Posts Tagged ‘The Artist’s Way: Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity’

For many (many) weeks now, I’ve been wearing work pants with a broken zipper.  Which has meant that the zipper constantly slips down.  Luckily my work costume also consists of a full body apron, so despite my constant not so conspicuous zipping up of my pants behind said apron, except for a few co-workers that I’ve revealed my dirty little secret to, nobody has been any the wiser.

Within the past few weeks, I also managed to wash a pen with a few of the whites.  Both of my shirts are also  all of a sudden missing  the top buttons.  If I didn’t know any better (hahahahahaha..ha……..ha), I would think the Universe was conspiring against my waiting tables.

One of Week 6’s tasks (“Recovering a Sense of Abundance) ala “The Artist’s Way” was to throw away 5 pieces of ratty clothing.  Being that I did a MAJOR purge when we moved out here in October, I didn’t have much to throw away.  But these work clothes, with broken zippers, missing buttons, and permanent stains definitely fit the bill.

I had been a little bit “behind” in the weekly tasks, so even though last week was week 7, I did the purging of the clothes on Tuesday.  I then took myself downtown early (before our weekly TAW meeting at Good Stuff Diner) to get new pants, shirts, and possibly shoes (didn’t have time for the new shoes—which look fine, but the support is long gone and my feet have been killing me…so time to be KIND to myself and get new ones).

The hunt for the pants proved to be the biggest challenge, mostly because while I am more average height than short, my legs themselves are short, and so finding pants that are the right size and length can be quite the treasure hunt.  Finally, (FINALLY!!!) I found some that would work…but then there was the oh so joyous task of trying them on.

Recently I have put on a few extra pounds.  Nothing extreme, but I have definitely been pushing it in the “getting the buttons clasped and the zipper zipped up (suckitin!!)” department (oh thank you thank you thank you Universe for jeans that stretch when worn). So having not bought anything new in a little while, I grabbed a size 6 and a size 8.

Now, “ideal weight” is a very, very individual perspective.  I just want to clarify this, because while some of my friends would rather give up their first born than be a size 8, others are silently (or not so silently) telling me to STFU with my whining through the computer.  In truth, ideal weight is when you (***YOU***) feel comfortable in your own body; good about yourself in how you look and feel.  Unfortunately the culture of our society can aid in distorting that perspective, but that’s another topic altogether.

I say all of this, because trying on clothes (dare I say, especially as a woman) when you are NOT at your “ideal weight” can be a harrowing experience.  Just taking off the clothes you are wearing with mirrors all around you can make you want to run out screaming (if you choose this route,  it’s probably best to put your clothes back on first).

So there I am, in the dressing room of Marshall’s on 6th Avenue in Manhattan, with some over-zealous woman in the changing stall next to me singing at the top of her lungs, while I stare at my 36 year old “baby fat” hanging over the waistline of my pants (…hot visual… no?). L ooking at the two identical pants in front of me, save the sizes, I decide to get the bad news over with quickly and try on the 6.  It actually buttons and zips up fine, but it IS tight and not entirely comfortable (and I imagine will be even less so when I tuck in my work shirt later); and I can definitely see where they are “leaving less to the imagination” than I would care for on the backside.  I proceed by trying on the size 8 pants, and am pleased that while they are a tiny bit loose, they are overall pretty comfortable.

I stand there staring at these pants, contemplating the conundrum of which to purchase.  SURELY I will follow through with my intentions in the very near, if not immediate, future and drop the extra pounds, leaving the size 6 pants a perfect match and the size 8 pants too big and useless. Of course I will!

As I am standing there, weighing the pros and cons in my head, I look at myself in the pants I am already wearing and own (and too tight…and definitely not comfortable)…and in that moment I have this Zen realization.  Now I know, it’s JUST pants…but stay with me.  A wise teacher’s voice (Kathianne Lewis) from the past rings in my ears, “How you do one thing is how you do everything.”

Oh. My.God.  What I realized in that moment was that I was unconsciously punishing myself, making myself wrong for being a size 8.  That a size 8 was not good enough or right or correct, and so I must suffer in the size 6, uncomfortable and unnatural as it feels, until I get it “right.”  And then, and only then, would I be “allowed” to feel good.

WOW, Jenn….*really*????  REALLY?!?!?!  …Le sigh…While it is so freeing to suddenly realize a hidden belief that you have had for so long and see how you have manifested it your behavior with *yourself*, one can’t help but grieve a bit when it is realized how long that behavior has carried on and on and on, and in how many (ALL) facets of one’s life.

Yikes!   So it should come to no surprise (and really doesn’t) that this all comes up on the brink that currently waiting tables is sucking my soul away from me.  Is it the place? Possibly (and perhaps probably), although I think there are a LOT of other factors to it.  And it all has to do with who I am, what makes up Jenn, and how I best thrive.  In the past few weeks, I’ve looked deeply into my past and upbringing, the environment and messages that were given, and the self and world view I developed as a result.  Some of it was horrifying at first, although as I was able to take a step back from it, I reclaimed my knowing that knowledge is power, and my awareness enables freedom, strength and personal empowerment.  What I have also concluded is this:  all that has happened in my life, seemingly horrible or not, is for my benefit and for good reason, because it makes me *exactly* who I am today, which is exactly as I am SUPPOSED to be.   And how I am SUPPOSED to be gives me exactly the perfect tools that enable me to fulfill my own Life’s Purpose.

This doesn’t mean I wipe my hands clean and say I’m done, I’m perfect as I am, so to heck with you all.  Whatever strikes a negative chord within us is there as a gift FOR us to look at and move forward and through and on to greater freedom and self empowerment and expansion; which lifts EVERYONE.   I embrace that growth, as uncomfortable as it can often be (and boy can it be ***UN***comfortable), because I am well aware of what is always on the other side.  So I keep going back for more, riding the edge, pushing the boundaries, going deeper, looking closer, listening harder.  I don’t think there is any other way to really live. At least not for me.

What does this mean for my work?  Ugh, right now I don’t know.  I set an intention at the beginning of January that I would no longer be waiting tables ever again by the end of the year (and that I would be able to do it easily, effortlessly, joyously, and financially freely).  So there, I’ve announced that to everyone; it’s as good as done (right?:) ).  But with setting that intention, I don’t plan on making an irresponsible flying leap into the abyss with no prospects in sight.  But I also don’t want to hop from job to job to job in the “meantime”.  Because there is no “meantime;” there is only right now.  So, where I am now is staying at the current job (as long as they are still having me and until I know the time is right), while remaining open and receptive to fulfilling, energizing, joyful and financially prosperous work that SUPPORTS my acting goals rather than depletes (depleting meaning my energy and spirit and motivation).  I don’t blame the job or anyone there…it is me that is changing, or has changed, or perhaps changed for a long time now….except now I’m no longer willing to wear the pants that are a size too small.

So  I ended up buying both pairs of pants.  Because I DO intend to live healthier and be kinder and more loving to my body with food and exercise. * And* I will love and be kinder to my body NOW by not punishing it, but rather accepting and loving it just as it is; meaning right now, exactly where  and who I am in *this*exact moment is perfectly ok, more than ok,  and is good enough.  In fact, actually, totally  freaking awesome.

(oooh I am so tempted to throw a “Tiger’s Blood” and “Winning” in there somewhere….but instead I will give you the video of the song that has been my mantra for the past 1-2 weeks…I  have not been a HUGE fan of Lady Gaga in the past, but this song (and the lyrics) is so powerfully RIGHT ON)

On the acting note, we are getting together tomorrow night (YAY!!!!!) to do a reading (with the entire cast present) of Orange Flower Water. CAN’T. WAIT.  Oh, wow speaking of can’t wait, I have been

S  T  R  U  G  G  L  I  N  G

with monologues…until just this past week!  I just *happened* to come across one of the best plays I have ever read EVER by Mark Schultz called, “The Gingerbread House.”  NOT for the faint of heart; it is unapologetically graphic and bold and deep and hits right at the core of some real Truth.  I found in it not one but three monologues (for myself) that I am in LOVE with, and so the juicy fire of motivation has been lit.

Lastly, we are 2 ½ months away from the end of our sublet lease agreement.  This has brought both anxiety and excitement, as I already feel ready to move, but the when/where/how/how/how/how/HOW???? has definitely not made itself clear yet.  We are OPEN to subletting in a longer term lease (at least 1 year), although IDEALLY we would like to move into a place where we could stay until we were ready/wanted to move (which I guess *could* possibly be a sublet).  I am more stressed because of the cats, especially 17 year old blind Lucy….it’s important to both of us that our cats (re: children) be as content and comfortable as possible.  I know that everything will work out more than fine in the end (because it always does), but I will feel better once everything is in place and I know all of the details (as I always do).

I’ll end with a quote, which I already posted on Facebook today. but will share again because it struck a good chord with me:

“Live to please others and everyone will love you except yourself.”  –Pablo Coelho


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That’s a little how I am feeling right about now. Just finished Week 4 of The Artist’s Way (so perfectly titled “Recovering a Sense of Integrity”), which included among many things, “no reading” for the entire week. TAW was written quite a while ago, so I have taken it upon myself to update that to include anything I use as a distraction/escape (TV, internet, email, facebook, texting, etc). A few “needed” slips here and there, but overall I stayed true to the course.

What is so powerful about the “reading deprivation” week is that while it can be terribly uncomfortable at first (what do I do? sit and stare at the wall…stare…stare…stare…hungry?…eat…stare…stare…), you quickly start venturing out and playing. You also have NO CHOICE but to listen to your own voice because you no longer have anything else drowning it out. This can bring up a myriad of emotions (excitement, fear, anger, grief, joy) as you start to realize how you really feel about your work, certain relationships, habits, the color blue….And here is the most awesome part of all: all emotions and thoughts are TRANSITORY. Holy crap, does this mean you can’t even trust yourself?!!?

Ok, slow down, cowboy. No, it does not mean that, and in fact, quite the opposite. It means give FULL FAITH to that Voice within, knowing that while you listen deeper and deeper and deeper, you have COMPLETE permission to change your mind about ANYTHING at ANY given moment. And nobody else gets to say diddly squat about it. Not that that will necessarily stop them. But that doesn’t have to mean anything to you. Unless you *choose* to LET it.

So what did I do this week? I had an incredible extended Artist Date. It started with hanging up white string lights in my space. Then I enjoyed one of the guided meditations that I have on CD that I have been meaning to do forever. I enjoyed it so much, I immediately followed it with another. Then a meditative sea salt bath (no book!). Then the (solo) party really began as I cranked up a “cheezy mix” cd my sister made me for my 36th birthday back in September, while I simultaneously made dinner and baked a Funfetti birthday cake. Pilsbury of course. The birthday cake ingredients were bought on impulse earlier in the day, and while no nearby birthdays were on the horizon, I didn’t see that as any reason to stop me. Oh, and as it was “no reading” week, I attempted to get the necessary ingredients without actually reading the box. Only to discover AS I WAS MAKING the cake that it called for “3 eggs *OR* 4 egg whites” not “3 eggs *AND* 4 egg whites.” Oops. Looking inside my bowl of mostly liquid with some batter mix, I shrugged and said what the heck…it’s a done deal, let’s see what happens. Well, let’s see what happens turned out to be one of the best happy accidents ever, because holy momma this was one moist and delicious cake if I do say so myself (and I just did)! So let this be a lesson: if you are in mid-creation and you think you screwed the whole thing up, don’t necessarily scrap it altogether. Try considering to just keep on going and see what comes out in the end!

The rest of the Artist Date included a candle lit dinner with yours truly, followed by streaming, “Exit Through the Giftshop” on Netflix. Great great great great movie. Great.

Work was this weekend. And here was where the Voice could no longer be ignored. The satisfaction with my job went quickly South, and this left me with a lot to contemplate. Being that I couldn’t read or go on the internet after a long 12+ hours at work, I found myself writing after work. And writing and writing and writing.

Side note, speaking of writing, that Creative WRITING class I took via Gotham=complete crap. Nice teacher, but boy does the class NOT AT ALL follow the description. The class should have been called Creative Reading and Discussion of that Reading and Listen to the Teacher Talk and Talk and Talk and TALK About Movies and Everything Else He Finds Interesting Especially His Own Writing. I’m just sayin’.

So, re: my job, of course the plan has never been to work there forever, although I truly had no idea how dissatisfied I was with it until last weekend. So what am I doing about this? I don’t know. It’s not like I have any plans to leave or look for another job. It’s just where I am right now, and I’m acknowledging it. If anything, it is catapulting me into more “outside of work” work that fulfills me.

And, re: Integrity…what is also so interesting is the synchronicity of The Artist’s Way work, this week’s work in particular, and how I am looking and listening and stepping into and owning the integrity of my own voice around a situation with my family. Examining this fine line of being open and having compassion and willing to give, yet also not crossing the line of it being at one’s own expense, at the expense of one’s own mental and emotional health and wellbeing. Because if you aren’t taking care of yourself first and foremost, you’re *not* listening to what is True, and you’re not really good to anyone else anyway. The PLUS side to this (and which coincides with that god-awful creative “writing” class) is that there is a nudge (and also from Jeff W) to perhaps starting writing some sort of memoir(s)/personal essay(s)/one-woman piece(s) around my experiences. Letting that simmer for now, but ideas are boiling.

Hardest news for last. My sweet almost-17 Lucy girl (who has been treated for CRF since last May, (and very successfully so) became blind this week. I don’t care how many cats you have known in your lifetime, you have never met anyone else like her. She is almost human. She might actually be human. Emotional, smart, (manipulative, haha!), demanding, beautiful perfect little creature. And so to watch something so innocent and that loves you so totally unconditionally (and not only because you feed her, although you better feed her when she demands it) suddenly lose her bearings and not really understand what is going on…just completely breaks my heart. I took her to the vet on Tuesday (which, you know, she LOVED), and her CRF numbers are up, although not terribly so; and so we are on a new regimen with her fluids. She was very depressed all day Tuesday, but has been more active and upbeat since then. The vet says cats adapt very well to blindness and that it is harder on us humans than it is on them…which I am sure is true. Does that make me feel any better? Usually I embrace change. Sometimes, though, I hate it.

Despite the up-and-down-ness of this post, we (Jack and I) are in a very good spot. It feels a bit like the storm before the calm before the storm of getting ready to settle into the next big thing. We are focused and ready and grounded.


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Six Word Stories

What is your 6 word story?

Fuse–inspiring band with HEART that I saw Saturday night at the Grisley Pear

Blue Valentine: Best movie I have seen since I don’t know when…honest, raw, real…a TRUTHFUL love story

Phillipe Petit: “Man On Wire” (see the entire documentary!)

The Artist’s Way

Life Changing 12 Week Creative Spiritual Journey

Natalie Goldberg’s, “Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within”

“Writing Down The Bones”

“Black Swan”: Challenges ideas of “perfection”

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I‘ve been avoiding you.  Don’t take it personally.  I’ve been working very hard to avoid all creative outlets in any way possible.  Facebook.  Sleeping.  Eating.  Housework.  Perezhilton.com.  You name it.  Anything that could fill my time with anything other than what I really want to be doing.

I haven’t been nice to myself about it either.  Deeming myself a procrastinator, lazy, a facade.  And the longer it has carried on, the more frustrated I have grown.  Just ask my oh-so-patient husband on the receiving end.

I have been blessed with an incredible amount of inspiration as of late.  People, places, sights, from-the-Heart live music, conversations, movies.  One was “Black Swan,” which we saw last weekend and which addresses the idea of “perfection.” (Btw, I’ve also seen “Blue Valentine” and “The Fighter” within the past couple of weeks…both which are excellent, HOWEVER, if you see only one movie in the immediate future PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE  do yourself a favor and see “Blue Valentine”—it is so rare to see a movie that is so utterly honest and raw and the true true true expression of Love—this movie lit a fire in me and moved me beyond description).  It (“Black Swan”) got me thinking a lot about myself and how I use the excuse of perfection (perfect conditions, perfect knowledge, perfect preparedness, etc) to put off and off and off free creative expressions that my LJ (Little Jenn—totally stole that from Julia Cameron) longs for.  And then by “hap circumstance” (hahaha), last week I found myself agreeing (??—certainly not without resistance) to co-facilitate a 12 week undertaking of The Artist’s Way….when what to my wondering eyes should appear, but….oh you sneaky, sneaky little chapter one:  the shadow artist and creative blocks.  Yes, of course I’ve read this chapter several times before.  Yes, of course I’ve taken 1000 classes, gone on a zillion retreats, done all kinds of release release RELEASE DAMNIT! work in the past.  Did that make me any more aware as to why I found myself avoiding the very thing I love, my very reason for being, around what this entire move to NYC has been about?


So, okay.  NOW I know.  In hindsight (20/20), it is so easy to see how and why this happened.  This move emerged from the Artist’s Way class I took last summer; the class that is about GENTLY recovering your artist.  And so what do I do with that class, but clearly hear the Voice that is within me and… I run with it.  Not teeny tiny little baby steps like Julia Cameron suggests, but huge, ginormous, giant leaps and bounds  to the moon and back.  So of COURSE there is the ego/logic brain of me that, even if on a subconscious level, is freaking the eff out.  What have you done with our safe, predictable Jenn?  “To hell with her!” Little Jenn proclaims, but the fight-or-flight, look-both-ways-before-crossing-the-street jenn (yes that lower case j is intentional) has been shaking her head vigorously, “oh HELL no.”

Prior to this revelation, I did realize I needed to get some Chi movement going in my life.  Activity breeds activity, and even though I didn’t understand that the procrastination was a block, I knew that if I could just get myself moving on SOMETHING, that would bleed out into every other creative aspect of my life.  So weeks ago, after “happening” (re: hahaha) upon a catalog, I signed up for a Creative Writing class through Gotham–which starts TODAY.  I know at the very least, it will highly benefit my acting process (during which I tend to do a lot of writing).  My gut tells me the benefits will spread out way beyond that intention.  When The Artist’s Way opportunity came along, I strongly considered dropping the class, thinking there was no way I could do both, especially with other projects I am inspired to do right now (oh, right– but am NOT doing!); but I quickly kicked that nonsense to the curb.  I have had FAR more on my plate in the past and gotten along juuuuust fine.

So here is what I am declaring: I give myself permission to take baby steps.  I give myself to take ridiculously gigantic steps.  I give myself permission to fall down, make a mess, cry, laugh, sing, scream.  Oh, and re: this blog—I give myself permission to NOT wait until the “perfect” time and inspiration have occurred.  Writing one sentence is fine.  One word.  One picture.  Whatever strikes me at that moment.  It doesn’t have to be about some big “aha” moment in my consciousness.  At the time it can seem like utter and total crap.  As long as it is me being Me.  That is my new definition of perfection.

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