The Artist's Way Week 5: Recovering a Sense of Possibility

Virtue Traps


One of the first activities you do for Week 5 of The Artist's Way is read an article and fill in prompts about the virtues that hold us back. One of the first virtues that is discussed by Cameron is the idea that artists feel like they are not able to withdraw from their work and rest. There is also a point made about artists feeling that they need to give up alone time to reconnect with their creative side for family, work-related, or other personal obligations. We allow ourselves to be deprived of the time and materials to be connected to our art and creative work. When thinking about skipping a family birthday party to take a pottery class, we immediately feel guilty. As I explored the virtues I allow to trap me and keep me from my art, I discovered the following:

  • I find such great joy in sharing the art mediums I enjoy (music, theatre, comedy, ect.) with others as an act of love. But I also feel push back to not be too interested or enthused by my interests because it will come off too intense. I also feel lonely and that I have no one to share these passions.

  • I spend the majority of my time at my day job or worrying/thinking about my day job. I have a lot of anxiety attached to holding down a practical job, no matter how much joy it does not bring me.

  • When I think about my own art, I worry about judgement and consequences. I am often waiting for someone to call me out on a story that involves them or wanting me to be ashamed of the things I am sharing. I want to share my stories but am also fiercely aware of how vulnerable this makes me and my relationships with my loved ones.

As I read over my list of realizations from this activity, I am drawn to the idea that my virtue traps are very connected to my relationships. I am very open about my fears of being left completely alone without family or friends within my counseling sessions. I have always realized that when I am in an anxiety spiral, it is related to me being "the person no one wants to deal with". However, I've never looked at these truths about myself and put them in the context of my art. The biggest risk I see in living a life connected to my creative soul is that it may have a negative impact on my personal relationships. Which begs the question, are they relationships worth having if I am fearful of sharing my truth and my work?

Is It a Forbidden Wish or Fear?


Cameron continued to have me explore how I censor myself with a list of joys I have deemed forbidden and a separate list of any wish in my mind. When I read over my list of things I find to be "forbidden" to want for myself, a lot of them involve money, my body, or my sexuality. I write about breaking through the restraints of not taking pictures of myself during my yoga practice or having a sexy photoshoot for myself. I also write about pushing through the boundaries I set for myself when I choose how or who to date/have intimate relations. There were also a couple listed items about not being able to write my own memoir or celebrate my independence with a solo vacation. I also expressed the type of work I want to do like working with animals or never having to work in an office. These listed items involve the things I find risky. Frivolous purchases like a trip, not focusing on a practical career, and pushing the boundaries of sexuality open myself up to emotional and perhaps even physical risk.

My wish list had little to do with my fears and more to do with my perfect existence. I wrote a lot of wishes about the type of work I would prefer doing. That work dealt with myself in the public eye through podcasting, my art, or my writing. I wrote about wanting an audience of millions and to be practicing my art daily. I wished that the work I would be producing matter and connect to someone but in a way that also handed me fame and accolades. There was even a wish on proving people wrong with how popular my work would become. I think this note speaks volumes on the weight I give to other people's opinions. My wishes outlined a life I wanted and that life is one where I spend the majority of my time creating.

I'm Mean to Myself?


This week contained an activity where I had to list 10 ways I'm mean to myself.

  1. I don't exercise enough.

  2. I bought a house without a bathtub.

  3. I resent my teaching degree but refuse to take on more student debt.

  4. I refuse to believe I'll find a "marriage material" partner.

  5. I sleep away the morning and then use it as an excuse to do nothing with my day.

  6. I have a weak skin care routine.

  7. I stay up too late.

  8. I deny myself purchases that would make me happy or less frustrated.

  9. I don't invest in my art.

  10. I beat myself up when I'm not perfect.

Before I was tasked to write out the ways I mistreat myself, I first had to visualize what I would do at 20 or 65 if money wasn't a barrier between what I want and myself.

At 20:

  1. I would live a couple of months in Greece.

  2. I would visit Croatia.

  3. I would go to Rome.

  4. I would go to Ireland.

  5. I would have put off choosing a career to avoid teaching.

* It is important to note I have still have yet to travel to any of the places above due to vacations costing a good deal of money and time.

At 65:

  1. I would live in Europe.

  2. I'd have my house with the wraparound porch, turret, garden, and a window seat in every room. It would be close enough to the ocean that I woke up everyday hearing the waves.

  3. I would be a season ticket holder to a variety of venues and theatres.

  4. I would be the town "magic lady" who no one truly understood and had an air of mystery to all of the local children.

  5. I would live one year off in a cottage in the woods.

When I look at how my "if only I had money" thoughts and the ways I am mean to myself connect, I see the common theme is relaxation. A good deal of my youth wishes have to do with travel and seeing the world in a carefree manner. When I dream of having an abundance of money when I'm older, I'm just living a calmer existence in the home I want. It is through money that I find that I could be my most relaxed. Yet, when I think of the ways I'm mean to myself, it is when I deny myself to use the money I make to just buy myself some simple pleasures. I'm worried to pursue art because I need steady money. However, I refuse to use my steady money to allow myself some creature comforts. This exercise has posed quite a conundrum I still reflect on to this day.

The Artist Date


My artist date for this week is another one that went in a completely different direction than my original intent. I had the idea to do a collage piece where I painted a forested backdrop and then used scraps of scrapbook paper to create a bear and the trees within the forest. However, when I sat down and looked at the scrapbook paper I bought because it was on clearance, the colors didn't match the aesthetic I wanted to create with my bear in the forest. Again, my cheapskate tactics towards my art had derailed me. I had shopped with my budget in mind and not my project.

All was not lost. The paper was the perfect compilation of colors and patterns for a crescent moon and stars. First, I prepped my canvas by painting my interpretation of the night sky. While my canvas was drying, I cut up pages of my paper and glued them onto a piece of cardstock. This created a collaged together paper I could then cut my moon and star shapes from which would then be glued onto the canvas. The finished project now hangs in my bedroom as it matches the color scheme of the room.

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