Money Mindset: Recovering A Sense of Abundance

Money Mindset - We are puppets for money and time

Let’s talk money mindset in week six, part one of The Artist’s Way challenge! This week our aim is “Recovering a Sense of Abundance.” What a wonderful topic to explore after introducing the concept of scarcity mindset last week.

Scarcity mindset is a self-imposed internal block to abundance. When we focus on what we’re lacking, we increase our stress and anxiety and make it more difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Cameron writes,

“This week you tackle a major creative block–Money…The essays will explore the ways in which your attitudes limit abundance and luxury in your current life.”

There are four sections in this chapter, plus a variety of exercises to work through at the end.

The Great Creator

What is your relationship with money?

This quote from Cameron really rocked me,

“And we will pursue art, we tell ourselves, when we have enough money to do it easily.”

Oh, how true this often is. I told myself something similar for years to avoid the real reason I wasn’t writing: fear of failure. It was safer to complain that I didn’t have enough money than it was to pursue my passion and risk not being good enough.

We tell ourselves money is a source of security, and it’s meant to provide us with the food we eat and a roof over our heads. We can only pursue our dreams if or when we have enough extra money leftover to splurge.

Money Mindset - Children having a joyful time without concern
Why don’t we allow ourselves to experience joy?

Cameron also attributes our relationship to money with God. She suggests we believe our God will provide us with what we need, but we’re pushing it when we ask for what we want. God is too good to get involved with trivial money matters.

Many of us also have a negative association with money, so we sell ourselves short. We don’t believe we should spend our hard-earned money or time on “silly” creative pursuits. They aren’t crucial in the scheme of things, right? Work must feel like work, so how can we justify receiving payment for doing something we love?

“I want to be an actress, but God wants me to wait tables in hash joints. So if I try to be an actress, I will end up slinging hash.”

Get over it! It’s time to shift your money mindset. Examine your relationship with whatever source you believe in, and question why you believe this source would want you to lack for anything. Ask the same question about why you allow yourself to feel this way. Here’s a recent article from Forbes about moving out of scarcity mindset to abundance.

Working hard is admirable, but it’s no reason to deny yourself the little joys in life. Pursue something because you love it, and if you excel at it, don’t be afraid to make money at it too.

Money mindset - Living in luxury yachts and ocean view


Here’s another great line,

“For those of us who have become artistically anorectic–yearning to be creative and refusing to feed that hunger in ourselves so that we become more and more focused on our deprivation–a little authentic luxury can go a long way.”

Artistically anorectic fits my former self perfectly. I used to worry incessantly about money and how I would never have enough to do the things I wanted to do. Time too. I never had enough of that either.

With this kind of money mindset, we come to believe our financial situation (or time) is our block, when in reality, it’s our feelings of deprivation. We feel powerless to make changes. We feel a life of duty and responsibility instead of one of luxury.

Cameron clarifies that luxury “has nothing to do with penthouse views, designer clothes, zippy foreign sports cars, or first-class travel.” Luxury is about allowing ourselves to feel creative pleasure beyond work, work, work. It’s about continually renewing our interests in life and our art.

Cameron also mentions the deadly duo of blocked creatives: artistic anorexia and prideful perfectionism. When discussing Alan, whose great luxury is music, she says,

“There were no practice shots for this player. He wanted to be at the top, and if he couldn’t be there he wouldn’t be anywhere near his beloved music.”

Blast! I have prideful perfectionism too. 

What gives you genuine joy? That’s the true meaning of luxury. Carve out some time for yourself, and give yourself a sacred space for your art.

Counting, An Exercise

How do you spend your money? Take some time this week (or longer) to observe your spending. Record every cent, no matter how small. It’s important to determine our current money mindset, and this exercise will help you understand what you value and prioritize.

With luxury, I deny myself time more than money. For instance, I don’t want to start a project if I can’t finish it. I don’t want to drag out my art supplies if I’m going to have to put them away later. I’m slowly learning when I’m most productive and to take time where I can find it.

Money Madness, An Exercise

In this exercise, Cameron presents a list of phrases, and we are to fill in the blank. Here are a few I found the most intriguing:

  • People with money are______. My answer: Either hardworking or passionate about their work–or both.
  • Money makes people______. My answer: Freer to do the things they really want to do. Sometimes that means they’re more generous, sometimes greedier.
  • Money is______. My answer: Freedom.
  • In order to have more money, I’d need to______. My answer: Figure out my next career move.
  • Being broke tells me______. My answer: That sometimes, necessity is the mother of invention.

Week Six, part two will be up shortly! Until then, you can find my previous Artist’s Way posts below:


A Sense of Possibility: The Artist’s Way Week Five

It’s time to overcome our limits and embrace a sense of possibility in week five, part two of The Artist’s Way Challenge! In part two of each week, 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 help us realize our true potential. This week’s key topic was how we limit our potential, especially when we allow the worst offender of all to take hold of us, self-sabotage. To recap, week five of The Artist’s Way course was, “Recovering a Sense of Possibility.” Cameron wrote,

“This week…You will explore how you curtail your own possibilities by placing limits on the good you can receive…You may find yourself thinking about radical changes, no longer ruling out your growth by making others the cause of your construction.”

A sense of possibility means no limits

Why Do We Limit Ourselves?

There are often many factors at play, including upbringing, mindset, self-worth, and feelings of responsibility toward other people. Cameron states,

“Many of us have made a virtue out of deprivation…We strive to be good, to be nice, to be helpful, to be unselfish. We want to be generous, of service, of the world. But we really want to be left alone. When we can’t get others to leave us alone, we eventually abandon ourselves.”

Don’t fall into the “virtue trap.” We need to be there for the people we love, but make sure you’re leaving some quality time for yourself too.

Morning Pages

I completed my morning pages this week, though I continued my habit of writing them at night on some days. I’ve started a new morning routine recently, though, and so far it’s going well. My morning pages are a part of this routine, so I expect to be more consistent with them. Otherwise, no recent developments. I’m continuing to use them as my daily self-therapy sessions.

My Artist Date

I didn’t do my Artist Date this week because of some personal matters. I wasn’t avoiding it (resisting), so I feel okay with picking things back up next week.

Task One: Reasons Against Belief in a Supportive God

In task one, Cameron asks us to list five grievances against a supportive God. I believe this task is tricky to respond to because spirituality is complicated. Some of us don’t believe in a God at all. Others don’t take their next step without praying on it first. Cameron considers God the source of our sense of possibility.

Is God all-knowing and all-seeing? Or did the source create us and leave us to our devices? How were we created if there is no God, and how was God created if there is one?

I don’t proclaim to know if a God exists. I always considered myself somewhere in the middle regarding such beliefs. Agnostic, if you will. So depending on your views, this task could go several ways.

I’ve always been a big proponent of self-accountability, so I seldom reflect on God’s role in our lives. That’s not exactly a grievance, though. If I had any grievance, it would probably be with the all-knowing and all-loving version of God. I find it odd that this God would provide miracles for some people, but not for others. I know the belief exists that we can’t know God’s plan, but sometimes the cruelty of this world doesn’t sit well with that thought.

Task Two: Begin to Collect Image Files

Most of you are probably familiar with The Secret by Rhonda Byrne or The Law of Attraction by Esther and Jerry Hicks. These and similar books suggest we can have anything we desire if we want it strongly enough and can cast aside our doubts. Here’s an article that offers a similar system: A Sceptic’s Guide to Manifestation.

I don’t believe in magic, but it’s never wrong to reframe our negative thoughts into positive ones. If nothing else, it sets us up to be more successful in performing the actions we need to take to manifest our desires. It gives us a real sense of possibility.

In task two, Cameron poses the statement:

If I Had Either Faith or Money, I Would Try…

And we are to list five things and collect images of them, much like a vision board. If I had more faith in myself, I would attempt to write a novel. It’s something I will do “someday,” but thus far, I haven’t been able to wrap my head around the complexity. Or I’m making it harder than it needs to be. I highly suspect that as I continue to improve as a writer and find different ways to share my voice, I’ll figure it out. I do plan to take part in NaNoWriMo this year.

If I had money (or rather more money), I would buy a house.

Task Three: Five More Imaginary Lives

Five more lives?! Fortunately, I have many interests. Cameron also asks us, “Have they changed?” and I thought, “Could I have chosen the same five each time?!” Either way, it’s no issue. I just figured we were to choose five different ones each time. Plus, it was fun to consider the other possibilities. Here’s this week’s five:

  1. Particle physicist
  2. Winery Owner and Operator
  3. Nutritionist
  4. Biologist
  5. Life Coach

Cameron also asks if we’ve continued to include pieces of these lives in our day-to-day activities. I read a lot about science, and I’ve been watching my nutrition more closely recently if that counts. Life coaching is an interesting one. I wouldn’t call myself one quite yet, but I hope I’m offering a unique voice. Only time will tell.

Task Four: If I Were Twenty and Had Money

Task four is like task two, but Cameron asks us:

If you were twenty and had money…

And we are to list five adventures we might partake in and collect images of them.

At twenty, I would have travelled the world in luxurious style. No backpacking it for that girl! I also would’ve wasted my money on a bunch of crap I didn’t need. That’s the cool part about aging. You gain wisdom in a lot of different ways and learn what’s genuinely vital in life. If you can manage that when you’re young, you’re way ahead of the game.

Task Five: If I were Sixty-Five and Had Money

One more task in a similar form. Cameron asks:

If you were sixty-five and had money…

And we are to list five postponed pleasures and collect images of them. I’ve had to postpone travel for many reasons recently, so it ended up on this list as well. There are so many places I’d like to visit, but my number one bucket list item is to attend the La Tomatina Festival in Spain. I’d have visited this year if Covid hadn’t ruined all the fun. Ballroom dancing is at the top of my list too. It would be fun to start that up again. I would think I’d have a house by then.

Task Six: Ten Ways I am Mean to Myself

Who here is mean to themselves?

I’ve made many strides in treating myself with kindness, but it’s still challenging at times. These days, I mainly berate myself when I’m not as productive as I would like. When you’re self-employed, you don’t have as much time to waste. I also wrestle with being kind to myself over my body image. I’ve never been able to get used to my weight gain, and my discipline to keep it in line has fluctuated over the years. A couple more ways in which I’m a jerk to myself:

  • Calling myself stupid
  • Chastising myself for past decisions
  • Telling myself I can’t do something (sometimes before I even attempt it)

Here’s an article I found on Life Hack, which includes some effortless ways to be kind to yourself: Do These 20 Simple Things. I’m partial to #7. Finally, please check out Atomic Habits by James Clear if you’re having trouble setting healthy habits or getting rid of unhealthy ones. It’s a gem. It will help you discover a sense of possibility.

Task Seven: Ten Items I would Like to Own

We all have wants and needs, so this task is straightforward. Cameron asks you to list ten items you would like to own and collect images of those items. Here were a few of mine:

  • My Own Home
  • A Stargazer Lily Plant
  • A Bat Necklace, like the one I lost at a concert a few years ago

Task Eight: My favorite Creative Block

What do you do to avoid your creative spirit (or whatever goal or dream you hold)?

I’m working on being as committed as possible, but I still overindulge in TV and social media. I’ve been trying to limit my TV time by turning it on later in the evening. The problem is, I’m most productive from about 8 pm-2 am, and I like a bit of background noise. When I’m craving that noise, I try to put on movies or TV shows I’ve already seen a hundred times, so I’m not as tempted to focus on the screen. Otherwise, I try to plan my TV viewing by allowing myself to watch a movie or a couple of TV shows per sitting.

Social media is still a work in progress, but all the political divisiveness going on right now has certainly helped me limit my time on these apps.

Task Nine: What is Your Payoff for Staying Blocked

Cameron has previously discussed how we often hold on to our bad habits because we’re receiving a strong enough payoff. For instance, a smoker who understands how smoking can affect their long-term health may still continue smoking because it relieves their daily stress.

Here, Cameron asks us to examine our payoffs for staying creatively blocked. How are you limiting yourself? Do you feel undeserving of success?

For me, Fear is a significant block with my writing. I avoided turning writing into a career for a long time because I was afraid of failure. What if I wasn’t good enough to write professionally? What would I do with myself then?

a sense of possibility means overcoming scarcity mindset

Work on altering the scarcity mindset. A sense of possibility means success is available to all of us, be it financially, in love, or any other undertaking. It may not come to us in the exact ways we expected, but it will come if we let it. 

Task Ten: The Person I blame For Being Blocked

This one is easy: me. Are there people out there who have done or said things that might have contributed to my negative self-worth somehow? Sure, humans can be cruel. But I don’t want to surround myself with such people anymore. Life is tough enough. I want to surround myself with people who raise me up and give me fair, constructive criticism. People who give me a sense of possibility. Cast out the rest! It’s not worth it.

Final Thoughts (Check-In)

Is it possible to do anything we set our minds to?

Yes and No.

Limitations exist. We can’t all be professional athletes, CEOs, or A-list actors. The concept of limitations can be particularly difficult for someone if they tie their identity to what they hope to accomplish. Consider the budding athlete who experiences a career-ending injury and must figure out what to do with the rest of their life.

A sense of possibility means we can do our best to set ourselves up for success by creating healthy habits and taking proactive steps toward our goals. There isn’t one road to success, though. Success won’t necessarily come in the neat little package we had in our heads. Often, we must adjust our ideas of success and be willing to open ourselves up to alternate paths in life.

You can find my previous Artist’s Way posts below:

Self Sabotage: Recovering a Sense of Possibility

We’re onto week five of The Artist’s Way challenge, and it’s time to answer the age-old question: Why do we self sabotage?

This week’s message is, “Recovering a Sense of Possibility.” Cameron writes,

“This week…You will explore how you curtail your own possibilities by placing limits on the good you can receive…You may find yourself thinking about radical changes, no longer ruling out your growth by making others the cause of your construction.”

It sounds like the key topic this week is self-limitation mixed with a little bit o’ self-accountability. I like it!

There are six sections in this chapter, plus a variety of exercises to work through at the end.

Anything is possible, unless we sabotage ourselves


Self sabotage is real.

How many times have you talked yourself out of a monumental idea because you didn’t think you could handle it? Sometimes just the thought of what it’s going to take to bring our ideas to fruition feels insurmountable. Most often, we get stuck in planning mode because the time is never “right” to move forward with our project.

[Raises Hand]

But are we ever going to be “ready?” Sometimes it’s hard to see other people’s success and think, “that could be me!” And in a world where everyone posts their top achievements on social media, it’s no wonder we find it hard not to compare ourselves. 

In this section, Cameron reminds us that there are no limits in the universe when it comes to creativity and abundance. When we attain success, we don’t deprive anyone else. When we reject success, we only deprive ourselves.

This article from Elle UK examines the scarcity mindset from the perspective of women and how feelings of lack lead to insecurity, jealousy, and comparison. The author, Octavia Bright writes, 

“So, instead of working together to create a new, more egalitarian society, they are kept busy bitching behind each other’s backs.”

We need to empower each other! Women, men, all of us. Also, we need to let go of our idea of how success will happen. If we’re so set on a specific path to success, we limit the potential possibilities available to us. When we’re experiencing feelings of lack, it’s hard to believe there might be something better out there for us, something we hadn’t even considered, but this section asks us to do just that, with or without God.

Finding the River

In this section, Cameron considers how we’ve (hopefully) begun to change over the past four weeks. Perhaps, our morning pages have led us to loosen our hold on some of those outdated ideas that have held us back. Maybe, we’ve welcomed the idea of saying yes to ourselves and allowing a bit of magic or fun and adventure back into our lives. Hopefully, we’ve learned to go with the flow a bit and accept some of those unexpected outcomes along our path as real possibilities.

The Virtue Trap

Don’t abandon your wants and needs to serve others if it comes at the expense of your happiness. Cameron refers to the desire to always put others first as the virtue trap. Why do we self sabotage this way? We want to be good, kind, and reliable people, so we feel like we must be available 24/7 to answer to every whim.

If you feel that putting your own needs first is selfish, I urge you to examine what led you to feel this way. Sure, we all have responsibilities to our family, friends, and bosses, but we also have an obligation to ourselves to reflect, heal, and refill our creative well. Why must we be the ones to give up everything? Carve out a couple of hours, or heck, 20 minutes this week for yourself. If not for your creativity, then do it for your mental health.

The Virtue-Trap Quiz

This section includes a quiz with ten fill-in-the-blank style questions. I have included a few of them below:

The biggest lack in my life is___concentration/focus

The greatest joy in my life is___the freedom to write

If I let myself feel it, I’m angry that I___keep letting myself down (specifically, when trying to create better habits)

Cameron also poses the following questions:

Does your life serve you or only others? My life serves both. It’s the only way to be. You must care for yourself to properly care for others.

Are you self-destructive? No, but I’m guilty of some self sabotage. I sell myself short, which is one of the reasons I’m working through this process.

Nothing is forbidden is we don't sabotage ourselves

Forbidden Joys, An Exercise

Are there activities you would love to explore, but don’t allow yourself to try? How often do you say no to yourself? In this section, Cameron asks us to list ten things we love, but don’t allow ourselves to do. One way we sabotage ourselves is by not allowing joy in our lives.

I’m having trouble coming up with anything, let alone ten things. There’s nothing and no one stopping me other than my fear, but I’m not afraid to allow myself to enjoy life. I’m ready to try anything at least once. I’m all about the pleasures. Haha.

Writing is really the only thing I love, but don’t always allow myself to do. I’ve mentioned in the past that this is mainly due to my fear. I’m so afraid to fail, but I’ve been fighting through this every day to get some piece of writing done. I’m making it a point to do that now. Some small task every day to fight through my fear, so it can’t control me.

Wish List, An Exercise

Finally, Cameron asks us to utilize a speed writing technique to aid us in dodging our inner censor. We are to respond 19 times in quick succession to the phrase, “I wish___,” but the final time, we react to a slightly changed version, “I most especially wish­­­___.”

Some of mine:

I wish my health weren’t weird right now.

I wish I had time to read all the books.

I wish I could concentrate and focus on one thing right now.

I most especially wish I could stop holding myself back and fully embrace my writing.

Week five, part two will be up shortly! Until then, you can find my previous Artist’s Way posts below:

Living With Integrity: The Artist’s Way Week Four

It’s time to admit our true feelings and begin living with integrity in week four, 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. Our true feelings were the highlight of this week, or more specifically, how we often lie to uphold the status quo in our relationships.

Living with Integrity, Authenticity

To recap, week four of The Artist’s Way course was, “Recovering a Sense of Integrity.” Cameron wrote, “the essays, tasks, and exercises are designed to catapult you into productive introspection and integration of new self-awareness.” Attaining a higher level of self-awareness isn’t painless. Cameron reminds us that living with integrity means being honest with other people, and most of all, honest with ourselves. So while self-awareness can bring about clarity, shedding the illusions of our old lives can lead to feelings of loss. We must go through this transformation, though, to unearth a Self to express in our art.

Morning Pages

I satisfied my morning pages requirement this week. The only thing worth mentioning is I ended up writing them at night a couple of times, so I still need more discipline. Otherwise, it was business as usual. They continue to be of great use for me and my mental state.

My Artist Date

For my Artist Date this week, I did nothing noteworthy (again). I should do more for these dates, but I’ve become even more of a homebody during the pandemic. Next week, I will make sure my Artist Date is unique, or that I at least do something more…artsy. I think it will make me feel more creative and productive

When I take my daily walks, I often find myself oblivious to my surroundings, so I made it a point to notice more this week. Along the way, I took pictures of scenery that piqued my interest. I have included a collage of three random nature photos below.

Living with Integrity, Noticing what's around you and capturing its authenticity

I never feel like I capture quite the right light or color in my photos, like what I see with my mind’s eye. I’ve never studied how to take better pictures from a technical standpoint, though. I’m sure it would help if I learned, and it’s on my list of educational goals to pursue. There are just so many things on that list. Sigh.

I need a time suspension device. Living with creative integrity is hard.

Task One: Environment – Is It A Factor?

What is your ideal environment? City or country? Posh or minimalist lifestyle? What’s your favorite time or season of the year?

Knowing how you like to live: Posh cartoon guy with monocle

I think it’s important to consider (or admit) how our environments affect us. Do you thrive on the hustle and bustle of city life or prefer to lead a quiet life under a starlit sky? Do you seek material comforts, or do possessions just tie you down? Living with integrity means being honest with ourselves about our needs.

A positive environment is vital to my mental health. For me, an overall lack of clutter in my environment is essential. My current apartment is a decent size, so I’m able to achieve an organized chaos. I wouldn’t mind an extra room for my art supplies down the line, though. I cannot stress how amazing it would be to leave a project unfinished, instead of having to clean up my workspace each time I’m done for the night. Oh, and I want a garage for those woodworking projects I’m probably not going to attempt until after I retire.

As for city versus country life, I’m somewhere in the middle. Sometimes I daydream about living in the wilderness, but I would draw the line at obtaining my lighting from gas lamps and candles. Realistically, I’d like to be at least semi-close to grocery stores and hospitals, though I do want to live somewhere that allows me a fantastic garden and a pond filled with a family of capybaras. I try to achieve a healthy balance by living in a suburb and doing outdoorsy things when I need to find peace. Also, Fall is the best season. Fight me.

Task Two: Time Travel – Letters from My Future Self

Describe yourself at eighty, but specifically what you did after the age of fifty. Next, write a letter from your eighty-year-old self to yourself at your current age. What would you say to yourself? Living with integrity means contemplating what we really want out of life.

At eighty, I picture myself as a semi-famous author who has written multiple books and stories across genres. I’ll have learned to balance my life by then, so I’ll carry genuine wisdom that people can feel when they’re in my presence.

Until recently, this has been a complete fantasy. I’ve never taken any action toward this becoming possible in real life, so it was just one of those things I told myself to satisfy my desire and not feel like a failure.

“Someday, I will…”

Now that I’ve started writing every day, it feels more realistic. I imagine by fifty, I’ll have at least five or six books traditionally published, and I’ll have created a mini-empire with my blog and other writing plans. Beyond fifty, my travels will have taken me to many places I’ve longed to visit, like Norway and Spain, and my writing will have become richer for it. I’ll also own a home by then, where I can create fun craft projects in my garage, such as upcycling old furniture.

I don’t want to include my full letter here because this post is becoming quite long, but here is a small piece:

“Dearest Jamie, Time is a strange thing…Once you commit to your purpose, plans move swiftly…So do not worry about the time you feel you have missed. Just believe in your dreams and continue onward. I promise, you’ll get there.”

Task Three: Time Travel – Letters to My Future Self

Remember yourself at eight. Describe some of your favorite things and what you liked to do. Next, write a letter from your eight-year-old self to yourself at your current age. What would you tell yourself? Living with integrity means examining where we’ve had it wrong…or right.

At eight-years-old, I was strong-willed and brave(r). My 3rd-grade teacher used to assign 30 minutes of reading each night, and I learned to forge my moms’ signature to avoid completing the task. This act seems absurd now, considering how voracious of a reader I am.

I lived in a small mountain resort town with a lot of forested and rocky terrain, which I didn’t appreciate when I was older.

[Spoiler: I was too big for that small town]

At eight, I loved exploring my surroundings, especially an area we just knew as “the rocks.” I enjoyed climbing the boulders and investigating the crevices and gaps between them. Some were wide enough to claim as tiny homes.

In spring, a stream ran through the valley below, a result of the melting winter snow. I recall hundreds of ladybugs collecting on an a petrified log, and the sound of the water trickling and bubbling through the rocks. It was so peaceful. Even at that young age, I could appreciate it.

It’s funny. The memory tasks were the ones I wanted to avoid when I considered The Artist’s Way. I have so many negative memories of the town I grew up in, Big Bear, but sometimes when I contemplate certain things about it, like its natural phenomena, I understand how lucky I was to grow up in such a beautiful city. I wish I had a place like this now, close to my apartment.

Like task two, I don’t want to include my full letter, but here is a small bit:

“Dear Older Jamie, I’m glad we don’t worry as much as we used to. I thought for sure we would have a stomach ulcer by now…We need to stop being afraid of everything, though. What happened to the times when we would be the first one to slide down Drop Out or jump in a freezing cold pool? I miss that about us…Why do we still have trouble seeing that we’re actually pretty awesome? I’m surprised that after 32 years, we still don’t have any confidence.”

(Drop Out was a water slide at Raging Waters in San Dimas, CA. It sent you straight down and you’d probably die if you tried to sit up or flail your arms or legs)

Task Four: Environment – Your Dream Area

Is there a room or area in your home that you can turn into a secret, private dream space?

In a perfect world, we would all have an area to which we can escape. Cameron suggests this area should not be your home office but rather a place, no matter how small, that you can dedicate to fun and creative or spiritual pursuits. Living with integrity means cultivating your creative life.

My apartment has an open layout outside the bedroom, so I’m limited as far as private space goes. I don’t have a home office per se, but I have a tall “dining room” table that I have set up with my laptop and other writing or painting related supplies.

As a result, my dining area has reasonably creative energy. I have some relatable quotes written on post-it notes to my right, a beautiful puzzle I finished set in a dark blue, vintage-like frame straight ahead, and a cute bear I painted at one of those paint nights hung to my left. All my booze is in a handsome cabinet, also to the left, for when I need additional inspiration. This area may not be an ideal separate space, but it’s what I’ve got, and it keeps me motivated. Sometimes.

Task Five: Life Pie

Review your life pie from week two. Has it changed shape?

In task seven of week two, Cameron asked you to draw a circle divided into a pie with six labels: spirituality, exercise, play, work, friends, and romance/adventure. Next, place a dot in each circle corresponding to how fulfilled you are in that area. The outer circle means great; the inner circle means not so great. Finally, connect the dots to see where you might be out of balance.

In my version, I stated I didn’t get much out of the life pie exercise. If anything, you may consider my working life out of balance since I’m attempting a new career. I’ve been investing a lot in myself, and it can take time to cultivate new skills.

Remembering to give equal time to friends

Currently, my friend zone might be a bit out of balance. I’ve been spending less time overall with friends since the pandemic started, and I’ve turned down some recent invites over my being in writing and revising mode. For some reason, my friends aren’t the type to jump on weekly Zoom calls, which is disappointing because that would be my number one choice for socialization.

Sticking to my writing is a good thing, though. I’ve been trying to get myself to commit to writing for a long time, so it’s important that I stay on this path. I need to nurture the relationships in my life as well, but I know I’ll get back to it. I think many of us are feeling this to some degree right now.

Task Six: Write Your Own “Artist’s Prayer”

In this exercise, Cameron asks you to write a personal version of her “Artist’s Prayer.” The original is below.

“O Great Creator,

We are gathered together in your name

That we may be of greater service to you

And to our fellows.

We offer ourselves to you as instruments.

We open ourselves to your creativity in our lives.

We surrender to you our old ideas.

We welcome your new and more expansive ideas.

We trust that you will lead us.

We trust that it is safe to follow you.

We know you created us and that creativity

Is your nature and our own.

We ask you to unfold our lives

According to your plan, now our low self-worth.

Help us to believe that it is not too late

And that we are not too small or too flawed

To be healed ­–

By you and through each other – and made whole.

Help us to love one another,

To nurture each other’s unfolding,

To encourage each other’s growth,

And understand each other’s fears.

Help us to know that we are not alone,

That we are loved and lovable.

Help us to create as an act of worship to you.”

Here’s my attempt:

“As a creator

I will allow imperfections

For I cannot improve without making mistakes

And being given the chance to correct them.

I will open myself up to new ideas

And pursue them with passion

But I will also Do the Work

When the muse cannot be bothered.

I will support my fellow creatives

On their path and pursuits

With appreciation and encouragement

Not jealousy or fruitless criticism.

I will go forth in bravery

Never again allowing my fear to overcome me

Nor allowing it to suppress my dreams

For the rest of my days.”

Living with integrity means having faith, at least in yourself.

Task Seven: Plan An Extended Artist’s Date

Plan a brief vacation by yourself, like a weekend day getaway. Prepare to execute!

I have caves to explore

I’ve wanted to go to this caving system down in Kentucky for a while, Mammoth Cave National Park, but the tour I want to take (the Domes and Dripstones tour) isn’t available because of COVID. ☹ There are also some bourbons tours I would like to take in Kentucky, particularly at Buffalo Trace or Kentucky Artisan, but that’s probably not the best loner activity.

I searched for alternative day trips in Ohio, and I found a place close by called Trammel Fossil Park in Sharonville. If I must go it alone, this seems like an option that’s just weird enough for me to try. You get to keep any fossils you find, and although they have nothing of the dinosaur variety there, it would still be cool to unearth some 300-million-year-old fossil of a Brachiopod or Gastropod.

Task Eight: Open Your Closet

Toss or donate a “low-self-worth” outfit. Make space for the new! Living with integrity means making room for better things ahead.

This one is simple and to the point. I plowed through my closet recently and donated a bunch of clothing, but I still hadn’t gone through my dresses. And dresses are the perfect item for this exercise since most of them make me feel low self-worth in some way or another.

I ended up donating a fitted jersey style dress I felt would never accentuate my body well. It was the kind of dress that hugs you in all the wrong places, no matter your size. I’m sure there will be more. It seems like I slip into donation mode quite often now.

Task Nine: What’s My Payoff?

What is one situation in your life you feel you should change but have struggled to do so? Consider the payoff you receive from allowing this situation to continue. Living with integrity means examining our behaviors.

One thing I’ve struggled with is keeping myself on a consistent daily schedule. I feel like I need to chain myself to my desk sometimes. I think the obvious payoff is the immediate gratification I derive from the things that distract me: entertainment (movies/television), social media (entertaining until it’s not), and putting off my fear of failure a little longer.

For a while there, I was wandering around aimlessly with no specific goals for my future. I suppose you could consider this time my midlife crisis. I recall having had similar feelings of purposelessness around the age of 24, aka my quarter-life crisis. Hopefully, by the time I’m 55, I’ll have moved beyond these self-confidence crises and fully embraced the writer’s life. That’s what I should have done all along, but damn, it’s hard to risk failing at the thing you have always considered your fate.

Task Ten: Reading Deprivation, Accountability

Did you stick to the reading deprivation requirement for week four? If not, why did you break it? How do you feel about breaking it, and why? Living with integrity means knowing what works for you.

A library with too many books to ignore
I mean, how can I resist?

Haha, no, I did not. I met my expectations on this one, in that I believed it to be impossible to deprive myself of reading for a full week. I don’t feel bad at all about missing the mark either. Most notably, I’m taking a course that requires reading if I want to complete it successfully. But I read in other forms as well. I finished reading a classic, Treasure Island. I read many of the articles included in my morning Medium (an online publishing platform) email. Reference books are also around, and I utilize them as needed.

Truth be told, I didn’t even try to be successful in this exercise, but I try my best to listen to myself. I believe there’s a time when we need to limit external resources and work on our creative pursuits. That’s one reason I take daily walks. It’s a legitimate way of replenishing my inner reserves without seeking inspiration from the outside world.

I consider reading part of my job. I’m inspired by what’s out there. Since I’ve started writing every day, seeing other people pursue their creative passions motivates me. I would probably consider reading deprivation in shorter spurts, like going a full day without reading or scheduling my reading times, but I see no need for cutting it out for a full week.

Final Thoughts (Check-In)

I loved the premise of this week’s lesson. We lie to ourselves and the people in our lives so often, even about trivial, surface matters, like what we want to do or what we’re craving for dinner tonight. And why? Do we want love and acceptance so much that we can’t even admit that we would prefer seafood linguine over steak and a baked potato?

The answer is yes.

I realize many issues are more profound than this, but they all come down to the same principle: we are avoiding some truth we don’t want to face. We don’t want to scare off our new love interest by having too many differences between us. We don’t want to admit to our mother or father that we’ve decided not to pursue that medical degree they’ve been dreaming about since we were seven. We’re afraid to be alone if we end up pissing off too many people.

Sometimes I tire of walking on eggshells to make everyone else happy, don’t you? Maybe it’s time to figure out what we really want and to stop living solely to please other people. Living with integrity means being honest, even when we’re afraid.

Wow! If you read all that, we must be friends! This blog post is definitely my longest, so I hope it wasn’t too dull. I know this particular project may not be for everyone, but I promise I’m adding some other content soon, and it won’t just be The Artist’s Way forever. If you’re still interested, though, you can find my other Artist’s Way posts below:

True Feelings: Recovering a Sense of Integrity

Oh no, it’s reading deprivation week! We’re moving into the fourth week of The Artist’s Way challenge, and the lesson this week is “Recovering a Sense of Integrity.” The key topic is understanding our true feelings. Sometimes we hide our feelings, even from ourselves, because we’re afraid of disrupting our relationships. Creative recovery means developing a true Self, but to do this, we must understand our true feelings and be honest.

Cameron writes,

“the essays, tasks, and exercises are designed to catapult you into productive introspection and integration of new self-awareness.”

True Feelings - We may experience feelings all over the board
True Feelings Are a Mixed Bag

There are three sections in this chapter, plus a variety of exercises to work through at the end.

Honest Changes

Are you honest with the significant people in your life? In relationships, it’s not uncommon to pretend everything’s okay to keep the peace. When asked how we’re feeling, we frequently respond with “I’m okay or “it’s okay with me.” What if we’re not okay, though?

Then this type of response would be a disservice to everyone involved (including ourselves).

Cameron describes such responses as our “official” feelings. Official feelings are the ones we express publicly to avoid dealing with unpleasant truths. We often keep our true feelings a secret so that we can preserve the status quo.

Part of our creative recovery is figuring out what we want out of life. More importantly, it’s about learning to be honest. It won’t always be easy to accept our true feelings, let alone share them. But consider that creative self-expression is impossible without having developed a true Self. Learn to embrace your individuality. It’s often the characteristics that set us apart that give us an edge or attract our people.

If you’re interested, Neuroscientist, Lisa Feldman Barrett wrote a great book called “How Emotions Are Made.” In the book, she explains that we develop our emotions as a result of our experiences. Here’s an NPR article from 2017 discussing Barrett’s view of emotions, which illustrates how her perspective is different from the classical view of emotions.

Morning pages are a great way to accomplish pure self-expression because we can do so safely. They are our little secret, so what we write is ours. We can give kudos to our enemies or lament over our lost calling as a giraffe farmer. We can go on a tirade without fear of ruining the essential relationships in our lives (unless we forget to close or password-protect our laptops, but that’s another story).

True Feelings - Morning pages are a great place to start writing them
Unload Those Feelings – Better Out Than In

Cameron’s suggestion that neglecting our morning pages if we don’t want to face our true feelings is painfully accurate. I avoided writing for a long time (in general) because I feared what it would mean if I wasn’t good enough.

Would I have to resign to my dream only ever being a hobby?

Loss is involved in any change or shift in perception, even the positive ones. That’s why being unhappy is often more acceptable to us than shaking up the status quo. There’s a lot of fear involved in change. It’s scary when we realize how much more is possible. This thought reminded me of a quote I like:

“Take your life into your own hands, and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame.”

– Erica Jong

Real accountability is what we face when we admit our true feelings.

Buried Dreams, An Exercise

In this section, Cameron suggests an activity to learn more about the things you enjoy. She lists some questions which you are to answer as quickly as you can. Some of those questions are:

  • List five hobbies that sound fun. (upcycling old furniture)
  • List five skills that would be fun to have. (graphic design)
  • List five things you used to enjoy doing. (moshing – slam dancing, haha)

Cameron also admits to purposely asking some of the questions throughout the creative recovery process in similar ways. Sometimes a difference in perspective can bring new information to light.

Reading Deprivation

And now, we arrive at my most dreaded section. Cameron mentioned reading deprivation in The Artist’s Way’s introduction, and she can pry my beautiful books from my cold, dead hands. Reading the chapter and tasks is okay, of course, but we are to avoid other varieties of the written word. I read in some form every day, so I’m sure I’m going to fail this test.

True Feelings - I love books
Gimme All Your Books!

I know that’s not a positive way to view things, and Cameron does bring up some good points on why this is a powerful tool. She explains that reading, or other diversions like watching television, can disrupt our inner reserves, or poison our well. We need to be able to quiet our minds and sit with our thoughts and ideas sometimes. In removing such distractions, our inner life becomes a playground we never knew existed.

That’s why achieving this can be challenging.

If you’re used to all that external chatter, learning to block it out will be akin to acquiring a new skill.

Excluding external distractions forces you into an unfamiliar sensory experience, which isn’t always pleasant. You may experience boredom or fidget when you try to sit still. 

Cameron suggests it’s entirely possible to suspend reading for a week. I must disagree with her there. Reading deprivation isn’t going to be possible for everyone. For instance, high school and college students have mandatory reading assignments, often consisting of multiple chapters each week. I’m not sure what kind of school she went to, but I could never put off my homework without repercussions. Even in the most regular job, you can’t escape your email.

Cameron refers to such excuses as resistance. Am I resisting? I’m willing to pause my nightly reading or refrain from listening to audiobooks on my walks, but I’m currently taking a digital marketing course; therefore, not reading will be impossible. I will do my best, though. I do understand the benefits of cutting out distractions.

I’ll be back for week four, part two soon, but until then you can view my Artist’s Way Challenge from the beginning at the links below:

Reclaim Your Power: The Artist’s Way Week Three

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.

Reclaim Your Power - regal lion
Be Regal

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.

Morning Pages

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.

Reclaim your power - bat painting, start on that project you've always been meaning to create
Bats are Awesome…too bad they get a bad name

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?
Because Transformation Ain’t Easy

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.

Reclaim your power - learn to be your own guide
Learn to be your own Guide

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:

That Ethan Hawke Ted Talk, Though

I just wanted to drop a quick note to say I love a good Ted Talk, especially when it’s coming from a talented and sexy actor, like Ethan Hawke!

Ethan Hawke Ted Talk - Googly eyes over this man
Hubba Hubba!

Ethan’s Ted Talk is an excellent fit for The Artist’s Way Challenge I’ve been working on over the past few weeks. It’s a wonderfully casual conversation about allowing ourselves permission to be creative. Pay close attention to about 7 minutes in when he discusses why children are so successful at embracing their creativity. It reminded me of The Artist’s Way and Julia Cameron’s discussions about our inner child. Please give it a watch!

If the video doesn’t work, you can view it directly on the Ted Talk website: Ethan Hawke. But don’t say I didn’t warn you if you end up going down a Ted Talk rabbit hole.

For further reading, here’s a great article from the NY Times about Mr. Hawke. The author discussed a time when Hawke saw Gene Rowland speak (widow of the indie filmmaker, John Cassavetes). She explains:

“Mr. Hawke found that so moving, the idea of ignoring what the world was telling you about yourself and instead living only by standards that you had, yourself, carefully defined for your life and work. He vowed right then that he would do whatever it took to make good art on his own terms, no matter what anyone said. He would take himself seriously, even if no one else did.”

Taffy Brodesser-Akner (NY Times, Aug 2018)

He mentions something similar to this in the Ted Talk, and I want to embrace this attitude so much. I am coming to realize it’s the only way to have creative success. You have to be your biggest fan first.

You are also welcome to start from the beginning of my Artist’s Way Challenge with Week One: Creative Blocks: Recovering a Sense of Safety.

I’d love to see you there 🙂

Synchronicity: Recovering a Sense of Power

Synchronicity - Signs lead to possibilities
Signs, Signs, Everywhere is Signs

Welcome to week three, part one of The Artist’s Way Challenge! This week we are encouraged to recognize the signs occurring in our lives. As presented, these signs are also known as synchronicity. Cameron calls week three, “Recovering a Sense of Power.” She writes, 

“you are coming into your power as the illusory hold of your previously accepted limits is shaken.”

Some people view synchronicity as a form of magical thinking. There’s often a disconnect between science and such esoteric philosophies, but what if the concepts we regard as mystical just haven’t been proven? I like to remain open to such possibilities.

There are six sections in this chapter, plus a variety of activities to work through at the end.


Have you tried monitoring your anger instead of denying it or allowing it to overcome you? According to Cameron, anger is like a life map, and it’s perfectly healthy when we utilize it properly. It tells us when we feel disrespected. It shows us when someone has crossed a boundary.

Cameron states, 

“Anger is the firestorm that signals the death of our old life. Anger is the fuel that propels us into our new one.” 

Our anger demands our attention and teaches us what we truly want out of life. Utilized in a healthy manner, it will move us through change.

Synchronicity - allowing our anger to guide us

I used to be an angry person, but lately, I’ve been more inclined toward indifference. Maybe I need to let myself get angry again.


Psychologist Carl Jung defined synchronicity in the 1920s. Here’s an intriguing article from the New York Times about the mysterious “Red Book.”

Jung explained synchronicity similarly to separate instances that seem to hold meaning but have no causal relationship. Humans love assigning meaning to life’s events, so why is it that we often writeoff synchronicity as coincidence due to this lack of connection?

Synchronicity - Carl Jung quote

In this section, Cameron discusses some examples of synchronicity, including the one about the woman who was considering going back to school and received a letter from that very school requesting her application. She also states her belief that not believing in an all-knowing God gives many of us comfort. It means we’re “off the hook.” If there’s no one to answer to, why worry? Why try?

While I disagree with this viewpoint, I do agree with her notion that 

“possibility is far more frightening than impossibility.”

This outlook explains why so many of us have trouble making decisions. When faced with multiple possibilities, it’s much tougher to commit to one, especially if we are risk-averse. Think for a moment how many types and brands of cheese there are, and compound that a hundred times when the decision might change our lives. I second guess myself all the time.

Cameron’s ultimate point is when we commit to our dreams, we often begin to notice signs of synchronicity emerging in our lives. Gregg Levoy discusses these signs in a 2017 Psychology Today article, synchronicity phenomenon.

Some may also call synchronicity frequency illusion, also known as the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, which is an example of a cognitive bias.

Whether science or magic, we can’t deny that some weird things happen when we finally commit to our deepest desires. That’s why I try to keep my mind open to all possibilities.


I have a personal relationship with shame. Usually, this amounts to my not feeling good enough about myself or my work. One of the best books I’ve read about shame is, I thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t), by Brene Brown. It helped bring some of my deep-seated feelings to light. She also did a great Ted Talk: The Power of Vulnerability.

Cameron explains shame is a controlling device, and it holds people in a pattern of fear. Facing our art on the page or canvas can be charged with internal shame and fear. When we work on our art, the recognition or praise we craved but never received comes back to haunt us. We may even hear the whispers from the people who ridiculed us all those years ago.

Our relationship with shame can be complicated, but we can overcome it, at least artistically, when we learn how to seek the right kind of criticism.

Dealing With Criticism

Since art is so subjective, criticism can seem unfair. We’ll never be able to avoid it altogether, though. Like anything else in life, you take a risk when you put yourself out there.

Passing judgment is in the definition of a professional critic’s work. Non-professionals may have a variety of reasons for offering negative criticism. Maybe they’re jealous. Perhaps they’re just assholes and enjoy causing chaos in the lives of others.

A good and reasonable person will admit that art is subjective, and at least give you criticism you can use.

That’s why we need to concentrate on creating a safe environment for our art. Per Cameron,

“The antidote for shame is self-love and self-praise.”

First and foremost, it’s essential that you are happy with what you create. A good support system can go a long way too. Constructive criticism usually comes from a trusted source. There is a sense of sensitivity and safety involved in its presentation. Any critic who attempts to ridicule or condemn is not offering constructive criticism. We must learn to tell the difference.

Per Cameron, constructive criticism

“often gives the artist an inner sense of relief: Ah, hah! So that’s what was wrong with it.”

It can point our work on the right path. Negative criticism feels more like a personal attack, and usually isn’t offered with any thoughtfulness. It’s likely to be vague.

Cameron offered nine rules of the road for dealing with any form of criticism. I found the following especially helpful:

  • #1 Receive the criticism all the way through and get it over with.
  • #3 Jot down notes on what concepts or phrases seem useful.
  • #8 Get back on the horse. Make an immediate commitment to do something creative. – Probably the most important. We have to keep moving forward.
Synchronicity - detective work
Let’s Think of the Unthinkable

Detective Work, an Exercise

In this section, Cameron suggests an activity for blocked creative types to rediscover the self. She offers twenty fill in the blank type phrases. These were a couple of my favorites:

  • I don’t do it much, but I enjoy…
  • If I could lighten up a little, I’d let myself…
  • If I had had a perfect childhood, I’d have grown up to be…
  • What makes me feel weird about this recovery is… Imagining myself as an unblocked creative (that’s mine)


In the final section, Cameron reminds us that growth is not always linear. Sometimes we take two steps forward and then a step back, and we must be mindful of this. Be kind to yourself during these times.

This line also spoke to me this week, “very often a week of insights will be followed by a week of sluggishness.” I’m not sure if anyone noticed my absence last week, but I did miss both blog posts for what should have been week three. I was dealing with some personal matters, and I just needed some time to work through them. I won’t let this become a habit, but it happened.

There’s still time for you to grab the book and follow along! Finds previous posts here:

Making Time For Yourself: The Artist’s Way Week Two

Welcome to week two, 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 help us break through our barriers. Making time for yourself is urged this week.

Making Time For Yourself is always beneficial
Solo Time

A quick recap: week two is known as “Recovering a Sense of Identity.” This week is

“aimed at moving you into your personal identity, a self-defined you.”

Cameron discussed both internal and external factors related to self-doubt, and we were encouraged to examine our related experiences.

Morning Pages

Morning pages help us work through our thoughts and emotions, and save us from oversharing with our family or friends. At least I’ve found that to be the case.

I wasn’t as successful with my morning pages this week, though. I even missed a day! On two other occasions, I almost forgot but remembered shortly before bed. I’m going to have to get back in the habit of doing them in the morning. Otherwise, I continue to love the process.

My Artist Date

For my artist’s date this week, I transplanted my balcony veggie plants into bigger pots. Gardening is on my list of twenty things (task three this week), and it’s therapeutic for me. I miss living in a house and having the extra room to grow for a garden, but I like growing plants in containers. I find them easy to take care of, and they seem to thrive when they’re in the right size.

Two of them were in pretty small 10-inch pots. One of these, a tomato plant, had wrapped its roots around about twenty times, even stretching them underneath the water drainage base. Poor guy. The new pots are 16-inch, and everyone looks much happier in them.

Making Time For Myself - Balcony Garden
Jamie’s Balcony Garden

Initially, I was only going to transplant the two in the smaller pots, but I worried the others might get jealous of their new digs. Plus, I had to go back out anyway. I had severely underestimated the amount of dirt I would need. I originally bought three 16-inch containers and only one 25-quart bag. That bag filled one pot. Ha-ha.

I ultimately bought three more bags, the 50-quart potting mix this time, plus the additional pots. Moving the bags of dirt from my car to my balcony was like moving small dead bodies. The whole process gave me quite the workout, so I felt like I killed two birds with one stone. My arms are even a little sore today. Apparently, artist date’s can be productive too.

Task One: Affirmative Reading

In task one, Cameron asks us to review the Basic Principles and

“be alert for any attitudinal shifts.”

She wonders if the student has set aside any skepticism at this point in the course. Here is a link to the Basic Principles.

There are some religious connotations within these principles that I still find myself rebelling against, so I’m only going to cover two specific principles. The First is

“Creativity is the natural order of life. Life is energy: pure creative energy.” 

I freaking love science, especially neuroscience. We know so little about the brain in the scheme of things. I believe there is an energy in life, which cannot be entirely explained by known science. I can’t know for sure what this energy is or where it stems from, but I feel it all the time.

The Ninth principle

“It is safe to open ourselves up to greater and greater creativity.”

I believe the more we open ourselves to being creative, the more we will see our creative potential. I think this is what writers, like Stephen King, are referring to when they talk about showing up, even when you’re not feeling the muse. The “muse” will reward you when you do the work. We need to open ourselves up to this potential by committing to our practice daily.

Task Two: Where Does Your Time Go?

In this task, you are to list your five major activities throughout this week, and how much time you spent performing them. The point is to consider how much time we spend on our responsibilities versus allowing ourselves to do the things we want. Alternatively, it’s helpful to assess how much time we spend doing things for other people, especially those toxic types who encourage self-doubt, as we discussed in week two, part one, Overcoming Self-Doubt.

Cameron also suggested drawing a circle to create a “safety map.” This map is to include topics you want to protect and the people with whom you feel safe or unsafe discussing those topics.

The map wasn’t a concern for me. I don’t surround myself with unsupportive people. When I share my work, I embrace constructive criticism. I don’t share my work when I’m unsure if it’s any good (which is most of the time). My mindset has shifted. I used to overreact to criticism, but I’ve learned it helps to understand the person giving it to you.

Are they trying to help you improve, or are they just being a jerk? Or jealous…

As for time, the pandemic has been both weird and pleasantly surprising for me. I’ve had a lot more time to spend doing the things I want to do. I also don’t have any significant obligations when it comes to other people. My family lives elsewhere, and the initial lockdown and lingering social distancing of the pandemic have limited my time with the few friends I keep.

That said, my five main activities this week were: writing, watching movies/TV shows, reading, researching, and actually, visiting with friends.

These aren’t things I felt I should do, at least not in a negative sense. I write because I love it and I’m trying to build a second career. I perform research and read for similar reasons, and also for pleasure. I’ve visited with friends very few times over the past four months. Even so, it made me nervous, which is sad.

I do waste too much time watching TV. That’s one reason I gave myself this project. I hoped it would kickstart some extra writing discipline, and it has, but I still have a ways to go. One thought, though – sometimes I switch on the TV because I like having some noise in the background. In this case, I’ll throw on a movie I’ve seen twenty times, so I’m not as tempted to focus on it.

Focus. Focus is still a problem.

Task Three: List Twenty Things You Enjoy Doing

When was the last time you allowed yourself to do something you enjoyed? Cameron asks us to make a list of 20 things we enjoy, and the last time we allowed ourselves to do them. This list can be a potential resource for artist dates.

Mine was a mixed bag. For instance, I love hiking, and I was able to do that a few times before this unholy weather came upon us. Ballroom dancing, though, is something I miss, and I haven’t done that for a long time. If I had to come up with a time frame, I’d say it has been at least four or five years. I would love to get involved with it again someday, but it’s currently cost-prohibitive, at least from the standpoint of taking private lessons. It’s probably social distancing prohibitive right now too.

Task Four: Two Favorite Things

This week’s goal: choose two things you’ve avoided from your list of twenty and incorporate one into your life this week. It’s easy to fall into a time-scarcity mindset, but if we want to make positive change, we need to look for little ways in which we can boost creative acts.

I thought this was a great idea, and I chose photography. I used to take pictures all the time, and I have albums of them, especially from hockey games and zoos. The last time I thought about taking pictures, other than the occasional one-off pic or selfie, was when I was supposed to travel to Norway last year. The trip didn’t happen, but I still have the camera I purchased in anticipation of it.

I recently came across a second camera (in my storage). It’s about eight years old now, but it’s still in great shape, and I was only missing the cord that allows me to plug it into my laptop. I purchased one for $5 a couple of months ago, and I finally hooked it up this week. I discovered pictures on it of the Formula 1 race in Austin from 2017.

Making Time For Yourself - Events you love
2017 Formula 1 – Ferrari

I’m going to study up on photography and start taking pictures again. Better ones this time.

Task Five: Week One Affirmations

Here, Cameron asks us to assess our reactions to the creative affirmations from week one (as well as our personal ones). Here is the best link I’ve found to view them: creative affirmations.

Much like the basic principles, the affirmations are a bit much for me. I dig this one, though:

“Through the use of a few simple tools, my creativity will flourish.”

For me, this creative recovery has a lot to do with my writing practice, so this kind of affirmation speaks to me best. I love being creative, but being practical and logical is also important to me. I like the idea of finding tools that work, and not just waiting for some kind of magic.

In the past, I’ve wasted a lot of time searching for inspiration when I should have been concentrating on developing my talent and the tools that make me most productive. Now, I try to integrate simple, yet highly efficient tools, like making my writing a priority, time management, organization, and goal setting. My new mantra is, “do the work.”

Task Six: Five More Imaginary Lives

This task is the same as task eight from last week. You are to choose five more imaginary lives you could be living and consider how you can integrate pieces of those lives into your own. This week I chose:

  1. Neuroscientist
  2. Singer
  3. Brewery Owner & Operator
  4. Chef
  5. Photographer

I’m not sure if this is cheating, but I chose photography for this task too. I also do a lot of apartment karaoke, but I’m not sure that counts as my being a singer. Or does it?…

Task Seven: Life Pie

In task seven, Cameron asks you to draw a circle divided into a pie with six labels: spirituality, exercise, play, work, friends, and romance/adventure. Next, place a dot in each circle corresponding to how fulfilled you are in that area. The outer circle means great; the inner circle not so great. Finally, connect the dots to see where you might be out of balance.

I’m not sure I got much out of this one. Generally, I don’t feel out of balance anymore. I suppose my work life could be considered out of balance since I’m trying to start a new career. That always takes time. That’s not something to feel negative about, though. I feel more adverse about the thought of returning to a job that’s not my passion.

Task Eight, Nine, and Ten: Ten Tiny Changes and One Small Item

What are ten tiny changes you would like to make? Tasks eight, nine, and ten are related and also somewhat similar to tasks four and six.

In tasks four and six, you are to choose specific actions you can take in your life based on what you enjoy, but tasks eight, nine, and ten are more like small sparks. For instance, maybe you’ve been meaning to write someone a letter, or you need to replace the fourth light bulb that burnt out in your apartment in the past two months.

That last one is a true story, and it’s what I chose for this week. I was worried about doing it on my own because I didn’t want to break the glass cover or fall off my chair, but my annoyance over having no kitchen lighting for three days helped me overcome this concern.

Final Thoughts (Check-In)

So, there you have it. I like this process so far. I wouldn’t say every exercise has been beneficial or even relevant to me, but I think I expected that. We all have different issues to work through, so some weeks will be more applicable to our situation than others.

I think task two is probably the most valuable one. It pertains to everyone. It’s a good idea to periodically evaluate how you’re spending your time to make sure your life is in balance. Getting out of balance is part of what leads to stress and burnout. We need to make time for ourselves to recharge.

If you have toxic people in your life, though, I encourage you to do everything you can to remove yourself from that situation. The drama and harm just aren’t worth it. We can’t be responsible for everyone.

There’s still time for you to grab the book and follow along! Finds previous posts here:

Overcoming Self-Doubt: Recovering a Sense of Identity

Welcome to week two, part one of my Artist’s Way Challenge! Overcoming self-doubt is key this week. Cameron calls week two, “Recovering a Sense of Identity.” This week is

 “aimed at moving you into your personal identity, a self-defined you.” 

Sometimes our self-worth is the main obstacle to creative recovery, but external factors, like the people we surround ourselves with, also play a role.

There are six sections in this chapter, plus a variety of activities to work through at the end.

Going Insane

Chapter two begins with a discussion on self-doubt, and how if we’re not careful, it can lead to self-sabotage. Second-guessing ourselves is a common form of self-doubt. For instance, believing a big win is the result of “luck,” or worse, never taking risks because we tell ourselves we’ll never make it. These are the times when our affirmations are vital. We need to correct our “think.”

Sometimes doubts arise from external sources. For instance, even a well-meaning friend can derail our success by offering a negative critique during our creative recovery. While we’ll need to learn to handle negative criticism eventually, we must give ourselves time to work through our roadblocks. Overcoming self-doubt is a process, and it won’t occur overnight.

Poisonous Playmates

Cameron broadens the examination of external doubt in chapter two with a discussion about toxic relationships. In chapter one, we learned that our inner artist wants to feel a sense of safety and security. Part of encouraging a sense of safety means avoiding toxic people, especially during our creative recovery. Toxic people stand in the way of our creativity. They remind us why we’ll never be any good. Psychology Today discusses eight different behaviors of toxic people in this article.

Overcoming Self-Doubt - avoid Toxic people
Avoid Toxic Types

The best thing we can do, especially during our recovery, is honor our creative time. We all have a responsibility to others, but we must also protect and nurture the time we need for ourselves. Our time is just as valuable. Self-care is vital.


Cameron suggests crazymakers are those types we surround ourselves with to avoid our creative recovery. They’re like a storm in our lives. They thrive on drama. They might be a friend, family member, or boss, but whoever they are, they feed on our energy and usually expect us to cater to their every whim. They’ll show their colors at inopportune times, destroying our schedules, expecting special treatment from us, and using up our time and money until we have nothing left for ourselves. Disorder! Chaos!

Why do we allow this? Cameron reveals allowing such behavior plays to our self-destructive tendencies. Sometimes the thought of branching out alone and embracing the creative life is more frightening than our current status quo. If we have an abuser in our lives, we must admit it, including our role in it, to move on.

Overcoming self-doubt is already tricky enough without permitting such bad behavior.

I’m fortunate enough not to have such a person in my life, though I know they exist. I’ve heard plenty of complaints from people in passing. I believe this section goes beyond creative recovery. It touches on deeper issues that may require professional guidance. If you have such a person in your life, there’s nothing wrong with admitting you need additional help. Perhaps, more important than creative recovery.


This section discusses another type of self-doubt: skepticism.

“We’ve gotten brave enough to try recovery, but…we still feel too much like frauds to handle some success.”

When we are skeptical, we tend to push away opportunities we consider outside of our reach. During our creative recovery, we should try our best to stay openminded. We may not be ready to overcome our negative beliefs, but we should be open to questioning them and understanding how they impede our progress.


“In times of pain, when the future is too terrifying to contemplate and the past too painful to remember, I have learned to pay attention to right now. The precise moment I was in was always the only safe place for me.”

I love this quote from Cameron because I’ve always struggled to live in the present moment. I rarely regret my past anymore because I have come to accept that it has led to the person I am today. Though I may not always like that person, I can only move forward.

“Onward ever, backward never!”

– Marie Thieme

The future is both uncertain and full of possibilities. My mind wanders to it. I agonize over how things might change, for better or worse. I live in my eventual success or misery.

Overcoming Self-Doubt - The road of uncertainty
The Future is uncertain

“Attention is a way to connect and survive.”

Cameron proposes our capacity to pay attention is in direct proportion to our quality of life. Paying attention to what’s around us allows healing to begin. We may become overwhelmed by the whole of our life, but if we review each moment separately and in the present, we can see life’s beauty. Overcoming self-doubt is difficult when you can’t accept where you are right now.

Rules of the Road

Finally, Cameron offers some “Rules of the Road, in order to be an artist.” A couple of these rules stood out to me:

#1 “Show up at the page. Use the page to rest, to dream, to try.”

#5 “Remember that it is far harder and more painful to be a blocked artist than it is to do the work.”

#9 “Remember that it is my job to do the work, not judge the work.”

I believe #9 is particularly representative of the point of going through creative recovery. Ultimately, we must stop judging ourselves before we can release our creations to the rest of the world. Overcoming self-doubt is a big part of that journey.

If you’d like to read along, you can find Week one’s posts here – part one: Creative Blocks and part two: Creative Exercises.