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Recovering a sense of integrity – changing the way we define ourselves.
 We tend to hide our true feelings. We don’t put our true feelings on public display. That would be unrefined to say the least. So when we are asked how we are doing and we reply with the automatic “good”, “fine” or “okay”, are we fooling everybody else or are we fooling ourselves?
Morning pages are an excellent tool for sorting through our feelings. They provide the opportunity to examine what we are feeling and help us figure out why we are feeling that way. I’ve found this particularly useful – I know I’m angry or upset or whatever, and I believe I know the reason but when I use my morning pages to “write my feelings out” I discover that it’s not just a certain incident or somebody’s remark that has caused me to feel this way – there’s more to it. When I acknowledge what I am feeling and why, even if I don’t have an immediate solution, the self-awareness helps bring about a kind of peace. Instead of stewing (and plotting revenge) I am able to move on and bring myself a step closer to letting it go.
“At the root of a successful creative recovery is the commitment to puncture our denial, to stop saying, “It’s okay” when in fact it’s something else.”

              -  Julia Cameron

 In this chapter of The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron warns that we might begin to avoid morning pages because of what they may reveal or the feelings they might churn up. She urges us to stick with them. Cameron says that morning pages help us clarify our feelings – sharpen our perceptions and release our misconceptions. They clarify what we really want and can be instrumental in finding solutions to what is bothering us. They raise our consciousness. “It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.”
This chapter called for a week of reading deprivation which I found difficult (understatement of the year!) After sleeping and eating, reading is what I live for. Reading is my best friend. The idea is not to read for an ENTIRE week so that you can free your mind for sensory stimulation. Man, I dreaded starting this exercise. I put it off for a couple of days until I had finished reading my current book and then I put on my big girl pants and took the “I shall not read” pledge.
So what did I do instead? I followed Cameron’s instructions and did not allow the TV to comfort me during my DTs. I strolled around the neighborhood more than usual which made my dog very happy and led to an exciting short story idea for me. I started doing crossword puzzles again and I went to bed a little earlier. On the train into work, I looked out the window and admired the sunrise – the splotch of flamingo pink in the otherwise dreary wall of gunmetal gray clouds brought a smile to my face which is a rare way for me to begin my work week. I wrote a letter to my aunt and uncle using pretty note paper with a matching envelope. I gave considerable thought on how to convert a Dixie cup into a bird house and then had a lot of fun painting it, avoiding my usual palette of colors and experimenting with some new ones. I sorted through the junk drawer in the kitchen. I paged through old photo albums and reminisced.
Was I happy when my week of reading deprivation was over? You betcha! But, I was also happy to have spent my week a little differently. And wow did I feel a sense of accomplishment – like I’d earned a Boy Scout badge or something.
“We are always doing something, talking, reading, listening to the radio, planning what next. The mind is kept naggingly busy on some easy, unimportant external thing all day.”

                -  Brenda Lieland

 So how would you spend your time during a week of reading deprivation?
“If you want to work on your art, work on your life.”
               -  Chekhov

Before you can express yourself, you must have an actual self to express. Makes sense. 



    ( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
    (Deleted comment)
    Sep. 5th, 2011 12:32 pm (UTC)
    It was hard. Yeah, I don't find reading draining either - rather it's a way for me to decompress and escape. Giving up reading for a week was harder than giving up chocolate for lent. But it was a learning experience and although I won't jump at the chance to repeat the experience, I'm glad I did it.
    ( 1 comment — Leave a comment )


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