At a time when I was grappling with burnout, both my physically and creatively, I stumbled across Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. I had just completed my Masters of Fine Arts program at the University of Maryland in the midst of the Spring 2020 - Covid Lockdown. I felt so disconnected from my body and had all but given up on my spirituality. As I immersed myself in its nurturing embrace, I slowly realized one of my painting professors from undergrad assigned the Basic Tools, Julia Cameron outlines in her book. It offered a lifeline to rekindle my passion and purpose. I found solace in the practice of artist dates again and thoroughly enjoyed the moments of solitude that whispered to my spirit and invited my creativity to soar… again.
The gentle guidance within the pages of Julia Cameron’s book allowed me to reconnect with my body, fostering a newfound sense of confidence and self-assurance throughout my life. Inspired by my own transformation experienced while exploring The Artist’s Way, I've since dedicated myself to sharing the transformative principles taught throughout Cameron’s book that consider the body, spirit, and creation from a holistic viewpoint. It has been such a wonderful experience leading community mindfulness sessions and nurturing students and clients alike. At the beginning of this year, I personally felt the need to dive deep into the gentle embrace of The Artist’s Way but this time bring others along as well in a group cohort session. So far it has been an amazing experience, since we kicked off our journey earlier this week.
In her book, The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron delves into the heart of creativity and spirituality, while encouraging exploration and open mindedness. At its core lies the profound belief that creativity and spirituality share a sacred bond… and that we are all co-creators with the divine whether we accept the label of artist or not. I believe, as Cameron does, that creation and self-expression can be different for everyone and show up even in the most mundane ways (ex. while cooking, dancing in the kitchen, drawing in chalk on the sidewalk, making up lyrics to sing to your pet, etc). The book acts as a guiding light, leading you through a soul-stirring artistic and creative recovery, restoring the lost connection between your creative spirit and divine essence.
Cameron provides a wealth of transformative practices and exercises designed to awaken your inner artist and ignite the embers of creativity within. Through self-exploration and deep reflection, you'll find yourself nourished and inspired, aligning your creative expression with the depths of your soul. The Artist's Way is way more than a book; it's a soulful pilgrimage that nurtures the union of creativity and spirituality, empowering you to become the truest version of your creative self.
The basic tools, Julia Cameron shares in her book, are known as morning pages and artist dates - they bring up all sorts of emotions and resistance but with simple implementation and persistence they hold the key to unlocking the reservoir of inspiration, imagination, and self-discovery within.
Morning pages, a daily practice of writing three pages of stream-of-consciousness thoughts, serve as a potent tool for clearing the clutter of the mind and tapping into the deepest recesses of our creative spirit. With each word penned on paper, we release inhibitions, self-doubts, and fears, creating space for fresh insights to emerge.
This ritual not only rekindles inspiration but also nurtures a profound connection with our authentic selves, fostering clarity and self-awareness. Cameron encourages us as those traversing her pages, that “there is no wrong way to do morning pages” and I encourage those I mentor to do what works for them and if they have to adjust how they do it temporary - do it!
choose smaller pages to begin with
commit to one page the first few week or so - i find i usually have to find a stopping place with 4-6 pages cover front and back in my journal - so you’ll probably move past this quickly
when you can’t immediately wake up and write - pop up your voice memo on your phone and flow speak instead of write - or type in google doc
Consistency is more important than following the rules ;)
Artist dates are my favorite of the basic tools Cameron writes about in The Artist’s Way. They are enchanting encounters, where we act as solo explorers seeking adventures in the unknown and in the process ignite the spark of imagination and wonder. This achieved by creating space and excitement in our lives through mindfulness, solitude, and doing things we might not always do. These solitary adventures fuel our creative senses. Sacred moments - of what sometimes feels like a chore but is in reality an act of self-love and self-care - giving us permission to indulge
in activities that enchant and nourish the soul. Whether it's exploring art exhibits, taking long nature walks, or delighting in a leisurely afternoon of reading, artist dates rejuvenate our creative spirit and reignite our passion for embodying our most expressive selves. By honoring these soulful rendezvous, we create an intimate space for self-discovery and recovery while rekindling a sense of playfulness and wonder. It serves to breathe new life into our role as creator.
I’m often told, people struggle with planning artist’s dates.
Take a moment to breathe and settle in to listen to to your soul voice or intuition, asking it “what does my inner creative what to do?” If all else fails do something you loved to do as a child - because as adults we often become paralyzed when asked what we want to do because we are so often overwhelmed by decision making - if we return to living in the present moment and viewing every new moment from the lens of childlike wonder - then that’s where the true magic lies.
Here are a few of my favorite ways to take myself on an artist date.
I. Connecting with Nature: take your camera phone, watercolors, journal etc with you - or don’t and just explore your four senses without distraction
A Nature Walk: Explore local parks, nature reserves, or botanical gardens for a peaceful and rejuvenating walk amidst nature's beauty.
B. Beach Retreat: Spend a day at the beach, absorbing the calming rhythm of the waves and finding inspiration in the vastness of the sea.
C. Exploring your own backyard: maybe you live in a city get out and walk around and try to spot as much nature thriving in a urban environment - if you live with more nature around - try to spot something totally new that you may have overlooked before
II. Artistic Emersions:
A. Art Museum Visit: Delve into the world of art at a local museum, allowing yourself to be moved by the masterpieces and emerging artists' work.
B. Gallery Stroll: Attend an art gallery exhibition opening or stroll through an art district to discover diverse art forms and styles - one of my favorite things to check out in different cities is their mural and street art scene
C. Treat yourself to a conference, expo, or residency in a new place
III. Shift your viewpoint
A. Visit living history site : Exploring historic sites and history museums serve to shift my brain to a different time and place
B. Go to a science museum or aquarium
C. Birds Eye View or Ant's Eye View: get low or get high - in a plane, skyscrapers, mountains, subways, laying in the grass - all serve to change your view of the world
IV. Creative Experiences:
A. Pottery Class: Get hands-on with clay in a pottery class, exploring the joy of sculpting and creating functional pottery pieces.
B. Paint & Sip: Unleash your inner artist at a paint and sip event, where you can paint and enjoy a glass of your favorite beverage
C. Artist’s Hangouts: a lot of places including yoga studios, churches, community centers, craft supply stores host arts and craft nights where you can meet up, chat with others, maybe learn a new technique, have fun
V. Literary Escapes:
A. Bookstore Browsing: Wander through a bookstore, savoring the sights and smells of new books, and treat yourself to a literary gem.
B. Poetry Reading: Attend a poetry reading or open mic night to immerse yourself in the beauty of spoken word and poetic expression - maybe join in
VI. Musical Inspiration:
A. Live Music Concert: Attend a live music concert or performance to experience the power of music and connect with different genres.
B. Music Jam Session: Join a music jam session or open mic night to share your musical talents or simply enjoy the creative energy.
C. Dance Party: head to a cafe that hosts tangos, attend a rave, turn the radio on or stream some music while cooking
D. Creation to music: pick your favorite tunes or something brand new to inspire you as you create or just sing to the top of your lungs.
VII. Culinary Exploration:
A. Cooking Class: Indulge in a cooking class to discover new recipes and flavors, infusing creativity into your culinary skills.
B. Food Tasting Tour: Embark on a food tasting tour of your city, trying diverse cuisines and savoring culinary delights.
C. Cafe Time: I love finding new and exciting coffee, tea, and pastry shops to check out - camp out with a good book, some art supplies, or just people watch
Don't you just love the idea of implementing simple yet transformative practices?
It's true, at times, they might seem challenging and overwhelming. If you're anything like me, you become an overachiever when given a task, going all in with a "do or die" attitude. But I've learned to let go of making promises and instead, tune in to what truly resonates with my authentic self. It's essential to slow down and pay attention to how our body feels when considering commitments. If we feel a strong contraction - a sense of frustration or unease - it's a signal to stop and reflect on what's causing it. Sometimes, our intuition gets clouded by our body's stress response, making it harder to trust ourselves. In this journey of healing and self-discovery, we peel off layers like an onion, but each revelation takes us closer to our authentic and expressive selves. Remember, there's no one-size-fits-all solution, and the key lies in consistent self-work and trusting in the process. Are you ready to commit to your authentic path?
Join The Artist's Way Group - Autumn 2023 (doors are closing soon 8/12/23 for this round) and embark on this transformative journey together. If it doesn't feel aligned now, don't worry - there will be more opportunities in the future. Whether in-person or online, this transformative experience awaits, offering you a chance to nurture your creativity, discover your true self, and find harmony within. Trust the process, and let your authentic expression shine through.