And so it continues... (sorry)
Week 8, exercise one
List five people you feel connected with, and something creative you could do for each one.
I already owe just about everyone craft projects, thank you very much...
Week 8, exercise two
List 5 areas of your life in which you feel haste and pressure,and analyze those areas to see if you can slow down.
This woman obviously doesn't have a job. :/
Week 8, exercise three
Make, then destroy, an embodiment of your biggest detractor/tormentor.
Make a creativity totem that embodies support and put it someplace visible.
Okay, I used to think I cared too much about what people think, but these exercises make me realize that, while I do care what some people think about some things (as you should!) in general, and especially with regards to creative things, I... don't. Nor do I need a creativity totem to spur me on. I create shit all the time. Motivation isn't my problem. Time is my problem! But again, I'm very very obviously not the target audience for this book.
Also, ehhh, "Creativity is a spiritual issue and that means we can invoke forces to cast out our demons."
I'm the least spiritual person I know, but I have to say I think I'm pretty damn creative!
Week 9, exercise one
Write about your ideal day after all your dreams come true. Document it in great detail from morning to night.
Really? I get the whole "focus on the positive" thing (sort of), but much like the false impressions of Facebook and Pinterest, that could well serve to make people feel worse. The example she gives is living the life of a huge hit Broadway producer, which, let's be honest, isn't going to be many people. And, seeing something so much better than what you have... why not go for something a little more down-to-earth? Admittedly, I don't fully understand the point of this.
Week 9, exercise two
Week 9, exercise three
Find rest in moments of restlessness
Yes to this. Sometimes, you just have to sit back, relax, and take a deeeeep breath. As they said on Top Gear, sometimes you have to go slower to go faster!
Week 9, exercise four
List 50 things you like about yourself exactly the way they are.
This one, I don't know how to feel about. Because even while, say, I think I am excellent at crochet, I'd still like to try new things. So I love my ability, but of course I want to keep challenging it. I'm a very good writer, but that doesn't mean I don't want to improve. Not because I think I *need* to, or because I'm not "good enough" the way I am, but because what's the point otherwise? Who wants to never change? Feeling good about yourself is important - it really is - but you should never take it to the "perfect" extreme where you don't think you could ever improve/learn something from someone else.
Week 9, exercise four
Fill in the blanks, self-appreciation
Lists of things that, while other people might not have given you a pay on the back for, you deserved one. So congratulate yourself.
Week 9, exercise five
List 10 ways you could be more selfish (that might make it easier for you to later be selfless)
I'm about the most selfish person I know, so... I have me time. I buy things I want. I always take care of me (because, if you don't take care of you, don't expect anyone else to). I don't think I could be more "selfish" without turning into a horrible selfish bitch (what most of these books label as "selfish" is, in fact, not being completely self-centered and a jerk, it's taking care of yourself, which, no, is not selfish).
Three more chapters to go!!!
"Dispatch, we have a car sitting outside the home, license plate NVH-294. It pulled up a minute ago, no one has gotten out, it appears a person inside is using a cell phone to look something up, judging by the light."
"Roger, hold on a moment while we run the plate."
A moment ticked by in the darkness, then the voice crackled back over the radio. "Blue 2012 Honda Civic, registered to a Lucy Darcy, lives in Jamestown."
"Probably a college student, might be lost. I'll check it out and get back to you."
He cautiously approached the car, which was still idling. The window was rolled down, and he could hear a girl's voice.
"Yes, I turned right... But the construction... No, no detour was marked... It was actually closed. Closed, as in can't get through at all. They said 'closed to through traffic' and they meant it, the road wasn't there... I don't know, I got back on the highway and tried the next exit..."
He rapped on the back window, and the girl jumped. "Hold on," she said into the phone.
"Yes?" She asked him hesitantly.
"You lost?" he asked, flashing her his badge. She peered at it suspiciously.
"Sort of, I'm trying to get to the corner of 93rd and Olive, but there seems to be a lot of construction here, and..." she sighed, and checked her watch. "The hotel has probably given away my room by now."
"Oh, you're trying to get to the Watts Mill Inn?" He asked.
"That's the one. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to disturb the residents, I was just trying to get some directions from my friend, and..." She bit her lip. "I didn't think they'd, well, overreact to me sitting here for a minute."
"It's not that, miss, you've rather stumbled into the middle of an investigation," he said.
"Oh my goodness, isn't that just my luck?" She shook her head and laughed. "So now you think I'm some sort of hit man or something, come to bump off the witness."
"Why would you assume that?" he asked warily. "Why not assume it's just a stakeout?"
"You wouldn't have approached me if it were a stakeout," she said. "I've watched enough cop dramas! You would have had someone follow me as I drove away."
He relaxed a bit, and let his hand fall back to his side. "Are you sure you're not a detective?"
"No, no, trust me, my interest in Mr. Hamilton isn't on that side of the law at all."
The flash in his eyes as his hand flew to his gun was all the confirmation she needed. This was most definitely the right place. He was fast, but she was faster, and she was getting out of the car as he crumpled to the ground. A minute later, she was in the house. A minute after that, Mr. Hamilton wouldn't be a problem for her clients any longer.
So, I did happen to catch, while flipping through the book, that your "believing mirror" is simply a very supportive friend. One who believes in you. Do you don't have to have a magic mirror on the wall that you talk into like a crazy person. Unless you want to, because, hey, who am I to judge?
Week 6, exercise one:
Practice containment, or, don't show your half-finished projects or share your ideas with just anyone because their mean comments may make you give up.
Rescue and recall, or, find a project that you gave up because someone crushed your ideas and, with the help of a supportive friend, revitalize it.
Week 6, exercise two:
List 10 ways and places you can have privacy for your art.
Um, going to my room, any time but dinner time or walkies time. Not really an issue for me.
Week 6, exercise three:
Commune with your community
Fill in the blank sentences about how you could better take part in your community.
Week 7, exercise one:
List 5 places that you could neaten up.
Uh... my house?
Pick one area and straighten it up, does this experiment put you in touch with a greater sense of benevolence?
Wait, what? "using stuck energy in a productive way" - I'm not stuck, the fact of the matter is that my house is in that state partially because I'd rather be knitting/sewing/arting/writing.
Week 7, exercise two:
Geography. Answering questions about what other cultures and time periods speak to you. Aaaaaand then you are supposed to make a collage. I hate collages.
Week 7, exercise three:
"Finish something" - "No wonder we drag our feet at the thought of starting something else. We've had to many false starts, too many half-finished, half-hearted projects"
HAHAHAHAHA! Yeah, starting new things is a problem for me. *gigglesnort*
Week 7, exercise four:
List 10 things you learned to do despite your doubt they could be mastered.
I... don't doubt anything could be mastered with enough time and practice?
Only five more sets of exercises, and at least with just skimming the book it's going quickly! Sorry to done on about this, but, well...
I'm even losing the umph to do the exercises...
Week 4, exercise one:
Carry a sketchbook and sketch. Not a bad idea, but also not an original one. Most artists encourage people to do just that.
Week 4, exercise two:
Complete this phrase 10 times...
...okay, I messed up here, because I read it as "seriously, I would love to..." and wrote down things I really did want to do. Then I read the next part "spend 15 minutes inhabiting your secret dream and write about it." Oh. Well. See, nothing I wrote was a secret. It actually read "*secretly* I would love to..." And, well, I don't have secret dreams, I... pretty much blab to everyone about them.
Week 4, exercise three:
Write a dialog between my rational, realistic self (R) and my wild and crazy dream side (W). This is supposed to find a way to balance your dreams (for instance, taking a single night class instead of quitting your job and going back to school full-time).
W - I want to quit my job and just sit at home and do crafts all day.
R - So you have a business plan to sell them?
W - I don't want to *sell* then, then it's just another job.
R - So you've won the lottery?
W - No....
R - Then you plan to eat how?
W - ...dammit.
(In truth, I think I already have an excellent work/craft balance, so...)
Week 5, exercise one:
Fill in the blanks, this time about your friends. Which ones make you happy and want to create, and who are stifling, etc. And then... you're supposed to write yourself a love letter. Being as affectionate as possible.
I think you're quite spiffy.
Week 5, exercise two:
Write down five responses to the following...
If it weren't so selfish, I'd love to try ... Running away? I mean, that's about the only thing I can think of that would be too "selfish" for me to do, because I'm pretty damn selfish as a rule of thumb. But it'd only be a short run-away, because I like my life and my house. Maybe just an afternoon out. Wait, I do that all the time. Dammit.
If it weren't so expensive, I'd love to try ... not working, buying a mansion, driving a Bugatti, and having an Olympic sized swimming pool full of craft supplies. Oh, these were supposed to be reasonable? Pffff.
If it weren't so frivolous, I'd love to own ... uh, I just spent the equivalent of a house payment on Lego. I don't think I've ever let "frivolous" stop me from buying anything.
If it weren't so scary, I'd love to tell ... I... whaaaa? There are stories for other times of the things I've told people, I'm not usually "scared" to say something.
If I had five other lives, I'd love to be ... a decent question, but I have to ask, would I be me in these lives? With my fears, phobias, and physical limitations? (For example, I think NBA star is probably right out, because I don't love professional basketball, I'm female, and I'm 5'2" tall). Am I limited to this time period? I have a feeling this question is about finding more "hidden dreams" you could work towards, so wanting to be a moonshine-running flapper is probably not the kind of thing they're looking for (cool as it would be).
Week 5, exercise three:
Write a letter to yourself from your inner artist's best friend, who has been observing you, telling you what changes you should make (people you should spend less time with, things you need to do, etc).
No. Enough with the letter-writing!
...And then you put the letter in your God Jar. And talk to yourself in your "believing mirror". I've obviously missed bits by skimming. Aaaaand, honestly, I'm okay with that now.
So, though I've given up on the morning pages, I'm going to work through the exercises (because that well at least make me feel like I've "finished" the book).
Week 2, exercise one:
A bunch of fill in the blanks about what your childhood dream was, who inspired you, and how you can take steps to go after that dream now. What? No, I don't want the same things I wanted when I was 12. I've changed, and it wasn't because I want encouraged enough as a child.
Week 2, exercise two:
More fill I the blanks, mostly involving "secret gifts" and "things you're afraid to try" and "purple you don't tell your dreams to because they crush them". Um, I don't have secrets, the only things I'm afraid to do (skydiving, bee keeping) is because I'm afraid of the acts themselves, not afraid of what other people will think, and screw anyone who thinks it's dumb for me to try, say, stained glass work.
Week 2, exercise three:
Finish the phrase "I wish..." twenty times. My favorite from my list? "I wish the Browns were a decent football team". Hey, she said to write what came to mind...
Week 2, exercise four:
More fill in the blanks, things like "if it weren't so foolish, I'd love to try ..." (juggling balls of jello while riding a unicycle?) and "the dream I have never told anyone is..." (it involved a small hatchback and an unfortunately shaped set of measuring spoons, let's just leave it at that... oh, you didn't mean that kind of dream... well, um...)
Week 2, exercise five:
Write a letter from your adult self to your inner artist.
..mine reads more like a text message: "don't forget the milk". No, seriously, I just couldn't.
In week three she intimates that mental illness isn't really a thing ("I'm not interested in debating with people over the reality of mental illness" and "we carry within us the exact medicine to heal it ourselves. That medicine is creativity") at which point I would have set the book on fire but it's a library book. And burning books is bad. But so is saying shit like that, so it's probably be a wash. My journal note puts it succinctly: "Fuck. You."
Week 3, exercise one
Make a collage board while thinking about something you'd like to understand more fully, then write about what you put together.
No. Just no. One, I don't have magazines, and two, the only thing I'm still contemplating is what am asshole you are, and I don't think pretty pictures will help me "understand" that.
Week 3, exercise two:
List 50 things that anger you and what you can do about them
1. Self-help books / don't read them
2. Stupid assholes like you / sadly, nothing
3. ...I got nothing. I think you're overstating "anger". I don't carry around unresolved and that a store closed, or something inconvenienced me. Momentary frustration, mild irritation, and sadness are more my style. I don't even stay angry when I have a legitimate right to be. It's not worth it. I probably can't even get to fifty mildly irritating things without being cheeky (brown sugar pop tarts, for example, things that don't really make me mad but are fun to whinge about).
Week 3, exercise three:
Five things that interest me.
Five?! FIVE?! This is where I need the list of 50!
Five people that interest me.
Uh, my friends? I don't do celebrities or historical figures much.
Five art forms that interest me.
Again, just five?!
Five projects I could try.
...So, yeah, I'm not sure how much I got out of that, other than realizing I like a *ton* of shit and am not shy about inflicting it on my friends and family and people on Craftster and random strangers...
I couldn't even make it two weeks. Yesterday, I made every excuse as to why I'd do my morning pages "later", until suddenly it was ten at night and I just said "screw it". This morning I tried again and got a few lines in before I just couldn't go on. What is the point of doing something you hate so much? I was truly beginning to dread it. And I've done journaling before, that I don't mind, but *having* to do it, especially at an inconvenient time, as opposed to doing it when you feel like it? Yeah, no good. There is absolutely no reason to keep putting myself through that. There is no way it will do me any good, and yes, very much in part because of my attitude towards it.
If you love it and it makes you happy, it works for you and good for you! You should do it. If the idea makes you feel you'd rather poke yourself repeatedly in the face with a fork, maybe you should give it a miss. There's no reason to torture yourself for thirty minutes a day because someone else says it's something you should do and swears it will help you. Because it might not.
Nothing is one size fits all. And that's my biggest problem with so many of these self-help books and programs. They guarantee it will work for everyone, if it didn't work for you it's your fault, you didn't do it right/try hard enough. And don't you dare alter their method to make it work for you (I'm looking at you and your sink, FlyLady) because that's simply not allowed.
Whatever. You do you, and I'll do me, and if we're both happier the world will be a better place. If you want to clean using a mashup of FlyLady, Konmari, and Martha Stewart, more power to you. If you want to do morning pages at night, have at it. If you want to live in a tip and never hand-write a damn thing, none of my business (unless you live next door and there are rats, that's my limit, because then it does effect me, but up until that point, go for it).
I'm still going to work through the questions and exercises in the book, but faster since I'm not waiting to do my journaling. And I need to move on to Kondo's book (if I can stomach it) and I really want to get back to Woman Unleashed, because there's doodling in that!
And my #beaunicorn
project. Need a picture for today... :/
"Have a good night," James says as I step off the elevator at the fifth floor. Good night, my ass. Probably another long, boring night of starting at the walls. Boredom really will get to you after awhile, make you see and hear things. And, yes, I realize that a ghost seeing and hearing things is a completely odd twist of fate, unless, perhaps, there's another world beyond this one? Can ghosts be haunted by... super-ghosts?
After I first died (very boring, pathetic story, don't even ask, I've started making up tales of shark attacks and serial killers because I can't handle the pity in everyone's eyes when I tell the truth) I thought that, well, that's it, at least something will change. But here's the kicker. It didn't. I still live in a crummy studio apartment in a bad part of town and work a crappy shift in a crappy job. Sure, there are chances for advancement, but that's going to take forever, and for now I'm stuck standing on this fifth floor hallway, night after night, waiting for kids to try out some stupid elevator game ritual.
For awhile, traffic was good, and I was getting someone every few nights. But interest has slowed down, as internet memes are, by nature, transitory. I hear they are already re-asigning some of others, but as it happens I "lucked out" and ended up in one of the more popular buildings, so my traffic hasn't completely disappeared. I think it has more to do with accessibility and low traffic, not so much any particularly creepy vibe to the place. The carpet is downright colorful and cheerful. I don't envy James's job in spookifying the 10th floor between their first and second visit. You'd think, being "supernatural" beings and all, we'd have super powers, but no. It's all pretty much garden variety illusion, smoke and mirrors. And it's a lot of work, thank you very much.
My best chance of a good new assignment is to make up a ritual of my own that takes off, but so far, no dice. It's an odd balance of complexity, weirdness, and payoff/risk that I just can't seem to nail down. And I don't mean to whinge, it's not all bad, and there are definitely worse afterlife jobs, but, man, this hallway is getting to me.
Oh, look, the elevator is moving. Looks like we have a customer tonight! The elevator readout goes through the familiar cycle of numbers, and as it reaches the fifth floor, I ready myself. Not too close to the door, but not too far away. The doors slide open, and I start to glide forward, but the voice inside the elevator stops me cold. They're not supposed to talk to me, my brain screams, trying to cover up the horror of what I heard.
"Hello, Candice, I've been looking for you," the man in the elevator says, and grins an evil grin.
I spent far too much time last night reading about "the elevator ritual", which I heard about through YouTube apparently thinking I wanted to watch a video about a mysterious disappearance. Sometimes I wonder about the suggestions, but then, with my weird taste and the auto-play feature, who knows? I've ended up on some bizarre videos (I often leave it running while I draw or clean or play solitaire - yeah, guess which of those happens most often?).
Anyway, like most of the made-up "rituals" you find places like creepypasta, it's entirely too long and convoluted. And, being that it involves an elevator of more that ten stores (which would have to be a cable elevator, not hydraulic) *and* you have to be alone the whole time (I am too old to stay up until 2am to try to find a deserted elevator), there's really no way I'll ever try it. I don't believe elevators are portals to another dimension, but they are evil death-boxes.
I could go on about how at least one of the instructions cannot work (you push another floor button to "cancel" the previously pushed on in the return instructions, but... elevators don't work that way) except, well, portal to another dimension so all bets are off.
I *really* wish I lived in an area where a lot of people did this, I'd love to get a group of people together to wait for people to try (sadly, since I don't ride elevators, I couldn't dress up as the creepy girl, but I *could* be the one on the tenth floor that turned out the lights and whatnot). Eh, maybe that would be too cruel, I dunno.
It's not the longest one, though... In reading about it, and with my dislike of elevators, one titled "the staircase ritual" caught my eye. But seriously? Not only multiple days, but twelve hours standing on your staircase?! I think the people who make these up need to scale it back a bit. Sometimes less is more.
Though, admittedly, things are more detailed than the good old "Bloody Mary" days (people always dared me to do that one as a kid, and I did, sooooo many times. Not do much brave as logical and cynical, even back then).
Okay, so I've been doing the morning pages, as close to morning as I can get, and so far close to 70% of them are whinging about having to write them. Hey, it's what pops into my head. The rest are a confusing jumble of words, because I can't write as fast as my brain makes leaps in subject, so it's like "puppies today crap remember to post swap what's for dinner puppies can't wait don't forget milk dinner grocery store oooh puppies coffee ATC..." and so on.
There's no dwelling on deep feelings or getting to roots of issues because the inside of my head is like an ADD toddler hyped up on twelve pots of coffee and ten pounds of sugar. Especially in the morning. She claims that's the time you have the most time for yourself, but I've found, with my hatred of getting up and, you know, having a job, it's when I have the least time. So it's sloppy and rushed and interrupted (let the dog it, microwave some water, do I have my phone?) and, indeed, pointless. I'll give it another week, because I already wrote the days in the notebook, but after that I think I'll just work through the rest of the exercises and call the book read.
Speaking of exercises... Did I talk about the week one exercises? They were simple.
List 20 small, creative actions you could take
List 10 positive adjectives that describe you
Do nothing for 15 minutes
Easy peasy! And aside from the very Secret/Laws of Attraction message, week one was okay. Week two is shaping up to be a different story.
My week one recap:
Did I miss any MP days? No
Did I do my Artist's Date? Yeah, sort of, I went and bought the notebook? I was going to get more but I already have tons of pens and art supplies.
Did I do my weekly walk? She obviously does not have a dog. I go on daily walks.
Did I have any moments of self-discovery? No.
I'm having way more fun on instagram with #beaunicorn
. Why sit and write about wanting to do something creative instead of, you know, actually doing it? (Yeah, probably just one more week...)
So, I haven't gotten around to finishing the Woman Unleashed program, though I have it downloaded and saved and there are some interesting things about it. I need to find/get into my photo hosting, though, so I can scan in the art exercises. So that's paused while we briefly move onto something else (I may end up doing them simultaneously, since one is a weekly thing and the other is "as you go".
Brief, uninteresting history of how I got to this...
I'm part of a group on Habitica, a role-playing, to-do slaying website. It encourages good habits and accomplishments by giving your pixel-person things when you do good and killing your pixel-person if you do badly. It's great fun, and it does make me do things. Anyway, there are also challenges, and The Legendary Book Club of Habitica hosts the Popsugar (if they're the originators, I don't know) reading challenge.
All this is a roundabout way of saying I went looking for a satirical book, and found an available audiobook from the library called The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins, which sounded weird and wacky and maybe interesting. It is none of those things. It's insulting and crude and full of unlikable characters and I pretty much hate it and am only continuing to listen because, well, the same drive that makes us gawk at car wrecks, I suppose.
A few of the characters in the book mentioned "morning pages", a journaling exercise a lot of people swear by. This led me to look it up, and to find the original book, The Artist's Way. But, as I was looking into the "really, first thing in the morning?!" whine, I found a blog that had worked through her second book, Walking in This World, and it was available in the library, so I checked it out.
I fully realize that jumping into the second book might not be the best thing, but... the more I read of it, the more I'm convinced it won't matter anyway, because I also really dislike this book. Yes, I'd seen some mention of spirituality and connecting and whatnot, but I obviously didn't look closely enough because... it's very religious. "God" and "The Great Creator" are mentioned about every other sentence, it seems.
For a lack-of-religion person such as myself, this is... offputting at best. But it doesn't end there. Sine choice sentences from the first chapter:
"Commit to make something you love and you will find that the needed supplies come to hand"
"When we make art for the sake of making art, we tend to eventually make money."
"Our committed intention attracts supply."
This smacks of "The Laws of Attraction", which brighter minds than mine have railed against, so I'll just say that I think it's bunk. I would have stopped right there, but some of the other things I could agree with, so, we soldier on for now. I can do this, though it's a 12 week program and my library book is due back in 3, so we might have to cheat and at least write down the tasks ahead of time.
I was going to try to do the the pillars of the program for the 12 weeks, though. Those are:
1. Morning pages (though, realistically, these will be lunch/night pages because, seriously, fuck getting up earlier, it's not going to happen - she doesn't have a day job so she can shove that sanctimonious "set your alarm 20 minutes earlier" bullshit)
2. Weekly walks (technically, we do this daily with New Dog, but I will try to do a lunchtime solo walk/weekend solo dog walk once a week)
3. Weekly Artist's Date (go someplace by yourself that sparks creativity... hello, weekly excuse for craft shopping!)
This first week my first Artist's Date is to Target, to get a notebook to do my daily pages, and maybe some stickers and pens. Then tonight I'll do the first chapter exercises, and tomorrow will start my 3 page a day routine.