Riding the Dragon

Riding the Dragon: Check-in Week 12

This is part of my work in the Julia Cameron Artist’s Way series. The work this time is from the book the Artist’s Way at Work: Riding the Dragon. The responses are self-examinations and assessments based on work through a daily series of exercises. While I do keep some material offline as it can be very personal and jarring, I often opt to be fairly open about my experiences, both positive and negative.

Final week on Riding the Dragon. The next book on deck: the Sound of Paper.

1. I don’t need to recommit to morning pages, I’m pretty well committed to them now. They help. I think they’re doing nothing, then I skip a few days, and I realize how very much they actually do. I suspect using a neti pot may be quite similar in some ways.

2. Time-outs do need some re-commitment. Part of my issue is just that I run out of energy and don’t want to do that, yet doing the time out recharges me. This week I went to the Mirror Maze for a time-out. It left me questioning reality in significant ways, and was worth the trip – and the Crowd Cut coupon. These photography walks, visits to new shops alone, the act of seeking new experiences - it all builds up a reserve I can draw from.

3. I have noticed synchronicity. It’s not always a synchronicity of opportunity – sometimes it’s a synchronicity of affirmation. I’d say the affirmation happens far more often than the opportunity type, perhaps because at this point it’s what I need more.

4. Oh, I intend to celebrate. :)

Riding the Dragon: a letter from my inner mentor

This is part of my work in the Julia Cameron Artist’s Way series. The work this time is from the book the Artist’s Way at Work: Riding the Dragon. The responses are self-examinations and assessments based on work through a daily series of exercises. While I do keep some material offline as it can be very personal and jarring, I often opt to be fairly open about my experiences, both positive and negative.

This is a letter from my inner mentor, to myself.

Dear Diana,
You are trying to do two things at once. Three was too much, but you can manage two, especially as they’re all part of the same spectrum and many other writers are in your boat. You have a passion to pursue, and you have something you’re also passionate about that is a bit more saleable. These are all good things. You do need to work longer. It’s just at that time now. Getting up earlier will help, but you do need to put more hours in. Try putting in an hour a day on your social networks.

Maybe put in an extra hour of writing at night, and save TV time for the weekends. I know this is hard for you, but of anyone, you can do this. Don’t curb your social time – you need it more than you know. I think your formula of seeing different friends once a month is effective. You do need to find or start a writer’s group. It all seems like a lot and it is, but you need this now. You and Mike will have to work out doing the laundry and getting the house cleaned some other way, because right now you’re both buried in projects. Sometimes life gets messy. It’s not like you don’t know how to clean up.

Get out, write out, be out. I know you hate Diamond’s Coffee shop, but it’s what’s close so you may need to befriend it. Or go back to hanging at Espresso Royale. Writing should come in an easy flow, and it should be your flow.

You know what to do.

Love,

Your Inner Mentor, the Priestess

Riding the Dragon: 5 ways I have encountered the mysterious

This is part of my work in the Julia Cameron Artist’s Way series. The work this time is from the book the Artist’s Way at Work: Riding the Dragon. The responses are self-examinations and assessments based on work through a daily series of exercises. While I do keep some material offline as it can be very personal and jarring, I often opt to be fairly open about my experiences, both positive and negative.

1. While my father was dying, I entered what I think of as the “state of grace.” All the work I’d done to free myself from past pain and sorrow surrounded me, and aided me as I dealt with the progress of losing him. That state was a sort of fuel that did get used up – it was granted for understanding and supporting my father, but not for dealing with my mother and sister. It was also an inner pool I had built over time; G.O.D decided where it applied, rather than me – and G.O.D was of the opinion that my other family members should do their own self-work instead of drawing their energy from me like they had when I was a child. I was able to deal with the events of the moment, and only had my emotional breakdowns in non-crisis moments.

Saint Jean D'Arc

2.Every time I’ve walked into a room to see a beloved friend I have not seen in years. This has happened more than once.

3. Those odd moments at Como where people I’ve never seen stop and offer to take my picture so I have a shot of myself. This has happened when I didn’t even have my camera out.

4. Years ago, when I still lived in Mankato with my ex, I was mixing perfume oils and I suddenly felt completely surrounded by divine love. I was made aware I could reach that feeling of peace and love whenever I wanted. As my marriage disintegrated, that sense went beyond me; this is not because I am no longer loved, but because conditions of my inner self have made it harder to reach. But I know it’s there, and that I can get to it again; I also know that the divine will surround me when I need it the most, like when my father died. I may be easy to work with because my faith explicitly does NOT define how the divine operates. There are no expectations in either direction aside from mutual acknowledgement of existence.

5. Every so often, I will have a dream that differs from my usual unwinding and winding patters of my subconscious sorting out my tasks and creative trials. I will see/feel someone who meant or means a lot to me, and feel as though that person is actually in the dream with me, with the intention of giving me a sense of safety, healing and comfort. The first time I remember it happening was when I started at Mankato State – my family reacted as though I were a 16 year old runaway that was actively harming them, rather than a 20 year old trying to finish her education. The abuse that came with the expectations, demands and entitlements that they refused to verbalize (because then they’d have to hear themselves how horrible they were being) included literally trying to surround me and demand I “explain” my choice of schools when it was clear no explanation on earth was going to satisfy them – and they didn’t coherently provide any solid reasons for why they felt entitled to that explanation. One night after an especially hard day – Mankato was not a welcoming place, and I had chosen it because it aligned with my ability to raise money to finish my degree there, not because of the “fun” factor; the day had included a confrontation with the ex-boyfriend that had dumped me for a guy long before I got there. I had to finish with a phone call to my mother where she was especially mean-spirited and passive aggressive. I was really demoralized, and called a friend from my old school, who wasn’t home. Later that night, I had a dream that was very different – I was walking around Chicago with this friend, and it was Chicago from HIS point of view (I was raised to see it through a certain nightmarish filter.) We talked honestly and openly in that dream, and when I woke up, I felt comforted, moralized, and ready to handle what was before me. I don’t know if my friend dream walked me or if some divine entity took pity on me, but over the years this has happened a few times. It’s not always when I’m feeling low, but often enough, it comes when I most need a morale boost. It’s a wonderful mystery to encounter.

Threaded throughout the post are images and individuals that give me a sense of spiritual strength. I’m totally in the market for a mini-bust of Voltaire.

Riding the Dragon: 5 areas of emerging interest

This is part of my work in the Julia Cameron Artist’s Way series. The work this time is from the book the Artist’s Way at Work: Riding the Dragon. The responses are self-examinations and assessments based on work through a daily series of exercises. While I do keep some material offline as it can be very personal and jarring, I often opt to be fairly open about my experiences, both positive and negative.

In this exercise, I’m to list 5 areas that have started to interest me recently that I can explore and pursue.
1. Crochet/knitting – especially its applications in a trashion/upcycled art context.
2. Fiction writing. Graduate school knocked the winds out of my sails on writing fiction, but I’m starting to feel more confidence in my ability after hanging out on the AbsoluteWrite forum more.
3. Poetry writing. I still want to do that, and again, it’s a case where I got shut down by an academic environment.
4. Personal healing – I’m looking at getting a few things fixed, body issues for the metaphysical body (things we don’t generally have doctors for.) I’m seriously considering giving acupuncture a try.
5. My writing community. I am genuinely interested in developing relationships with other writers; this is new for me.

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Riding the Dragon: Check-in Week 11

This is part of my work in the Julia Cameron Artist’s Way series. The work this time is from the book the Artist’s Way at Work: Riding the Dragon. The responses are self-examinations and assessments based on work through a daily series of exercises. While I do keep some material offline as it can be very personal and jarring, I often opt to be fairly open about my experiences, both positive and negative.

1. Morning pages are in place. I skip them twice a week give/take – I think that the damage is permanent on that one, alas, since my partner read them and reacted rather severely. I just don’t think he has a right to ALL of me, and I never will think so. Especially when I know there’s stuff of his own he stonewalls me on, as he learned to do from his family. The double standard offends me; I had enough of that bullshit growing up. So I do write them daily, but I tend not to write them when he’s home with me.

2. Time-outs/artist’s dates. I had a really good artist’s date last week, but this week I’ve managed to catch two different bugs in the course of the week, thus eliminating the possibility until I recover. As it is, I may just knock myself out in hopes the cold resolves itself while I’m sleeping.

3. I’m not sure I’ve seen synchronicity per se; I am seeing patterns emerging with friends that suggest it’s time for me to take a break of a week or two while I get caught up on things.

Riding the Dragon: Spirit Mentors

This is part of my work in the Julia Cameron Artist’s Way series. The work this time is from the book the Artist’s Way at Work: Riding the Dragon. The responses are self-examinations and assessments based on work through a daily series of exercises. While I do keep some material offline as it can be very personal and jarring, I often opt to be fairly open about my experiences, both positive and negative.

vein-of-gold-spirit-collage1

In this exercise, I’m to consider who I might view as a “spirit mentor.” This is interesting. I recall many times being asked for role models when a teenager, and having none. I don’t think I ever even had a movie star poster on the wall in my room. So for me, reaching to people – real and fictional – is a big stretch.

Spirit mentors:

  • The Doctor – recalling his advice on traveling did help me through a panic attack in Iceland.
  • Leonardo da Vinci – he expanded his mind every way possible; the man was near extra-terrestrial in his genius
  • Vincent van Gogh – part of me just wants to go back in time and be his friend, but I know the reality would be too hard on me.
  • Mae West – she was witty, sexy, and quick to upend social expectations that were just plain stupid.
  • Queen Latifah – outspoken on subjects that very much matter.
  • The members of the Polish Underground – they rebelled for a cause, and I want to have and use that kind of courage every day of my life.
  • Jean d’Arc – I’m still a bit rocked by my experience at her shrine in Notre Dame. Usually saints and gods have something to say to YOU – it was strange to have something to say to a saint, and to have it heard. I’m thinking we shared something across the priestess resonance.
  • Dorothy Parker – she did some great things, and got pressed down on for it. I can relate, and I think I have more and better tools to fight with in my time than she did in hers.
  • I suppose Julia Cameron is a de facto spirit mentor for me.

 

I think every single one of these people did some kind of creative work every day, whether it was writing, painting or praying. I’d need to study each one to know the entirety of his/her habits – of course I’d prefer to avoid clinical depression, being burned at the stake, winding up on some blacklist – but really, those are the results of crazymaking and not the results of creativity.

The qualities these people/characters share?

  • Outspokenness.
  • Courage.
  • Commitment – to craft, art, or God(ess.)
  • Love. Every single one of these people experienced and shared so much love, and much of it transcending strict societal definitions.

 

5 small steps to bring these elements together:
1. Write something daily, or as close to it as I can manage.
2. Write the hard things, and let the things I might otherwise scratch sit in the manuscript for awhile.
3. Recognize the hardships these personas all faced – and all of them did; consider their experiences when facing my own experiences. This is especially true of the personal dramas.
4. Create a spirit mentors shrine or collage to remind me of what I can learn from them.
5. Speak up more about my own accomplishments.

Riding the Dragon: 25 Work Values

This is part of my work in the Julia Cameron Artist’s Way series. The work this time is from the book the Artist’s Way at Work: Riding the Dragon. The responses are self-examinations and assessments based on work through a daily series of exercises. While I do keep some material offline as it can be very personal and jarring, I often opt to be fairly open about my experiences, both positive and negative.

I’m going to get really heretical here and say…
Como Park and Conservatory - February 05, 2010

  1. Fun. I must enjoy what I’m doing.
  2. Authenticity. What I write and create must come from something that feels real, even if the reality lives in the abstract.
  3. Getting up early. Rising early seems to get my best work from me, if not my best socializing.
  4. Being well rested. More important that I’m well rested than that I’m on time.
  5. Stop for breakfast. Other meals I can skip. Not breakfast, especially not when I’m writing.
  6. Minimize. I do my best work when focused on a minimum number of projects. Being everywhere slows me down.
  7. Ballet style house slippers are a must.
  8. Have a candle lit while I work.
  9. Clutter can be tolerated, but only for a short time. Routine declutterings – sometimes every other month – do a world of good for internal and external creativity.
  10. Productivity is only productive if it encourages creativity.
  11. It’s OK to run out of stuff to do. I have declared myself a results-oriented employer.
  12. This is taking practice and courage: it’s OK to say I don’t like something, and it’s still OK even if I get backlash or pushback over it.
  13. I am in this for the long haul.
  14. History is valuable, even backtracking over “old news.”
  15. Originality is not nearly as important as it’s made out to be.  This does not condone plagiarism, it simply removes the onus of “this must be BRAND NEW!” when brainstorming ideas.
  16. It’s important to try new things as much as possible.
  17. If I feel sad or conflicted about a person, it’s because there is something wrong with that relationship, whether it’s in the business or personal realm. It is my job to look after the best interests of myself and those who partner me; it is not my job to fix problems where people are playing by silent rules. If they are using silence, they are already dealing dishonestly.
  18. There are differences of opinion that are important to pursue or resolve; there are also differences of opinion that can just hang out, being different.
  19. Pick your battles. Most of the time, the right answer is “don’t pick a battle,” but there will be times where it’s wise to pick the small battle now or fight for your life later.
  20. Anyone threatened by my outspokenness is trouble.
  21. Reading and playing recharges the mental batteries.
  22. I really do work best alone.
  23. Be generous; share information and resources whenever possible. Paybacks are not always direct, but sometimes the time saved in explaining things is payment enough.
  24. Do things and use things for effectiveness and satisfaction, rather than for status.
  25. The only person to compete with is myself.

Riding the Dragon: Check-in Week 10

This is part of my work in the Julia Cameron Artist’s Way series. The work this time is from the book the Artist’s Way at Work: Riding the Dragon. The responses are self-examinations and assessments based on work through a daily series of exercises. While I do keep some material offline as it can be very personal and jarring, I often opt to be fairly open about my experiences, both positive and negative.

1. How have I handled goodbyes in the past? (more…)

Riding the Dragon: Check-in Week 9

This is part of my work in the Julia Cameron Artist’s Way series. The work this time is from the book the Artist’s Way at Work: Riding the Dragon. The responses are self-examinations and assessments based on work through a daily series of exercises. While I do keep some material offline as it can be very personal and jarring, I often opt to be fairly open about my experiences, both positive and negative.

Where I work

1. Morning pages are very consistent, although I have taken weekends off here and there. I can always tell, though. However, shit is not building up nearly as much since I found a proper therapist and have made some painful but necessary steps in separating myself from my relatives. Without them pushing my buttons my head is amazingly clean.

2. I don’t feel good about my time-outs. This is partly because my efforts to have a healthier social life has responded like any garden I tend, and gone bumpercrop. Notice the keywords are “that I tend.” I’ve had a few gardens fail from neglect.

Susan Miller’s astrology zone indicates that the first part of my life has been about working through massive, HARSH, karma when it comes to all love and friendship based relationships. Apparently I’ve served my time and I’m on to the next part. This does, however, make solitary time-outs more difficult for me. I’m tempted to put efforts into buying another car, but going down to one was the smartest financial decision I’ve ever made and I don’t want to go back on that. Also, since I’m a woman of size, I’d look ridiculous on a Vespa. I may need to devise more “at home” time-outs, even if it’s just lining up youtube videos or watching the Muppet movies. I can’t be spontaneous with social invites for the most part because of transit, and mass transit while pleasant does take a big chunk of time. Also, a train line won’t be running past my apartment by 2030, and hopefully by then Mike and I will have a nice condo or townhouse plus dog.

3. Synchronicity isn’t always something I notice because it’s just so common to my life since I started practicing witchcraft in earnest. My Skeptic has been relegated to Daria fandom where she’s quite happy and useful, and I’m getting really good at turning inner criticism attacks into positive self-talk and sorting of “that’s crap/not true/strictly a sociological infection” from “OK, let’s go over an action plan.”

4. I’m both good and bad at self-care. My weekly skin and hair care routines have slid – in part because water aerobics has me confused as to whether the hair care treatments do a damn bit of good. (Vinegar on my hair after does help.) I sussed out that back pain has been interfering with my writing productivity, and telltale finger twitches have let me know I need my ergonomic keyboard back. So I now have a Futurama cast member’s head to sit on – it’s temporary, until we get a proper ergonomic chair. So I’m addressing issues, but skipping some stuff, too. I don’t have to be perfect anymore – thank the gods I’m out of corporate.

Riding the Dragon: 10 Activities that Ground and Comfort

This is part of my work in the Julia Cameron Artist’s Way series. The work this time is from the book the Artist’s Way at Work: Riding the Dragon. The responses are self-examinations and assessments based on work through a daily series of exercises. While I do keep some material offline as it can be very personal and jarring, I often opt to be fairly open about my experiences, both positive and negative.

Small things that bring me back to reality when stuff gets surreal.

Tomato and spinach cup pies

  1. Clearing the dishwasher
  2. Baking (gets a touch double-edged.)
  3. Decluttering/cleaning closets/clearing space
  4. Decoupaging shipping boxes and product bottles
  5. Gardening
  6. Sex
  7. Sketching
  8. Going for a walk
  9. Talking to a friend I really trust
  10. Journaling/blogging