My birthday! I’ve anticipated/planned for this birthday as much as my pregnant mother anticipated/planned for me so many years ago!
Planning and Getting Started
Why do I say this? On September 1 of last year, I began a yearlong Creativity Tune-Up (CTU). Earlier posts have dealt with the beginnings that were inspired by Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project. I liked her idea of a yearlong focus; however, her specific plan didn’t resonate with me. Julia Cameron’s book, Walking in the World, did. She proposes how to discover more of the potential of one’s own creative self through both a plan and suggested tools. I determined to devote 12 weeks to reading and working my way through the book. To further build and customize the plan, I added “20 Wishes” and also resolved to address/incorporate nine environmental dimensions of the context in which I live and create. These ranged from the mimetic, relationships, networks, financial and physical environments to nature, self, body and spiritual dimensions. For more on “The Nine Environments of You,” see: http://www.journey-to-freedom.com/9environments.html/
In prior years, I had written Morning Pages, three pages of stream of consciousness writing, a tool, a kind of meditation. I returned to the practice on September 1 of last year. I have written Morning Pages every day since. “They will lead you to an inner teacher whose profundity will amaze you,” Julia Cameron wrote. And so it has been.
Artist’s Dates, once-weekly, hour-long solo expeditions to “explore something festive or interesting to your consciousness” is another of Cameron’s recommended ‘tools,” one easily applied in New York City.
The third tool, taking at least one twenty-minute walk a week “to clear the head,” was also easy to do in New York City.
In November, I hired a trainer. I see him once a week and supplement that time with five more trips to the gym each week—unless I’m traveling. In most cases, I find it extraordinarily difficult to exercise when away from home--and even when home. So hiring a trainer was important and consistent with something St. Francis of Assisi claimed: “Start by doing what is necessary; then do what is possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” A trainer keeps exercise fresh and new. Even now, nearly a year later, he is making the impossible possible!
Carrying On with the Practice
Beginnings are important. They set intentions/direction and a whole stream of events issue from that choice/decision. By December, it was apparent I was off to a good start.
I was maintaining my momentum and I was able to diverge from a set plan to one more attentive to possibilities. Joseph Campbell said, “We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” I never want to get so caught up in getting something done that I am not open to consideration of a great possibility.
Often I am asked, “What do you do?” (The question is a sure tip-off I am peaking to an American!) Anyway, I play with the answer. Often, I say, “I play a lot.” And indeed I do. I find—or create—worlds to play in. A “world” may be a museum, a book club, a conversation group—or a Creativity Tune-Up.
Another of my “worlds to play in” is Conversation Among Masters (CAM), a conference for master coaches, life, corporate and more, to come together to converse and learn together. A big take-away from the May 2012 conference was finding out about The Art of Hosting—and Harvesting--Transformational Conversation. This holds great promise for play, for discovery and more.
The editing and shedding of “stuff and things,” (mostly paper—and the most difficult of all my efforts)) became much more engaging when I determined to send off any “treasure” that surfaced to someone who I thought might be interested. Just one simple act—identification of a potentially interested recipient—was all that was required. I then noticed what happened. This has created some remarkable experiences—and I love the connections. It has been great fun!
As the year’s end of the CTU was approaching, I began asking myself, Where are my breakthroughs coming? What questions am I carrying? What is this the time to do? How does the “Year of the Tune-Up” and the consistency of it apply to other areas of my life?
Also, I began thinking about how I wanted to bring a ritualistic ending to the yearlong emphasis on tune-up. I determined to look for something beautiful to commemorate the year’s attention to creativity. I determined to look for this “something” at the Santa Fe Indian Market in August.
August was devoted to celebration. I’m in charge of celebrations and I attend to them with energy, joy, imagination and glee. Mostly, I traveled and spent time with friends.
The perfect sculpture, a profile of an Indian woman, created by Preston La Fountain, found me at Indian Market—about 20 minutes into the experience. Usually, my MO is to look at everything and then choose; however, I thought it likely the sculpture would be gone if I didn’t act. And it was what I was looking for—exactly! So, yes, I purchased it—with no buyer’s remorse.
Though I accomplished incredible things, not everything got done. So then what? Do I consider the CTU a failure? No. Along the way, I discovered I would work on certain things until they are finished, no matter how long it takes.
Meanwhile, how I feel about the year isn’t about completion. It is about being enough. It is about celebrating a year’s devotion to embracing the place creativity has in my life.
Looking Ahead to 2012-13
Friends have asked, “What will you do in 2013?” I’ve thought about that. When I was asking myself the what-is-it-time-to-do question, I reviewed my Bucket List, crossed off some things that aren’t going to happen (like “drive fast cars”) and added new ones. My 2012-13 list is filled with things I haven’t done or want to do more of.