Sunday, April 29, 2007

Welcome Linera!

A hearty welcome to Linera, whose has just joined this blog and now makes us a creative cluster of three!

Introduction: Ms. Theologian


I'm one of two informal lay leaders of the Vein of Gold group.

I blog as Ms. Theologian, my co-leader is Femminista.

My general life interests are in spirituality, writing, and hiking. This photo was taken in Utah at Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah.

I firmly believe the sacred circle rules in that creativity occurs in safe and accepting places, and that creativity is born of generosity.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Walking as a Spiritual Practice

Part of the Vein of Gold involves daily twenty-minute walks to reinvigorate yourself, process information, open yourself up to the beauty of the world, and express gratitude.

I've been walking regularly for years, but started a new routine a few months ago in the backcountry behind our house. I walk on an old Forest Service road.

The plant communities are mostly chapparal and oak woodland. We are at the edge of the Mojave, and have very little water. Everything that survives here must have adapted for a harsh life without much water.

Still, amid the harsh landscape, I find that there is such unexpected beauty here. This plant is a fire follower (I can't place its name, despite learning it as a naturalist).

I walk with my dog, who tends to scare off any wildlife. But I manage to surprise this baby side blotched lizard into staying still (middle of the frame).

Most of the trail is open and exposed. Usually I leave earlier in the day, but I couldn't seem to get out before 8 a.m. There is something raw and vulnerable about being this exposed with only rare opportunities for shade on the hillside.

And something so tiring when I finally make it to the oak tree where I sit before heading back. (Just so you know, this is really not a good photo of me, unless you want to see what I look like after a workout and with not enough sleep).

I'm developing quite the courtship of this particular oak tree. In wet years, it shades a swimming hole. But most years, it simply shades an arroyo and the rare hiker who manages to find this bit of shade in the desert.

I say my morning prayers under the oak. Most of my prayers are of gratitude for being alive and being allowed to survive and thrive. Thank you.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Artist Date #1

Just got back from my first Artist Date.

I spent about 1 1/2 hours walking around a historic residential district of a nearby town. It is a sunny spring day today, and I intended to focus on architecture and gardens. Instead, I picked up on much more: sounds, smells, imagined interiors, and some soul searching.

I smelled freshly cut planks and wet paint from workmen and DIYers; I heard music from passing cars and dogs barking in yards; I exchanged greetings with porch-sitters whom I passed.

I thought I would take photos to share but felt uncomfortable photographing people's homes. I took pictures of the homes that were for sale and started to indulge my fantasy of having a home of my own (I've blogged about it twice on my other blog--here and here--and it isn't a feeling that seems to be abating). I want roots. Or major change.

I was melancholy the whole time. And restless. And introspective, despite my plan to focus on the external rather than the internal.

I've been nearly ten years in the same location with the same employer. My passion has been my work--but I think I may be burning out on that. I think I need a new passion, and my thoughts turn to three things: career change, housing change, or adopting a puppy. Or all three.

In the end, the Date was a meditative act, which was, I think, useful, but perhaps didn't quite meet Cameron's directive.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Our Creative Cluster

Just read the Setting Out chapter on Creative Clusters.

So far, we are a creative cluster of two, but I'm hoping some others from the blogosphere will join.

And why not join? It is all about playing!

In this chapter, I learned that clusters are supportive, not competitive, and that we should share actual work with the tools and not gripe about the obstacles.

So please disregard most of my posts so far. Oops.

The Task for this chapter is to make a cluster list. Cameron talks about clusters working by phone and by letter. She does not mention blogs, but perhaps that is because I have a 1997 version of the book.

Then she says to move on that list and set up the cluster.

I think Ms. T and I have already moved on that point by creating this blog, and Ms. T has actually already made a list and invited people.

I need to be more proactive about inviting blog friends. I will send out some invitations now.

Damn. Forgot To Do Morning Pages.

This morning I was in the shower, running late, when I realized that on Day Two of my Vein of Gold Odyssey I had forgotten to do Morning Pages. Not yet a habit. Damn.

Then I thought maybe I could squeeze them in at work.

Then I remembered Ms. T's post about the office worker who kept a journal at work and got fired.

So now I am doing Lunch Hour Pages.

Monday, April 23, 2007

One Artist Date

I've been going for the low-cost artist dates. This is from last night's artist date that involved me, a sketch pad, and some aged watercolors. Uhm. It's a mountain, just in case that wasn't clear. I've titled it, "The Mountain." I just painted what I wanted and didn't really judge the result. :)

Other successful artist dates: The 97 Cent Store (twice), Staples (once), the Salvation Army (three times), Goodwill (once), the creek (three times), and one session with play-doh. I suppose the point is that they tend to be low-cost things that I want to do, and enjoy, rather than what I "should" do to be a better artist.

Creative Deepening: Artist Dates

I have just read the introductory chapter on Artist Dates, and here is something I think I knew but never articulated:

“breakthroughs occur when focused, rational thought and activity are followed by a period of release” (p. 18).

I think I am good at periods of release. I have cultivated the idea of making time for fun, and, aside from guilt about what I think of as my own hedonism, I find this time to be beneficial.

My regularly scheduled periods of release--things I do for me and not for some Grander Purpose--are (1) a weekly hour at the local hot springs with my superbly creative friend Edith and (2) a weekly hour and a half spent with new crafting friends at a Kaffee Klatsch.

But these cannot be counted as Artist Dates. Artist Dates need to be solo engagements--things I plan and do on my own, for my Self, to re-stock my imagination.

So, a weekly task is a weekly planning of a weekly Artist Date.

What to do?

This week, on Wednesday afternoon, I am going to walk through a historic residential district of a nearby town, looking at the architecture.

I have a walking guide brochure that explains some of the history of the neighborhoods, and I will finish in a park near the library, where I will sit and listen and watch. I might take my camera (is that allowed?) so that I can capture and keep any images that really speak to me.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

DEFIANCE re Morning Pages

Ok, so I am on page 17, and I am already set to break the rules.

Not being a natural rule-breaker (I like rules), I’ve already broached this with Ms. T, and she seems ok with it:

I am not doing my Morning Pages in longhand. No paper. No pen. No way.

I am going to keyboard them, for several reasons:
  • my hands, used to keyboarding all the time, cramp up if I attempt to write longhand. (I am left handed, and I do have that uncomfortable, crooked southpaw way of holding the pen. Ouch.)

  • I get none of the aesthetic pleasure Cameron hints at by writing longhand.

  • writing longhand is less sustainable—filing up pages and pages of actual paper with things no one is going to read vs filling up virtual pages stored on a microchip. I am trying to have less "stuff" around me, not more; pages of my stream of consciousness are not what I'd like to have cluttering my life.

And when Cameron says we have to write longhand because "there is an energy to the hand," I answer her thus: keyboarding is still using our hands to write—it is just using a different writing implement with which to write.

Cameron does admit to being archaic. With that I agree.

Setting Out

So I've begun.

I've just read the first chapter, an introduction, and I must admit that my Skeptic is lustily bellowing all kinds of warnings.

As I read this first chapter, there are two ideas I note:

  • "the tools of Vein of Gold will be more deeply felt, and therefore more deeply resisted, than the tools of The Artist's Way."* (p. 5)

  • "Art is made through a series of moments--choices--leading each to the next. Life is made in the same way." (p. 12)
I also note that Cameron suggests time to be spent in each "kingdom", but I do not know if I'll be able to hold myself to a schedule. She suggests four weeks in the first kingdom and two weeks in all the others. That's a sixteen-week journey--but I expect I'll take longer.

*Cameron's editor has not been consistent on the use of "the" in the titles of her books. Sometimes the titles include the definite article; sometimes they don't. Perhaps it depends on which edition...?

Sacred Circle

I thought it would be best to establish some ground rules for any group work that occurs. I'm a little put-off by the phrase "sacred circle" to describe group work, but it is Cameron's phrase, and I really like the rules she suggests, so I'm going to post them below and in the side column:

Sacred Circle Rules (p. 210 of The Artist's Way)

1. Creativity flourishes in a place of safety and acceptance.
2. Creativity grows among friends, withers among enemies.
3. All creative ideas are children who deserve our protection.
4. All creative success requires creative failure.
5. Fulfilling our creativity is a sacred trust.
6. Violating someone's creativity violates a sacred trust.
7. Creative feedback must support the creative child, never shame it.
8. Creative feedback must build on strengths, never focus on weaknesses.
9. Success occurs in clusters and is born in generosity.
10. The good of another can never block our own.

Monday, April 16, 2007


This team blog is a space for those who are working through The Vein of Gold by Julia Cameron.

It is a space to ask questions, share discoveries, write out tasks, report progress.

It is a work-at-your-own-pace space.

You are welcome to join.

All you need is

(1) a copy of The Vein of Gold

2) an invitation to join this blog--which you can get by contacting me and requesting an invitation. Email me at femministadellacasa AT gmail DOT com. In your email, please let me know if you'd like to be listed as a member on the side bar--and if you'd like that listing to link to your blog. (If so, I'll need to know your blog url.)

When you post, please label your post according to the chapter or Kingdom or task you are working on--that way, we can visit posts that are relevant to what we are working on at the moment.

See you on the journey!