The Artist's Way Week 3: Recovering a Sense of Power

Moving Past Anger and Shame


When beginning my reading for Week 3 of The Artist's Way, I was surprised and pleased with Cameron's respect for anger. When humans think of sadness, anger, or fear they will tend to create a negative narrative surrounding those emotions. You would be hard pressed to find someone who would vocalize enjoying being angry. Cameron describes anger as a map. More importantly to me and my journey, she refers to anger as the feeling that leads us to our boundaries. When I think of the last several times I found myself angry and frustrated, I remember the exact moment I pinpointed what was actually going on within my brain. Usually, frustration towards someone in my inner circle means I have felt like my needs weren't respected or I am feeling invisible to those around me. When I'm angry after a long day of work, it is an indication that I felt I could have done a better job or that I wasn't given the ideal circumstances to succeed. Anger is my tell-tale sign that I have lost sight of myself and that my self-care may be lacking. It is also the truest indicator that I need to re-evaluate the relationships in my life and reform some boundaries or change my expectations of the person in question. I will not allow myself to silence my anger without first processing its origins. Cameron views anger as the invitation to act and I believe in this definition.

I rarely allow anger to effect the amount of time or effort I give into a project. I have angry journal entries and I've had work days spent in anger that only seemed to quicken my work. The feeling I will allow to sink my motivation is shame. I have so much shame wrapped around me as I begin to think of possibility. It is a slick film that coats every thought, every step out of my comfort zone, and every goal I have for myself that wasn't suggested by someone else. My shame convinces me that only sinfully proud people allow themselves to express their inner thoughts through the arts. It whispers in my ear that I cannot be a person loved by those around me and successful at telling my own story. Shame is my partner in my procrastination, putting its gooey hand on my shoulder when I go to make a first step towards a project. It watches and waits until I am in the middle of a project to announce all the reasons why my work isn't good enough and I am a fool for posting a photo or sharing progress with a friend. Shame holds my hand as I tell myself I'm not talented enough to build a life around art. Through meditation and intense counseling sessions, I have learned to turn a deaf ear to the hissing sound of shame within my head. It has been a long road and I still have to be diligent about my radical self-love and self-care. Once I let myself off the hook, it becomes easy to slide back into believing "I'm not one of those artist people".

It was reflecting upon these two emotions and how they affect my work that I began Week 3. By the end of the week I would have a newly decorated living space, some insights into how little I remember about my childhood passions, and some reflections on why I admire my heroes.

Revisiting Childhood Treasures


When I am called to reflect on my childhood during my weekly readings or when I'm accomplishing the tasks for the week, I lack a certain focus. My detective work for week three asked me about my childhood favorites. I have a hard time boiling down my "favorite" of anything because I am a person who continuously gets interested in something new and carried away by new content. During week three my favorite childhood toy was my bike, but was it really? When I think of my bike I think of the freedom it allowed me to have outside of my home. I have lovely memories of my sister and I taking the bike trail downtown and spending our babysitting money on snacks. Is this truly my favorite toy or is it my artistic narrative of how I need to be fiercely independent at all times? I listed my favorite board game as Cranium. I loved cranium because it played into all the different disciplines. Within one board game I could be artistic, great at trivia, or fast at a puzzle. However, when I dive into more concrete memories of Cranium, I remember no one wanted to play very often. This activity made me reflect on whether or not I have a great memory at this point in my life.

The tasks of written prompts wanted me to meditate on what I liked about myself as a child and what I accomplished during my childhood. Again, my memory struggled on crafting authentic memories from early in my life that correlated with my self-confidence or a time I was proud of myself. Most of my writing has to do with how I was successful at school. I liked that I was a natural student and that socially I could blend into any lunch table I chose. I also had a great and goofy sense of humor that drew my peers to me. Through those traits I succeeded at keeping a grumpy English teacher awake during my presentations, created a lifelong friendship with the only person I keep in contact with from high school, and graduated from high school with decent grades even when anxiety coupled with apathy kept me skipping school during my senior year. The way I viewed being a successful child directly correlated to how I view my success as an adult. It is all tied to how I view my success in whatever is my current "job". I may not have a great memory of every event that shaped me as a child, but I do remember being fiercely emotional about how I was perceived and whether or not I was doing a good job.

Nurturing Friends and Other People I Admire


I was challenged to reflect on the three friends I have in my life who nurture me. I was pleased to discover I couldn't stop at three and ended the list at six. When it comes to these friends, they have contributed in my life by:

  • Always believing in me and able to be a hype person when needed, whatever my latest scheme is and wherever my passion may take me

  • Allowing me to verbally process my highest points so I believe they're happening and my lowest moments when I need reassurance that the way I feel isn't permanent

  • Giving me chances to mentor them but also teaching me new things about myself so we're all mutually growing

  • Having a fierce acceptance for how my spirituality looks and how I choose to evolve as I new learn things

  • Making my life spicy and interesting

  • Being my partners in having all my dreams come true

After thinking about the people in my life who have a direct, everyday influence on my growth, it was time to think of the people who indirectly inspire me and fill me with admiration. The people I listed have great qualities in:

  • Being fiercely independent

  • Evolving and changing their lives to overcome trauma and grief

  • Being great artists whose work influences my own

  • Having great patience for those around them and are successful in that patience due to the boundaries they refuse to let waiver

  • Making choices based on what is the right next move for themselves

  • Laughing and knowing how to make others laugh

  • Owning their personal power and working the systems surrounding them to meet their own needs and goals

Week 3 had strong ties to what I see for myself and how the influences of those I look for inspiration shape what I believe I can accomplish. This post is enough reflecting for now and I will continue with my next post focusing on The Winter Solstice and the Artist Date I used to celebrate it.

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