Joy in Morning Pages

Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way has been a strong and positive influence in my life. It has helped me change direction as well as given me tools that I use daily. One of the most useful tools for me has been “Morning Pages”. Cameron urges people to write three pages in a stream of consciousness style upon waking up every morning. There are a couple of rules. The most important is that your Morning Pages need to be handwritten – no computer please – as the hand/heart/unconscious mind connection is a powerful force. Also, they are personal. Don’t think of them as “writing” that you would show the world. The pages are a landing place for your ideas, to do list, whining, petty grudges – whatever is dancing in your head. Because they are personal and no one except you will see them, there is no judgment. Let it all come out. In fact the philosophy behind the MP is to dump all your brain clutter so you can move into a place of creativity and self-acceptance. Morning Pages are for everyone. You don’t need to be an aspiring writer, artist, or anything else. You just need to do the work and see what happens. Writing Morning Pages is a practice. It’s great if you can do it every day (in fact Cameron says that it’s nonnegotiable) particularly when you are developing the habit. And, like most positive practices, the more you do it, the better you feel. Notice that I did NOT say “the more you do it, the better you get” because there is no right or wrong and you’re not...

Joy in Connections

This past weekend I drove from Los Angeles to San Francisco to attend an anniversary party. Yes, it was a schlep.  Six hours in the car on Saturday and five and a half hours of driving on Monday. But I didn’t want to spend the money on flights, airport parking, etc. so I bit the bullet, loaded my iPod with an audio book and music, and got behind the wheel. And despite the hours in the car, it was totally worth it. I was able to celebrate my friends’ 30 years of marriage; I reconnected with people at the party who I hadn’t seen in 19 years; I met some lovely new people; the food was great – but most importantly – to me – I honored the connection with people I care about. In fact, the entire weekend was about connections. I stayed with friends I had taught with for three years. And it felt so natural to be with them. After sharing an office and each other’s lives on a daily basis, there’s a comfort level and closeness that distance doesn’t diminish. I treasured the opportunity to catch up, laugh, hang out with them. And I drove to my old neighborhood to see some dog park friends. (Anyone who goes to the dog park every day knows how easily those friendships bloom.)  I was thrilled by the joyful greeting I got from Louie, the basset hound, and walking on the familiar trails with my friends was the perfect way to spend an afternoon. On the long drive home I contemplated the weekend. In our digitally connected world it’s so easy to text,...

The Joy of Letting Go

        Letting go can be difficult especially in the case of letting go of a loved one. Death, divorce, a move across the world, the end of a close friendship – these are things that cause us pain and it’s usually hard to see the positive side. And in some cases, there is no positive side. But letting go can also be a joyful experience, particularly when we let go of things that no longer serve us. I remember the day I decided to let go of worry. I knew in my gut that worrying didn’t prevent bad things from happening nor did it immunize me against the pain that accompanied an unfortunate event. But I come from a family of worriers who were incapable of saying goodbye without adding “Drive carefully -watch out for the other guy – call the minute you get home”.  In fact my mother had the habit of calling to warn me about the dangers lurking in mall parking lots, microwave ovens, and “good samaritans” who might try to pull me over to tell me my brake light was out. Worrying was as second nature to me as drawing breath. But when I read a question in some random book asking to identify a single situation in which worry had a positive effect, I must admit I was stunned. I thought. And thought some more. I tried to make connections between being a responsible adult and worrying but I couldn’t get anything to stick. I started paying attention to people who didn’t worry. It was a revelation. They seemed so light and carefree. Yet they were still responsible....

Grow your joy list

What makes you happy? Dark chocolate?  Great shoes? A week in Paris?  Okay, those are the easy ones – the low hanging fruit. But what are some of the less obvious things that bring you joy? Things that might be 20-50 on your list? Things you forget about? I tend to forget about music.  I’m not in the habit of listening to music at home or in the car. When I remember to turn on music, I always feel a rush of happiness and say to myself – I should do this more often. Then I forget. Again. So I’ve decided to create a joy list. A simple list of things that bring me joy that I can easily look at and add to. This morning I’ve added the following things: – breakfast parfaits (plain yogurt, granola, fresh fruit) – eating outside – an uncluttered handbag – reading a mystery – rollerblading – fresh oregano Each of those items creates a positive feeling, yet they aren’t part of my routine and are easily forgotten. But if I write them down, then post the list in a place where I can see it everyday, hopefully I can add more moments of pleasure into my daily life. I’m wondering how many things I can come up with. What if my list consisted of 100 things?  Would that make my joy increase ten-fold?  It just might. It’s certainly worth a try. Don’t forget, what we pay attention to grows. So instead of focusing on the petty annoyances of life – traffic, junk mail, the milk carton with a single drop of milk someone put back in the fridge,...

Find joy in your journey

    A friend shared a brilliant idea with me. Occasionally when she has a day off and feels the need to get away she takes herself on a twelve hour vacation. She hits the road early enough to make it to her destination in time for breakfast. Then she finds a diner and treats herself to a leisurely meal as she reads the local newspaper and plans her day. She sits at the counter so she can talk to residents about the local attractions. It could be a museum, a historical site, a great hiking trail or a beach – doesn’t matter what – she’s there to explore and be a tourist. (Which means buying postcards.) After several hours checking out the main attractions she finds a welcoming cafe where she can relax, write out her postcards, read for a bit, before she strolls through the downtown, does some window shopping and explores a couple of neighborhoods. If she’s lucky she might find a concert in a park or a flea market or farmer’s market. With no set agenda she’s open to any and all possibilities. She makes it a point to have dinner at a local restaurant before she heads home. She told me that the day never disappoints. There is always something interesting to see and friendly people to talk to. She loves coming home with a souvenir – a bag of peaches, a jar of jam, or – one time – a rescue puppy. Listening to her talk about these mini vacations makes me think she’d be an excellent person to travel with, but I know that her day trips are a solo pleasure. One...
essay writing custom writing online online custom writing services smart custom writing best custom essay writing order custom writing custom college essay writing service