Week 9 and the topic is recovering a sense of compassion. How do we show compassion for our artist spirit when it carries disappointments and the shame of past failures?
There were four reading sections. “Fear” talks about calling things by their right names and how fear is often the name for what blocks us as artists…fear of failure, fear of success, fear of criticism, fear of abandonment. “Enthusiasm” deals with how we must approach our work. I found it interesting that the word enthusiasm is from the Greek, “filled with God.” Our work must be filled more with play than with discipline. This was particularly important to me in regards to my morning pages. I have been so determined to DO these that they have become more an exercise in discipline than an exercise in joy. “Creative U-Turns” talks about how recovering our creativity can force us to give up some of the pay-off we receive from being a blocked artist (for instance, sympathy or attention). It also discusses the shame we feel when we take a creative U-turn and how we need to deal with these self-imposed set-backs with compassion for ourselves. “Breaking Through Blocks” presents five questions that are great to ask yourself at the beginning of a new project, when a project is stalled or when a project is difficult.
There were fewer exercises this week but they had multiple parts. The Priorities exercise involved writing down my creative goals for the year, month and week. Setting goals has always been hard for me because if I write down four goals and only accomplish two, I tend to feel bad about the two I didn’t accomplish instead of celebrating the two I did. I am getting better at this as I embrace the idea of my life in a more simple and joyous manner. I do have things I want to accomplish and a “plan” is vital, but I looked at this exercise as a rambling road map as opposed to a trip itinerary where one missed time or destination destroys the whole trip. The other exercise I enjoyed was Creative U-Turns. This exercise involved naming my U-turns, forgiving myself and considering if any of the projects that were sabotaged could be salvaged. This exercise also suggested choosing an artist totem…an object you feel protective fondness toward and when you see it, you honor it by not beating up on your artist child. Having objects around me that represent my “artist spirit/child” has been very helpful. I find I do feel compassion towards this tender part of myself and although I can’t stop the outside world from taking jabs, I can stop ME from hurting this part of my spirit, especially when I surround myself with gentle reminders. The picture of me as a little girl that hangs in my creative space is an artist totem and I want more of these tokens around me.