This One Book Changed My Life for the Better

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Sunday Morning at Home Bird Song

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I wake up to this sweet sound every morning, and I listen to these birds sing for a while before starting my day. I often wonder what they’re thinking, and what they’re saying to each other. They’re so chatty – even when it’s rainy!

The Artist’s Way is a book that I mentioned in my last post on Slow, Mindful Self-Love Practices. Written by Julia Cameron, this book is organized as a journey to unleash your inner creativity and blast through any creative blocks you may be experiencing. Every chapter represents one week in your journey, for a total of 12 weeks. There are also helpful quotes throughout the book to inspire you. Like this one –

The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Below are 7 ways that reading Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way has changed my life for the better.

1. Every week, I schedule time to go on an outing by myself.

Julia Cameron calls these “Artist Dates,” and I talk about them more in-depth in my last post. I like to think of an Artist’s Date as having the fun you never were allowed to have alone as a kid. It’s like a grown-up playdate. As a child, I was obsessed with bookstores. I would take a book with an intriguing spine off the shelf and read a couple pages here, a couple pages there. I would put it back when I had my fill, then move onto the next book, and the next book, and the next, until I found one that I wanted to sink into. This process could take half an hour, sometimes an hour. I still can happily pass an hour (or more) in a bookshop.

Some other ways I like to spend an Artist Date include exploring new gardens, going to art supply stores, and taking myself out to locally-owned cafés.

2. I discovered that visiting beautiful gardens makes my heart sing.

Going to gardens by myself on artist’s dates really pushed me to truly observe what I was seeing in Nature – and identify the emotions that I feel when surrounded by her beauty.

A forest of roses, Barnes Arboretum, June 2019

When I visit old mansions and estate gardens with a friend, I’m focused on engaging with my friend, talking to them, and experiencing the moment together. When I visit gardens alone, the experience is so much more immersive – I feel like I’m the only girl on earth in an enchanted forest.

Wyck Garden

Wyck House

I’ve learned so much! I know that native dogwood trees flower until early April, but the Japanese dogwood blooms well into June. Daffodils and tulips live in April, but fade away by June – which is when the alliums pop their little purple pom-pom heads up.

Tulip & daffodil field, Chanticleer Garden, 4/21/19

Allium field (same location), Chanticleer Garden, 6/1/19

When I’m at home or at work, it’s easier for me to access the feelings of joy, enchantment, and wonder by reliving those memories spent in nature. I capture these happy feelings in any way I can – from taking photos to recording audio notes of happy chirping birds to journaling. Speaking of journaling…

3. I started art journaling.

Art journaling is something I would have previously judged as “too creative” or “too much work” for me. According to Mixed Media Club, an art journal is “a book kept by an artist as a visual, and sometimes verbal, record of her thoughts and ideas.”

For me, it’s a way to get out my feelings without necessarily having to write them. I can use images from the pages of my Vogue magazine, maps I pick up from a garden, brochures I’m given at a networking event.

I can let my subconscious speak to me directly without having to translate what it’s saying to me into words. Art journaling isn’t something I do daily or even on a regular schedule. But about once a week, I feel the urge to get something down on paper, and I may not even know what I want to write. That’s when I art journal. If you feel like your soul (or the Universe, or God) has something it wants to say to you, but you don’t know how to interpret what it’s saying – try art journaling.

4. I’ve become a watercolor artist.

I started painting in late March.

Koi Fish at Chanticleer, March 2019

Jenkins Arboretum, June 2019

I am having so much fun painting new scenes, mixing colors, and rediscovering how to draw. I haven’t painted since art class in high school. I’m still very much a beginner artist, but a very passionate one! 🙂

Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things.

Edgar Degas

5. I love and look forward to writing Morning Pages every day.

Cameron describes Morning Pages as “three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in morning.” I started journaling every morning back in March, and I’ve been impressed by (1) the insight that this simple act gives me and (2) my (unexpected) zealous commitment to write 3 pages every morning.

Previously, journaling seemed like such a chore. I’ve kept a diary throughout my life on-and-off that I would write in at the end of the day. It was always such a headache to detail the events of my day, and I would inevitably fall off for weeks, sometimes months at a time.

There’s something about stream of conscious writing that is so liberating. I think this is what I love about Morning Pages. I get to write 3 pages of whatever trivial thought pops into my head AND the writing can be crap AND I can do it with blurry vision at 5:30 am in the morning?!? Sign me up! It’s cleansing to mind dump all the junky thoughts trashing up my brain space to start off my day fresh and new. It’s like taking a shower, but for my brain.

6. I realized sewing is not the only way I can express myself creatively.

I fell head over heels in love with fashion design in 2015. But this year, I learned that I don’t need to keep myself in a creative box. Once you find a creative passion, you’re not chained to it for life. You can dabble in and out of it. You can reach out for other creative journeys.

I’m receiving so much fulfillment and joy these days from writing, watercoloring, being in nature, and spreading myself out into other arenas. Some days you need to let one creative field lie fallow so the soil can regain nutrients. In the meantime, it’s okay to plant seeds and cultivate another creative project in a totally different field.

7. I’ve grown more comfortable with solo outings.

I think that this is a byproduct of going on Artist’s Dates. I’m a little less nervous about taking myself out to dinner or going to happy hour alone. Two weekends ago, I went to a networking event for women passionate about horticulture.

I never would have done that before! I would have thought that my passion for gardens, as a dilettante, was not as important or meaningful as that of a woman who works in the field as a professional gardener or arborist. I’m so happy that I stepped out of my comfort zone and went alone to this summer celebration for women horticulturists. I made new friends, some of whom have offered to give me a tour of the gardens where they work! I’m so excited to learn more about the flowers and plants I’ve grown to love over the past couple of months, and to receive all the blessings the Universe has to offer with these new opportunities.

Reading The Artist’s Way and implementing the tools within its pages has made my life more imaginative, creative, and self-reflective. I live in the present, and I’m more in tune with my feelings and what I’m experiencing in the moment.

If you feel creatively blocked or simply want to experience life in a different way, definitely check out The Artist’s Way. It may be just what you need. All of us are creative in our own way.

…we need to be willing to let our intuition guide us, and then be willing to follow that guidance directly and fearlessly.

Shakti Gawain

What sparks your creativity and lights your imagination on fire?

Which books have changed your life for the better?

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One Comment

  1. Thanks for sharing your self-love journey and your insight!! Such an important topic. I like the idea of an art journal.

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