Friday, May 25, 2007

Short Excerpts from the Narrative Time Line

If you feel comfortable posting short excerpts from your narrative time line, you might go right ahead.

I wrote this story this morning.
Alternative pages

Hi folks...I'm Jordan Rosenfeld. I'm lagging behind finishing up the AW and will be starting VoG around the 4th of June. But I thought I'd pop in early and say hi! I live in the absurd little town of Morgan Hill, CA (sorry to anyone who likes it here), am still pining for Petaluma, which we left behind last year and hope to return to next year. I write mainly. Freelance--for a living. Fiction--for "fun" and I've got a book I'm in the process of revising for Writer's Digest Books due out in November (Is this too much of an AA speech here?):

Anyhow, I've been using my morning pages lately to write --*gasp*--fiction. That's right. I've been journaling since I was 11 years old (21 yrs give or take), and so processing my feelings on the page has never been an issue for me (doing it consistently certainly helps and I benefit from that--and what's more, how's this for the universe working mysteriously...since I started doing AW, my husband has begun journaling regularly for the first time in his life!). But I notice that when I write fiction--something crazy and unplanned that has no goal for it--I come away feeling energized, alive and ready for work. I thought I'd recommend this as an alternate to anyone who is struggling with their pages. Take a week's break and write fiction (or poetry, essay, whatever your favorite form).

And I promise (sort of) not to use so many parenthetical statements next time.

Hope you're all doing well. Let me know your thoughts

Monday, May 21, 2007

Artist Date #1, a resounding success!

On Saturday I had my first Artist's Date. I had a hard time deciding what to do - it was later in the day than I'd intended because of a work commitment that ran long, and I was feeling tired and cranky by the time I got home. First thought was to visit a nearby museum, but that turned into a dud. Armand Hammer museum? Closed already for the day. Science Center: closed. Natural History museum: closed. I guess I'd assumed they'd be open later than five on Saturdays. I could have gone to the Getty, but I just wasn't feeling it. I almost just drove out for a long walk on the beach, but then I had a Very Bright Idea: Mitsuwa!

About six months ago I realized that the store I drove right past every time I went to Costco was a big, fabulous Japanese market - why it took me more than three years of living here to figure that out, I have no idea. And as I'd been wanting to go for quite a while but hadn't gotten around to it I decided it was a great spot for an Artist's Date.

When I was sixteen, I spent a month in Japan over the summer, living with a host family and then spending several days in Tokyo with the three other girls and one teacher who were on the trip with me. And Mitsuwa took me right back there: I found all of my favorite snacks and candies (Pocky! Super Lemon! Green tea ice cream! Melon flavored gum! Pretz sticks!), I got to attempt to pronounce the katakana and hiragana on the labels of all sorts of items (and then look at the markers on the aisles that so kindly offered the English version), I watched a few minutes of some Japanese tv shows on the monitors near the entrance, I hemmed and hawed over cute little bento boxes and rice bowls and chopsticks and other knick knacks that I eventually decided I really didn't need, and I got all the ingredients to make what is hands down my favorite meal ever.

And then the second part of my Artist's Date was coming home to cook myself some okonomiyaki! It's like a cabbage pancake, sort of. The name literally means "as you like," and it's a home-style dish that folks in Japan make with all kinds of extra ingredients thrown in. My host family made it for me, and we also went to a restaurant for the famou (in Japan) Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki (made with noodles) on our trip there, after visiting Peace Memorial Park. You make the pancake with cabbage, flour, water, an egg and a little dashi stock, and I put a couple of very thin slices of pork on it, and then top it with Japanese mayo, okonomiyaki sauce, bonito flakes and seaweed flakes. Heaven!
So I had a culinary date with my inner Artist, and loved every moment of it. And now I've got enough supplies to eat okonomiyaki again several more times this week. Yippee!

My morning walk

Or, as some puppy owners call it, "walkies."

I finally remembered to take the camera on our regular 6:30 am morning walk.

Unfortunately, it was overcast this morning--unusual for New Mexico--and so isn't as pretty as most days.

We start from our driveway and go up a wooded mountain path.

This is high desert, so the conifer woods are also prickly-pear woods and yucca woods.

We encounter rocks to climb, then a logging road and The View.

This ugly metal barn-like thing is what's behind me as I look at The View. (Not so lovely.)

Then back down the hill to home. About a 25-minute walk.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Intro: GhostGirl


My screen name is GhostGirl because I was so pale in high school, people called me Casper. I like having pale skin, it makes me feel morally superior because I won't get skin cancer.
There, I said it.

Also I live on a housebarge on the Long Island Sound. I'm a transplant from California. It's been anthropologically interesting to say the least.

I have a husband and two cats. He works from home at his own business selling software, I work for a company that seems to think market research can make a lasting moral and spiritual impact on the planet.

Writing: There's a line in the movie "I Remember Mama" where Irene Dunn tells a famous author that her daughter also wants to be a writer. Famous Author asks: "Does she write, or does she just want to write?"

The answer for me is, no, and no. Other people want me to write because I'm pretty good at it. It's like tall people who are expected to be basketball stars but they really want to play with spreadsheets all day. Sorry Steph, I know you have high hopes for me! Can I make you a spreadsheet instead?

But I don't mind being creative. My favorite quote about creativity:

"My eyes burn from listening. I cannot only be the small sum of my experiences but must be a channel for those that I have never had and maybe never will. Otherwise, I can only hear the music through my finite human filter instead of hearing independent frequencies.

Frequency and tone are autonomous and of the multiverse not just of my meager knowing. We can transcribe musical experience from the multiverse if we can be exactly that - perceptive scribes and co-creators instead of needing to be the only creator, how lonely."
-Tori Amos, American Doll Posse (2007)

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Artist Date Report

HI, all.

Sorry for the silence. The new puppy, a truckload of exam marking and an upcoming Board meeting totally sideswiped me this week--BUT I did find time for an Artist Date!

Al, my husband, was away on a trip this week, so one night I came home and the puppy and I collapsed in front of the tube to watch L'Albero degli zoccoli (The Tree of Wooden Clogs), a 1978 Italian epic film (three hours) about 19th-century peasant life in Lombardy.

It was an artistic experience for me on several levels:

  • while the background sounds (footsteps, birds, church bells, babies crying, etc.) were all audible, the Italian dialogue was completely mute--so that I had the English subtitles tell me the dialogue, but I didn't hear anyone speak. It was like watching a universe of telepathic people and gave a very calming (and eerie) aspect to the film.

  • the faces of the actors--who were local "peasants" according to what I've read--were amazingly expressive.

  • the depiction of the rural , peasant life made me feel the chill, the damp--and I liked it. It felt gritty and healthy and real.

  • the depiction of community made me very emotional; the community of tenant farmers spent the cold winter evenings in the stable, together with the livestock, telling stories, knitting, singing, saying the rosary. They sung together as they worked; they doctored each other as needed. It was so HUMAN.

  • the KNITTING in the movie was breathtaking. The shawls were the likes of which I have never seen: beautiful but very sturdy and wearable. I have been thinking about them for three days, and I think I need to design one based on one that a little girl was wearing which was a round shawl that somehow didn't fall off her shoulders as she milked cows or ran across fields. I am thinking of a version of Zimmermann's Pi Are Squared shawl--or a variation on an Irish pattern that I have. And I am going to use rugged, chunky Icelandic wool.

So I take away from the Date creative inspiration for a knitting project and memories of some haunting faces, scenes and scenery.

Narrative Time Line: A Tip

It occurred to me that one of the reasons I'm having such trouble with the narrative time line is that the categories that Cameron suggests do not feel natural to me: 0-5, 10-15, 15-20, etc. Some of the labels seem a bit misleading too (e.g., 10-15 as pre-adolescent).

I divided my time line into other categories: pre-nursery school, nursery school, elementary school, junior high, high school, college, twenties, thirties, etc. And that seemed to clarify my thinking about different eras.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Artist Date Ideas: A Master List

I would love to brainstorm artist date ideas. (I have one scheduled for Friday morning. I just don't know what it is yet.) What has worked well for you?

I'm going to list the ideas here from comments:

Museums (Getty, Getty Villa, LACMA, Museum of Jurassic Technology)
Observatories (Griffith Park)
Free Music Concerts (Jazz, Classical)
Free Theater (Independent Shakespeare Company)
The Natural World (parks, beaches, islands, urban landscapes with and without cameras)
Bead Stores
Plant Nurseries (as opposed to Child Nurseries, I suppose)
Antique Stores
Art Galleries
Arthouse movie theaters (where apparently Kel can get food delivered ?!?)
Thrift stores

Introduction: Kaye

Greetings! I am so excited to be here. I was a bit delayed in getting the book, but now that I have it, full speed ahead! A few years ago I had worked on The Artist's Way with a group of people which was a great experience. I think working with y'all will be awesome.

I hail from Burlington, Vermont. Burlington is about 2.5 hours away from Montreal which gives me that big city boost when I need it. I am originally from Southern California (Glendale). Though I miss the regular sunshine, Vermont is a lovely place and full of artists and free thinkers. By day, I work for a growing internet company that makes websites for car dealers. At night, I have a part time job at a grocery store which provides endless hours of entertainment.

I am single with a black cat named Tabby. I love to write, though am not disciplined as much as I would like to be. I am looking forward to making changes in my life with VOG and get more into my writing. My blog's pen name is Mrs. Han Solo because he's the hottest spaceman out there. (But maybe that's just me.)

Thanks goes out to Stephanie for encouraging me to do this.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Narrative Time Line: Overcoming hurdles

It sounds like there may be a few of us working on the narrative time line at the same time (me, Femmista, tgr, Kel, and perhaps others: Linera? Ghost Girl? Mrs. Han Solo? Thea? Angela? Dawgma and Jordan are still in Artist's Way).

How has the narrative time line been for you?
What's worked? What hasn't worked?

It's a big hurdle for me. Big enough that I've focused on the tools (walks, morning pages, and dates) for the last two or three weeks.

I need to move through the Time Line. In some fashion. My childhood wasn't as bleak as the photo....

Monday, May 14, 2007

How are your daily walks going?

I thought we could check in about our daily twenty-minute walks. How are they going? Where are you walking to? How do you find the time? Are you skipping them? ;)

I'm walking in the backcountry behind our house in the morning with my dog. On Saturdays, I try to take a longer walk elsewhere.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

tgr, checking in!

Hey everyone!

I'm officially introducing myself now - thank you for the fabulous welcome in the last post.

I live near sunny Santa Monica, California, have a job that is a perfect fit for me, a fabulous partner, two kitties, wonderful friends and a little apartment that's stuffed to the gills with books, books and more books (and some other stuff too that's less worth mentioning - you know, furniture, food in the fridge). It sounds perfect, and yet somehow I haven't felt perfect in it - I've gotten so consumed with my professional life that I've somehow forgotten who I am outside of it. And I need to find a little more balance and remember who I used to be. I deserve to have my own life again. And my sweet (and very understanding) fella deserves more than the extra bits of time I have when I'm not working. Somehow in the growing up and getting a career and a grownup life on track I forgot about balance and rest and joy. I knew I needed something more, but I was just too busy to be bothered with spending time on it all. Silly me.

As my blogger profile suggests, I'm staring 30 in the face and while I think numbers are pretty arbitrary things, I also think that since we tend to think of our lives in units of ten, I want moving out of my twenties to feel significant, somehow. I've got just over two weeks left to figure out how, and this is a big piece of it.

I want to turn 30 with a new commitment to building a contemplative, joy-filled life for myself, and I intend to use Vein of Gold to get myself started. I've actually had the book for a couple of years but never really got serious about it, and eventually forgot that it was sitting there on the shelf. I wandered over to this blog at just the right time, and I'm very excited about jumping in and participating.

I don't much believe in signs, but when I opened the book for the first time a couple of days ago, I found these waiting for me! They feel familiar - I know I put them in there, but I have no memory of finding them or why I decided to press them in Vein of Gold. But what an auspicious way to begin!

Over the last year I've also been rediscovering my love of photography, with the help of a fabulous new digital SLR, and it's played a big role in helping me start to reclaim a life for myself outside of my professional one. You'll probably see more photos start to pop up from Artists' Dates (which I've yet to begin) and daily walks. In fact, yesterday I walked at a local park right next to the tiny Santa Monica airport, and enjoyed peeking through the fence to see the planes, as well as examining the textures of the eucalyptus trees that were scattered around the park.

I haven't really decided yet, though, whether I should force myself to leave the camera home when I'm walking. My photographer-self would mourn the lost opportunities, but I don’t know whether I’m more or less attentive to the world around me when I’ve got the camera at the ready. I think the biggest danger is certainly that I’d end up wanting to slow down too much, and my walk would become a staccato meander, only good for taking me from one photo op to the next. I think I can balance the urge out, though. I could make rules for myself – no stopping for more than ten seconds (oh, my), no multiple shots – one chance for each image – and no more than five (or maybe ten?) shots total for the walk. And every shot has to be something new that I hadn’t noticed before when walking. That’s a good discipline for my photography as well as a way to keep my walk authentic. We'll see how it goes.

I don't particularly care for photos of myself (one of the reasons I first got into photography - I could be on the other side of the lens!) but I know I'm supposed to post one as part of my introduction, so I'll share one that shows you my one sustained spiritual practice: snuggling with the kitty.

So far, I've managed to do my Morning pages for three days running, though I was feeling surly about it this morning. Can't tell yet if I'll be able to force myself to keep it up. And today will be my third daily walk. I created my list of "20 things you'd like to have manifest in your life" - I'll post them below. And now I'm tackling the narrative timeline. And it's kicking my butt. I know it's supposed to be hard, but I'm feeling quite overwhelmed at the idea of having to sum up my own life. Partly it's that I have a pretty extensive memory from my early life, and I'm exhausted just trying to put together notes about my childhood. At the moment I'm not feeling inspired to actually write any of it. And I'm not even past age 10 on my notes yet. I might just move right along past it so I can get on to other parts of the book, while I continue plugging away at is as I feel moved to do so. I really don't want my reluctance to focus on the timeline to derail my enthusiasm for the whole process. Are any of the rest of you working on yours yet? What's your experience so far?


20 Things I’d Like to Have Manifest in My Life

1. A regular spiritual practice
2. A sense of balance
3. Reclaim my innate sense of mystery & wonder
4. Comfort in showing my full self to the world
5. Lots of time to explore my photography, just for the joy of it
6. Strengthened connections to friends near & far
7. Start writing again
8. Better health – anemia under control, lots of energy, feel good about my physical self
9. My home to truly feel like home again
10. A contemplative, spiritual “nook” at home
11. Travel, seeing new places, whether big trips (some day) or day trips (today!) – just to get out there on a regular basis and see more of the world
12. More long talks with mom
13. Real progress toward that credential
14. To wake up every morning excited about the day that’s ahead (not still exhausted, not reluctant to start the day, not anxious about what needs to get done)
15. Plenty of time to read for pleasure
16. Feeling on top of things at work, not overloaded and stressed out
17. Much more music & song!
18. Rekindle connection to my younger, more joyful self
19. Get crafty – cultivate beauty on the cheap
20. To strive every day to live up to “My Symphony”

Welcome This Girl Remembers!

Or is it thisgirlremembers?

In either case, it's great to have you in our Cluster!

Friday, May 11, 2007


Guilt, guilt, guilt.

I must admit that since the puppy's arrival last Saturday, I haven't even opened Vein of Gold, much less had a quiet moment for Morning Pages. I have to figure out how to build them into the 5am morning pee adventure, shower, breakfast, morning walk and the office job that starts at 8am. Hmmm...

I have, however, had at least three 20-minute (or longer) walks each day, and a lot of watching, cuddling, cross-species communicating.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Are you dreaming more?

Here's something I had forgotten. Most of the time I don't dream, or if I do, I have no recall of my dreams in the morning. When actively pursuing creative journalling and other exercises like we get to do in Vein of Gold, I find my dreams suddenly get very active, vivid and I can recall them.
Are any of you finding the same thing?

Monday, May 7, 2007

How are your morning pages going?

I know that a bunch of people may have just purchased the book, but I thought I would ask how morning pages are going for y'all. How are the pages going? What are you finding tough about them? Easy? Can you get three pages squeezed out?

I filled up a lovely unlined Moleskine with morning pages between this and the artist's way, and moved to a lined journal, which I found terribly annoying. I'm trying the pages electronically. This is not what Cameron advises. But it's what I'm doing temporarily. Perhaps I need a Moleskin and a better pen.

If you haven't posted an introduction to yourself with a photo, description of hopes and aspirations for the group, and anything else, please consider doing so.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Introduction: Kel

G'day, I'm from Australia.

Until 18 months ago, my husband and I lived in one of the world's most liveable cities, Melbourne, Victoria. Now we live on a small island in the Gippsland Lakes.

That fact alone is one reason why I believe in the power of "The Artist's Way." Of course, there are a few factors that led us to take the plunge, leave all that was familiar, and start a new life. But completing "The Artist's Way" helped crystalise things. It gave me the guts to follow my dreams.

Following dreams is hard. While some days I have to pinch myself to check that it's all really happening, there are other days where the dream morphs into a nightmare. Lately there's been a few rough things happening. So it's time to check back in with the creative muse.

Things I'm passionate about: my man, my dog, creativity, spirituality, good coffee - and being part of a creative cluster. Thanx for having me guys. Looking forward to the journey.

Pop in and say hi @ the X facta.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Welcome Thea!

Glad you are here. :)

i'm in

I made it in, but I won't be active for a spell yet. thanks for the invite


As a Skeptic (or one who is still in the Skeptic Stage, not having done the Artist Way), I am fascinated when what Cameron advises turns out to not only work but ring true in the Wider Order. Like the puppy manifestation thing (I put a puppy on my list of 20 things, and 30 minutes later I get a call about a litter of puppies who are the right breed, the right age and nearby).

Sognatrice is a writer and blogger in Italy, and I read her blog this morning. She is not following Cameron's guidance explicitly, but as an artist she seems to be doing instinctively what I am being guided to do. In her post today, she blogs about five things she does everyday to be/feel successful, and they involve
  • quiet time of reflection
  • gratitude and love
  • walking
  • writing
From her blog, I also know that she takes regular Artist Dates, though she doesn't call them that.

It's a natural living out of what Cameron suggests and, for me, confirmation of its validity.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Artist Date #1

For my first official artist date, I sort of spontaneously decided to go to a local park near the San Andreas with my camera for an hour. I intended to take photos of landscape elements, with their extreme tilt (due to the tectonic forces at the fault) and did for a while. But it was extremely bright, and everything looked washed out rather than vibrant. So I turned downward.

I ended up with a collection of photographs of trash. More precisely, I looked for pieces of trash that were juxtaposed against the natural world in some way.

This photograph, for example, is breccia and a bottle (of Bud?).

Trash really wasn't everywhere at the park, just at the low points where it had settled if it was heavy or in the bushes where it had blown it if was light. This is a tissue stuck in some dry cheat grass near sandstone.

Eventually, I decided that I wanted the collection to have more of a Where's Waldo? feel to it, and began to focus on trash that was harder to see amid the landscape. This is yucca and green glass.

In any case, I seemed to be drawn to photographing trash and wandering around the rocks alone.

Welcome Kel!

Thanks to Kel, we are now an international team blog!

We have the US Southwest and the US West Coast covered, and now we have the Land Down Under.

Excellent and exciting--the more diverse the better when it comes to sharing ideas.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007


Cameron calls it “Imagic-nation”, but I prefer Dreamtime.

Cameron writes, “Desire (energy), coupled with imagination, creates form” (p. 34).

I can see how Michelangelo used this, how Bach used this, how Byatt uses this.

More importantly for me (being no AS Byatt), I see that it applies not only to the creation of what is commonly referred to as art but also to the creation of one’s future, one’s life.

I, of course, am thinking of the house that I desire, the puppy that I desire, the career that I desire.
Cameron seems to be a great believer in visualization and attainment.

My stumbling block is that I have known some visionaries—amazing, creative forces who did not always have the follow-through or practical ability to bring their visions into being.

So how does one have both the creative leap of faith and the nose-to-the-grindstone ability to make it happen? For every vision born is a bureaucracy to be negotiated. Or maybe I am just too rooted to the earthly plane of existence.

Her task to enter our imagic-nation through walking asks us to “Think about what you’d like more of, what you’d like less of, what would make you happier, which things make you glad” (p. 37).

This has been my meditation for the last year—before I ever picked up Vein of Gold—and I have yet to come up with very concrete answers. So I guess I need to walk more and be more focused on these questions. And, as Cameron reminds me, I need to stick with the positive and not get sidetracked by anxiety and fear.

Finally, Cameron suggests making a list of twenty things I would like to have manifest in my life—material, spiritual, intellectual, artistic. Here is my first go at such a list (I come up with thirteen before faltering):

1. calm and optimism related to my work
2. time for quiet reflection in each day
3. a puppy
4. more connection to outdoor things—more time spent in the outdoors
5. a feeling of belonging in my community and culture
6. gratitude (mine, felt for other people and things)
7. high-speed internet
8. daily reading
9. daily knitting
10. daily cooking
11. a home of my own
12. a good haircut
13. respect (earned from others)

In this chapter I discovered that Cameron has a home in New Mexico, the “Land of Enchantment”, where I also live. So I'm looking for those ley lines!

Welcome Mrs. Han Solo!

And who among us did not want to be Mrs. Han Solo?

(Perhaps those who did not wait in line for two hours in 1977 to see the opening of Star Wars? I did!)

Unless, of course, you really are Harrison Ford's wife? (Stranger things have happened in the blogosphere...)

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Introduction: Femminista della casa

Ms. T says we should do an introduction.

To this end, I was looking for a decent picture of myself, and the only one I could find is one used for some online work I do--hence the small size, since I nabbed it off their site and pasted it here. I like it because you can't see the acne scars.

My general life interests are in food, craft, health, literature, and sustainability, and, barring literature, this is what I blog about.

I am not a natural activist, but I do feel an obligation to act, given the general state of the planet.

I am not a naturally spiritual person either. I'm afraid that my basic nature cuts to the efficient and the practical and doesn't always soar to the bigger ideas.

However, I do feel bursts of great energy and creativity, and I'd like to explore that in a community of others doing so.

Welcome GhostGirl!

Aha! With the addition of GhostGirl, we are now FIVE.

I'd say that makes us a legitimate Cluster, don't you?

Transformative Transportation

I’ve just read the Setting Out chapter on walking, and, while I have to gag at Cameron’s pun-filled prose, I get the underlying ideas and they do indeed resonate.

I walk to work and I walk home, and, because I am trying to be a good Vein of Gold pilgrim, I shall try to incorporate an additional longer walk into my day as often as I can.

My walk to work in the morning is energizing—fresh morning air, quiet bird song, lovely light.

The walk home is less energizing than cathartic: an intense time of mental processing for me, something which I had not realized until now.

It is a short walk, but in that time I sometimes discover some inner rage that I had not let surface at work—and thus arrive home in a foul mood.

Sometimes, however, it is a time when optimism and humor come to the fore, when my exuberance is allowed to bubble up, when I notice beautiful things. (Today, I had a lovely encounter with a Eurasian Collared-Dove.)

The task of walking prayerfully, listing and vocalizing gratitude, also resonated. My new boss starts every meeting with a call for “appreciations”—something that is none too popular with the Old Guard present at the various meetings I attend. I too initially found it rather saccharine, but I like what Cameron says:

What you are actually doing is gaining altitude so that you can see life from a higher perspective, where you are able to recognize many more choices.


Welcome Dawgma!

Another member of our growing cluster! Dawgma has just joined!