The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron

The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron

Yesterday I re-initiated my daily walk and my creative un-blocking via The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. When I got divorced (the last time) I walked off 50 pounds in 6 months and kept it off for a year. I remember thinking that I was walking that man right out of my life, and off of my body. I was only 200 pounds when I did that the last time (12 years ago). Then I got married, brought new meaning to the old saw “fat and happy” and gained it all back. Then I moved to Baltimore and deprived myself of anything good for me while giving 14-16 hour days to a school district that didn’t care diddlysquat about what was in it for me, and gained another 45 pounds.

Over the course of the 5 years in Baltimore, I lost as much as 45 pounds, but always gained it back. Then I moved back to Bozeman, Montana to do something good for myself for a change, and lost 26 pounds, kept it off for a few months, and then gained it back–graduate school requires a LOT of sitting and reading, and my too-tight and too-full schedule just added to that problem: no time for exercise.

A year and a half after the move back to Bozeman, I have lost and gained and lost and gained back the same 26 pounds over and over again. This is not a coincidence, and it is not merely a lack of will. I have the will. I have the desire. But up until now I haven’t had the time.

Time is a matter of priorities. And blocked creativity is a matter of making one’s own desires a last priority behind the priorities of others. I find it disconcerting and even a little bit surprising that after over a decade of creative recovery I am still putting my own priorities behind those of others. But not anymore.

Today was day two of the reboot. The good news: though I’ve been down this road before, listening to Julia Cameron on the morning walk gets down to my bones a lot faster than it did when I started reading this book a dozen years ago. Back then reading the book was like having an internal argument–I would argue with Julia, doing and saying all the things she said I would in response to her wisdom, because she’d seen and heard it all before. But yesterday and today it was merely a reminder, and instead of arguing, I simply said, “Yep–you’re right. You’re so right.” Today the walk was easier. Getting out  the door was easier. Tomorrow will be even easier.

Mark the date: Today is November 6, 2012, a Tuesday. Election day, as a matter of fact. When I finish writing this blog I will go vote for Barack Obama, Jon Tester, and Kim Gillan (among others). But I also elect to get this fat off and get the creativity going once and for all. I hope you’ll read my blog every time I post it. But I really hope you’ll meet me here on May 19th, 2013 (that’s my birthday), where I plan to write about having lost a minimum of 50 pounds since my weigh-in today. Today I am at 240 pounds. I will weigh in at 190 pounds (or less) on May 19th, 2013. Be there.

What do weight loss and creative rebooting have to do with one another? Everything. In the same way that I thought of losing the weight the last time as walking my ex-husband out of my life, this time I see it as unloading unnecessary baggage loaded on me by others who were looking for a free ride. Everyone must carry their own baggage from here on out–I’m not carrying it for you. That is what creative unblocking is all about. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then you need to read The Artist’s Way.

About 18 years ago, I was getting a massage and complaining about how fat I’d gotten (I was all of 150 pounds, which was 5 pounds over what I then considered my “fat weight”–at this point, 145 pounds is my goal weight, so that seems silly now). Instead of saying the usual polite things (“oh, you’re not fat,” or “you look great,” etc.), she said, “So, why do you think you got fat?” Without even thinking first I responded, “I think I wanted to become impervious, but I just got fat instead.”

For me, working, working, working has always been the way to avoid pain. “If I just work harder, read longer, write better, stay later….then everything will be OK.” Of course, by “everything will be OK,” I mean “people will love me.” I was never valued by my family for who I am, only what I could do for them. That’s where the baggage came from: working hard to be thought well of, and getting fat later in life when that didn’t really work, so I could be impervious to their lack of love.

The Artist’s Way is all about learning to love yourself the way you are, to honor your own desires as valid and good, and saying “no” to the people and things in our lives that would drain us of all of our creative energy without giving anything back.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, I encourage you to read “The Artist’s Way.” It doesn’t matter if you are an artist or not–it’s about recovering your true voice; your true self. Becoming the best you that you can be. What that is is entirely up to you.