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Creative Myths...Finding My Own Path

A week ago today I was attending a workshop with Julia Cameron, writer of The Artist Way.  I had already spent Friday night with her at her two hour presentation of Creative Myths and Monsters...and we had two more days to go. It was a full many people, both men and woman.  I was settling in for a long day of what I thought was going to be so inspiring and informative.  It would be another opportunity for me to spend some really great, creative time and learning with another author. I had already taken a workshop with Natalie Goldberg, who turned me around in my I was really geared up for Julia.  It didn't happen for me and I was really disappointed.  The disappointment wasn't in the fact that I didn't learn anything, because I did.  It wasn't about the people, because they were lovely for the most part.  It was because I felt like a fish out of water in what the material and the class instruction was about.  

The Friday night session was a time for us to meet Julia and to actually get a sense of who she was.  She was slow and thoughtful and her mission I guess, was to get those that were blocked creatively, to come alive over the weekend.  Her style for this unfortunately, was not my style. Friday night was a settling in night, so I hadn't figure that part out yet.  Basically, we heard about God, about the fact that we are all creative human beings and we listened to her read some of her poems from her book of prayers. The rest of the night we took out our notebooks, sang a song and then wrote on a blank sheet of paper the numbers 1-5 or 1-10..she would give a prompt and we would write maybe a sentence  or maybe only a word about the prompt...example...blank page-number 1-5, in another lifetime if you could be some one else who would it be..I wrote Queen of England, Cher, Elizabeth get the idea...and then we formed clusters of 3...every one in my cluster...wrote something like singer, dancer, cowgirl. etc..right away I was off to a bad start. Blank pages, numbers and clusters continued for the rest of the night.  We were told about Morning Pages at the end..and why they were important...lots of discussion about that. Then homework..yup, Morning Pages.

Saturday morning at 9:30 I arrive at the lecture hall, find my set and settle in.  Today is going to be the day that she speaks about life and passions and creativity.  How we foster it and grow it and learn to love it and put it in it's right place in our lives.  Oh, here she comes now...looking exactly the same as last night.  She takes her place at the podium...and tells us to drop our work on the floor, hands on knees, eyes closed and she reads another poem from her book Prayers to a Great Creator.  After that we sing a page...number 1-10  "Proud that I.. go.  So we are off and running again..I was o.k. for about the first 6 and then I was struggling to come up with 4 more things that I was "proud that I.." so my last few answers were kind of, clusters of 3. The clusters were where we sorted out our answers. This went on all morning.  With a few songs thrown in and a couple little stories but certainly no direction.  Lunch break homework...go for a 20 minute walk by yourself...

After my 20 minute walk and wonderful lunch in a most gorgeous place...I was feeling better and back to class I went.  I changed seats.  I was tired of clustering with the same people and thought a new perspective would help and it really did..."Books on the floor, hands on your knees, eyes closed".  Another prayer, another song.."blank sheet of paper, number from 1-10.  Excavating...go. Dig deep.  creative, dreamy, loving, generous, etc.  Cluster of 2, sit with new people..finally I found  someone I could relate to.  "Do you think this is all there is, clusters all day long..", Me..."I hope not".  This is not what I expected.  She told me that the girl she came with had already decided not to come back.  We shared that we expected more..from Julia.  We were learning but not the way or what we wanted.  So, the day went on and nothing changed. Long story short, at the end of Saturday, after 7 hours of "clusters'...and song...I had had enough and I didn't go to the Sunday session.  I did walk and think about this.  The decision was not made lightly but the class was just not what I was looking for.  I wasn't lost and my creative energy was not stuck.  I knew exactly what I wanted to do, just with a bit of guidance from a long time writer.  Not all was wasted though. In fact, it was a beautiful weekend in Western Massachusetts.

The minute I drove up the drive-way to Kripalu the world of worry, stress or anything else that was bothering me, that I didn't even know was bothering me, melted away.  The main building sits high on a hill and you immediately feel the peace that generates from the enviroment that is Kripalu.  Spring time in Western Mass is beautiful, even more so, when it's late or after a harsh winter like we just experienced.  This weekend the sun was shinning and the great outdoors was open to do it's healing.  My husband came with me for the weekend but not for the workshop.  We stayed at a beautiful B&B touching the Kripalu property.  It works it's magic just in the nature of it's policy and restrictions.  It oozes healing and it clears the mind and then the body of all things negative and then deposits everything positive that you need in your life, even if only for three days..I checked in, got my badge and went to my first session on Friday.

Have you ever had a silent breakfast...I'm not talking about a silent breakfast because your the only one home..I'm talking about a silent, meditative breakfast in a room of perhaps 200 people. That how each day is started at Kripalu..and although my first time many years ago was difficult, I find I look forward to it now. People just nod, smile and get on with the meditative process of eating.  All of the food is organic, fresh and healthy, right down to the homemade peanut butter and fresh baked bread and scones. Farm fresh eggs, wholesome oatmeal or quinoa hot cereal, with toppings of unsweetened coconut, dried and fresh fruit, nuts of all kinds and goat, soy and rice milk.  So many choices...I would go just for the food.  They also have a Buddha bar..for strictly vegan...I not vegan but I go there for some of those choices.  Lunch and dinner offer everything fresh also but they are not silent.  You can get silent if you go to the room across the hall.

So the weekend progressed and I was in a place that fills me up. Julia was interesting and lovely.  To meet her was a gift.  Her books are well worth reading and for those who do struggle with their creative path this program was probably just what they needed...At the end of the weekend, after my last 20 minute walk alone, I also got what I came for.  I came to slow my mind down.  To think of where I wanted to go with this writing and photography path of mine.  I learned where I was being sabotaged and also were I was letting myself down. I learned that you meet new friends wherever you go, especially when your like minded. I also learned that you can sing beautiful songs and sound rich and good as long as your in a room of 150 other people who probably sound just as bad as you do...but who cares.  I learned a lot and came home with some new directions that I will try my hardest to put into place.  Maybe not at once but a little at a time...letting go of some things and tackling others.  I also learned, most importantly that I am the kind of person that needs to escape into nature and myself a lot more than I have been doing lately...I need it to feed my mind and my creative spirit...It's where I belong.  As for Kripalu , I have been there many times. My son has taught there so I'm quite familiar with it and I know that it will occasionally be a part of my life.  It is unique in it's goodness and it's only a 2 1/2 drive away and its a gift I can give myself.  Even without a program...anyone can go for an R&R weekend...if your in the area, give it a try.  It will amaze you and set you free for whatever your path is..

I would like to share my weekend with Julia in a few photo's of Kripalu..unfortuantely camera's and cell phones are not allowed in the building so I couldn't get a snap of her...and the entire weekend without my cell phone somehow was not a problem at was releasing...I did say it was unique, right...


 One my walk...tiniest of waterfalls..


  It's not often that I come across an Elephant on my walk...all things are possible..

Lunch Break

Crossing Over to New Possibilities

Resting and Restoring and writing.

Gathering with new found friends. Connecting face to face.  Reading with joy.

I have learned, as a rule of thumb,

never to ask whether you can do something,

Say, instead, that you are doing it. 

Then fasten your seat belt.

The most remarkable things follow..

Julia Cameron...The Artist Way.

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Reader Comments (11)

I read your whole post with great interest and I appreciate your honesty. I've been to things similar to that, where it is.just.not.working. I like that you took what you could from it and moved on. I don't think I would have liked the clusters etc. either. I do like Julia Cameron's books too, but I don't do the morning pages ... too lazy :) Kripalu looks amazing!

May 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBarb

Thank you Barb for your lovely comment. We never know when heading out what we are going to find..but I always come home thinking, I'm glad I went...
Have a lovely week ahead.

May 11, 2015 | Unregistered Commentercheryl c.

I just finished reading your fascinating account of the Julia experience.
Would love to talk with you more about this, because I couldn't understand your exercises or the clustering.
Have you ever read about fabulous artists who are self-taught? Who just do their thing, without a lot of instruction?
I think you have inborn, natural, phenomenal talents of which you are just not aware, because they occur so easily.
I honestly think you have way surpassed these workshops and don't realize it!
Just keep doing what you're doing, from your heart and soul . . .
You're already on your path, in the creative process, my incredibly gifted friend!
Some time we'll have a long discussion about this!
We NEED to do that!

May 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAntoinette

Oh Antoinette if we only lived closer we could solve so many problems of the world and or each other...LOL...I'm learning, you are right about that or perhaps it's just that I no longer worry or flilter out what others might think..just me, being me. I realize life is short and if I'm not me, doing what I love, I won't get the job done. A gift of aging is to know that it's o.k, to be yourself. I also love learning though and believe it or not, even when what I'm looking for is not there, there is always somthing that is there to keep me intrigued. That's the best part. We need to gather you and I. We'll talk soon.

May 11, 2015 | Unregistered Commentercheryl c.

Okay, that weekend sounds like a nightmare to me. Seriously. I would have probably stopped at the second cluster! I'm glad you were able to get something ought of it.

May 13, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterpam (sidewalk shoes)

It's unfortunate that the program was not what you had anticipated. But it's great that it forced you to take time for yourself and get back to nature. I am feeling the same way at the moment. I need a break from the monotony and would love just a weekend to myself with no responsibilities to just take photos etc. Unfortunately I don't see that in the near future.

May 14, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLiz Thomas

Thank you Liz...yes, sometimes, even when things don't go as planned, they work out. The time away was so refreshing, especailly at a place like can only relax's all they allow...thanks for stopping by and take care of yourself.

May 14, 2015 | Registered CommenterCheryl Crotty

Sorry to hear that the program was not what you expected but glad you chose your own path and moved on. And what a gorgeous place to explore! I've driven past Kripalu many times while staying out in Lenox and I've heard such wonderful things...someday I'll have to experience it. After this long winter, taking time for yourself out in nature sounds so delightful!

May 15, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSusan

The best part of your story and weekend was how you turned it around and made it work for you, in spite of the clusters and songs and prayers. Everyone has a different learning style too. So if you gained a few great helpful tips from Julia that is fantastic plus you have a very quiet breakfast it sounds like. I love a quiet breakfast so I get those on my back porch in the early mornings, looking out the patio doors at the flowers or listening to the birds sing their morning songs. That's a perfect morning to me. I'm also finding how freeing it is to let go of things others thought were good for me! LOL. At our age we need to do what WE want and like and enjoy these golden years ... So that's my plan, and I'm sticking to it!! 😉😉. You do he same my friend!

May 15, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBeverly

Thank you for your lovely visit Susan...and yes, I always find the good in things, even when I was expecting something different...each time out is an adventure.

May 16, 2015 | Unregistered Commentercheryl c.

We all do learn differently. I can see how you would be disappointed, I would, but I am glad you found some time to slow down. I have enjoyed Julia's books. I have done 'morning pages' off and on again and am amazed at the ideas that come about just by taking time to write. I have always wanted to visit Kripalu, it looks like such a beautiful place.

May 18, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle B

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