Sunday, September 2, 2012

a micro/macro macro/micro breakthrough

filled up morning pages notebooks, my artist's shrine, and cameron's book.  some of the tools.
on june 11, 2012 i started julia cameron's artists' way--a twelve week program of writing morning pages every day, taking yourself on an artist date every week, and completing exercises to figure out why you might be a "blocked creative," or why you might not be living up to your full artistic potential.

when i started, i hoped to have some sort of huge break through where, finally, i would figure out what my "true" artist's calling was.  eventually, i realized this artist's way process felt a little like what i was taught to do as a religious young person in order to gain a sure knowledge of the gospel of jesus christ.  in my religious training, we were taught that if you read the word of god every day, had a sincere desire, prayed day and night, fasted, "went into the wilderness," either literally or figuratively, you would be given the gift of sure knowledge.

i know many people, in fact, many people who are the very most beloved humans in my life, who have a sureness and a belief that they would be willing to die for after completing the steps outlined in the religious training of my mormon faith tradition.

the book
i completed my checklist, the studying and prayer, fasting and meditation, but this kind of big, unshakeable truth, a burning in the bosom, to borrow a phrase, never manifested itself to me.

perhaps my idea of what should have happened, what should have been revealed to me, blinded me to what was learned instead.  since i was focused on one outcome, i may have failed to notice other equally good outcomes. 

i started feeling this same way about midway through the artist's way.  that there was a specific way i should be feeling, a specific kind of break through that a "good" artist would have in this process.  this is not necessarily anything to do with the book or the program itself.  i'm pretty sure it's my own context and mindset that produced this feeling, this obsession with other people's breakthrough stories:  so-and-so had a huge breakthrough in week 8, so-and-so discovered that she should _______ and she sold__________ and moved to________ and started a ________________.

i admit, i got fixated with other people's artist's way break throughs.  i also admit that i'm still really obsessed, and i'm dying to hear other people's stories about this.  but, in the end, i had a different sort of break through, one that's still in process, one that i'm still trying to understand.

i finished the twelve week program today, september 2, 2012.  i had a lot of micro-insights, and a few larger ones as well.  here's a short summary of some of the things that came from working through morning pages every day for three months:
today's big picture: sunday dinner old school.
1) micro/macro:  i learned that i need to continue focusing carefully on the micro.  i've written about this many times on my blog, and it's a realization that i started coming to a few years ago.  for me, a focus on small, daily, affirmative actions creates the greatest amount of artistic productivity in my life. when i have grandiose plans, when i try to control a project with grand plans and ideas with a capital "I", my projects tend to fail or burn out. i decided, at least for now, to continue with the mode of working in micro-bursts, as this will best enable #4 on this list.

farmer's market salad--again!  heirloom tomatoes, cukes, cilantro, avocado, feta & vinaigrette.
2) walking blind: the mountain i'm climbing is one of those depicted in a beautiful japanese scroll-- enshrouded in clouds.  i'm climbing in a mist, one step at a time, and i can't see the guru, the mountain peak, or how far it is to the top.  or even if there is a top, a guru, or a place worth climbing to.  it seems my path has something to do with faith, working one letter at a time, one footstep at a time, without knowing for sure what it's all for, except:

3) the deep breath in & the deep breath out:  i've learned i really have to pay attention to the moment i'm in, not the one that's coming, not the one that's already happened.  the literal deep cleansing breath is one i take many times a day to remind me to stay in the moment.  what does it mean to live a moment fully, beginning to end?  i don't really know, but it's something i'm working on, and it seems like it's important to continuing to get work done every day.

finishing salt and rosemary rolls.
4) multitudinousness:  i'm learning to be okay with a multitude of answers, paths, and outcomes. there doesn't have to be one.  i'm a little (sometimes a lot) jealous of people who have one clear path or obsession.  that has never been clear for me, i've always jumped around in my pursuits and had many, perhaps too many, interests.  now i'm working on figuring out what that means for the work i need and want to do while i'm on this earth.  i love poetry, cooking, music, film, performance & caring for my family.  i want to do all of those things in some capacity, and well.  i don't know what that will look like, finally, only that

tomorrow i'll do some yoga and meditation and morning pages, i'll work on a poem and read a poem, i'll practice some music and write some scenes for a film project, the meditative part of my day will start again with cooking dinner and sitting at the table with my family, as we do on most days.

the most caloric mashed potatoes in the world with mushroom gravy & roast beef.
this is what i'm starting to understand right now, after working daily to have more insight and to be more productive as an artist.

i can't wait to hear the wisdom of some other people out there.  how do other people keep their work moving forward, integrate worthy pursuits with daily life, get inspired?

hearing these stories what keeps me going.



  1. Lara, I'm in tears right now, the kind you have when you hear or read truth. Your insight and words are similar to what I have thought for many years about faith in God and it touched that place in my heart that felt like a renewal. For me, this is what keeps me going, seemingly small experiences that become a part of you. For me it does take daily practice. You have a gift for seeing and creating a vision through your writing, the way you take care of your friends and family, your cooking and teaching that is envious! You are amazing (for lack of a better word). Thank you for your entry today!

    1. thank you so much, kristin. your comment means so much to me.