Week six of The Artist's Way! Halfway there! This week's theme is Recovering a Sense of Abundance - probably one of the hardest things for me so far. In my spiritual practices, creative practices, and life in general, I find it really difficult to look around the world without seeing looming scarcity.
In my own life, I see how finite and scarce time, money, and even relationships can be. I live on a budget. Spending money in one area generally very clearly takes away my opportunity to spend it elsewhere. Same with time, which feeds directly into my relationships: time spent on one activity or person is taken away from time spent elsewhere.
In the world, I see an overcrowded planet crushingly dependent on a finite resource and massive inequality that seems to only be growing: you either have it all or you have nothing.
Okay, so that's the Negative Nina in me. But there is, of course, a flip side. The side that really really wants to see everything as a possibility and that there is room for us all (even though this planet is way too full as it is!) and that sees (or hopes) that there will always be enough. Just because my finances make everything an either/or decision doesn't mean everything else works that way, right? Right?
So that's the attitude I walked into this week's activities with: a deep mistrust with a sprinkling of hope.
The basic message of the week is that you plug into your "way" or "flow" or "calling" and then the extras come to you. That the more you take, in terms of taking care of yourself or following your path, the more you get.
So here's the thing: Julia Cameron says that art is born in expansion, not contraction, and I agree. Expansion is also what we make of it. Finding five minutes to breathe or take photos or doodle can be a massive luxury and moment of abundance. I just have trouble with the whole "start doing it and the universe will bring it to you" idea. More likely, to me, is the idea that once we start making room for something, we start seeing more opportunity for it and that the growth comes naturally from our new outlook. It's the "the hardest part is showing up" philosophy.
At the end of the day, of course, it doesn't really matter: either I find expansion because once I start wriggling a little bit of space for something, it becomes more of a priority and easier to make more space for, or I find expansion because once I take steps in the right direction the universe/God goes "hey you! You're on the right path, here's more of what you need!"
Either way, I take steps first and then start to find my way. I operate as if there is enough (enough of what? Pick one: time/money/friends/ideas/attention/resources) and then find it.
Okay, so it's one thing to expect abundance in opportunities or time or ideas, but what about money? According to Julia Cameron, money will flow just as freely as anything else once you step into your "flow". Oh goodness. This is a direct measurable and that gets harder to accept. It also sounds a lot like something that might get said by someone someone who has had a very privileged life.
That said, she had some interesting activities around money and our attitudes towards money that I found useful. One is simply to track your spending and see what you value in terms of where you spend your money. (Mine wasn't a huge surprise: after I pay for my home, phone, and internet, most of my money goes to feeding myself and going out with friends.)
The other exercise is a fill-in-the-blanks using phrases like "People with money are _____", "Money equals _____", "If I weren't so cheap I'd buy _____", "If I could afford it, I'd _____", and "In my family, money caused _____". It's a simple exercise that helps reveal our hidden attitudes towards money, and perhaps where they came from.
This week's tasks were to find abundance by collecting and letting go: go find and collect beautiful rocks, flowers, and leaves, and at the same time, let go of as many pieces of clothing that are no good for you. Clear out some aspect of your home and welcome friends into your life by sending out cards to people you want to draw deeper.
I confess that I didn't do everything, but one thing I did do, that I am really happy about, is decorate my balcony. You see, my balcony has a glorious view of my building's parking lot. For ages I have been wanting to make a cover for it out of colourful fabric strips, so that when I look out my window I see pretty hanging fabric instead of cars and asphalt.
I haven't done it because, despite having two suitcases full of fabric, I assumed I didn't have "enough" to make it work. I also assumed it wouldn't look as good as I pictured it, which is a silly reason to avoid doing something of course, because you don't know what it will look like until you try.
So, last weekend, I cut my fabric into little strips and tied it onto my balcony railing, and I love it. I think it turned out so pretty and that it makes a lovely cover for the parking lot and every time I look out my window I feel like a little bit "more" in my home.
Here's a crappy picture. I'm doing a slow-but-steady reworking of my balcony so that it's a pleasant place to be once it gets warm out, and I'll post better photos once that's done.
|Yes, I have fake grass on my balcony. It's wonderful.|