will turn around in its own sweet time.  And that's OK.

It's all part of the process.....  

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Here be dragons

"If we only arrange our life in accordance with the principle which tells us that we must always trust in the difficult, then what now appears to us as the most alien will become our most intimate and trusted experience. How could we forget those ancient myths that stand at the beginning of all races, the myths about dragons that at the last moment are transformed into princesses? Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage."  Rilke

Somewhere in my current difficulties are dragons (princes?) waiting for me to act with courage.  Unless I rise to the challenge honestly and with an open heart I will continue to run,  feeling weaker with each step.    

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Gratitude works

It's so easy to be in bad mood.  I think I've spent most of 2011 in an uncomfortable fretting state.  Life's too short.  So what if I don't know what this year will bring?  So what if I can't see my path?

A couple of reliable routes to getting out of a mental negative rut:

Meditation, especially the mindfulness kind
Gratitude lists (top of today's is my remaining cat purring like an engine by my side)

The TED talk below is also pretty good at putting any gripes into perspective.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Calm down dear, it's only your life

There's something about imposed landmarks that brings out the resistant child in me.  For New Year for the first time, instead of half heartedly making some resolutions (typically more like wish lists than resolutions) I decided to do it "properly".  I reviewed the year past, noted its battles, celebrated its achievements and experienced profound gratitude for the events and people who helped me along my way.  That was the easy part.

How then do I take the learnings from 2010 and use them as my foundation for a great 2011?  What do I want for this year?  How will I make it happen?  This remains my sticking point.  I made a lot of positive changes last year to free myself from some of the shackles of limited and self critical thinking.  It looks like this year will be more of the same.  I am not miraculously clear headed and free just yet.  As momentous as they felt at the time, last year's changes were the beginning baby steps.  Perhaps I need to accept that the destination can be shrouded in mist so long as the journey is interesting and moving in the right direction.  Because I do know the direction if not the destination.