I’m currently working through a 12 week program to help me tap back into my creativity and inspiration via the book: The Artist’s Way at Work: 12 Weeks to Creative Freedom by Julia Cameron, Mark Bryan, and Catherine Allen.
This is the business version of the very famous original book, The Artist’s Way also by Julia Cameron.
I started this project after feeling like I’ve been in a bit of a rut when it comes to working on my own, non-client-related work.
You can read more about this in my intro post right here.
I’m going week by week and reporting on the tools that were most effective for me from the book. There are always way more exercises and information in the book, so please get a copy and follow along!
Week 5: Surviving The Abyss
A big theme of the week is the reality of money. Most people say they can’t achieve their creative goals because of lack of time and money, so spending some time addressing this area is essential in they author’s process.
They spend sometime talking about the different archetypes of “money drunks” which are as follows:
- The Binge Spender
- The Maintenance Money Drunk
- The Big Deal Chaser
- The Cash Co-Dependent
- The Poverty Addict
I never feel like I fully connect to any specific sketch of a “type” or archetype. I can’t commit to which Enneagram type I am… (maybe a 9w1? Or a 7 or a 5 or 6 or ???) I never feel like my Myers-Briggs personality is exactly correct, etc.
I don’t know, I think there is useful information in all of these tools and they can point us towards areas of growth and seeing our strengths more clearly, but I’m never completely on board with one “type.”
Tool: Emotional Solvency
Before we get into all this money work, which can be intense and draining for many people emotionally, the authors recommend you practice this tool.
- Take 15 minutes for self-care – do something simple that makes you feel calm and comforted
- Some ideas:
- Take a bath
- Watch a funny or inspiring video
- Do a quick workout
Self care always feels good and it makes the whole process of looking at your financial life more enjoyable and less dreadful. So, I loved it, but also I recommend reading more about Money Dates on Bari Tessler’s blog to go deeper. Her whole site has a TON of ideas to make this kind of work not just less dreadful but even more fun and creative. Full disclosure: She is one of my clients and I adore her.
This is all about bringing mindfulness to your spending habits.
- Get a small notebook to record your purchases
- Anytime you spend money, record it in your notebook
- Alternatively (not suggested in the book, which again, was written in the 1990s!), you could use an app like Mint to record your purchases and commit to reviewing daily (this is what I do)
I definitely recommend getting clear on your daily expenses and reviewing and I’ve been doing this for many years now. It hasn’t made me overly frugal or cheap, but it has made me aware of my spending habits and to get control when I start spending money in an emotional way. Does this mean I spend money in some Spock-like detached way? No! Most of our spending is emotional on some level. It’s more like counting/recording is a tool I use to either slow down or to play detective after the fact, like when I spent all the money on HEPA filters and supplements that are supposed to heal lungs because I was freaking out about asbestos.
The theme of the next few exercises is Abundance. The two biggest reasons people say they are creatively blocked is a lack of time or a lack of money. So often we can get stuck in scarcity and “lack mentality” that we don’t notice the abundance around us. Also, the authors point out that lack is more than just lack of money – lack of time, lack of rest, lack of love, etc.
And so getting into the practice of adding in more positive inflow in many life areas will help us in our creative emergence.
- List 10 items that cost less than $20 that make you feel luxurious
Another tool I loved doing. I mean, who doesn’t love a good list, first of all? Second, making a list of attainable ways to feel luxurious? Um, fun! I mean, mostly mine are basic, but who cares? I think it feels luxurious just to take some time to do something for yourself, really.
Here is my list, if you’re curious or looking for suggestions for your own list.
List of Affordable Luxuries
- A manicure or pedicure (DIY for under $20)
- Getting dressed up/doing my makeup
- Writing with my gold refillable pen
- Taking free courses online/watching lectures – feels like I’m getting a free first class education
- Writing in a nice journal
- Drinking sparkling water out of a wine glass with fresh herbs (especially from the glassware that used to be my grandparents)
- Good teas like Earl Grey and Genmaicha
- Hot Cocoa
- Chamomile + a chocolate chip cookie before bed
- A very clean home
- Eating from a well-set table using my favorite pink bowl + our lovely heirloom silverware from my husband’s grandparents
- A bouquet of flowers
- Yoga or Barre class
- Soft socks
- New pajamas or nightgown
- Taking a shower or a bath
- Getting into bed with fresh sheets after taking said bath or shower
- Essential oils and/or incense
What would you put on your list?
Tool: Lapping up Luxury
The assignment is just to be gentle and kind to yourself in a specific way this week. Maybe you get a haircut or a massage, take a bath, fresh groceries, etc. Whatever you want that would feel luxurious and kind to you.
Well, first I tried a midweek bath, which was sort of a fail. The drain toggle thingy got knocked down and so when I finally noticed it was taking forever for the tub to fill, I’d wasted too much hot water.
It was warm enough, I guess, for a little while, but not fully the experience I was hoping for. Also – I realized I was out of bath salts and for me bubble bath and/or salts are important.
But my second attempt, making sure my kitchen was well-stocked, was much more successful. We ordered groceries from InstaCart and I spent a little extra on spices we were running low on, extra veggies and mushrooms, plus a giant bag of red lentils, which is probably the opposite of luxurious to most people but I love red lentils, so it felt great to me. So, that was lovely and I’m glad I gave myself a do-over.
Tool: Nasty Rules
- Take out a sheet of paper + pen
- Draw a vertical line down the center of it
- On the left, write “Nasty Talk”
- On the right, write “Nasty Rules”
- Under “Nasty Talk” write out 5 mean rude things you say to yourself
- Then, next to each thought, refute it
- Under “Nasty Rules” write out a few things you don’t let yourself do, even though you love to do them
- Question yourself about these rules. Are they serving you? What would it look like to break these rules?
Nasty Talk – It felt good to get that out of my head and to call BS on those thoughts as well, thoughts like “it’s too late for you” (for what, exactly?!) that are just vaguely in my mind holding me back.
Nasty Rules – I struggled a little bit more to think of what exactly I love to do that I don’t let myself… but eventually I came up with a few. Doing my makeup is one. It isn’t that I have a rule forbidding me to do my makeup, it is more that I tell myself even though I love it doing it, it isn’t “worth it” unless I’m going somewhere or I’ll be on camera since nobody but my husband or the dogs will likely see me during a typical workday, and I’m not sure the postal worker is paying enough attention to notice how great my cateye is that day. Plus, then it means my nightly skincare routine will take longer.
But I love doing it and I feel better when I do, so I’m going to pick 2 days a week to go for it – Mondays and Fridays so I can start and end the week feeling my best. 🙂
What unspoken rules or limitations are you putting on yourself?
Tool: The Dream Account
To achieve our dreams, the authors say we must:
- Articulate them
- Start saving and investing for them
- Cut costs to fund them
- Spend time where we don’t have money for them
- Start a savings account somewhere separate from your regular savings
- Save towards some dream – a trip, an educational experience, supplies, etc.
- Put $1 a day in at first until you’ve funded your dream
I started a savings “bucket” in one of my savings accounts. I know this is a little bit cheating, but I use the Profit First accounting system and already have a bunch of separated out savings and checking accounts, so I didn’t want to do another one. Plus, my bank has the ability to break accounts into different “buckets” so I used a non-emergency savings account and created a “Dreams” bucket. It has about $20 bucks in it. 🙂 It’s a start and it felt good to do.
I loved this week’s assignments, for the most part and feel pretty good about the results. I’m feeling grateful and even though the world is terrifying on multiple levels right now and it can be easy to get sucked into panic, but these tools are keeping me open and optimistic.
Morning Pages are going. I still enjoy them and feel better after having completed them and I still wish I was doing them faster.
Took a lovely long walk with the dogs, but otherwise I’m not taking regular walks. The air quality has still been borderline on many days and I broke my habit… I miss them because it is good to get into nature and clear my mind and also because my neighbor loves to leave bouquets out for us and I would love a bouquet.
I’m still reading How’s Moving Castle and I rewatched the Studio Ghibli movie by the same name. I feel like I am ready to branchout a little with these though. Since one of my goals this coming week is to wear makeup for the fun of it, I hope to get “dressed up” for my artist’s dates and make it a little more special.
Pick three luxuries from the list for the week and indulge in them this week.
- Getting dressed up + doing my makeup
- Taking a very lovely shower with music + essential oils
- Watch a lecture