Last summer, my Mom gave me this copy of The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. She had probably mentioned this book at least a handful of times before, but I was finally open to reading it. I can be a little stubborn, especially about what I read. As I read and worked through the twelve weeks of material, I thought a lot about the legacy of sharing this book with my mom. Her life, creatively lived, along with her love of fine art, gave me the permission to love art too, to admire artists and writers, and to begin to pursue writing myself. If she hadn’t been so committed to creativity as a way of life and largely incapable of living any other way, I may never have begun writing in any earnest or my writing might have stayed locked away in my journals. Now after decades of filling page after page, I understand that inability to live any other way, and I’m finally learning to embrace it.
After talking about visiting Yosemite for long enough, availability aligned, and we made a reservation for three weeks later. We left on Friday right after work. So by the time we had arrived, it was long past dark. The climb through the mountains and the following descent to the valley floor were obvious as we drove, but all the majestic beauty had simply faded into black. The valley walls that John Muir, champion and protector of Yosemite, had described as “mountains in size,” and “so compactly and harmoniously arranged … that the Valley, comprehensively seen, looks like an immense hall or temple lighted from above.” Those walls would have to wait, at least until the next morning. Or so I thought. Mother Nature had other plans.
I travel a lot for business and for pleasure, and my most frequent destination (by far) is Dallas, Texas. This isn’t news to anyone who’s been reading here for a while. Dallas is home. Newer readers might not know that I even tried to maintain two homes for a little while — one in Dallas and one in San Francisco. I wasn’t ready to let go of Dallas, but I craved more time in San Francisco.
Ultimately, I came to the conclusion over the course of many months that living this split life wasn’t workable for me. Now I live in San Francisco full time, but I still get back to Dallas quite a bit, usually every 6 to 8 weeks. All this back and forth convinced me that I needed to find a way to make my travel to Dallas simpler.
Writers deal in words, descriptive and evocative, and reading regularly is one way to ensure you always have fresh supply in mind when you sit down to write. No surprises there! But this technique is valuable beyond writing. It will make you a better communicator and give you the specificity to describe moments and meaning in your daily life.
February is celebrated as a month filled with love and romance, but because I’m somewhat ambivalent about Valentine’s Day itself, I’ve decided to skip it here and write about Paris instead. If there’s a more romantic city in the world, I haven’t seen it yet. I’ve visited Paris a handful of times since my first trip for my 20th birthday while studying…
When I began reading The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron, I also began her recommended daily practice of writing morning pages. Since then, a little more than 6 months have past, and morning pages have become a key part of my life. I’ve become accustomed to waking up early each morning to write three pages longhand straight from my stream of consciousness, for my eyes only.
They’re intended to be as whiny or petty or angry as they need to be that day. (And sometimes they are.) Whatever comes out, no judgment. Getting all that crap down on the page and off your mind is the goal. It lets you get on with the rest of your day and your creative endeavors without all that weighing on you.
To say that they’ve changed my life isn’t hyperbole at all.
As you consider the year ahead, maybe making New Year’s resolutions, maybe not, I thought I’d share a poem that’s meant a lot to me this year. I’ve read it many, many times over the course of the year as I’ve made some big changes in my life and will continue to do so as…
On our last night in the canyon before heading back to solid cell service and reality via Phoenix, we decided to postpone dinner to watch the lingering sunset at Mather Point. Having spent four days in the bottom of the canyon away from the crowds, we didn’t mind enjoying the sunset with throngs of other tourists at Mather Point — the first viewpoint you can stop at from the South Rim entrance of the national park. I came to the Grand Canyon as someone who wasn’t automatically moved by this desert landscape. My one previous visit had been a quick, wave-at-the-canyon kind of trip. So this time I wanted to understand what all the fuss was about.
“When a great adventure is offered, you don’t refuse it.” ~ Amelia Earhart
When a good friend suggested I join her on a backpacking trip into the Grand Canyon on our shared birthday, I jumped at the chance. It was just what I was looking for — a refreshingly a new type of adventure.
This was my first backpacking trip, sleeping in tents and going without showers for four days. Right from the get-go, Teri told me the trip would involve carrying 30-35 lb packs on the 10 mile hike from the trailhead down to the campground and back up the canyon walls, an elevation of more than 2000 feet. Then she gushed about how excited she was to see Havasu Falls and how she’d been wanting to take this trip for 20 years. I knew exactly nothing about Havasupai and Havasu Falls.
Spending Thanksgiving in San Francisco this year meant less time devoted to travel and much more downtime. Last weekend that led to catch-up phone calls with family across the country and lots time for reflection, almost an early year-end review.
Early in the year, I started keeping track of what I was grateful for using an app called Lift. I really enjoyed the act of stopping for a moment (often on the bus) to think about what I was grateful for on that day, in that exact moment. I didn’t over think it either. It was more of a stream of consciousness exercise.
Somehow, I’ve kept up the habit for most of the year with intermittent streaks of more than 30 days in a row. (Right now, I’m on day 34 of a new streak!) It hadn’t occurred to me when I started doing this how much fun it would be to look back on the year through this lens.