The God of Artists

Many of us equate difficulty with virtue — and art with fooling around.  Hard work is good.  A terrible job must be building our moral fiber. Something — a talent for painting, say — that comes to us easily and seems compatible with us must be some sort of cheap trick, not to be taken seriously.  On the one hand, we give lip service to the notion that God wants us to be happy, joyous and free.  On the other hand, we secretly think that God wants us to be broke if we are going to be so decadent as to want to be artists.  Do we have any proof at all for these ideas about God?

Julia Cameron

You may have noticed that this week’s post have a bit of a theme about what it means to take our life and our art seriously.

I read the Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron around the time it was published back in 1992.  It’s a book that changed my life by expanding my beliefs about work, art, spirituality and talent.  I return to the exercises in that book every so often, and have been writing in a journal daily since the early 1990’s mostly because of that book.

I didn’t become an acclaimed artist by reading Julia Cameron’s book, but my life started to become a work of art from that point forward.  I took her following words to heart from the Artist’s Way:

“Making art begins with making hay while the sun shines. It begins with getting into the now and enjoying your day. it begins with giving yourself some small treats and breaks.  “This is extravagant but so is God” is a good attitude to take when treating your artist to small bribes and beauties.  Remember you are the cheapskate, not God. As you expect God to be more generous, God will be able to be more generous to you.”

This approach changed my life for the better, so every so often I write about Julia Cameron’s ideas and books in case she they could help you too.  I recommend the Artist’s Way and her follow-on books to any of you who are trying to write your destiny!

Daily Contemplation:

Are you generous with your inner and outer artist?

Do you believe that God or the Universe is extravagant and wants to share some of that extravagance with you?

Does God love and cherish artists?

Training for Quantum Leaps

Prayer flags on Renjo La
Prayer flags on Renjo La (Photo credit: Oliphant)

Let’s face it  .  .  . most transformational coaches are paid to help their clients to create quantum leaps and usually big ones.

If you’re experiencing trouble or discomfort in some area of your life, and you finally admit that you might need some help,  you want to make change quickly, as in quantum leap change.

The problem is that coaches who are honest cannot promise anyone a quantum leap.

So most of the time coaches preach the idea of taking massive action.   This type of transformation usually creates results.  Many of the biggest, quickest changes I’ve experienced myself and seen in others happened because of massive action.  Unfortunately, these types of transformation don’t always endure.

Sometimes massive action creates world changing quantum leaps, as in the example of an Edison with his thousands of failed experiments before the light bulb was developed.  In the U.S., we tend to associate this type of transformation with the American way –work hard and produce extraordinary results.  With big challenges facing America, you see many pundits talking about one type of massive action or another.

Zen Habits and other blogs talk about a more palatable version of massive change through making a lot of small changes that grow over time into a bigger change.  This is a slower version of taking massive action that often works better for most of us.

There is another kind of quantum leap that is discussed rather often too.  I call it the “truest dream” quantum leap.  It’s a different kind of quantum leap.

dramatic dream
dramatic dream (Photo credit: unNickrMe)

Here are the elements of truest dream quantum leaps:

  • A worthy dream
  • Praying or deeply longing for help
  • Being in the right place at the right time
  • Finding and working with people that respect your ideas
  • Giving up on being the driver of the change you want to experience
  • Letting go of ambition
  • Following your intuition
  • Using all of your disparate experiences in unusual ways

The challenge with this type of quantum leap, if you notice, is that you’re not in control.

Personally, I’ve noticed that the most important quantum leaps in my life often began after some type of prayer occurred; a prayer that happened because effort wasn’t enough.  Then, a shift occurred that was followed by massive action that felt easy and steady.  When, we are stuck, not feeling able to take action, it’s because we need to get aligned with our truest dreams.

Julia Cameron wrote about this phenomenon in the The Artist’s Way:

Is it any wonder we discount answered prayers?  We call it coincidence.  We call it luck.  We call it anything but what it is — the hand of God, or good, activated by our own hand when we act in behalf of our truest dreams, when we commit to our soul.

There are two key words — truest dreams.

Most of us at some time in our life, we find that we are not acting on behalf of our truest or most worthy dreams.  We are acting on someone else’s true dream.

I believe the biggest challenge we face as humanity is to find a unifying true dream that we can all embrace.  If enough people truly shared a dream of global prosperity, it could happen.

Most likely you have experience in each of these different types of quantum leaps:

  1. Massive Action
  2. Changing Habits One at a Time – slow motion version of massive action
  3. Surrendering to Your Truest Dream

Note:  All these types of quantum leaps happen to be useful ideas for having your writing published or recognized!

Which type of quantum leap do you truly need in your life now?  Are there other ways you have made quantum leaps in your life?

This week I’ll be writing about the last type of quantum leap – surrendering to your truest dream(s).

Using Journals for Memoir Writing and More

A few of my many “pretty” journals

Do you use journals to record your thoughts, ideas, emotions, poems and stories?

When I first started journaling, I followed Julia Cameron’s ideas in The Artist’s Way.  I wrote 3 pages of long-hand on any cheap notebook or paper that I could find.  In some ways, I’ve come full circle and have been returning to that idea, and even moving to online forms of writing.

However, in the interim between then and now, I spent years writing in beautiful, whimsical, artistic and “professional-looking” journals.  Unfortunately, much of what went into those lovely books was drivel.

Yet, interspersed between the mundane and the trivial were some interesting observations about my life and times that make memoir and creative writing easier.  If I want to know how to write about life in Chicago in the 1990’s, I already have some starting material.

Even more fascinating to me is how  journal entries sometimes foreshadow the story that I am now writing in my novel.  Like this little admonishment to myself on March 2, 2001:

As long as you “control” your ship you cannot swim in the ocean and dive as the mystical whales do.

I read that now and get a shiver up my spine, because there are mystical whales in my novel now.  I had a vague idea of the novels I wanted to create then, but no idea of writing about whales (consciously).

Nicholas’ drawing of a Fumaron when he was 8 years old in 2010

Today, I was even more delighted to find the journal with drawings from my son Nicholas 2 years ago when he was only 8 years old.

One of my projects this summer  is to transfer the gems from my journals over the last twenty years into Evernote notebooks so that they can be searched more easily.

Too often we spend hours writing and don’t go back to look for the good stuff.

This weekend how about taking some time to look at your early writing, journals, art, premonitions or anything else that you might still be able to access?

If you don’t have any records of your life and times on earth, there’s no time like the present to start creating some!