The well you build

I did the Artist’s Way on my first round in 2008. I finished it a bit after the 12 weeks allotted: I moved during that time, and had some business upheaval. By the time I moved on to Vein of Gold in 2009,  my father was dying and I was going for walks around the inside of a school building twice a week with a good friend along with a once-a-week walk at an indoor park unique to Saint Paul. Right up until the three weeks (give or take) in Indiana, I continued with my artist’s dates and weekly walks. I liked them. I even commented to my friend about the good place I was in, and how it was helping me with my helplessness as my father made his way toward the end of his life.

After my father’s death, I’ve become continuously more sloppy about the artist’s dates. I stick with the morning pages (although my constant journaling caused some trouble in my marriage – uncensored material crossing unmeant for eyes meant Mike learned some things I didn’t want him to know, and I can’t say the dialogue about what a married person is entitled to keep to herself has been satisfactory for either of us.) The morning pages let me vent my negativity, my forbidden desires, the things I see and feel in myself that I need to get rid of. Much of the morning pages for me involves elimination – even the list making entries are things I want to shove out of my way.

I forget too easily that magic and physics share a principle: space abhors a vacuum.

By skipping my artist’s dates, I forget to fill myself up. I need to fill that space with images and experiences of my own, quiet reflection and noticing the passage of images, sounds, smells.

Yesterday, I re-read chapter 2. Cameron illustrates how her grandmother stayed grounded, how she herself found connection in solitary adventure and how taking that solitary time actually improves our ability to connect to others in ways both compassionate and creative. I also have encountered a few people going through those crises that tax – and alter – the spirit. They may not realize it, but their very psyches are drawing upon that spiritual well built within them, and whatever good they put there is needed now more than ever.

I’ve let my own well run just a bit dry, and I need to rework. Part of this is because I feel like I’ve run out of ideas. I’m low on money – I don’t know what demands tax season may bring, and last year’s focus on writing work meant that I suspended my usual income-generating activities. I also had an astounding year in terms of the success of my plus size fashion blog. My own in-house struggles also taxed that well, making me hesitant to go spend time on my own. My social life needs some enrichment – my closest friend (physically and emotionally at the moment) and I agreed that while we are still getting on beautifully, we both need to expand our social lives in the interest of everyone’s long-term health. My professional life could do with a few more face to face contacts, and my marriage is finding its way as Mike and I do a bit more than watch television together. This month’s it’s ballroom dancing. Next, it’s French classes. And as weird as it sounds, I’m insisting we visit a gun range at least once just so we know how to handle a weapon should something spectacularly idiotic happen. I’m also dipping my toe in the water of teaching a few workshops and possibly a community education class on the Artist’s Way, giving people in my area the tools they need to set up an artist’s cluster, and helping them find solutions to the challenges they discover along the way. I promised myself to spend as much time as I possibly can at the YWCA this year – that’s not artist’s date time, but necessity time. I am smarter, stronger and more creative when I am fit.

But as for myself? I need to spend some time hunting up new experiences to have on my own, ones I can afford. I still love my library lectures. I have a membership to the MIA because I spend that much time there. I contribute to MPR in part because of the discounts and concert opportunities. It’s bitterly cold, so I prefer indoor activities. I’m going to look hard in the following places:

  • Craig’s List events – for those odd little trunk and craft shows otherwise unadvertised
  • Google Maps – I’m thinking perhaps hunting through costume shops, antique stores, any place that gives a good visual feed
  • Flea markets
  • Museums – we have so many in this area, and there’s one within blocks of my apartment I’ve yet to visit
  • Art galleries – I need to just go out and look at them, perhaps even visit one a week for awhile
  • Saint Paul in general – I know Minneapolis. I don’t know Saint Paul nearly as well, and I swear, it has stuff beyond the Black Dog cafe and the Farmer’s market
  • Colleges and universities – there are scads of colleges in this area, and each hosts its own universe events, many of which are free to the public. I have to find a way to take advantage!

This is my small map. I’ll also make liberal use of mailing lists, etc. I also really want to spend more time exploring local music, I just want to find a way to do less of it in bars. I’m one of those rare socially out-of-step people that easily go to movies alone and go to bars without drinking; I know I’ve made a breakthrough when I can go out dancing alone.

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