Monday Motivation

For this Monday’s motivation I am sharing a bit of what I had written in my Morning Pages the other day. But first I need to clarify, in case you haven’t read the book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. He writes about The Resistance. It doesn’t relate to any political agenda, not waging a war and overthrowing the powers that be. But it does relate to a war of sorts. The Resistance is the critic, the chattering monkey in your ear that says; just stop doing what you think you can do, because you know and I know you can’t do it. Why are you wasting your time? “Resistance is the war within.”

We’ve all had this inner dialogue at some point, if not all the time, anytime we take up a new venture or work away at an ongoing project and self doubt rears its poopy head. The chattering monkey, the self doubt, the self defeating inner critic IS the Resistance.

In my M.P I wrote:

I’m fighting against Resistance right now. I’m fighting against the challenges and expectations I’ve set for myself. I’m fighting to believe I have anything worth saying. One part of me says why set challenges or goals? The other part of me frets over each hour of the day when I’m not meeting the challenges and goals I’ve set; not doing the work. I can be near frantic if I let time slip or lapse one day- then two, that it will be too late to regain ground. I worry I will lose all momentum. I have a raging conflict of interest within. A part of me appears to have an interest to give up with the self imposed expectations, hang out, I’m sixty-three, it’s done. Any work I do or input I have from this point on has no merit, so chill. The other part of me says the exact opposite.

The other part of me ( the stronger part) has an interest in the exact opposite.

This is classic Resistance at work. My inner dialogue was sliding under Resistance rule, I was almost believing those words to “give it up”. It was only as I was writing it out in my Pages that I saw it for what it was. In fact as I was in the act of writing it out, I recognized immediately the seductive, slithery, slippery voice of Resistance.

How could I tell? Looking at what I wrote I knew I didn’t believe the words “give it up”. I think I saw those words as what others would expect of a sixty-three year old woman. The status quo who says, why put yourself in situations of having to meet “unnecessary,” self-imposed expectations, why challenge yourself when you don’t have to? What do you really hope to gain at this point? Because I recognized where that voice was coming from I had an opportunity to rally my better self and shake off the self defeating babble.

Setting personal challenges is the prodding, pointy end of the stick I use to ignite, motivate, to see what I can do. What I want to do. Because it can be too easy to succumb to acquiescence and let self discovery, and growth atrophy; and to allow that to happen is a kind of long, slow death with missed opportunities to blossom. And there is no excuse or reason under the sun to deny ourselves that privilege.

Cheers ~

Monday Motivation

“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” Pablo Picasso

So much depends on just showing up to the canvas, the page, the wheel. Picking up the instrument. Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art has a great quote by the playwright Somerset Maugham that nails it.

“I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”

Even if it means sitting and staring at the canvas, the page, etc, for an hour and a half, you show up. This is such an important key to tapping into the creative process, not to wait for inspiration or the right “mood,” but to show up, ready and open. Even it’s to stare into space for an hour, I’m here and ready. And If I become tired of staring then I start, make some move, to engage, and even if it’s crap, something may very well come out of it. If not, that’s ok, tomorrow I’ll be back at the “desk”. Same time same place.

Self Portrait with Planet

New Year, New books, and why don’t we creatives take ourselves seriously?

Well, that was a bit of hiatus. We got through the hubbub that is the Christmas season, a happy time for me. I love the winter season, the get togethers, the food, the very atmosphere the season can bring with it. Also, I love the winter season for the quiet time, some delicious solitude time, the snug of a warm home on cold stormy days. Christmas time, being a secular celebration for me, doesn’t discount the beautiful spirit we share together in our human condition. Regardless of religion, I feel it brings us closer, and causes us to remember and connect with the people we love – or those strangers we want to reach out and help.

This year while out doing my gift shopping I noticed that everyone had a countenance of happiness about them. I saw no grumpy faces in other words. Everyone was courteous and polite, smiled at each other. I’m sure there are many out there that do dread the shopping forays.- Not me. The bustle in the shops makes me particularly happy. It’s a super conductive positive charge knowing everyone is shopping because they are looking for a gift to give to another. How can we grumpy when we are engaged in that kind of activity?

This year Bob and I bought only a few gifts for the three grand babies. Between us and our two grown kids and their spouses we had decided on no gifts, but then we all seemed to stumble upon hearing about this particular Swedish gift exchange of Jolabokaflod, or Yule Book Flood, and decided to adopt it for our own gift giving practice.  It’s a full on WIN in our family. Tradition installed!

As a happy and luscious addition to ones’ new book, you are also required to have some good chocolate and some wine as you snuggle down on Christmas Eve to read. I can’t think of anything more delightful! Just so happens I made some chocolate truffles to send along with the books. The wine- well they had to look after that, but next year I may wrap that up with the truffles too.  Ah, see how it can escalate?  Hmmm, do they need a new duvet to cuddle down into with their new book, truffles and wine?

My chocolate truffles!

My daughter gave me a non-fiction written by Kate Harris; Lands of Lost Boarders, Out of Bounds on the Silk Road. What a spirit this woman has! Loving it, beautiful writer, and I’m nearly finished it. My son gave me The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. It’s a book that he had just read and loved, a book I had on my list to buy since October.

The War of Art runs along slightly the similar lines as The Artists Way, but isn’t a workbook per se. It’s not a big book, so got through it in a day, but found his insights very supportive and motivating for pushing through to, as its subtitle says, Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles.

Very helpful stuff in there. And since this blog concerns itself with the creative issues of unblocking and recovering our inner artist I want to share and touch on one of the sections in The War of Art that spoke loud and clear. On page 69 under the chapter “We’re All Pro’s Already” he lists Ten behaviours we all already do as employees when working that day job for other people or companies. The implication he makes is we can transfer these behaviours to our creative work. This, for me, was like an Oprah moment.

Of course! Why wouldn’t I apply the same discipline to my own creative aspirations as I did when an employee and held a day job? And I was a very good employee by the way. Here are the ten points he makes:

    1. We show up everyday.
    2. We show up no matter what
    3. We stay on the job all day
    4. We are committed over the long haul
    5. The stakes for us are high and real
    6. We accept renumeration for our labour
    7. We do not over identify with our job
    8. We master the technique of our jobs
    9. We have a sense of humour about our jobs
    10. We receive praise and blame in the real world

These ten points make sense; treat our creative aspirations with the same “professional” attitude we give our day job. Why would we offer ourselves any less attention? It became evident to me my own inner reason for never considering this has to do with me not believing my creative work is worthy of such a commitment. Hey, it’s not real work anyway, so I can take it or leave it whenever- not important.

In fact, I am cancelling an important date; turning my back on a loved one- ME!

Number 6 is a good one. Receiving monetary reward. Why do we have such a hard time putting a monetary figure to our creative work? Instead we look down at our beaten shoes, give a scuff, and mumble awe shucks when someone likes what we do and wants to buy. We can go to our day job and not even be 20% engaged in that job, but we still happily collect our pay.

I know, and I’m just thinking on the fly here; Art resides on a different plane. Because we have a near spiritual connection to our creative process. To “sully” it with money seems at odds. I don’t have an answer for that, because I’m guilty as charged in that instance. I find it difficult to attach a monetary figure to something I’ve made.  I haven’t made much of anything to sell as it stands, but the few things I have had to put a price on was awkward for me.

I do recommend this book for a good kick in the pants.

In the meantime, The Artists Way has been a boon to my inner work, I’m on Week Eleven now and have noticed many definite positive inner shifts. I haven’t gotten down to painting yet, most of my creative work for the last while has been working to complete a writing project, so not privy to sharing that right now. I am still gearing up to push myself into the studio though! It’ll happen.

Delving into my personal hold backs, blocks and self-doubt around creative issues is deep solitary work, with not much to show at first. I’m a sponge right now, soaking all this information up, and I’m loving this whole process of exploring my creative blocks of why’s and why nots. It’s an enlightening, revealing journey!

But also, in keeping with my sponge metaphor, I’m going to have to squeeze out something eventually.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading. Hope your Christmas was glorious, and wishing you a creatively fulfilled New Year ~