Remembering how to create: the first four weeks in the Artist's Way

There's something about wedding planning that's all-consuming. I really thought with all my years of project management suavamente that wedding coordinating, nine months to plan and an ample budget would be enough for me to keep wedding planning in a nice, neat package. Organized, safe, unmessy, low anxiety, clear-minded.

Much to my chagrin I ricocheted away from that illusion real fast. I knew after the wedding and honeymoon bliss subsided that a quiet, deathly calm would come to my life. And deathly calm makes me free fall if I have nothing to hold onto. That's the thing with anxiety -- you've got to have tiny, little lily pads in your mind to reach for next. Otherwise, you spin relentlessly in circles and make a mess.

If I had nothing in the books, I knew January 2017 was destined to be a giant canyon for free-falling, so I lined up a few things to invest in after the wedding. I committed to not taking on more clients. I committed to creative searching (which is way more unnerving than finding clients). I signed up for a nine-week meditation instructor course. Q1 of 2017 wasn't going to pull me down. I was going to stay open, in an orderly, nice sort of way. That is, until the third morning of our honeymoon.

In the calm quiet of a foggy morning by the ocean, I felt something pressing on me. It was then I thought of you. I grabbed my ipad and began typing, not even distracted by the roaring fire in the fireplace. In 15 minutes I had written a piece of prose so profoundly personal it shocked me. It was line after line of all the times in my life that I made decisions because I knew one day I would be a mother. I was overwhelmed, grateful, jealous for more. There was a familiar spaciousness that re-entered my mind. I decided I needed more of these moments, and that's when I committed to complete (not just dally inside) The Artist's Way.

For those of you not familiar, in the early 1990s Julia Cameron wrote a book based on her 12-step process of helping creatives discover and restore their creativity. A lawyer may be secretly suppressing a desire to be a painter. A doctor may have really desired to be a florist. For all the reasons we can imagine, most of us (myself included) suppress creativity for the sake of conformity and survival. We think we're creating (look at this colorful spreadsheet!), but in our heart of hearts we know something is amiss. Cameron assures her readers that this process will be fruitful and painful; challenging and easy; it will be everything all at once and the thing you need most is devotion to the process.

It's been four weeks now, and she's right. This process is not for the faint of heart, but it is for those who are ready. I wasn't ready five, six years ago when I first stumbled across her book. At the time I tried to approach it with a clenched fist and orderly calendar -- the two poisons of creativity. This time, I felt fearless, which I figured was as good as it was going to get. Cameron emphasizes the importance of creating for the sake of God, Spirit, Divine creating in you. That God's design is to create through you -- not to hoard you or enslave you or reprimand or color-code you. Create.

I've journaled in what she calls a "Morning Pages" fashion. Free-falling, random scribbling for three pages, every day, without exception. No rules, no order required. In the beginning my pages sounded like a tally of all the things I did right, did wrong, did less than satisfactory. Slowly, ever so slowly, I let my penmanship go, I let my L's look like T's. I began misspelling words so that accuracy wouldn't get in the way of my mind's thoughts getting out. It turns out this is the first step to creating: emptying all your plans, forgoing all your organized little talents and getting really messy.

Today's task was to write an artist's prayer. A sort of testament, commitment. As evidence that I've still got a ways to go, I googled "artist's prayer examples" and found prose dripping in maple syrup and gum drops. I rolled my eyes at the thought of an artist's prayer being so gooshy, so Hallmark and Lifetime movie romantic. You're talking to God, you know? Have a little decency. 

I decided 12 years ago that I wouldn't tell God what I thought He wanted to hear. But rather what I really thought. At 20 years old, I prayed what I knew in my heart of hearts: I will never lie to you again. I won't lie to me, I won't lie to God, I won't lie to the people at church who just want me to make things nice and show up on Sundays. This morning my artist's prayer came out, and I share it with you now.


This isn't how things were supposed to be, but I can forgive You for that. Every time I tried to create small, contained plans, You whispered hope into my dreams uninvited. And in my waking anxiety you wrote a new song. What is lost can be found on the other side of the river ... by the tracks where I forgot to look. In the corners of sleepless nights and wringing hands, You sat with a banjo and my favorite notes. Free, hopeful and expansive is the Love of God.

Create in my openness, create in my secrecy.

Create in my shattered dreams, create in mountains scaled.

Create in arms unafraid, in eyes looking for You --

In the song of the banjo man waiting to be heard.

Create in my mysteries, in my search to be right.

Create in my confidence, in my offerings, in the whole of my life.