The Artist’s Way ~ Week 7

Week 7 ~ Recovering a Sense of Connection


  1. I did my Morning Pages every day this week. Some days felt like trying to get water from a stone, other times, the words just gushed onto the page resembling the draft of an essay or poem. What I’m trying to two with these pages is immerse myself in the process of them rather than the product and hopefully that ripples out to the rest of my life and creative pursuits.
  2. My Artist’s Date was going to see “Blank Panther.” I’ve been a fan of going to the movies alone for a long time. When my daughters were little, that was my mommy time-out. My husband would come home, take one look at me and gently suggest that I get dressed and go see a movie. It always worked. I’d come back refreshed. This movie not only left me refreshed but incredibly inspired and I will definitely be seeing it again. It was a visual feast and the story was profoundly moving.
  3. I am not usually aware of synchronicity but the more I notice them as I work through this process, the more they appear. Three things happened this week. First, I woke up one morning after a poor night’s sleep and my mind was immediately on and racing. I lay there, trying to just observe it and be amused other than frustrated. When  I open the book I am working with, “108 Days of Transformation,” the theme for that day was watching the mind. Second, I posted a photo of a book I was reading, “Buets” by Maggie Nelson and there was a particular student I wanted to make sure I recommended it to. When  I went back to tag her, I saw that she had already commented that she loved the book! Third, I became obsessed with a quote I saw online and was using it as a theme in my yoga classes. I was trying to find the source of the quote by Mary Oliver. I thought it was from her book “Devotions” (it wasn’t) and was browsing the shelf for it. No luck. There was a tiny volume tucked away and I almost didn’t crouch down to check it out but then I did. It wasn’t the book I was looking for but it was the book the Universe wanted me to have. It was called “Devotions” but by Patti Smith, not Mary Oliver. I gasped when i saw the title. Then I opened the first page and knew I had to buy it. It felt like the Universe had dropped a trail of breadcrumbs for me to follow to find that book.
  4. I completed some of the tasks. The one I enjoyed the most was the collage. I even inspired me to use the scraps to create a page in my art journal that I haven’t picked up in over a year. The women in my group posted their collages and it was a beautiful explosion of images revealing their hearts and souls. I swear that I would’ve been able to tell who created which collage because each seemed to beautifully reflect its creator.

Collage task sitting in the alter in my yoga room.


Page from my art journal.


The Artist’s Way: Weeks 1-4

Vision Board 2018

My Vision Board, 2018

My plan had been to post at the end of each week about my current Artist’s Way journey. Then I got the flu. And had my wisdom teeth out. And an inner ear thing that made it difficult to stay upright for any length of time. But I have stayed connected to the process. Today I will post a recap of the last 4 weeks and from here on will post weekly. That’s my plan anyway… (fingers crossed!)

Week 1 • Recovering a Sense of Safety

I had an epiphany this week while doing one of the tasks: List three old enemies of your creative self-worth. I have done this task numerous times over the years. And have even explored this particular enemy before but this time I discovered something new.

If you grew up in Michigan, you might be familiar with a TV show featuring “Oopsy the Clown.” He did a segment where children could draw pictures, send them in and he would feature them on his show. Well, I did that. I drew my picture in crayons of Oopsy standing between tow big trees, mailed it in and it was featured on TV. I was practically famous! I remember kneeling on the floor in front of the TV eagerly waiting for him to show my drawing. He did. My family was all around me. Oopsy showed the picture, said my name and age and then described the picture this way: “Well, here’s a picture of Oopsy standing between…two big ice cream cones.” What? Not ice cream cones! Trees! You are standing between two big tees! I just wanted the floor to open up and swallow me whole. As I explored this experience I wrote, “I had followed through on something and I was humiliated.” Ding, ding, ding. One of my challenges is following through. Finishing stories, novels, sending them out, following up with agent queries, sending them out to more agents. So, it hit me. A part of me is afraid that if I follow through I will be humiliated. It doesn’t feel safe to follow through with my art.

Week 2 • Recovering a Sense of Identity

No big epiphanies this week. Just a steady showing up to myself, to my inner artist, to my writing. I struggle with Artist’s Dates. Not sure why. I’ve struggle with them every single time I have done The Artist’s Way. I have no problem being alone or doing things alone so I don’t know what is going on. I did a Zentangle while sitting in front of the fire for this week’s Artist’s Date. I didn’t end up liking it and felt really distracted as I did it which is the exact opposite of what is suppose to happen. Supposed? Hmmm…that’s always a red flag. Maybe I have too many expectations about what Artist’s Dates should be, how they should feel, what they should produce. Maybe it’s not about producing anything but just being.

Week 3 • Recovering a Sense of Power

I enjoyed the detective work this week. Excavating my childhood for who I was then, what I enjoyed doing, what kind of person I was then. I remembered that I wasn’t afraid to try new creative activities: pottery, making tissue paper flowers, collaging vases, weaving, creating an “aquarium” out of an old shoe box with paper fish dangling from strings. I read a lot. Every report card from elementary school mentions my love of reading, my love of books. Library day was my favorite day of the week and I was always exploring shelves that were years above my age.

A little bit of synchronicity I observed: In the detective work I wrote about loving to play with Spirograph. Then I was in my writing room and looking for something in the closet when I found a brand new Spirograph I had bought at a toy store several years ago but never opened! So that was my Artist’s Date. Unfortunately, the wheels didn’t work well, the teeth didn’t stay connected so the pen kept slipping making it a rather frustrating experience.

Week 4 • Recovering a Sense of Integrity

So, I didn’t get a chance to read this chapter on Sunday. I checked in with my TAW online group and saw all the commotion about Reading Deprivation week. Ugh…I knew it was coming,I just thought it was the seventh week. I was not prepared for it. And I rebelled. I outlined all the reasons why I couldn’t not read this week. I still had to finish the book for the book club I facilitate at our yoga studio thais weekend. And besides, I wasn’t reading a lot anyway these days, not as much as I usually did. And this book isn’t up to date. It should be a social media/iPhone/technology deprivation week. That’s what I really needed help with. So, I went ahead and read on Monday but it just felt off. Partly because I am a rule follower. Mostly because I heard how lame my excuses sounded. And they were definitely excuses. If I have learned anything these last six years of delving deep into my yoga practice, it is that I most need what I most resist. So, I gave in. Fine. No reading this week. I didn’t even finish the book for our book club. Instead of reading here are some of the things I did:

~  I stayed on top of writing handwritten welcome notes to students new to my yoga classes

~ Wrote a letter to my sweet 7-year-old niece who had sent me a postcard earlier this month

~ Created a vision board for this year (this was my Artist’s Date)

~ I have acquired a stack of a lovely magazine called “Flow” that always has several fun projects or activities throughout each issue that I never seem to do. Well, this week I started doing them

~ Instead of reading at night I found some yoga nidra meditations on Insight Timer and listened to them which helped me fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply

~ Instead of eating my breakfast this morning in front of the TV or at my desk watching Youtube, I sat at the dining room table and had a mindful meal: giving thanks for the food, no distractions, chewing food slowly, placing fork down between bites

As always, I benefitted from not reading. But I have to admit I was really cranky about it at first. I’m sure the weird energy of the full moon this week didn’t help. Not reading allowed me to stay a little more introspective, a little more connected to myself so I didn’t go to my usual easy buttons to check out like too much sugar and/or wine.

As we come to the end of the first third of the process I can feel a subtle inner shifting. I feel energized with tons of ideas for essays, my novel, themes for yoga classes, yoga sequences. I am just feeling more engaged on so many levels.

Another Circle Around TAW.


I am doing “The Artist’s Way.” Again.

Probably my third or fourth time over the years. But this time it feels different.

Usually I turn to it when I am feeling stuck or exasperated with my lack of creative progress. But that is not the case at all this time around. I have written something everything single day since January 1, 2016. I wrote over eighty thousand words on my novel last year. I have about sixty thousand on a YA fantasy I have been revisiting this year. I am teaching eight yoga classes a week, feeling connected to my own practice as well to my students. I’ve been vegan since July of 2017 and I’ve lost about thirty pounds.

So, I am not stuck.

So why the lure of TAW now?

I think I want the playfulness of it. The nurturing aspect of the whole process. And that is even more available now that I am doing it with a group. I posted to my FaceBook page that I was going to do TAW in the new year to see if anyone was interested in doing it with me. Many people were. We now have a group of about 20 phenomenal woman from across the state and country moving through the tasks, Morning Pages and Artist’s Dates together. It’s a beautiful thing to witness and be part of.

Unfortunately, the week we started it I got the flu. 102.8 fever and just felt miserable. My husband had just left to go out of town so I was alone. I was just barely feeling human when I had to have my wisdom teeth out due to a cracked tooth. Then on the heels of that I was dealing with fluid in my inner ears which was making me dizzy and nauseous. Not an auspicious start to the process. But instead of throwing in the towel or berating myself, I did what I could. Some days my morning pages were only one page. My Artist’s Date that week consisted of binge-watching “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

For once I was completely compassionate with myself.

Maybe it’s the fact that I am 52 instead of 22 and have learned how to be gentle with myself. Maybe it’s the yoga foundation I now stand on that permeates every aspect of my life and is allowing me to approach the TAW with compassion and curiosity rather than another way to bludgeon myself for not living up to my own impossible standards. Because my standards are no longer impossible.

All I know is that this time feels different.

I feel different.

I am different.

I am exploring the process of TAW with curiosity rather than as a way to whip myself into shape or to fix what I believe to be broken.

That’s the difference, right there. I no longer think of myself as broken.

And that difference has changed who I am.


Befriending my Body…Finally.


I’ve battled my body for as long as I can remember.

There are entries in my diary from high school where I admit to “cheating” and eating a Hostess apple pie or some Oreos. Reader, I wasn’t heavy. At all. I look back at pictures from that time and can’t imagine what I was thinking.

I can clearly recall two times in my life when I felt happy with my body. Two times. I am 52. Once was on my wedding day. I loved my dress. It fit perfectly and was exactly what I had it mind. Another time was in a beautiful one-piece swimsuit I ordered from Calvin Klein and I put it on and felt great. And it wasn’t it looks great for a bathing suit. Nope. I felt amazing in it.

But those two times that I can recall are like grains of salt in an ocean of judgment, berating, disdain, shame and loathing I’ve felt for my body throughout my life.

Recently, I’ve lost almost 22 pounds. And I feel great. I feel like I am befriending my body for the first time ever. But I had to ask myself this hard question: Am I befriending my body now because I’ve lost weight? Is my compassion contingent on that? I sat with that one and finally came to this conclusion: I believe I am losing weight because I am finally loving my body.

Let me explain.

When I hurt my back two years ago I did a lot of soul-searching. I felt betrayed by my body. I cried, a lot. I wrote, a lot. And what emerged was that my body felt betrayed by me. Betrayed by my lack of compassion, my insistence on numbers on scales and clothing tags revealing my worth, hiding behind sugary treats and big glasses of wine, moving to burn calories rather than moving because it feels good.

It’s been a long journey over these last two years. Physical therapy, Bowen Therapy, Cranial Sacral, Shamanism, journaling, yoga, walking, meditation. Lots of tools that basically all led to me finally listening to my body. Really hearing what it needed rather than thinking I knew what was best.

I moved carefully and mindfully back into my yoga practice. I began starting each day with 5-10 minutes of meditation while in Constructive Rest Pose then moving into my PT exercises and other  gentle yoga moves that my body seems to love.

Next, I became a vegan again around my birthday. I had tried it a few years ago and it didn’t last long. I think I came at it from a distorted angle, looking for yet another quick fix that would solve my weight loss issue. This time I tried it to help my body heal. To fight inflammation, to ease the pain in my joints. I also became more aware of the impact my choices have on animals and the environment. Plus, my oldest daughter went vegan as well and she has been huge support in staying the course. Nowhere on my list this time was losing weight.

Eating vegan feels right in my body. I feel lighter, clearer. I have more energy, less aches and pains.

Finally, I had a physical in September. My weight was the highest it has been since I was post-pregnancy. I do not take any medications for cholesterol or blood pressure and I want to keep it that way. So, I started thinking about an approach to losing the extra weight, not an easy task at 52 and in the middle of menopause.

I decided to track my calories. I loaded Spark People onto my phone and was soon astonished at what constituted a serving versus what I had been eating. I didn’t become obsessed with it. I tracked my calories for most meals but still went out occasionally (though I eat out less often because the vegan options are so limited) and slowly I began to see results. The pounds began to drop and my back began to feel even better and mysterious aches began to dissipate. Because I am eating less sugar and foods that feel “noisy” in my body, I have more time to write, to do yoga, to read, to meditate. There’s a stillness at my core that has probably always been there but I wasn’t connected to it. Now I am.

Every change I have made has come from a place of love. A place of tender yet fierce compassion for my body, for what it needs.

At 52, I can finally trust that I am truly befriending my body.


Habit, Routine + Ritual.

Routine and Ritual

“We are what we repeatedly do. Success is not an action but a habit.” ~ Aristotle

Whenever autumn rolls around, I find myself drawn back into that back-to-school mode. Since I am long out of school, it’s a time of year when I turn inward and really look at how I am spending my time. By then, I’m coming off a summer of loose routines, fun and spontaneous adventures and I’m ready to dive back into a structure that feeds my creativity.

This year I’ve been thinking about the differences between habit, routine and ritual. Habits—good and bad—are those things we do automatically without too much thought: brushing our teeth, taking a shower, a walk after dinner. Routines are a set of habits that lend structure to your day. So a set of habits such scraping your tongue, drinking a glass of warm water with lemon, gentle yoga and meditation become a morning routine. Nighttime routine might consist of a cup of tea, turning off all electronics, setting the alarm, reading a book before going to sleep. I think of routines as safety nets to our days.

“You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” ~ John Maxwell

I knew I had to change something about my morning routine. My habit was to eat breakfast while watching a show on Hulu that I had missed the night before. But that became a slippery slope and before I knew it a whole morning could be wasted in front of the TV and on my phone. So, my one change was to eat breakfast at my desk. I make some toast, fruit and tea, go into my writing room, close the door, light a candle, read an inspiring writing book while eating my toast then write my morning pages while sipping my tea. Then I set a timer for 30 minutes and work on my novel. I’ve started doing a freewrite based on a card drawn from “The Observation Deck” then I move onto my draft and start knitting together what I have, cutting what doesn’t work, asking myself question. I keep a writer’s notebook specifically for this project where I keep my freewrites, notes, questions, timelines. After the timer goes off I’ll go do some small household task like wash the dishes or put in or fold a load of laundry then set the timer again.

“If you want your day to be organized, develop a routine. If you want your day to be meaningful, create rituals.” 

This one small tweak of a habit—moving where I ate my breakfast—cracked open my morning routine and helped me create a ritual that sustains my creative process. Lighting the candle, reading an inspiring book, drawing a card from the “Soulful Woman Guidance Deck” all weave together to create a ritual to nurture my creativity. When I start my day immersed in the creative process, it sets the tone for my day, it adds meaning to my life.


Quotable Tuesday


Dani Shapiro quote


List: Top 5 Books that Illuminated my Writing Path.

I love lists so each Saturday my plan is to share a list of some sort,                                    covering a range of topics

five books

These are the top five books that started me on the writing path and that I turn to again and again.

  1. “Writing Down the Bones” by Natalie Goldberg. This is the absolute first book that offered me a glimmer of recognition that perhaps I could write. Actually, that I must write.
  2. “Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott She helped and continues to help me loosen the grip of perfectionism by taking it word by word, allowing myself to write shitty first drafts and writing what I can see through a 1-inch picture frame.
  3. “Ron Carlson Writes a Story” by Ron Carlson As he takes us meticulously through his process of writing one particular short story, Carlson reminds of the importance of doing the work, of staying in the room even when—especially when—I want leave.
  4. “The Writer’s Portable Mentor” by Priscilla Long This is a book about process and craft but it goes deep into all the layers of craft far beyond character, plot and setting. Never fails to get my pen moving again.
  5. “Still Writing” by Dani Shapiro I have read this gem at least three times, maybe four and am currently reading it each morning as I eat my breakfast and drink tea at my desk before plunging into my own writing. Her honest reflection of the writing life comforts me as I continue to show up to the page and to my own writing life.

What books illuminate the writer in you? Please share in the comments!


The Power of Art to Stay Awake.

I’ve been watching “The Handmaid’s Tale” on Hulu with equal parts fascination, fear and fury.

For those who don’t know the premise, it is based on the 1985 dystopian novel by Margaret Atwood. The former United States is now The Republic of Gilead. After extreme environmental devastation has left many women barren and men sterile, the new order steps in, sorting women into categories: young fertile women become Handmaids, some become Martha’s or maids, some are Aunts who are in charge of grooming the Handmaids for their new duties, while the rest are sent to work in the toxic camps where death is imminent. Cheery, so far, yes?

Handmaids are placed with a commander and his barren wife. Most of the commanders are sterile but that fact is no longer allowed in this society. (Dismissing of facts, sound familiar?) Only women are blamed for not being able to procreate. Their duty is to produce a child for the couple through The Ceremony which I find myself cringing through as I watch it.

One of the most disturbing aspects are the flashbacks which also greatly disturbed my 23-year-old daughter. In our current climate, setting the flashbacks in our time just makes the scenario seem not only possible but, at times, chillingly inevitable. Through the flashbacks we learn how women’s right were methodically stripped: firing them for their jobs, freezing their bank accounts so that only a husband or father could manage their money.

These are extreme actions that may, on the surface, feel completely unrealistic. We like to tell ourselves that would never happen here. But it already is. It comes down to how we value women and as a society we aren’t valued as much as men. We literally make less money for the same job just because are women. We are at the crux of a constant fight for control over our own bodies. We may be heading back to a time where our gender is considered a pre-existing condition and be charged more for our health insurance.

Beyond the issues of gender, another chilling scene was a brief flashback where men dressed in black with guns were throwing books and art into a fire. Why go after art? It is straight out of the dictator’s handbook. Go after the artists who use their voices to speak truth to power. Artists hold up a mirror to society—the good, the bad and the ugly. Once we see ourselves, we can’t unseen it. Therefore, it behooves a regime to not allow it to be seen or heard in the first place.

I’ve been watching as many artists struggle to find their voice in this new era of government where rights are threatened on an almost daily basis. Before the election, writer Julianna Baggott started a site inviting people to dedicate their no-Trump vote, sharing their stories about why they were not voting for him.

More than 600 American writers, including Stephen King, Dave Eggers, and Cheryl Strayed, penned an open letter against Trump.

Michael Moore reveals that he has been on a “creative tear” since last summer when he saw the inevitable train wreck coming at us. He encourages the use of satire and humor because it has been shown to get under the President’s extremely thin skin. What is a weakness in him becomes a strength for the resistance.

Many visual artists are turning to their work in this era of Trump to motivate action and educate the public on issues they are passionate about. As always, art is in the eyes of the beholder and there are consequences of expressing your views in such a public forum. For example, Ilma Gore’s painting of a nude Trump sporting a micropenis is currently on display at the Maddox gallery in London. She has been threatened not only by his lawyers but has received thousands of death and rape threats after posting the image online where it was shared over 260,000 times.

I find myself turning more to my writing than ever before. It soothes my anxiety, it helps me make sense of the chaos and it helps me discern what I think and how I feel within the chaos. Working on my novel five days week is often the one time of the day when I can block out the news and lose myself in another world. But I also find myself writing more political content in my journal, on social media and on my blog. I considered whether that would offend potential readers of my work and chose to use my voice. It is a gift I have and to not use it seems wrong. My audience is not huge but I have had people tell me over and over again how much they appreciate my words so I will keep sending them out into the world.

Ultimately, this election has been about waking up. Waking up to reality, to political action, to making myself heard whether through marches, town halls, calling and faxing my representatives or writing. Artists are awake to reality and they wake the rest of us up which is critical in these times.

I will leave you with the most chilling words from “The Handmaid’s Tale” so far:

Now I’m awake to the world. I was asleep before. That’s how we let it happen. When they slaughtered Congress, we didn’t wake up. When they blamed terrorists and suspended the Consitution, we didn’t wake up then, either. Nothing changes instantaneously. In a gradually heating bathtub, you’d be boiled to death before you knew it.

~ Offred

Let’s stay awake.



Quotable Tuesday

First quote to kick off a new year…

Anne Frank quote


The Practice of Core Desired Feelings


I am a huge fan of using Core Desired Feelings to set intentions for the new year rather than resolutions that are doomed to be broken within a month—if that. If you haven’t checked out “The Desire Map” by Danielle Laporte, I highly suggest you do. It’s a game changer.

This year my core desired feelings are: Awake, Vibrant and Courageous.


Awake: This is such a critical one for me that I will be doing a separate post about it soon. I will awaken to my strengths and weaknesses, to my light and my shadow.To what is happening in the world locally, statewide, nationwide and worldwide. No more looking the other way, assuming that I won’t be personally impacted in my own little privileged bubble. I will awaken too what is happening in my body,mind and emotional and energetic bodies at any given moment. I will awaken to what I desire, what I need, what I need to give and what I need to receive. No more walk-in around with my eyes closed, head turned or numbed out to my feeling say what Glennon Doyle Melton calls my “easy buttons.” For me that are wine, sugar, mindless social media, TV, shopping. Awaken to all of who I am, to all of the world has to offer.

Vibrant: Feeling healthy, energetic. Again, not hiding behind my easy buttons. Allowing myself to shine and sparkle and saying no to anything or anyone who tries to dim my brightness.


Image found via Pinterest.

Courage: I love that courage has its root in the word for “heart.” To me, it mean living, acting and moving from the true space of my heart, Speaking up when I need to. Using my voice politically. Writing the truth as I know it, as I experience it. Being uncomfortable or afraid but staying present and taking action anyway—going to new places, making that phone call, having that difficult conversation with someone or myself. It means being what Brené Brown calls “wholehearted.”

I created the image at the top of my core desired feeling to remind me daily of how I want to feel, then every choice I make is filtered through those feelings. I put it as the screen saver on my phone, printed it out and hung it in my office, in my yoga room.

How do you enter the new year? How do you want to feel? Feel free to leave a comment or a link to your post.

Happy New Year!


Image found via Pinterest.