Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Remarkable Weekend With Julia Cameron, Author of The Artist's Way

First and foremost, I must thank my husband, Howard, for gifting me with this experience for my birthday. I love you so much for thinking of me in such a wonderful, yet spiritual way.

Well just so you know I just returned from a fantastic weekend in Lenox, Massachusetts at the Kripalu Yoga Center where for my first visit, I participated in the Julia Cameron's Artist Way workshop on Myth's and Monsters! Julia Cameron is best known for her book Artist Way and for being an ex-wife of famous film maker Martin Scorsese.

I came in on Friday evening had a lovely organic meal and did not know what to expect. I was given a private room with a bath that was eco-friendly. I was so thrilled! I always wanted to stay in an environmentally friendly room. Please see photo above. It was so nicely decorated, clean and toxic free. I was as I understood later to be the first person to even sleep in that room because the Annex as it is officially called by Kripalu just opened up this past weekend! What a thrill!

That evening I met a young lady by the name of Susan who was a law professor at Syracuse University. We hung out together most of the evening. We both sat right up front to see the artist creativity guru, Julia Cameron up close.

The workshop started with a brief introduction by Julia about what we would be learning and the objectives and then like magic she began giving us exercises. Then the famous Morning Pages were given to us as a homework assignment in preparation for the next full day of class.

Saturday, day two. I had every intention to take a yoga class but, with the non toxic organic food I was eating my stomach was having trouble adjusting. I got up and wrote my morning pages, which for those of you who do not know, it is a famous exercise that is found in Julia's Artist Way that instructs readers to write three pages, free hand, of random thoughts that enter the mind first thing in the morning. Of course I could have written 10 pages since my mind is always flowing with information, worry and various thoughts.

Anyway, had a "Silent Breakfast" in the cafeteria of course again, great organic food. I loved the silent breakfast because all participants have breakfast in literal silence. No one is allowed to talk much less whisper. It provides one time to clear the mind and think through the day.

After the breakfast I settled into the workshop for day two. The workshop was filled with exercise after exercise, splitting into groups of no more than 3 and working through various lists unblocking ourselves from various things that does not honor our creativity.

Julia talked slowly yet deliberately. I found her aura fascinating. She wore all black. She always wanted us to finish our assignments in a timely fashion and appeared annoyed if this was not happening. Julia did not lecture much, yet she was very humorous in describing stories about herself and people she knew.

Wow, through this process, I met several other ladies, Dorie, Evelyn, and Karen. All of us connected in a strange yet wonderful way. We always met for lunch and dinner. Shared stories of our successes, etc.

Another interesting thing happened during the exercises was the random people I ended up pairing up with. When I told people my story of leaving the federal government and pursuing an art's career full time, in particular, discussing my doll making, people were truly fascinated and overcome with excitement. I ended up giving away all of my business cards for Sankofa Doll Artistry because so many people wanted to see my dolls and learn more about my artistic venture.

I also headed into Kripalu's bookstore. A great resource for anyone on the spiritual path. I purchased Julia's Complete Artist Way volumes.

After a long day. Several profound things began to emerge. Three tools of the artist way are as follows:

1) Morning Pages
2) Artist Dates
3) Walking

Before lunch Julia assigned us to take a 20 minute walk and ask ourselves the question What do We need to do? This was a strange yet puzzling question for me. I walked the beautiful grounds of the Kripalu constantly asking myself the question. The answer I originally gave myself was to always be authentic. Then somehow that answer did not resonate.

I slept on it.

That evening after dinner among other events held that evening was a special film screening of Who Does She Think She Is? This provocative documentary followed five very ethnically diverse artists in the stage and visual arts and how they managed to dedicate themselves to their art while managing a family. Director, Pamela T. Boll was there providing background and taking questions and answers. I was shocked at the amazing statistics that stated that women are grossly underrepresented in solo shows in the arts at the US foremost galleries and museums. The struggle for equal rights in the arts as well as having supportive spouses and families while paying the bills was an extreme challenge for all of the artists. Please check to find out if there will be a screening in your city. I am working to get a screening done in DC.

The next day, I wrote my morning pages once again, and decided to take a walk. I ended up walking Kripalu's labyrinth and contemplated in meditation the question given to me the previous day. I came to the conclusion that I must continue to dedicate my time to my doll artistry, do my morning pages, eat healthier, exercise daily and step up my yoga routine.

I had my silent breakfast and then headed to the workshop. More exercises were assigned by Julia and at the end of the workshop I felt very emotionally and physically overwhelmed by the information. I questioned whether or not the exercises really will help me unblock and become more creative. I reasoned in due time I will begin to see the results.

I approached Julia after the class was over for an autograph of the books I purchased. She gladly obliged and even allowed me to be photographed with her using my Blackberry cell phone camera. I noticed the glow I had in the photo. Not sure what it meant. Maybe I found the answer to my question.

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