The Artist’s Way Summaries: Recovering a Sense of Self-Protection

Mondays may be the day my summaries of Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” get out moving forward since weekends tend to be more unpredictable than expected when I set out to do “Sunday Summaries of The Artist’s Way with Laura JeH” yet the past two weeks have been uncommon and this week is about balancing my energies again.

After nearly two weeks of diligent effort, I have recorded the audioprogram for FULLY COMMITTED: The Sacred Sojourn of NOW and it’s just over 7 hours which is why it took so long to record, edit and review.

I’m excited to have that big project done and will be getting it compressed today as I recover my energy which feels drained, as if I’ve went through labour to bring about another creative baby I am grateful cannot cry and wake me up in the middle of the night as physical babies do.

Parenthood has really taken on a new perspective for me these past few months as I became a book mama after so many years trying while leaking energy that drained me before I ‘went all the way’ to the finish line of bringing my creative baby to life and this week’s chapter on ‘Recovering a Sense of Self-Protection’ talks about that in the first section called DANGERS OF THE TRAIL.

“Creativity is (GOD) ENERGY flowing through us, shaped by us, like light flowing through a crystal prism. When we are clear about who we are and what we are doing, the energy flows freely and we experience no strain. When we resist what that energy might show us or where it might take us, we often experience a shaky, out-of-control feeling. We want to shut down the flow and regain our sense of control. We slam on the psychic brakes” is how Julia opens this chapter.

DANGERS OF THE TRAIL reflect the blocks we choose to use to sabotage us from achieving our goals and take creative U-turns back to the comfort zone of the known which requires sacrificing our desires and the efforts required to achieve them.

I speak openly about the fact marijuana was the primary blocker I used for years to undermine me and keep me from making the impact I desire to make in this world in the book I finally managed to write weeks after my beloved cat’s death in April that marked a turning point in my life. The day I laid him to rest I decided to also bury the identity I’d developed as a high-functioning pot-head and recreate my self-image to be fully present without need to make the moment more complicated than it needs be.

“Blocking is essentially an issue of faith” Julia says because “rather than trust our intuition, our talent, our skill, our desire, we fear where our creator is taking us with this creativity” so rather than create, we block.

In the ‘Sacred Sojourn of the Soul’ this is the stage referred to as ‘Veiling the Unrest’ and while discomfort is often the devil we know, it’s time to reorder the letters we write our (life/death) sentences with so that we can live a life we know we lived fully.

WORKAHOLISM is the next section tackled in this chapter and reflects the cultural propensity we have toward working to earn our way instead of remembering how to play without alteration for it seems most adults have forgot how to be present once they are ‘of age’ to intoxicate themselves in a socially acceptable way; and if it’s not socially acceptable en masse then finding others who enjoy the same are how that one finds meaning and significance with others they enjoy relating to.

As a creative who has taken on jobs over the years but really prioritized being available for my grandparents while creating virtual content to uplift others while struggling to get ‘the book’ done behind the scenes, as was my obsession over the five years it took to finally commit to doing without the coping mechanism I’d judged myself so harshly for through the years, I see how guilty I felt for the apparent freedom I’ve had; because I wasn’t charging for the content I was putting out freely I devalued the work I was obsessed with doing and so did many others.

Julia says “we must learn to see workaholism as a block instead of a building block. Work abuse creates in our artist a Cinderella Complex. We are always dreaming of the ball and always experiencing the ball and chain.”

She differentiates ‘zestful work toward a cherished goal and workaholism’ based on the emotional quality of the hours spent, recognizing the ‘treadmill quality’ of workaholism that leaves us addicted to the resentment we feel toward how much of our life is consumed by the way we measure our worth.

Because workaholism is an addiction to a behaviour rather than a substance she says we must set bottom line boundaries as a limit we intentionally become aware of so we can beware overstepping the line we set for ourselves; overwork is the problem, not work itself, and calling on others to remind you when you’ve strayed off your self-care course is a recommendation Julia offers to help you stay the course of recovery.

One of my Animal Messages card decks (by Susie Green) features an ORANG-UTAN with the message “Working to live joyously, not living to work.” In the description it says “For Orang-utan understands the true value of time and counsels that you use it wisely” which is a poignant message for workaholics to re-member.

DROUGHT is the season of doubt where we fight with God about the point of our efforts and feel like we’ll never emerge from the desert season of our life that Julia says brings us clarity and charity.

She recommends writing your morning pages each day to get through this season of apparent hopelessness and whatever form this consistent creative expression takes for you I recommend that too.

FAME is said to be a spiritual drug that turns our measurement of success outside of ourselves when the truth is that what we all really crave is self-acceptance. Julia recommends sending yourself a fan letter or postcard with an encouraging message “You are doing great!” so that your artist doesn’t have to wait for external approval when self-generated approval and acceptance is the unspoken object of desire.

COMPETITION is another spiritual drug, according to Julia, because we poison our own well, impede our own progress and ogle the accomplishments of others, asking the wrong questions that give us the wrong answers.

Excuses focused on others robs us of the creative options such creative blockages dam up.

“This compare-and-contrast school of thinking may have its place for critics, but not for artists in the act of creation. Let the critics spot trends, reviewers concern themselves with what is in and what is not; let us concern ourselves first and foremost with what it is within us that is struggling to be born.”

Instead of competing with others or the marketplace’s demands we must turn inward and tune into the desire within us that is longing to be birthed by us.

“When we respond to art we are responding to its resonance in terms of our own experience. We seldom see anew in the sense of finding something utterly unfamiliar. Instead, we see an old in a new light.”

Julia reminds us not to throw out creative babies prematurely based on an egoic need for instant gratification and the addictive hit of an acknowledged win, as sometimes we need to go through the hallway of insignificance in order to arrive at the page warmed up and ready to create a masterpiece.

Approval from others comes from lack of self-acceptance and the need for fast results so dare to give yourself the approval you previously looked for from others and watch your world turn around.

If an egoic fear or need to be original comes up as a block she encourages us to remember “it is the accurate mapping out of our own creative interests that invites the term original. We are the origin of our art, its homeland. Viewed this way, originality is the process of remaining true to ourselves” and is actually very relevant to what the legal proceedings I’ve been involved with over the past year have helped me to see as well.

For the sake of keeping this message focused on extracts from “The Artist’s Way” I’ll write another blog this week about the lawful way you can practically protect yourself in a world that needs you to draw your identity from outside of yourself.

With love,

Laura JeH – Namaste

Leave a comment