It’s time to reclaim your power with week three, part two of The Artist’s Way Challenge! For part two, I’m sharing the creative exercises from The Artist’s Way and some of my experiences with the process. Activities like these encourage self-discovery and aid us in reaching beyond our limits. Synchronicity and growth were highlights this week.
To recap, week three of The Artist’s Way course is, “Recovering a Sense of Power.” Cameron wrote,
“you are coming into your power as the illusory hold of your previously accepted limits is shaken.”
To reclaim your power, you need to understand how and where you’ve allowed the world to limit you. Cameron urges us to recognize how our anger can help us push beyond our boundaries. She also encourages us to pay attention to the signs, or synchronicity, that emerge when we begin to take serious action toward our goals and dreams.
My morning pages worked out well this week! I had over 750 words each day, which is equivalent to three handwritten pages, as required. I didn’t do them all first thing in the morning, but I stuck with it. And I felt like I worked through a lot of emotions this week. It felt good after last week’s hiatus.
My Artist Date
For my artist date this week, I painted this bat.
It will become the focal point of a mixed media collage I’m putting together. I plan to adorn it with brewery stickers, quotes, mementos, travel souvenirs, and other small drawings or paintings. Once it’s finished, I will set it in a 24×36 frame, which I’ve already purchased. It will be the main piece of wall décor above my bar cabinet.
This project is something I’ve wanted to create for a long time, but I could never wrap my head around it. I was afraid I would screw something up, and it wouldn’t look as cool as I had pictured in my mind.
It’s time for thoughts like that to end! I’ve decided art needs to be messy sometimes, and it’s time to stop fearing and start building the thing. Reclaim my power to suck!
Task One: Describe Your Childhood Room
What do you recall about your childhood bedroom?
I’m not going to lie; I never like the “remember your childhood” questions. I feel so far removed from my life back then that it seems pointless. But I committed to this process, so here we are. The task also asked you to reflect on your current bedroom.
Cameron didn’t specify age, but my room as a five or six-year-old wasn’t remarkably interesting. I mainly recall thinking about River Phoenix a lot and sharing a bunk bed with my sister, who experienced Raggedy Ann nightmares.
My bedroom as a pre and early teen was much more unique. I remember asking my mom to paint a star on my ceiling in multiple colors, including mint green and a creamsicle-like orange. The star was a bit lopsided, but that gave it character. I also had a lot of Teen Beat dream boats hung on my wall, and later, heavy metal rockers. I plastered some of my drawings and lyrics there too.
Additionally, the room had a cool spandrel space. It wasn’t your standard closet storage area (no doors), but it allowed me to hide away, and I often hung out under there writing those lyrics.
My current bedroom is comfortable. It’s a healthy size with plenty of closet space, and I have a few trinkets sitting on my dresser, like some vintage He-Man toys and a gorilla I made in high school ceramics.
I guess that question didn’t end up being so bad.
Task Two: Describe Five Traits You Liked in Yourself as a Child
Have you changed much since childhood? In what ways? Task two asked you to reflect on the traits you liked about yourself back then.
We always hope we’ll be on a constant upswing when it comes to self-improvement. Unfortunately, our lives don’t always follow a straight line. That’s why we can’t allow ourselves to get too comfortable. We must tend to ourselves as we would a plant. If we’re not careful, we can get out of balance and wither.
I’ve changed a lot since I was a kid, and there are some traits I liked more in myself then. For one, I was a lot braver. I’m trying to reclaim that power in myself now, but it’s a process.
Task Three: List Five Childhood Accomplishments
What were some of your childhood accomplishments? Did you win a spelling bee in 4th grade? Score a goal in your first soccer game?
This type of question is always tricky for me. I have a hard time believing the things I’ve done are that accomplished. The perfectionism has always been strong in this one.
Do you ever struggle to recall your accomplishments?
The first accomplishment that came to my mind was winning 1st place in the high jump when I was in 8th grade. I also ran my best mile around that time, at 8 minutes, 17 seconds. Considering my current mile time is closer to 12 minutes, I suppose that should count.
To reclaim your power you must learn to recognize the things you do well. It’s not about boasting; it’s about hearty confidence.
Task Four: Habits
Habits are hard to break, but even the negative ones benefit us. If we’re not careful, though, they can sabotage our lives in small or dramatic ways.
Task four asked you to review your habits. What are three negative ones, and how are they impacting your life?
More importantly, why do you continue allowing these bad habits?
My worst habit is procrastinating, especially when it comes to my writing. Consciously, this bad habit hasn’t served me well because when I avoid writing, I tend to berate myself.
Subconsciously, procrastinating allows me to avoid my writing fears. If I avoid writing, I don’t have to worry about generating work that isn’t good enough (per my own or others’ standards). If I want to reclaim my power, I need to face those fears.
By the way, here’s a fun article from the Washington Post about Procrastination, as well as the TED Talk that was given by the original procrastinator referenced in the article, Tim Urban.
Task Five and Six: Make a List of Friends Who Nurture You
And reach out to one! Having a sound support system, or a healthy “tribe,” can be so vital to our success. It would be fantastic if the people in our lives nurtured us and rallied behind us as we reached toward our goals, but this isn’t always the case.
Hopefully, those we keep closest don’t treat us this way. I don’t know about you, but I want cheerleaders on my team. Cheerleaders who aren’t afraid to offer constructive criticism.
Do you have a worthy tribe?
I don’t keep a lot of close friends, but I am fortunate to have a couple of people who nurture me this way. My sister is who I turn to most for life advice, and I did talk to her this week.
I don’t have any close friends who do what I’m trying to do, which makes finding relevant advice difficult. Networking would help me a lot. I could use a writing group.
Task Seven: Inner Compass
Cameron explains the inner compass as our instincts toward good health. Do we feel safe? Is this person or task right for us?
Performing an artist-brain activity, such as walking, painting, or even driving, can awaken our instincts. In task seven, Cameron asks us to heed any insights that pop up during one of these activities.
I painted and took my usual daily walks this week, but no specific insights arose from my activities. I’m not sure the description of the task was clear to me, though.
Was I to keep a specific concern in mind or see if any random insights about my life’s purpose surfaced? I’ll try this again soon with a particular dilemma in mind.
Task Eight: List Five People You Admire
Why do we admire certain people? Usually, they exhibit qualities we would like to see in ourselves. We also tend to marvel at people who have characteristics we deem out of reach.
This week is all about overcoming your mental limitations, though. Reclaim that power! In Task Eight, Cameron asks you to list five people you admire. Next, five more people you secretly admire. What is it about these people? How might you cultivate these admirable traits in yourself?
The people I admire are usually brave and fearless souls, unafraid to take action. They’re the ones who go for it! I’ll never take risks blindly, but I would love to cultivate more courage in my life.
I also admire people who focus on the positive and remain kind, especially during uncertain, or straight up shitty times. Times like right now. Right now, things sometimes feel bleak, and it’s hard to avoid falling into feelings of despair.
That’s why I love writing about personal development. Even in the worst of times, we can always try our best to be our best. It’s better than giving in to the alternative.
Task Nine: List Five People You Wish You Had Met
Tasks eight and nine are similar, but task nine focuses on the dead. First, Cameron asks you to list five people you wish you had met. Next, another five you’d like to spend time with for a while in the hereafter.
Do any of these people show traits you might be able to find in your tribe or network?
I’ve always found science fascinating, so it would be neat to meet someone like Albert Einstein. Based on what I’ve read, he sounds like an all-around delightful person. As a writer, Shakespeare, Dr. Seuss, or Jules Verne would also be intriguing options.
In 2010, I met Alan Rabinowitz, a phenomenal zoologist, when he spoke at the Cincinnati Zoo. Meeting him and hearing him speak was one of the highlights of my life. He signed his latest book for me, and I treasure it. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2018. I wouldn’t mind talking to him again in the afterlife.
Honestly, I’m also fascinated by the stories that never reached the history books. For instance, who all contributed to the success of the inventors and innovators we always hear about? How many people have had their ideas or work stolen, possibly by the individuals we currently know as inventors? How many people never achieved their dream at all because they were too afraid to invest in themselves?
Task Ten: Previous Lists Comparison
Finally, Cameron asked us to compare our lists from the previous two tasks. Are there certain people you feel you should admire? To reclaim our power, we must abandon the things we think we should want for the things that make our hearts sing.
I’ve been learning this lesson over the past year. It’s not always easy to give up on our beliefs. People have been drilling them into our brains from early childhood.
That’s why the people I admire most now are the ones who are living their dream. I know it’s not easy to take risks, especially if you have contradicting desires. For instance, I love money and desire stability, but I also have a strong desire to live my art. Unfortunately, it doesn’t pay the bills yet, so the thought of going for it is frightening.
Final Thoughts (Check-In)
My main takeaway this week was the idea that personal growth rarely follows a straight line. I’ve seen this in my own life, especially as I’ve started writing every day. Some days, I pump out 2,000 words like it’s nothing, and I think, “I’ve finally got this!” Others, I sit and stare at my computer like the proverbial deer in headlights.
Limitations and habits also stuck out in my mind this week. We limit ourselves in so many ways due to our bad habits, outdated patterns, and feelings of shame or inadequacy. The good news is we are free to change our lives at any time, and the only thing holding us back is our fear.
Change isn’t easy. We get comfortable, even with the things we don’t like. The whole devil you know thing. But keep in mind that transformation doesn’t have to happen all at once. Sometimes we need some time to get used to the idea of change, and that’s okay.
There’s still time for you to grab the book and follow along! Finds previous posts here: