Tag Archives: Julia Cameron

Killing off my darlings

20 Dec

I don't know what this picture represents, but aside from the near-miss on the moon shot, I thought it was pretty cool.

I hesitated to put that title because I didn’t want FBI showing up at my door to make sure my family is still alive (they are, and as loud as they can be, I’m sure our neighbors can vouch for that). But it’s how I felt when I made what I consider pretty major changes to my manuscript.

I was hesitant, even resistant to the changes. But someone(s) finally took a hammer to my head (kidding, kind of) and convinced me to make the adjustments. I finally realized they were right. It took a lot of work, but it was worth it because the book is so much better because of those changes. In chapter 8 of Julia Cameron’s Walking in this World, the task is to perform an “exorcism” of the creative demon. She suggests throwing it over the gorge bridge or burning it. Too extreme for me. I decided just to cut them and stick the extra “babies,” those pieces I thought were necessary until I realized they weren’t, and pasted them into a document I’ve titled “pieces and parts.”

Of course, I won’t go back to those pieces and parts. They were cut for a reason. They lay in their virtual grave, to only be revived if needed for a reminder to myself or to others close to me that getting rid of those little darlings can be good.

Hard, but good.


Who’s Your Fire Escape?

17 Dec

Making a Quilt for My BFF (Part One)

This month, the Chicks and I have been mulling over Chapter 8 of Julia Cameron’s Walking in This World. It’s all about what Julia calls Discernment, that is, learning to “name our true supporters more accurately.” The task: Make Something for Someone Else, Not to Be Somebody.

Jennifer and I have been having "Field Days" for as long as we've known each other.

In truth, I bought the material for a new quilt months ago and have wanted to make it for much longer. Maybe since I was in first grade. That’s when I first met my friend, Jennifer, although I wouldn’t know for another decade that we were destined to be BFFs.

For thirty years, Jennifer has been my fire escape. And I think I've been hers, too.

When I picked out the pattern for the quilt I wanted to make Jennifer, I saw the word fire and thought I might name it something like “The Flames of Friendship”. But when my tweenage daughter, who’s much more observant than I, looked at the pattern picture last week and said “Oh, I get it. The little squares are like stairs,” I looked more closely at the name: FIRE ESCAPE. Huh. I didn’t get that before. At any rate, I decided it was the perfect (what else?) metaphor for our friendship.

My 16th birthday at Medieval Times.

Although sharing so many similar experiences together at St. Mark’s Lutheran School in Hollywood, Florida (tragically closed just last year), we didn’t grow especially close until high school. I was the loud and outgoing one. She was the quiet and disciplined one. But as we faced the daunting perils of pre-adulthood, our differences became complements. Our strengths and weaknesses fit together, like well-cut pieces of fabric.

My last quilt, made with love in 2009, was for my mom.

This will be my fourth quilt. Wanting to give something special to my sister, niece and mom were my motivations before. My favorite part of making a quilt is the stream of brainless mental wanderings that occur over the hours of cutting, pinning, sewing and ironing. It’s impossible to put so much into a gift without thinking fondly of its future recipient.

Good friends meet equally, at right angles.

Right Angles: One of my ethereal epiphanies came as I was cutting. We all have so many people we call friends, don’t we? The onset of Facebook and other social media has further eroded the term, which used to be a step above mere acquaintance. Perhaps the litmus test is this: is your friendship cut at right angles? Some relationships just aren’t. One person gives more than the other, making them (wait for it)–obtuse.

Before I became one of the 4 Chicks, I was the "co-owner" of a cutting-edge fashion enterprise. We paid for these labels with babysitting money.

But the fundamental starting point of any quilt is right angles. Meeting equally at a point. Over and over and over. That’s the first step of a friendship, too. More about both to come.

See also: Pieces of Us (Part Two) and What’s Your Block? (Part Three).

Discernment Week 8 – Walking In This World by Julia Cameron

23 Nov

Discovering a Sense of Discernment

This week poses a challenge: Are we actually able to got the distance? To answer in the affirmative, we must learn to keep certain demons at bay, most notably success, “the unseen enemy”. The readings and tasks of this week aim at naming and declawing the creative monsters that lurk at higher altitudes. Anger is a frequent companion of this week’s explorations. As we unmask our villains, we often feel a sense of betrayal and grief. This is replaced by a sense of safety as we name our true supporters more

Week 7 Task: Easy Does It, But Do It

11 Nov

Since I have waited so long to do my Week 7 task, I am picking the shortest one.  It’s called Easy Does It, But Do It.  In this task, Julia Cameron directs us to list five areas that we could neaten up. 

The idea is to start small and build momentum from finishing tasks.  I like this one, and now I feel vindicated for cleaning out my closet when I am stressed and stuck and really “should” be working on something else.  Doing these household chores can release energy which provides the momentum to move on to other, bigger things.  I need this momentum now  because I am in the middle of so many projects, both for work and home, that I am exhausted. 

Here is my list:

  1. Wash the back deck. 
  2. Dust in all the hard to reach places that haven’t been dusted for a while.
  3. Catch up on filing.
  4. Bathe the dog.
  5. Tidy up the guest room for guest coming in this weekend.

Am I cheating by picking at least one item that I had to do anyway?  I don’t think so.  At least I know I’ll get that one done!

The Winner is…..

10 Nov

Thank you to all our new subscribers, existing subscribers and those following us on Facebook, YouTube and Vimeo.  We’re so glad to have you “here” as part of our creative community.  Also, we are pleased to announce the winner of our first giveaway – writer JA Humm.  The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron is winging it’s way to her now.  Don’t forget to check out her blog!

Week 7 Task: Learning to Navigate the Learning Curve

1 Nov

This is an exercise in encouragement. Faced with doing something new, we often forget we have successfully done many “somethings” old.  Take pen in hand and list 10 things you have learned to do despite your doubt they could be mastered.

– Julia Cameron

As you all know that we are recording our new Theme Song.   I have done some crazy things but singing has been the craziest. The truth is I can’t sing at all!  but that did not stop me, I was excited about recording our theme song.  I believe that having my chicks there supporting and encouraging me, and having our music muse there making me sound decent gave me the courage to do it and enjoy it.

Here is my list of 10 things I have leaned to do despite my doubts.

1. Run a Triathlon – Who though at 40ish something I could love this sport.
2. Buddha Center to learn how to meditate– I learned to quite my mind which was impossible for me, and has helped me deal with hard situations.
3. Accounting – WOW!  Never went to school for this and it has come naturally to me even though I really don’t enjoy it.
4. Writing – I’m not a very good writer.  But blogging has forced me to at least give it a try.
5. Videography – Even though I’m still learning.  I really enjoy capturing great moments on video.  And without it I would not be able to video blog the chicks.
6.  Going back to school – This is big.  I have been debating this for many years and questioning myself if I could go back and have the patience to do this.  Well I could say now that I’m doing great and enjoying every minute of it.
7.  Reiki Practitioner – Took Level 1 and Level 2 classes and has really helped me.
8.  Public Speaking – Ohhhhh! How I hate to speak in public.  But at my 5K Mercado Run I was forced to give a speech.  OK, it was not that bad and I wasn’t really forced. I did have some blocking moments in which I had to close my eyes when announcing the charity organization to the group, in which was the most important part of course.
9. Breast Feeding – Never though I could do this and was the best experience of my life.
10. Driving Stick Shift – I needed a car when going to college and someone was selling their Jeep for a good price.   I didn’t want to say that I couldn’t drive a Stick Shift, because I wanted the car so bad.  I learned on the way home from work with a friend telling me what to do.  I almost gave her a heart attack.

What are your 10 things?

Who is on the other side of that mirror?

29 Oct

Okay, so I just got home from my dear fellow Chick Eva’s Halloween party and decided to write this blog while I still had a bit of the wine in my blood. Because I love my fellow Chicks, and here’s why.

The more I immerse myself in the world of writing, the more I realize the importance of having supportive, non-judgmental friends around you. I’ve known artists to give up on their dream because of some well-meaning “friend” who tells them that they’re better off focusing on their day job. Unsupportive people can have a lot of power if you let them. They don’t reflect confidence in your dreams, your endeavors. Reasons vary: they don’t “get it,” or maybe they themselves are blocked artists. They can actually make you think you’re not good enough, not talented enough or that it’s just not worth it to realize your aspirations.

While I recognize there is a time and a place for all people in our lives, I do believe that people who aren’t believing mirrors should be kept on the other side of your artistic “wall.” Be nice. Heck, even be friends. But don’t let them into your artistic circle. You need people who believe in you, who can give you positive as well as constructive feedback in such a way that’s not attacking.

Peggy, Eva, Tracey and myself have found each other to be strong believing mirrors, and it is because of this unique group that I have had the desire and resolve to write two full YA novels. They have supported me every step of the way. I have also found strong supporters in my OWL critique group. I’m what you’d call a “lucky girl” (that’s the technical term).

Everyone should have at least one person to whom they can go and always find encouragement. If you don’t, do yourself a huge favor and find one. The test: how do you feel when you walk away from that person(s) – energized and motivated? Or drained and disheartened?

You be the judge…

Oh, and the ChocoVine wine is amazing, if you haven’t tried it! Mmmmm….

What wishes have you granted yourself this year?

24 Oct

I marked another item off the list!

Call it a ‘wish list’.  Call it a ‘bucket list’.  You have one, don’t you?  If not on paper, then at least in your head?  I have one, or many actually, in various forms.   I’ve created them at a number of times over the past couple years that the Chicks and I have been working through Julia Cameron’s books

I wasn’t thinking about those lists yesterday, though, when I met with the Chicks to record our theme song.  I was too nervous! 

All that was going on in my head was:  I’m not a singer!  What are people going to think?  Why did I agree to this? 

I almost pulled out.  But I didn’t.  Instead, I came, I sang, I conquered.  My fear, that is.   What a great feeling! 

Thanks to Tracey for so many things, from writing the song to arranging our recording session to serving us lunch to reminding me that singing for an audience was on my wish list.    It made me realize how many things on my wish list I have ‘granted’ myself in the past year, from singing ‘in public’ to taking a photography class to joining a writing group to finishing a novel (with Vivi).  It’s so empowering.  With this kind of momentum, who knows what’s next?

What wishes on your wish list have you granted yourself this year?

Momentum – Week 7 Walking in this World by Julia Cameron

21 Oct

Creativity thrives on small, do-able actions.  This week dismantles procrastination as a major creative block.  The readings and tasks aim at a sense of personal accountability and accomplishment.  The key to a creative life is sustained, consistent, positive action.  This is possible for all of us.

“We Need a Theme Song!”

4 Oct

That was the revelation exclaimed through no small amount of laughter or wine at a recent 4 Chicks girls night out. There, in the middle of our local Macaroni Grill, we proceeded to sing our favorite 80’s sitcom theme songs:

You take the good, you take the bad…Making your way in the world today…I don’t need you to worry for me, ’cause I’m alright…Sit right back and I’ll tell a tale, a tale of a frightful trip…Thank you for being a friend…Believe it or not, I’m walking on air…

Apparently, our singing and other entertaining commentary was to the amusement (or horror) of the our waitress Danielle and her manager, the latter who kindly comped our desert and last glass of wine, perhaps hoping we would leave more quickly.

At any rate, I–who for the record had not been drinking and should have known better–overheard myself enthusiastically volunteering to take on the task of writing us a theme song. It sounded fun, and in the presence of my Chicks, anything seems possible.

When I first sat down to do it, however, I was stuck. The thing is, for twenty years, I’ve told myself that “if” I had music lessons, or money, or more time, or someone who knew how to arrange, that I could be good at making songs.

But today, thanks to the support of the Chicks and the inspiring words of Julia Cameron’s books, I’m not afraid to be bad (or even just okay) at something I love. Creativity is the best kind of therapy, and all of us have an inner artist who needs to PLAY! ♥

The adjectives suggested to describe our blog became more interesting as the night went on, ending with "loud."

Enter our giveaway today when you subscribe to win a copy of the book that started it all for us Chicks, “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. I challenge you to read this book and not have it change your life.

Meanwhile, with a little help from the benevolent universe, the 4 Chicks will be “producing” this tune for our theme intro video, to be directed by our film maven, Chick Eva. Stay tuned!

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