Sunday, January 31, 2010

Day 31: I dreamed of Paris

I have a reoccurring theme in my morning pages: Paris.

Whenever I don't know what to write, I imagine myself in Paris. Today wrote about how, if I were in Paris today, I would have woke up early went to visit my very french friends at the café and parlez-ed français. Then I would have traipsed to the open air market to buy beautiful cheeses, fruits and veggies. Later, I would have rode my bicycle around the city to take in the architecture. I would have wound up writing and people watching at a bistro in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.

Back to reality. With morning pages complete, I went to have a coffee with my friends at the local coffee shop, I zipped up to the farmer's market to get produce for the week. Then I headed down the beach on my bike to take in the beauty of the ocean on this winter-ish day. I met my chef friend (who has a gourmet french flair is his cooking) back at my house. Now he's making us dinner.  I started writing this blog post in my chaise lounge chair and he brought me a slice of parmesan cheese to go with my glass of red wine. Ooh la la!

Only as I ate this slice of cheese did I realize that I had paralleled my fantasy Parisian day in my real Santa Monican day. Café to coffee shop. Open air market to farmers market. Architecture to ocean. Bistro to personal chef.

No Eiffel Tower but I do have a view of the California sunset. And that suits me just fine. 


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Day 30: Why I quit eating meat

Usually I have to encourage myself to do my morning pages. Just do it. Get it over with already. Stick to it. Keep going. There is a lot of self talk that goes into this project. As much or more than the project itself.

But today was different. Today my pages were doing the encouraging. See, I just finished reading Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. This book is a must read for anyone who wants to be aware of the food they eat, and who doesn't? In fact, I think it should be required reading for the whole country. The book investigates factory farms and the cruel treatment of the animals on these farms. 

It made me want to become a vegetarian.

I love bacon.

This is a problem.

In my morning pages, I was pondering how I could manage to become the vegetarian I want to be. I really don't know if I can do it. And I DO know it's important for me to try. And I can't eat rice and beans all the time. AND, all week I've been mostly hungry because I haven't gotten the hang of how to eat without meat yet. As I write this, I'm munching on toast and almond butter. How long can that really be satisfying over the long haul?

This vegetarianism had me panicked in my pages. That's when I the pages stepped in and said this:
"Hey, you've done these pages for 30 days in a row. You didn't do it a month at a time, you did it a day at a time. With vegetarianism, you can break it down further and do it one meal and one snack at a time. Breakfast is already mostly vegetarian (goodbye bacon), there are veggie options at every restaurant, and beyond that, you can make smart choices when cooking your own meals. You can do this. You've done these morning pages and have shown that you can stick to them. If you want to stick to this new way of eating, you can do that, too."
This entry helped. And it came along at a good time.

Tonight I'm going to a friend's house. He's making ribs. I am already faced with the social ramifications of my new-found vegetarianism.

Growing up, when one of my cousins would announce their vegetarianism, my aunts and mother would haul out a baking dish and whip up a spinach lasagna to add to the family meal. They would do it without complaint. But I knew what they were thinking. "How are you suppose to feed your children on a vegetarian diet?" or "How are you suppose to feel satisfied without a decent piece of meat?" That's just it. With factory farming, there are hardly any decent pieces of meat left.

Factory farming makes up 99% of the meat in our grocery stores. To find that 1% of meat that came from animals that had a good life and a humane death is so difficult that I might as well throw up my hands and say fuck it. I'm going vegetarian.

I'm going to need a lot of encouragement to get through this. I'm glad my morning pages are here to help.

But how to break it to the family. Seeing if they read this blog is one way. Oh dear.




Friday, January 29, 2010

Day 29: These are a few of my favorite things

 
This is a gift. A birthday gift. It's wrapped. 

Why is this gift special? Because it was purchased and wrapped on time for my friend's birthday. 

This is a freakin' miracle. I rarely remember birthdays or gifts or wrapping paper.

I owe it all to writing morning pages. During January, my pages have largely been about getting my shit together.

She swore! 

Three pages every day to figure out what to do and what is coming up and what I've learned and what I've got to work on. Three pages of the Life of Janice. 

Inside the pages, I've also wondered what the heck I'm doing with this project. Do I want it to become the next Julie & Julia or even, gulp, the next Eat, Pray, Love? The truth is, I don't know what I'm doing, but I think it has something to do with this sign that I have hanging above my desk: 

 

 So that's what I'm going to do. And I'm gonna do it right here. One birthday gift and page at a time. Watch me. 


3TGE29B6NSZ7


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Day 28: The forgotten pages

I sat down to do my morning pages just to realize a startling fact:

I had already done them.

I had forgotten that I had written them already today.

Gawd, you always go on about writing them. Then you forgot? 

Yep. I forgot. I forgot because I had written them so fast. I had written them so fast because I was seething. I was seething because I was trying to sign up on a new Web site and was having technical difficulties, which led to an inner temper tantrum.

That Web site got a few choice words from me... in the privacy of my own journal.

After I spewed out my venomous rage about said site onto the page, I went for a very long walk and listened to my meditation CD. I needed to calm the eff down.

There she goes not swearing again. WE KNOW what "eff" means.

Sigh. Anyway. Then I came back to the office feeling spent but better, so much better in fact that I had forgotten the whole episode of angst.

This is a new development for me and I like it. I like it very much.

We like it too, but we'd prefer if you use the "eff" word. 
 


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Day 27: iPad

The only thing that could be better than Apple's new iPad is the name. How about iSlate? How about i-anything-but-something-that-reminds-ladies-of-something-else.

And a camera for video chat. The iPad could do with one of those. Perhaps it's available already. If so, I apologize for my slack reporting skills.

Ever since Apple announced the new iTampon... sorry... iPad today, I've been pondering the future of books. The books I write in the future can be much more high tech than the books of my past. The books of the future can include video right there on the page! Right there! On. The. Page.

Some say, oh but I LIKE the tangibility of flipping through a books. I liked record albums, too, but I'm not about to do away with the awesomeness of iTunes just because I like records. Oh the beauty of the skipping song and how it etches in my memory. I still can't hear ABBA's Super Trouper without remembering the skip in the second verse.

Bring on non-tangible-books please.

Allow your mind to daydream about the possibilities.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Day 26: Full Disclosure

Up until today, there was a zit on my face in the photograph above. Whenever I looked at the photo, I  saw only the zit. That is until today when I Photoshopped the sucker out. I thought about leaving it, since who is to say which is more perfect: the photo with the blemish or the photo without. And isn't full disclosure and being my raw naked self much more interesting to read?

Yes it is.

Too bad. The zit is out! Ain't technology grand? Speaking of technology, I just found out that I can order my bare veggie burrito from Chipotle via an app on my iPhone. And speaking of iPhone, I can hardly focus on work today because Apple is announcing their new products tomorrow and my fingers are crossed for the tablet/slate/better-than-lame-Kindle and maybe even a more souped up iPhone. Technology truly is grand.

But...

But?

But I'm reading Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer and finding out more about factory farms. In this case, technology is not so grand. The factory farmers argue that they are feeding their families and all of America. But oh, how they make the Earth cry. I'm finding I have more questions because of this book, like how can I call myself eco-conscious  when I have eaten meat from farms that are anything but eco-conscious? All this makes me feel like a big fat faker. Maybe that's why I Photoshopped the zit off my face in the photo. So I could show you my genuine fake self.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Day 25: Channeling Julia Cameron

Writing three pages is easy when I'm effin' pissed. I can rattle on if I'm frazzled, frustrated, irked, dismayed or sad. But when life is honky dory, getting three pages out of me and onto the page is like trying to pull a hippopotamus out of the mud.

That's what today was like. But luckily, I had an idea by the end of page one. I channeled my inner Julia Cameron to see what she had to say:

"Give yourself credit. You're here. So much can come out of these pages. And yes, much of the time is just about filling up the pages with whatever gobbledygook comes out. That's normal. That's fine. That's why there are three pages. That's why its every day. You are a chick in an egg pecking away to break the shell. How you peck is by showing up and doing these pages.

This is also part of your ministry. It's important work so don't diminish it when you feel it's not revelatory or useful. If you don't know what to write, count your blessings. Literally, list what you're grateful for. If you still don't know what to write, write down that you don't know what to write. Keep your pen on the paper and you'll figure it out as you go.

This is astoundingly large work and it's bigger than yourself. You are planting seeds. They will bloom and grow. Trust this. And let God take care of the rest."


Day 24: Letters to a young artist

I've been reading Letters to a young artist: building a life in art by Julia Cameron. My sister gave it to me for Christmas a few years ago. I read it back then, but now with this project of writing 365 morning pages in a row and blogging about it, the book was worth a second glance. 

I started this project because of my sister. Recently, she had asked for advice on how to shake things up, to get out of her funk, to live more creatively, and to use art to make a living.

I said, "Do the Artist's Way by Julia Cameron." Then a voice in my head said...

Hey there Hector Projector. 

Exactly. Maybe I should be the one doing the Artist's Way. Maybe I should be laying track on my own morning pages.

In Letters to a young artist, Julia corresponds with a young whipper snapper about the creative life. In nearly all her letters, she's reminding the young artist to do morning pages. Get on it. Quit your bitchin' and just get to it. This was basically the same thing I was telling my sister to do when I advised her to do the Artist's Way.

In the book, Julia also writes to the young artists about world peace:
"World peace matters, but you may not be able to do anything constructive about it today, while you can make art—and, in my opinion, if we put a little more energy into creation, we might but a little less into destruction.

Maybe all you can do about world peace today is make some art and improve your own goddamn mood."
So today, I am contributing to world peace in my own little way. I'm doing my morning pages. So far I'm truly feeling more artistic, happy and most of all, peaceful. Peaceful because I don't have projects hanging over my head. The morning pages allow me to sort through tasks so that I can efficiently take care of business. I've sorted through papers, mended what needs to be mended, sent out mail that needed to be sent, and crossed a lot of other things off the lists that I wrote in my morning pages. I'm also peaceful because with the time left over after taking care of business, I am able to free up mind space, get creative and get back to painting.

I have, as the Eagles put it, "a peaceful easy feeling."

Now I don't know if my sister has taken my advice and began the Artist's Way. I don't even know if she reads this blog. But to her—and all the young artists out there—you owe it to yourself to show up for your inner artist. One page at a time.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Day 23: Time warp

It's Saturday. I have vast amounts of time. This is unusual for me. Usually I fill my time with Things I Gotta DO! But today, I've done them and still have time left over. What the heck is going on here?

Oh my goodness. Could it be that these pages have created a time warp where I have all the time I need to do whatever I want to do?

Seems that way.

Ingenious. Now I've got nothing to complain about. This is new.

Of course, there are things I could do. I could always go to yoga. I could always practice my guitar. But, meh.

And last night, get this: I mended.

You what?! I didn't even thing you had a needle and thread.

There are a lot of things you don't know about me. Yes, I mended items of clothing that required mending. I have had said pile of clothing sitting for quite some time. That's not true, I wore everything with holes in them. But not anymore. Now I'm gonna look brand spankin' new with my newly mended old clothes.

Why did I mend said clothes? Because they were top of mind when I wrote down a list of Things I Gotta DO in my morning pages. Came home, popped in 500 Days of Summer and mended. 

I feel like I don't know you anymore.

Ya. I know how you feel. Who is this new person who mends things and is on top of tasks? No piles of papers to review, no things that are lagging behind that must be caught up. Now all that is left is...

Space.

Glorious space.

I think I'll go watch the sunset.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Day 22: The new me

A poem that fell out of my pen and onto my morning pages today: 

The old me would have fumed
She would have whined
She would have screamed
I can't let it go!
I can't let myself go!
I've got to keep it all from unraveling!

The new me goes about my business
And keeps that business to myself
Because to speak of it diminishes its value
And invites opinions and projections
No thanks, I don't care what you think
I really don't
It's not you, it's me
The new me

The new me romances alone time
They lay together and listen to the rain
She pillow talks with silence
And cuddles with daydreams

The old me pipes in with flashing eyes
But the new me stares her down
The old me sulks away
The new me won't make any drastic moves
She'll give it a few weeks
And in a few weeks, she'll give it a few more
In the meantime, she'll paint more crows and cars 
The new me knows that decisions make themselves
And she breathes deep into the knowing of that
She lets the reins slack a little
Lets life take care of her for awhile
She doesn't need to do everything all the time
Life brings her messages, events and people
Life is a good companion
Much better than the old me


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Day 21: Is progress being made?

Do these morning pages serve to unleash my creativity? That's the point, right? And to have my life transform in magical ways. So, let's get scientific about this. Has there been progress in my life since I started writing my pages on January 1, 2010?

Let's recap:
Come on! 

Forget it.  

Harsh.
  • I've befriended an anonymous italicized voice in my blog
Hey!
  • I have a new niece named Elle Marie (not my doing, I admit, but my life is better because she's here)
  • I've had my super wonderful chef friend make me meals at my house... dreamy... and delicious
  • I've got a few new followers on Twitter everyday
  • I've learned how to link things in this blog, bold, and italicize
That's one sexy italicized font.
  • I read a book... Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl... this really is a feat for me, dear reader. The last book I read was Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert... in hardcover, when it first came out
  • I got a random CD in the mail from a friend yesterday.... Pete Yorn, for optimal listening satisfaction during my rainy commute
  • I got a fishbowl from another friend for my contest
  • I wrote and bound my first chapbook
  • I got a massage and I swear she got a knot out of my neck that has been there since 1992
That last one might be up there with the birth of my niece. It's a big deal.

I'm not sure why I chose the 21st of the month to review my progress. You'd think I'd have waited until the 31st. But, the review is what came up today in my morning pages. I'm learning to go with the flow. To get Zen with the pages. To be all Buddha about the whole thing. To get down with my Tao Te Ching self. To get all Realized with Self. To get Yogananda on my ass.

I'll get Yogananda on your ass.

Bring it.

Oh it's been brought.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Day 20: Eff You Paintings

After yesterday's kerfuffle with not wanting to do my morning pages, I had a burst of creative energy. I don't understand this strange twist but I think the importance is not in the understanding but in the ability to go with what transpires.

Last night I bought groceries and made a stew with my new crock pot. Usually that would be enough creative energy for me. But, I was on fire so I finished two paintings. Check out the beauts:


This crow painting is called Worship. It made me wonder, What do crows worship? Or do they worship? Or do animals worship at all? I love crows. I love how sassy they can be and how the have survived so well in urban environments. They have an Eff You quality about them that I dig. And this one happens to have a spiritual slant, squawking at God or the sun, which I also dig. The tree is taken from a photograph by my sister Carla MacLeod. It's a tree in the yard of the house we grew up in. Best gift ever. Who would have thought to take a photo of one of the trees on the yard. So creative.


Bad ass dude hanging out with a bad ass car. It's Bad Ass x2. Maybe that's what I'll call it. This painting also happens to have an Eff You quality about it, though I didn't realize it until now. 

A quick shout out to all those folks who were so encouraging yesterday when I didn't want to do my morning pages or this blog. It helps. Oh my goodness it helps. Perhaps my burst of creativity came from the good thoughts from you, dear reader. Thoughts that traveled through the ether to me and converted into a burst of creative energy. Thank you. I needed that.

No problem. Glad to help. 

You are so thoughtful.

Yes I am.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Day 19: The dread of morning pages

Last night it happened. I was making plans for the next day when a little voice in my head said, "Ugh, it's just another day that I'm gonna have to do morning pages."

It begins. 

I don't want to begrudge my choice to do these morning pages. Is this what newlyweds feel after the honeymoon is over? Ugh, I have to wake up to this every morning?

Oh dear.

But I'm here now. I did my morning pages. And when I look at the right hand column under the archive, I feel good that I have all those numbers in a row. Clearly, I'm being taught a lesson about commitment. Blessed are the men I dated who couldn't commit. It wasn't you. It was me. But thanks for letting me hide behind your commitment issues.

Where is this going?

Beats me. But let's read on and find out together. I recall the first time I did the Artist's Way course and started writing morning pages. I was living in Toronto and working at Leo Burnett Advertising. I did my morning pages in the coffee shop below the office. Inside those pages I wondered where my life would take me. And on the wings of writing my morning pages it took me to California, to two wonderful books, to a guitar that I love, to varied and wonderful levels of love, to becoming a painter that actually sells paintings to actual people. And now to a blogger that has readers she doesn't even know. Thank you for stopping by.

You're welcome. 

So I guess this means I'll hang in there and plug away at these pages, knowing that something beautiful will come out of the murkiness, that something bigger than me is transpiring, that all I need to do is show up.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Day 18: Coffee, rain and writing

Is there anything more poetic than writing morning pages in the rain? Not actually in the rain. That would be messy. I mean, sitting by a window, sipping coffee and writing. It's so very Jane Austen or Virginia Woolf in a room of their own, don't you think? It makes me want to wear a long flowing dress and write words like "thither."
"Confession: I have read Pride and Prejudice about 200 times. I get lost in the language. Words like 'thither.'"
-- Kathleen Kelly, You've Got Mail
Again with the You've Got Mail quotes.

I know... so good. Today's morning pages were not quite as romantic as the setting. Yes I was by the window, yes I was sipping tea and yes I was writing. But the content of the pages were mostly about not wanting to go to the gym.

Inside of me is an insolent little child who has no interest in walking through the rain to go to the gym. This is the part of me that gets really cranky at least once a day. This is the part of me that I would like to snuff out. But, all this said, I suppose this part of me does serve a purpose. Like right now, for instance. I'm dry, warm and happy. I'm not wet and cold. Though I haven't crossed the gym off my list. There is another aspect of me that is cranky about that. Sigh... I'm just trying to do the best I can. To make choices in hopes to provide myself with optimal happiness in any given day.

What aspects of your personality do you resent, dear reader? Do you have a cranky non-gym-goer inside of you? A non-walk-in-the-rainer? And do they serve a purpose? A greater good? Or are they just sabotaging plans?


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Day 17: The Great Fishbowl Revealed

Check out the sweet fishbowl I procured after yesterday's post:


With this donation to the cause, I can now add all the names of people who want to be in my drawing to win random awesomeness.  If you, too, want to be entered into the drawing to win random awesomeness, email your mailing address to janicemacleod@gmail.com. Check yesterday's post for details.

I realize that telling you that you could "win random awesomeness"  is vague. Bear with me. I'm new at this.


Except for the decade of direct marketing.

Right. Except for that.

To recap, give me your mailing address (by emailing me) and I'll put it in the fishbowl. I'll draw out names at random and send the winners something awesome in the mail. The two winners from today (I chose them already before I thought of the whole fishbowl giveaway thing) will be receiving this short story written by me and created here at After the Artist's Way Press using my crafty bookbinding skills:




Anywho, it's Sunday and it's raining. Coffee tastes so much better in the rain. It also tastes better in a white diner mug. The kind that the waitress keeps filling every time she walk by so that you can't ever really get the perfect milk to coffee ratio, but you don't care because you like how she calls you "darlin'", the coffee is warm, it's raining outside and you've got plenty of time to look out the window, sip and daydream.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Day 16: The Great Fishbowl Giveaway

Today has been great. All my plans were canceled and I spent the day doing the two things I love doing around the house: 

1. Puttering.
2. Avoiding doing morning pages.

So I puttered all day long and got to my morning pages right before this blog. It's 9:30 pm.

But, whilst puttering and avoiding morning pages, I was being very creative. I first did some book binding with some of the supplies I excavated during last week's clutter upheaval. Here is my new book made out of old things:

 

I used an old file folder, a pile of blank paper, a random Monopoly card and some ribbon to bind my new journal together. Here is the inside:
 



Of course, I won't actually use the journal because I already have my favorite journal of all time. But, I decided that it would make a great gift. By the way, my favorite bookbinder is Erin Zam.

After this creative burst, more creativity ensued.

Shit she's on a roll. 

You betcha.  I made a little chapbook out of a story I wrote about all this clutter I've been cleaning up. And here it is:



And the inside:





I made a print run of three copies. My little "After the Artist's Way Press" spent the afternoon binding these books with pretty paper, linen thread and a girl's best friend: the X-Acto knife.

I'm sending two copies out to two of my dear friends who send me letters all the time. One lives in Dublin and the other lives in Toronto. Three guesses!

This got me thinking. This idea of sending fun things to people in the mail. If you, dear reader, send me your mailing address, I'll put said address in a fishbowl along with other readers. I'll draw a name randomly and send that lucky someone something fun in the mail. Maybe even volume 2 of my chapbook series. This, of course, is absolutely free. Or should I say FREE.

Direct marketing has gone to her head. 

Hey, the checks clear.

If you email me your address to janicemacleod@gmail.com I'll throw it in the fishbowl immediately. Now that I think about it, I don't have a fishbowl. Perhaps this will become The Great Vase Giveaway.


*Flowers courtesy of Josh.

How about The Great Easter Basket Giveaway?

Or even The Great Pyrex Bowl Giveaway...


All this taking photos and uploading them is tiresome. Just trust that I'll find something large to put your address in so I can pull it out and send you something wonderful in the mail all spontaneous like.

Privacy Policy: I won't go selling your mailing address to the highest bidder so you won't be sold to by those dreaded direct marketers.


A.K.A. your livelihood.

Like I said, the checks clear.

Your address is just for The Great Big Receptacle Giveaway. And it's FREE and it's just for fun. Oh yeah. Good times. Send me your mailing address to janicemacleod@gmail.com pronto so I can begin this super fun random giveaway thing. This is so cool that I might throw my own address in just to get something fun in the mail.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Day 15: Inspiration hits!

Today's morning pages were great. I had inspired ideas spewing out of me and onto the page. Ideas for art, ideas for selling art, ideas for donating to my favorite causes (Agape and Architecture for Humanity to name a few) by selling my art. You get the idea.

I even sketched out my dream house.




It doesn't look like much on the sketch but it has a garden and an ocean view and a studio where I do art and maybe even teach people things. I don't know what those things are right now but I'll figure it out. Maybe I'll even figure it out in my morning pages.

She's in rare form. 
 
I am in rare form. I feel like I'm wacked out on Peet's coffee. I hope my morning pages are like this all the time. Or at least most of the time. Or at least often. Maybe it's because I actually did them in the morning. I mean, there must be a reason Julia Cameron called them morning pages in the Artist's Way.

Hey reader, if you do morning pages, when do you do them? And do they turn out better at a certain time of day?  Inquiring minds want to know.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Day 14: When my mind grows wild

A few choice phrases from my meandering morning pages:

The first page. What will I write today? Why am I here? Where will I go? Enjoy it while it lasts. Isn't it heartbreaking when men say such things. I can believe in a life I create for me and by me. My house is so clean that I hardly want to mess it up with painting. The second page. Donate art to auction. Pick a low hanging fruit from my tree of abundance. What will I do with the crow painting? I feel mint green hues coming on. Who is this being inside of me obsessed with making things? I have so many good toys at home and not enough time to play with them. The third page. Why is the third page such a push? What will JaniceArtShip write today? The yard of my mind grows wild when it hasn't been maintained. Don't be alarmed if he doesn't come by for awhile. Let it be. Move with the flow of the day. It's all divinely orchestrated. Don't create drama where there is none. Stop holding on so tight. Breathe. Know that today is just one day. One day that is pretty great. 24 hours of peaceful mundane.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Day 13: Get your sh#t together

These Artist's Way morning pages should be called "get your sh#t together pages" because that's what is happening to me. I am clearly getting my sh#t together.

Why doesn't she just write shit for heaven sakes. We know what she means.

Fine. Even though I find it unladylike. Lately, in my morning pages I've been writing down my list of unfinished business. I had more on that list than I had thought. There were a few items that I sheepishly admit have been on that list for a few years. Yet somehow, through the magic of morning pages, I'm not only getting to it, but I'm having the energy to get to it. It's like I want to sort through my papers and call back so-and-so and cancel this and throw out that.

Last night I sorted through papers. I'm not a pack rat. I'm not. Yet, I had journals and papers galore collecting dust. Note to self: Stop saving journals. It annoys your future self who must then sort through them. 

This morning, I was leaving my apartment with a big bag of papers that I had sorted through. Of course the bag handles snapped off and of course my papers snowed down the stairs. And of course I yelped, which of course caused my neighbor to come out to make sure I wasn't beneath the avalanche. (She's a sweet old lady. She was wearing one of those housecoats that goes all the way to the ground and zips up all the way to the chin. Nary a sliver of skin exposed to the cool Santa Monica air.)

After I gathered my papers and tossed them into the bin, I felt lighter. Relieved of the duty of having to hold onto elements of a life that is no longer who I am. What I am is a getting-my-shit-together super star. And I owe it all to my morning pages. 

Shit. That's just great. I'm glad for you.

Thanks. It felt good to clear out my apartment.

No. I'm glad that you're swearing in your blog.

Oh. (Blushing)


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Day 12: New Year's Resolutions

I realized in my fervor to get this morning pages project underway that I didn't focus on my New Year's resolutions this year. Now, clearly this project of writing 365 morning pages and blogging about it is, in fact, a resolution. It's a resolution and a half. Maybe even two.

But what else is there? What do I really want for 2010?
"Well, you can always be thinner... look better."
-- Patrick Bateman, American Psycho
Last year, my only resolution was to be able to do the splits. Still can't do them, but I tried. Sort of. Not really. Stretching, for me, turns into meditating on my mat, which leads to napping. 

Then there is the resolution to write another book. But I've always got a book on the go. Last year, I wrote half a book before I realized it wasn't going to fly. Perhaps it will fly eventually but not right now.

So what are my resolutions for 2010?

Even now, I'm blank. I couldn't come up with any in my morning pages either. Everything I wrote down, I'm already doing. I guess I can just keep up the good work. See, my year is already a series of New Year's resolutions. First, we start with the oh-so-reflective January 1st. Then a few months later, we have Lent, which is just another crack at the New Year's resolution. Then a few months later, it's September, which has the back-to-school feeling in the air, so it feels beginning-ish to me.

"Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address."
-- Joe Fox, You've Got Mail
Reader, I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address. That's how much I appreciate you being here.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Day 11: Seething

I haven't done my morning pages yet but I will. Because I said I would. Even though I really, really don't want to. I'd rather write sentence. Fragments.

I even have a brand spankin' new journal today. So pristine. Perfect. Clean.

(Elapsed time of 30ish minutes)

Okay. I just finished my morning pages and figured out why I didn't want to do them. Yesterday in my blog I wrote how I wanted to tell the no-holds-barred truth in my morning pages. No editing for fear that prying eyes would read them. Today was my first day of spilling out the truth.

There were hurtful pent up emotions swimming around in my soul. There were triggers from the last few days that I didn't want to face, but I had no choice in my truth-telling morning pages.

Here's how these morning pages work. At some point the pages don't let you talk about the weather or write down your list of things to do. At some point, they stop you and tell you that it's time to get down to business. It's as if the pages themselves don't want to show up either if all you're going to do is write menial trivial blather.

So I got down to business. I wrote down the things that I thought would be so very horrible to write down. And then I forgave myself for judging myself for writing horrible things. Then I kept writing and came to an understanding that all the players that were triggering me over the last few days were doing so that I could learn a few lessons. That's how the soul evolves. A bad day for the ego is a good day for the soul.

I'm not seething anymore. I'm relieved. I feel better. And thanks dear reader, for showing up to read this blog. I hardly wanted to show up to write it. We're doing this thing, aren't we.

Yes we are.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Day 10: The power of the last page

I have made it to the end of one of my journals. So satisfying to finish a journal. But even better, tomorrow I get to start another. Reminds me of the first day of class when we got our new notebooks. Fresh empty pages full of possibility.

I grew up in bilingual Canada so my notebooks always said "Notebook/Cahier," and now every time someone says "notebook" I think "cahier."

Notebook.

Cahier.

See?

I'm following.  

Knowing I was on the last three pages, I decided to be completely honest about things I never ever would dare write in my journal, since I'll probably toss the journal soon anyway and potential prying eyes will never see what I wrote. Bwah-ha-haaaa.

Why is it that I am afraid to write certain things in my journal? No one is reading it and even if someone did pick it up to read it, they probably wouldn't understand it or know who I'm talking about. In fact, when I review my own journals even I don't know who I'm talking about half the time.

And yet, I still have a fear that someone will read it and will get mad or hurt by what I wrote.

I wonder what I would write if I knew for certain that no one would ever read it. I wonder if I would get more out of these morning pages.

I think that the next journal will be filled with the full on truth. No holds barred. And I will hopefully learn to trust that no one will read it. Let's see how that goes.

Status: Day 10 and I've done morning pages everyday and blogged about it everyday. Three cheers for me!


Go Janice!

Thanks.


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Day 9: Organizational Superstar

I woke this morning and an obsessed energetic Type A personality took over my body and started cleaning out closets.

I tossed papers, receipts, manuals for items I no longer possess, photos.

She tossed photos? Isn't that against the rules? She's ruthless.

I was ruthless.


As I was sorting through my crap, I recalled my time at my mother's house over the holidays. I have created my own little ritual at Christmas time. Each year when I go back to my mom's house, I go to the basement and clean out a few boxes of my things. My mother is kind to let me store my crap.

"Well I certainly won't deal with it. As far as I'm concerned, your boxes can sit there all year waiting for you to go through them. Damned if I'm gonna do it." -- Mom

This time, I went through boxes from university. Everything was immaculately organized. Martha would be proud. All my term papers and notes were organized in neat little folders.

Tossed it all.

She tossed it all?! What if she needs something?

I doubt my essays from Drama 101 will serve me now. And my notes from Computer Science 101 are now so very obsolete. We didn't even have the internet. And I'm not even that old?

Well she's not that young if she went to school before the Internet.

Hello, 1997.

Why am I arguing with this peanut gallery italicized voice? Who is it anyway?

Your reader. 

Oh. Thanks for stopping by. Follow me on twitter: JaniceArtShip.

Anyway, I also tossed letters from my university friends. I had many letters. Since it was before email.

Tossing letters?! Now she's gone over the edge. Heartless. 

Did I really think I'd read them when I'm an old lady sitting in my rocking chair on my front porch?  Unlikely. I could hardly remember who half these people were anyway. I tossed it all. My university days are but a memory, which is easier to store and lighter to carry than all those boxes.

"I agree! More room for my fake Christmas tree in the basement now. I don't even need to take it apart!" -- Mom

Back to present day. The worst area to clean was my art supply closet. I had dreams of doing art like Sabrina Ward Harrison so I kept collecting random tidbits to create my future masterpieces. In the end, the pile of tidbits grew faster than the art.

Tossed. It. All.

But what if? 

Gone. No sense arguing about it now. Besides, I should be doing my own paintings and not Sabrina Ward Harrison knockoffs. All the stuff I collected was from who I was. Not who I am now. I also tossed a slew of morning pages.

Now she's gone too far.

Listen. They were pretty boring. A lot of offloading of emotion or figuring out plans. They served their purpose. I've moved on. I'm sure one day I'll toss the morning pages I wrote today. Let's say farewell to 2009 and even 1997. Let's get on with 2010. Bring it on.

"Bring it on." -- Mom
See? My mom supports me.


Fine. Bring it on. 

Thank you.


Friday, January 8, 2010

Day 8: Sit Ubu Sit... Good dog

Greetings from the 76 station near my illustrious advertising agency in sunny Woodland Hills, California. Getting my oil changed. Just finished up my morning pages here on the benches as the fellas spit and polish my car. (The oil change came with a free wash. Love LA!)

A lady sat next to me and said she was impressed that I brought my journal to write while I wait. I told her I was trying to write three pages a day. "Morning pages!" she exclaimed. Why yes. Then we talked about morning pages and the Artist's Way and this blog. It was a magical moment.

Then her car was ready and the moment was gone. That's how it is. No one waits. She sped off like the roadrunner right around the top of my third page. My car was complete soon after and I was also about to speed off. That's how it is. No one takes their time. When the car is done, you leave like you have somewhere very important to be even if you've got all the time in the world.

But I had one more page to do. A voice came into my head that said "Sit Ubu Sit... Good dog." Then the bark. The guy parked my car over in the waiting area and I sat to finish up my third and final page of the day.

Sometimes you've just got to take some time to get it done, dig?

Dig.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Day 7: My mind is a pinball machine

Spoke with Julie. Got update on the new baby. Thought about girls names and boys names. I want a new record player. I want a crockpot, too. Thrift store. What will I write in my blog? Read travel blog: tripaddiction to research Italy. Explored hubpages to see what the big deal is. Watched Marley & Me last night. Cute. Bawled. Felt guilty for not painting last night. Explored feeling guilty about not painting. Tonight is meditation class. Tomorrow is Friday. Looked at tagged photos of me on facebook. Untagged unflattering photos. Wondered about the intimacy dance of new relationships. Wondered why don’t I want coffee anymore. Lost my taste for it. Dialogued with my body about it. My body said the detox is a good thing. Want to stay home and organize papers this weekend. Get 2009 squared away. Want to want to paint. Want to want to go to yoga. Want to want a lot of things. Want more blog ideas. Don’t want get carried away. Morning pages and blogging about it is enough. Let that be enough. Wondered where this is getting me.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Day 6: Elle Marie

Today, my niece Elle Marie was born. So of course, I wrote all about it in my morning pages:

Dear Elle,

Welcome to this world. May you have a lot of laughs in this lifetime.
Try to be kind to the planet that feeds you.

Try to be kind to your parents that clothe you.

Grace is your older sister. She's very excited about your arrival. Today is also her first swimming lesson. She's excited about that, too.

I wish I could be with you at the hospital today to greet you. It's days like today that I regret living far away. I moved away to achieve my dreams. Hopefully I will manage to somehow inspire you to achieve yours.

I prefer to be called Auntie Jan.

I will teach you things and you will teach me things. We will be affected by each others wins and losses.

You lucked out with your parents. They always strive to improve their lives, to learn their lessons, to witness the gifts of each moment. Plus, they are funny as hell. Your dad can do wonders with a kettle bell and your mother is an amazing cook.

I don't envy you having to go through elementary school. For me, it was long expansive days filled with multiplication tables and classroom bullies. But there were also music classes and crayons. You don't even know about the crayons yet! Or the Internet. I look forward to observing you discover them.

Someday you'll have to figure out how to make something of this life you've been given. There will hits and misses. You'll likely search outside of yourself for joy but hopefully you'll discover that it's an inside job.

You'll make choices you have to live with. Good and bad.
You'll commune with whatever God works best for you.
You'll watch your friends and family grow, come and go.
You'll spend a lot of Christmases with me.

You and I will get a lot of gifts around Christmas as we are both born at this time of the year. This also means we're both Capricorns, so you may be considered a control freak by some. I like to think of myself as particular and there is nothing wrong with being particular.

I love you and I don't even know you. I can't explain how this works but it does and it's true.  You don't know me but you will love me. I just know it. We'll be good pals.

Now that you've arrived, I'm not sure how to fit us all in my car when you visit me. Your parents have long legs. There will be two car seats. And we cannot leave your dad's bicycle behind. I'll likely have to sit in the back seat in the middle, between you two girls. We can all hold hands. 

We'll figure it out.

I'm delighted you were born today. Happy birthday.

Love,
Auntie Jan


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Day 5: Tools

People have asked me what kind of journal and pen I use to do my morning pages. Lucky for you, dear reader, I have a penchant for stationery. Below, you will find my preferred tools of the trade.

The journal: Thin enough to throw in any bag without weighing you down. Spiral binding so it lays flat and pages can be flipped with ease. Also, if you have a super skinny pen, you can park it in the binding for ultra convenience.


Check out the price (purchased at Urbanic Paper Boutique on Abbott Kinney in Venice, CA).

That's right. A mere $4.95. So you can buy the whole array of colors, which I did since, as I mentioned, I have a penchant for stationery.

The pages are also perfectly sized to ensure I don't shirk on my morning pages responsibilities. I'm not about to write 3 post-it notes and call it a day. No siree. Not this morning page writer.

The paper is ivory, not white, so your eyes don't strain. Plus, the lines are gray, not black or blue, which gives the traditional journal a modern twist. And when you have the perfect journal, you'll need the perfect pen, which is clearly the Uni-ball Vision Micro with black ink. With this, you could write on a grain of rice or even an ant. It's that good. 

This pen is so good that even if you don't think you can write or draw, you can with this pen. The ink flows so nicely. You barely need to use any torque to get your ideas onto the page.

Did I just use the word torque? 

So there you have it, folks. My preferred tools for my morning pages.

Do you have a preferred journal or pen? Lined or unlined? Black ink or a rainbow array? Hardcover or softcover? Spiral binding, saddle stitch or "perfect" binding (which I find not perfect at all). Let me hear it. Let's start a stationery discussion. Or even a revolution! Vive le stationery! Vive le morning pages!


Monday, January 4, 2010

Day 4: Body Issues

Today's morning pages were about working through my body issues. Yesterday I went to visit new people. New people who I fear will judge me. So, naturally I sucked in my gut and fidgeted with my shirt the whole time. Looking down to see if my belly looked particularly bulgey. I doubt these new people were judging me on my belly. I wasn't judging them on their bellys. But now that I think about it, their bellys were just fine.

Belly is a funny word.

So, in my morning pages I worked with this belly business. I forgave myself for judging my body. The truth is that my body is a pretty good companion. Doesn't get sick often (save for that unfortunate stomach flu over the holidays), strong when called to be (often when I insist on making it in one trip from the car to my apartment with my Trader Joe's groceries), and looks nice in the Editor pants from Express.

Pants is also a funny word.

She also forgives me when I judge her. She knows the truth, that I was anxious about meeting new people and I took it out on my belly. She doesn't take it personally. She's nice that way.

So that's what my morning pages were about. Some days it's about AT&T customer service, other days it's about my belly and healing.

It's all good.


Day 3: Twitter—The great equalizer

People are now following me through twitter, most of which I don't know. One of which is THE Margaret Atwood. Though I think she's following me because I'm following her and you've got to start somewhere with this twitter business. Thank you, Margaret Atwood. Love your work. Cat's Eye still haunts me and Alias Grace—don't get me started!

Twitter is the great equalizer. A place where Margaret Atwood and I are on the same playing field, unlike in real life where she has a gazillion books out and I have a mere two (insert shameless plug of The Breakup Repair Kit and The Dating Repair Kit, co-authored by Marni Kamins and available at every major bookseller, including http://www.amazon.com/

I''m probably down a follower or two after that grandiose self-promotion.

I feel like Julie from the film Julie & Julia, plugging away at my little project. Except Julie had 500+ recipes of Julia Child's book Mastering the Art of French Cooking to get through in 365 days, which included time for shopping, preparing, eating and cleaning up for every meal. I've got three pages to write each day. I've done jack shit all day and am still only getting to it now. It's 11:30 p.m.

Caveat: She said "jack shit" in this blog. Is this going to be one of those blogs?

Answer: Too soon to tell. Stay tuned.

JaniceArtShip (on twitter)


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Day 2: AT&T Delinquent

My phone service was suspended today because I didn't pay my bill in December. Sorry AT&T that December was kind of a busy time. Sorry AT&T that I was out buying Christmas presents and traveling to see my family. I was in the holiday spirit of giving, which is more than I can say for you AT&T. Pft!

I had planned on visiting with my Godson Oliver this morning but since his mother couldn't contact me thanks to AT&T and my delinquency status as a no-good troublemaker problem child who didn't pay her bill for once I didn't visit with Oliver. Instead I sat down to write my morning pages. Already the Universe is shifting things around so that I can get these suckers written.

Day 2: Morning pages DONE. Blog DONE. The game is so on. Bring it on.

Oh it's been brought.

Am I talking to myself?

Yes you are.

Yes I am.


Friday, January 1, 2010

Day 1: The Challenge

I'm watching the first sunset of 2010. Breathtaking.

I'm also watching the first sunset of 2010 from my couch in my apartment in Santa Monica. Sweet!

Today is the first day of my 365 days of doing morning pages, which were made famous by the book The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. My morning pages were not made famous. Not yet anyway.

The Artist's Way is a 12 week course about how to unleash your creativity. You buy the book, you go through exercises for each week of the course. Throughout the full 12 week period, we are tasked with writing 3 pages a day, which she calls morning pages.

These pages can be anything. Write three pages of lists, stream of consciousness, angry release-type blather, or even write "I don't know what to write" repeatedly for three pages. Just write three pages of something.

Three pages doesn't seem like a big deal but if you've ever done the course, you probably understand that sometimes three pages can be a monumental task. For me, the morning pages were the workhorse of the course. Through writing them I was able to transform my life in magical ways. Yet they bug me, these morning pages. Hence this project.

The Challenge: To write 3 pages a day for 365 days of the year 2010 and blog about it. I'm not promising to blog everyday but I think the blogging will keep me going.

The Contender: Janice MacLeod. Copywriter by day. Artist by night. Seeker. Dreamer. Morning page writer.

I won't put you (or me) through the agony of reading the actual morning pages. Though if I happen to write something brilliant in the process, I'll share it on this information super highway that is the internet.

Perhaps I'll put quotes around it.

Or italicize it. It's too soon to tell.

I'm not sure how I am to do this and I'm not sure why I'm doing it in the first place. Though I hope my life will shift in a positive direction. The first time I did The Artist's Way, I fell in love, lost weight, changed jobs and doubled my income in the process, and moved from Toronto to Los Angeles. That's pretty amazing since it all started with The Artist's Way and mostly with morning pages. The second time I did The Artist's Way, I burned out a pretty serious love addiction. This may not seem as momentous as the first time I did the course, but I assure you, it was a significant feat. I burned out a long running, energy zapping addiction by writing every detail of this ill-fated relationship in my morning pages. Three cheers for me!

But after each 12 week course completed, I stopped writing morning pages. Until now. Day 1, I've written my morning pages and started this blog. It's the first of the year so all that New Year's resolution energy is in the air. I'm like a horse at the gate. Excited. Nervous. I'm also frothing at the mouth.

Game on.


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