Tag Archives: 4 chicks

Did You Do Week 1 Tasks?

20 Apr

The 4 Chicks Chat about Julia Cameron’s Walking in this World: The Practical Art of CreativityChapter 1: Discovering a Sense of Origin

Ahhh, my faithful Chicks. They did the tasks assigned for Week 1.  Little did they know, each time they attempted a task, I was there.  When they made lists of small creative actions they could take, I was whispering in their ear.   Here, they chat about their experience completing these tasks. And I was there when they discussed their progress, dancing in the space between them.  It was delightful eavesdropping on their conversation.  I hope you enjoy eavesdropping too.

And, how about you?  Did you do the tasks?  If you are seeking me, I highly recommend them.  If you don’t have the book yet, it’s not too late.  Borrow or buy a copy and get started today.

Creativity in the Kitchen

17 Mar

I admire achievement or skill in all creative endeavors, but there is one that I didn’t quite “get” for a long, long time: cooking.

Cooking is truly an art.  I love, love, love enjoying the results of it, when done well.   So much so that I can tell you about specific dishes I had years and years ago, they were that memorable to me.  Unfortunately, my appreciation for the act of cooking has come only recently.  

In my youth, I squandered the opportunity I had to learn from an excellent cook: my father.   He was an artist in the kitchen, making everything from shrimp creole to curried chicken to a to-die-for rib eye.  When we were living in the same household, I had no interest in cooking, or, truth be told, in listening to much of anything a parent had to say.  When I got older, I was too busy.  And I still wasn’t interested.  

Now I’m interested, but he’s gone. 

A few years ago, though, I started going to one of those commercial kitchens.  You know –  a place where they prep everything for you, and you just show up and throw all the ingredients together according to the recipe.  Then, you take the meals home, throw them in your freezer, and voila! you thaw out a restaurant quality meal every night and throw it in the oven.   (Notice all the “throwing”.)   I had found the answer to my prayers because what I hate the most about cooking is the prep work.  This made it so easy.  It was an ideal solution.

But something else happened along the way.  I learned how to cook. 

I learned what ingredients go well together, which flavors go with which, and the magic of lemon juice and zest.  I learned what effect an egg has in a batter, what “searing” and “blanching” mean, and much more.   It turns out, once you know the basics, it changes everything.  Not so different from painting.  Or drawing.  Or photography.  Or…you get the picture.

Now, I’m actually cooking a lot of things at home.  From scratch.  Because I enjoy it.   (Gasp!)  Don’t get me wrong – I’m still a beginner, but I can make quite a variety of dishes now.  I often try making new things, and without a recipe (because following a recipe is the second-most thing I hate about cooking.)  Surprisingly, my new dishes usually don’t go too awry.  

I’ve found that once we acquire some basic skills, and we are willing to fail here and there, we can really release our creativity.   And in being creative, there is joy.

“Sometimes, we need to exercise just a little elbow grease in any creative direction that we can find.” ~Julia Cameron

There is one thing of my dad’s I learned how to cook many years ago: spaghetti sauce.  I’ve been told it tastes like authentic New York Italian spaghetti sauce, which is a huge compliment in my book, particularly since we’re not from New York, or Italian.  I make it from scratch, the way he did, and even grow basil on the back porch because fresh basil makes all the difference.  I truly enjoy making it.   I don’t measure anything, I just know what ingredients are needed, and throw in a pinch of this and pinch of that, until it tastes just right.   I feel like an artist.  In the kitchen.

My dad would be so proud.

Every Journey Begins With a Step

14 Mar

Walking in This World, Chapter 1: Discovering a Sense of Origin

It is fitting that the book we are working through together is called Walking in This World, because this is a journey.   And we Chicks are walking it together.  We have taken both the first step and now the second step on our new path.  The first is: we began the book.  We read the first chapter and we met to discuss it.   The second is: we captured our chat on video.  

Now, our challenge is to complete the tasks in each chapter, and blog about them.  So, here goes:

I completed the first task, which Julia Cameron entitled “What the Hell, You Might As Well”.  The assignment was to write a list of 20 small, creative actions I could take.  The idea is that we get stuck sometimes and begin feeling powerless. To remind ourselves that we always have options and can do many things, it may help to write a list such as this. 

It’s just a list.  No commitment!  But when did my discomfort set in?  When did I have to begin reminding myself It’s okay!  You’re not committing to do this.  You’re just writing about possibilities…?  As soon as I set pen to paper.  I started anyway. 

Then the fear set in.  What if someone reads this?  They’ll think some of these are stupid!

I kept writing anyway.

After #10 I really started struggling.  What?!  I’m only halfway there?  I can’t think of anymore!

I did anyway.

After #15 I was finally starting to get the hang of it.  I slid into home. #20. Piece of cake.

Looking at the list now, I see a lot of things I will do – practice piano, make something new for dinner, play around editing old photos.  But my favorite action is #12: color outside the lines.  For me, this would be the hardest one of all because it goes against my nature.  My need for order and control and aesthetics.  Maybe I should do it.  Just because I can.

Picture Myself Here

12 Mar

A picture’s worth a thousand words, but this poster’s invaluable–at least to me.

The funny thing is, I found it at almost exactly the same time Eva found hers, neither of us looking for them.  We made them over a year ago as part of an exercise in The Artist’s Way.

Last week, I went to move the buffet in my dining room to temporarily place a mirror behind until I could hang it (not wanting my son to break it first).  That’s when this rolled out from underneath.

“What’s this?” Michael wanted to know.

“Oh, nothing,” I assured him.  “Just a little collage I made with the girls last year.”

But it really is more than that.  The power of visualization is evident. Just a short year later, this poster feels like it’s actually coming to life.

What does the life you want look like?  Make your own poster.  It seems silly, I know, but it really does have value, as much as you can imagine.  If you want, send us a photo and “the story” of your collage to Chick Stories.  Just don’t be surprised when the life you visualize starts becoming real.

Not Superwoman

11 Mar

I am not Superwoman.  I really can’t have it all, and I certainly can’t do it all. As unsurprising as this admission may be, I need to keep reminding myself of it.

I have only so much time and energy. This I cannot change.  Therefore, I feel the need to spend what time and energy I have to do the most good.  But what is that?

Sure, the superheroes of comic books and movies can save the world.  That’s because they don’t have to stop a moving train and chase after a toddler, at least not at the same time.  Just imagine Superman having to change his clothes and his sidekick’s diaper in that phone booth.  Exactly.  Not to mention, those guys always have some adopted earth-mom or great-aunt who washes their colorful laundry, cooks their hearty meals and no doubt picks their dirty tights and capes off the floor each morning. I say, those women are the real heroes, the ones scrubbing the super-scummy showers and toilets. 

Of course, Wonder Woman changed everything.  In the seventies, she was my generation’s girlhood role model of female power, proving that women could do anything men could and thereby setting the field for the rest of us to prove the same thing in real life. But did Wonder Woman have a family to take care of?  I think not.  Although if she had, I’m sure she would have had really great full-time childcare and bi-weekly maid service.  But even then, she would have lived with the working-mom angst that is different but every bit as painful as the stay-at-home mom angst.  That’s my take anyway, having thrived and despaired on both sides of this proverbial fence.

So what about our artist child?  This metaphor, used repeatedly in Julia Cameron’s books, has more meaning than ever for me.  With the many demanding roles and commitments we take on as women, what time or energy is left for us to “play?”  Yet at the end of the day–even a chaotic, messy, unglamorous day like most of my days–it still comes down to something else.  Ultimately, busyness is just another form of procrastination, a respectable-seeming alibi for not being where your heart is telling you to be.

My family “comes first,” as people often say.  But if I don’t include my artist child as part of my family, then the sailing won’t be smooth forever; a hurricane will inevitably form in the warm waters of my unconscious and hit land hard.  So once again, I am faced with the need to let go.  I must let go of things that are less important if I am to truly grab hold of those things that are most important in my journey as an artist and a spirit here on planet earth.

I am not Superwoman.  I am not Superwoman.  I cannot create art and do everything else I want or need to do, at least not at the same time.  I must choose.  I must prioritize.  I must walk. Because when my artist gets to play, the rest of my life seems happier, too.

Begin Where You Are

9 Mar

The 4 Chicks Chat about Chapter 1: Discovering a Sense of Origin (PART 2)

This [chapter] initiates your creative pilgrimage. You are the point of origin.  You begin where you are, with who you are, at this time, at this place…When we avoid our creativity, we avoid ourselves.  When we meet our creativity we meet ourselves, and that encounter happens in the moment.  The willingness to be ourselves gives us the origin in originality.

– Julia Cameron, Walking in this World: The Practical Art of Creativity

Want to keep following along?  Here’s how it works:

  1. The 4 Chicks read a chapter.
  2. The Chicks meet and discuss the chapter.
  3. Over the next month or so, the Chicks do the tasks in the chapter and blog about it along the way.
  4. You’re invited to do the same and/or comment on the blog, sharing your own experiences and Chick Stories.

So join in the Chick Chat.

Chick Stories: What’s Yours?

6 Mar

What’s your story of creative journeying?   Maybe you’ve been walking down the path of an artist for many years. Or maybe you’ve convinced yourself you’re not a creative person at all.  Wherever you are in your walk to higher creativity, whatever your art may be, 4 Chicks and a Muse want to hear from you.  To share your story, simply email chickstories@gmail.com.  Be sure to include your first name and where you’re from, as well as a picture of you, if desired.

Selected relevant and appropriate stories, ideally of no more than 350 words each, will be posted.  All emails will be treated as having been submitted for publication.  The Chicks reserve full publishing and editing rights.  Sender agrees not to be compensated for their story.  After all, sharing is its own reward.

Creative Journeys Start Here: Join the Chick Chat

6 Mar

The 4 Chicks Chat about Julia Cameron’s Walking in this World: The Practical Art of CreativityChapter 1: Discovering a Sense of Origin

The Chicks met at Eva’s pool to discuss the first chapter of their latest creativity guidebook, just like they did before with Cameron’s The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity.  They’re videotaping their discussions of each chapter and posting them, so that you can be a virtual part of the discussion, too.

It takes the Chicks about a month to cover each chapter.  Here’s how it works:

  1. The 4 Chicks read a chapter.
  2. The Chicks meet and discuss the chapter.
  3. Over the next month or so, the Chicks do the tasks in the chapter and blog about it along the way.
  4. You’re invited to do the same and/or comment on the blog, sharing your own experiences and Chick Stories.

So join in as the 4 Chicks share their creative challenges, insecurities, learnings, joys, and above all, laughter.  And now, welcome to the first Chick Chat.

Stepping Outside My Comfort Zone

5 Mar

Wow, what a great day!   I had so much fun with the Chicks yesterday.  We just took a huge step forward – finally having our first meeting to discuss Chapter 1 of Walking in This World.  It felt so good.  It has been a few months since we finished The Artist’s Way, and I didn’t realize how much meeting to discuss it was helping me stay open to creativity, and feel so challenged and encouraged. 

Videoing our chat was actually fun, if a little intimidating.  We were kidding, of course, when we called it “The View”.  But it really did feel like our own show!  Can’t wait to see the video clip that comes out of it.  Or…maybe I can. I’m not too excited about seeing myself on video.  It’s out of my comfort zone.  I guess that is an important part of any creative endeavor, though, isn’t it?  Doing new things helps us see not only new things, but also see what already existed in a whole new way.

the Muse

3 Mar

This blog may be about 4 Chicks and their ongoing quest to lead fully creative lives, but I’m the star here.  Who am I?

I am the Muse.  I am inspiration.  Behind every creative journey through the ages, there I am.

The wheel?  My humble suggestion.  The Mona Lisa?  That’s my work, too.  Why do you think she’s smiling?  Romeo and Juliet?  Ah, yes.  A Muse by any other name would smell as sweet.

So now these 4 Chicks want to find me.  They’re desperate to find me, it seems. They each have creative seedlings they want to see bloom.  Well the truth is, Eva, Peggy, Tracey and Vivi have as good a chance at finding me as William, Leonardo, and dear what’s-her-name.  Come to mention it, so do you, my curious reader.

Do you want to find me?   Have you already looked for me?  Well, despite rumors to the contrary, mine is not a game of hide-and-seek, but rather one of seek-and-find, and I do so love being found.

How can you find me, you ask?  You can find me in: writing, storytelling, filming, painting, running, singing, cooking, dancing, sewing, skydiving, rhyming, acting, drawing, decorating, parenting, researching, editing, cleaning, speaking, playing, learning, listening, hoping, planning, working, laughing, risking, traveling, trying, crying, working, waiting, believing, sharing, changing, celebrating, struggling, trusting, working, persevering.  In other words–by truly living.

Wherever you are in your creative journey, I am ready to meet you there.  Meanwhile, the 4 Chicks will be meeting here.  They say they feel my presence most powerfully when they’re together, and they want to share that experience with others.  Maybe you’ll feel me more, too.  Because although no eye has ever seen me, I am always near.

I am the Muse.  I am the inspiration you seek.  Come find me.

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