Artist’s Way: Tools for 12 Weeks

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I’m writing this post for any other smart, creative mamas who find themselves stretched a little too thin these days. You are my people. And I am hoping you might join me in my latest adventure with The Artist’s Way and The Artist’s Way for Parents. 

So what is this whole Artist’s Way thing, exactly?

One cultural commentator aptly describes it as “a book that can be classified as self-help but is more like common sense. Billed as ‘A Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self,’ the book is a program designed to help readers reject the devils of self-doubt on their shoulders and pursue creative activity not as a profession but as a form of therapy.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself–hence the long quote!

Each chapter offers guidance for a different themed week, providing related background reading and exercises. Topics include “Recovering a Sense of Power” and “Recovering a Sense of Abundance.” In addition to the reading and exercises, workshop participants also write Morning Pages and take Artist Dates.

Morning Pages are three pages written longhand first thing every morning, though in The Artist’s Way for Parents author Julia Cameron acknowledges that many of us may have to finish our pages later, after various interruptions. Basically, the pages are a stream-of-consciousness brain dump. I like to think of them as the intellectual equivalent of unclogging a sink–all the gunk and muck has to come out to enable a healthy flow of ideas and feelings.

Artist Dates have entered the general cultural lexicon as “self-care.” It’s a commitment to do something for or with yourself once a week. It has to be alone time. And it has to be something you actually enjoy. (Finally going to the dentist may be an important kind of self-care, but it doesn’t count here.)

Those are the basic tools. But wait! There’s more! After the astronomical success of her first book, Cameron published follow-ups aimed at niche markets… hence The Artist’s Way for Parents. Here, she adds two more tools for anyone seeking more fulfillment in relationships with their children.

Creative Expeditions are known as family adventures around our house. The parent and kid(s) plan, look forward to, and take these adventures together. They’re an awesome anecdote to becoming a shut-in, or letting your life devolve into an endless round of soul-crushing errands. (So says the woman who’s spent the past few months shuttling between Jiffy Lube, the grocery store, and the veterinary clinic.)  Like artist dates, Cameron recommends taking a weekly creative expedition/family adventure.

“Highlights” is the phrase Cameron uses to describe a little parent-kiddo bedtime connection. She advocates for each person sharing their favorite moment of the day. Of course, any mama with a Pinterest account probably has a feed full of additional suggestions. In our family, we share (a) a favorite moment of the day (b) our hardest moment of the day (c) a good question we asked, something we learned, or an interesting mistake that we made. We call it the daily check-in.

It’s not terribly revolutionary stuff. I do all of it occasionally (the kid-care much more regularly than the self-care… shocker, I know). But I’d like to make each of these items a habit. And I find that the style of Cameron’s books work for me. Relentlessly positive commentary, coupled with structured assignments and deadlines? Why, you’ve managed to please both my Inner Hippie Girl AND my Type-A School Nerd! Hurray!

Who else out there is going to join me with morning pages, artist dates, family adventures, and/or daily family check-ins? (You could do it, even if you never buy or check out the book/books!) 

I ask this fully acknowledging that The Artist’s Way really won’t be everyone’s cup of kombucha. So alternatively, what are you doing to stay sane, feed your soul, create art, and feel good about your life? 

 

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