The wonderful @NomTweet is guest posting for chapter three!
Yuri is short on spoons this week, so I’m stepping in with a guest post to discuss chapter 3.
To begin, we technically began chapter 3 two full weeks ago… but this is SpoonieWay and we all know sometimes stuff just takes a little more time. We also know sometimes brainfog hits and we can’t be bothered to remember what week it is. So this is our third week on chapter 3, and we’ll start in on chapter 4 next Sunday. In the Twitter private message group we’ve decided our new battle cry is “SpoonieWay Foreverrrr!”. We’ll get through the book eventually.
I came to chapter 3 feeling very angry at my lack of spoons, and a bit miffed at chapter 2’s ableism… and was startled that it began with “This week may find you dealing with sharp peaks of anger…” why yes, book! Indeed!
Just the idea of feeling powerful awakens a lot of frustrations for me about how my illnesses have gotten in the way of my life plans, and my ability to paint, and do all the other things a career as a painter requires. The whole idea of growing creatively seems like adding *more* stuff into my life… and I can’t always manage what’s on my plate thus far.
Julia Cameron suggests:
“Anger is meant to be listened to. Anger is a voice, a shout, a plea, a demand. Anger is meant to be respected. Why? Because anger is a map. Anger shows us what our boundaries are. Anger shows us where we want to go.”
So, in the last two weeks, I’ve been writing through my anger in my morning pages. I’ve been writing in the wee painsomniac hours of the morning – and my anger seems to be particularly loud then! Julia’s suggestion of anger as a map made me want to try to draw my own metaphorical map a bit more accurately – and I’ve been surprised to find I’m beginning to daydream about the future, in a way I haven’t since my illnesses have progressed in the last couple of years. I’m wondering “what do I want to be when I grow up?” …and imagining a beautiful life, even with my illness. I’m not able to think that way all the time. Depression and exhaustion and pain and anxiety mean that sometimes, I can’t think that way…. but still, the dreams are sneaking into my days, like a sliver of light leaking in from under the door.
Another theme in this chapter is “synchronicity.” Synchronicity is Julia’s word for good stuff showing up in life right when you need it. You could call it answered prayers. You could also consider it awareness: naming the thing you want clearly, so that then when opportunities arise around you, you notice them.
My illnesses have made me wary of the idea of answered prayer. I’ve been very clear with the universe/God/myself that I would prefer NOT to be sick… and I definitely have my eyes out for cures! No luck thus far. However, for the sake of SpoonieWay, I’ve tried to allow the possibility of synchronicity, just in the “art-making” realm of my life. That’s my baby step. I wrote some big, lofty artistic dreams in my morning pages. Grandiose “if I could have anything” dreams (but just art-related ones. Baby steps). And guess what? Something happened.
One thing on my list was “write a book.” I think I was thinking nonfiction. But then one night my morning pages turned into a short story. And then I got brave and let someone read it. And then they shared it with another person. And then they told me I was a wonderful writer and my story made them cry. I was startled! I haven’t written a story since I was a kid. I thought I was just messing around, not “really writing.” So this week, I wrote in my morning pages:
“I’m a writer.”
I’ve never said it before. It was a big moment for me. Step 1 towards writing a book: be a writer. check! Thanks for the encouragement, universe.
“When a man takes one step toward God, God takes more steps toward that man than there are sands in the worlds of time.”
–The Work of the Chariot
“The universe will reward you for taking risks on its behalf.”
“A discovery is said to be an accident meeting a prepared mind.”
The chapter also addresses the concept of God in this attribute: helper of artists. If “God” is a fraught name for you, perhaps the idea of a “Genius” living in the walls of your art studio might work better: I’d like to recommend Elizabeth Gilbert’s TedTalk on creativity if you haven’t yet watched it:
The big idea seems to me to be that “power” might not only come from within us… but also from around us. On that note: the twitter private message group and the people using the #SpoonieWay hashtag are incredible supports, encouraging one another with the daily difficulties of spooniehood as well as taking good baby steps forward creatively. If you haven’t yet joined in, feel welcome to! We won’t bite. (I don’t think so, anyways.)
The last half of the chapter addressed shame & criticism. Shame tends to get in the way of creativity in all sorts of complicated ways… shame around failure, shame at success when we feel like imposters, shame at succeeding “the wrong way.” Julia suggests we nurture and protect our artist child from shame past and present, and from criticism inside and out:
“Art requires a safe hatchery.”
For me this means giving myself permission to paint badly, write badly, take wild stabs at creative stuff I haven’t tried before (like that short story) without judgement. Believing that small acts of making stuff… even listing stuff I might someday make… are creative acts, and they’re good forward steps, even at Spoonie Speed.
“Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace, and power in it.”
I’ve had a couple of good artist dates! One day I was feeling well enough to walk around an art museum. Another great artist date -from the couch- was watching the movie “Paterson.” It’s available for rent on the Fandango app, and is -synchronously- about making art amidst the everyday, and about synchronicity. I recommend watching it with a hot cup of tea, and a cat, if you have one available!
As always, please feel welcome to discuss the chapter and your experiences in the comments here or at the #SpoonieWay hashtag on Twitter.
Wishing you spoons,