Sunday, May 27, 2012

Creativity abound!

Hi everyone,

In February, I mentioned joining a 7-part workshop that aimed to help me restore and nurture my creative path. During the 3-month series, offered by my yoga studio, Tranquil SpaceI met with 10 other ladies on the same journey. To accomplish our goal, we were asked to read The Artist's Way: Creativity as a Spiritual Practice by Julia Cameron along with two complimentary books, 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women by Gail McMeekin and Hip Tranquil Chick by Tranquil Space founder/workshop leader Kimberly Wilson. Together, we read and discussed these books, completed homework related to each chapter. We also had fun, participated in creative projects, such as art journaling, creating collages and vision boards, and even painting flower pots. From February 22 to May 9, we met every other Wednesday until we completed our work. 

I had planned to give updates on my progress here on my blog, but by mid-session, I hadn't really figured out what--if anything--was happening. So, I just kept going until I was done. 

The books served as wonderful manuals, covering similar stages to finding your creative self and helping to remove whatever may be blocking your way. More than just exploring your creative side, they put you on a journey of complete self-discovery, evoking childhood memories, finding roots to age-old issues, and uncovering what you really love. 

The Artist's Way provided two tools to accomplish this: 
  • Morning Pages. First thing every morning, we were required to write 3 pages of whatever is on our mind at the moment. (While the author was very specific about using regular-sized paper, our workshop guide, Kimberly, was more relaxed about it: "Just don't pick the tiniest journal you have." While it only took me 20 minutes or so to blather on about whatever each morning, I found writing Morning Pages a challenge that I eventually gave up on toward the end. Horrible, I know! Taking a 3-day trip to New York for fun threw me off my routine, and keeping my own personal journal--however sporadically I write in it--hindered my desire to write more each and every day. But I tried, and do think there is something to writing first thing in the morning, before you are quite awake and your nightly dreams are still flickering. By the end of the workshop, I discovered that my morning pages had revealed recurring themes and a list of action steps, festering ongoing topics I could now address or eliminate from my life and a To Do list I could work on checking off for good.
  • Artist Dates. Artist Dates are not dates with artists (which would be fun!). They are dates with your artist--time set aside for you to spend alone. These dates force you to break out of your habitual work-life/home-life routine and instead focus on yourself and what you love to do. Basically, it gives you permission to do something--anything--fun for at least an hour (but more if you can spare it). Go see a movie, take a walk, visit a museum, get a massage or facial, go shopping, cook a new recipe, draw, write, create, get out of the house! The only rule is to go alone. One of the common themes throughout all of our books was that spending time with yourself is the only way you'll learn who you are and grow as a person. I had absolutely no problem scheduling artist dates! (Note New York trip mentioned above.) In fact, it turns out that I have Artist Dates practically every day! (What does that mean?!) 

I liked The Artist's Way and recommend it as a really helpful tool for someone who feels they aren't creative. You'll soon discover that you are! Everyone is, no matter what you think! Even if you think you already are creative and don't need to read this book, you are bound to get something new and exciting out of it. It can be that kind of life-changing if you let it. 

Our supplementary books, 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women and Hip Tranquil Chick were equally beneficial guides. In a way, I almost like them more. There's no doubt that The Artist's Way is an amazing piece of work that provides tools to break people out of their hard shells. But, it's also clear that the author was trying to rediscover herself and clear her creativity path from a very dark, difficult place. Some of the girls in the workshop related to her better than others, like me, who found it too overwhelming at times.  

For me, the other books had lighter, more approachable tones. 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women was my favorite of the three because it offered myriad stories, advice, and perspectives from all kinds of women artists--from writers to actresses to business women. Like the other books, it offered homework questions that help you digest each chapter's main points and how they apply to your own life. Hearing so many other women artists tell their own stories, their struggles, and successes was an inspiration! 

Hip Tranquil Chick is another helpful guide, but entirely fun and fabulous, just as its author Kimberly Wilson! If you ever met Kimberly or visited her yoga studio, Tranquil Space, you'd know this book exudes her style. It's a guide to living life to the fullest, using yoga as a catalyst for becoming a wonderful, well-rounded girl on-the-go. Don't let the hot pink girlieness fool you: This book has fantastic tips and tricks everyone can use to achieve a driven yet tranquil, fulfilling life.

So, now I'm decompressing. I've just finished compiling and organizing all the work I had done. Who knew I'd get another book out of it, with 50+ pages of insight?!

To sum it all up, these books are great, and reading them as a group was really helpful to keep us moving and motivated. The workshops were wonderful, and the lovely women I met--including our fantastic guide, Kimberly--made the whole experience well worth it! Thanks, ladies! 

Here we are during our last meeting with our newly-painted flower pots.
Funnily, I was still adding details to mine over breakfast the next morning. 

May the journey continue....

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