Julia Cameron. Artist’s Way. Divine plan for you

Джулия Кэмерон | Блог Listen to your broccoli


“Don’t you feel strange as someone from Belarus when you sit in a church and eat pumpkin soup with a sandwich for lunch?” I was asked by a training participant from Moscow. I even choked as it was a bit strange that I did not feel strange at all. She did not know yet that evening drinks after Julia Cameron two days training will be taking place here, in Saint Stephan church in Nijmegen, a city in the Netherlands.

There are a lot of churches in the Netherlands and maintaining them is very expensive therefore they are often rent out for different events like discos even or rock concerts.


Джулия Кэмерон | Блог Listen to your broccoli

Approximately hundred of females were sitting in the church and staring at the stage, waiting for the celebrity to arrive, waiting for Julia Cameron the author of “Artist’s Way”. I have read so many times about people whose life was changed completely because of the book and many times during the training I will hear this again from the participants: how they read the book and left their job, started to draw, started a new life, retired in order to start something.

One of the examples is the case of the lady who organised the training in the Netherlands. She read Julia’s book three years ago and she decided to organise a course based on the book. During the year participants of the course gather together once a month for a full Sunday to practice the exercises from book and add some more creative activities around it. Last year she had six participants and this year forty-six. She also travelled to the USA to take part in Julia’s training there and she convinced Julia to come to the Netherlands (as I understood Julia comes to Europe very rarely) and now three years after reading the book she is announcing Julia Cameron to the stage. It was a good book to read, right?


Джулия Кэмерон | Блог Listen to your broccoli

Julia Cameron climbed to the stage very carefully, she is already 70 years old. She dressed in total black, with blond coloured hair. I really liked the fact that she started without any introduction (I love people getting straight to the point, god knows how much time is waisted in the world for unnecessary introductions). “During this training you will meet two characters: one is a tyrant and he will criticise you for not doing good, another is a rebel who will tell you – what kind of exercises are these? what this Julia wants? So your task is not to pay attention to them.”

Julia spent quite some time talking about Morning Pages. 

Morning Pages are three pages of text that you have to write by hand every morning, first thing after waking up. The idea is that this is kind of mental meditation, listening to yourself, clearing up your mind. Her main idea was that if you do Morning Pages you become led by them and they tell you what to do in your life. 

Also, you can ask a question and Morning Pages will give you the answer after some time. This way Morning Pages sent Julia to London to write music and songs and musicals. As a proof she started to sing her own song and then she told us to sing back and we did. And it was very matching the environment around us in the church. She specifically told us that writing should be done by hand and that people get a block from writing approximately at 1.5 pages and that we have to overcome it and still write.

“What to write?” – this is the most common and the most useless question. You have to write anything and if you do not know what, then just write this: “I do not know what to write”.

Afterwards the same schema followed throughout the two days: we were getting an exercise (finish the sentence for example: In my childhood creativity in my home was considered … or I love …. or I am proud … and complete the sentences ten times).

It is worth mentioning that Julia did not give us any time for thinking, she was reading the questions very quickly and then we had to sit in groups of three and read out load our answers.


Джулия Кэмерон | Блог Listen to your broccoli

Two examples of popcorn which I have got. Looks like some people just carry across such nice paper in there pockets. It is good enough to put on the wall in a frame.

After we finished writing our answers for the exercise we would go and split into groups of three and read our answers, then we will get acquainted a bit and discuss the exercise. Every time you should be in a new group with new people. This way I got to know a big number of coaches, art therapists, five rhythm dance trainer, painters, carrier mentors, filmmakers, theatre directors, one real writer and a KLM stewardess.

During the exercise we were supposed to give each other popcorn – a small written note of appreciation, positive feedback, compliment or something that a person deserves. After two days we gathered a lot of popcorn and got used to this so much, that my hands were grabbing paper to write a compliment each time when someone finished talking.


The whole two days looked the same: Julia Cameron (hello, SEO:)) will say something inspiring and then will say with a strict voice ‘Blank sheet of paper please’ and will start to read the exercise, we will write it down, and then go with a small group to read it aloud and then we will give popcorn to each other.

Examples of exercises from Julia:

  • U turn – remember a situation when you were broke by someone’s comment. For example she told us a story how she wrote a short story that she was very proud of and her friend read it and said: Do not publish it, it will ruin your reputation. 
  • Write a list of things that would cheer you up: in your kitchen, living-room, bedroom, in you from head to neck, from neck to the waist, from waist to knees and so on.
  • Write a letter from eight year old you to yourself now
  • Write a letter from eighty year old you to yourself now
  • Finish the phrases: My father thought that creative people are …., In my childhood creativity was considered…’
  • Write a list of five lives that you would like to live (a life of a traveller, writer, dancer, waitress, actress)
  • Ask your wise you the following questions: What do I have to know? What do I have to do? What do I have to accept? What do I have to grieve? What do I have to celebrate?
  • Write three ways of being kind to yourself
  • “Cinema self you as done by Holywood”: how would Holywood version of you look like: your car, signature clothing, skill, pet, what would people say at your funeral, who would play you in a movie (for me young Nicole Kidman) 
  • Write what you are dreaming of secretly 
  • If my ego would allow, I would …. (five times) 
  • I love …. (ten versions) 
  • I am proud of (ten versions) 

During the lunch time we had to go for a lonely walk for twenty minutes and find our a-ha moments. I was walking around and thinking: all these shops, market, people, seen by me hundreds of time, there is nothing here for me to attract my interest. And after five minutes I face a small park with a half destroyed chapel and I think – this is me! this is for me! And so my a-ha moment was that there is always something for you, just keep walking.

Джулия Кэмерон | Блог Listen to your broccoli


In the evening of the first day we had to write two letters as homework: a letter to the god of creativity and his reply to us. I hate this type of tasks but if she says we have to do it, we have to do it. 

Dear god of creativity,

There are more stories in the world than listeners. There are more books than readers. I am looking around and I see so many interesting people who probably have much more to say than I am. And who needs my creativity? Whose life will become better? No one is knocking on my door and asking for my creations…

Dear Anna,

Your unique spot will never be taken. It’s yours forever and you have to make sure it’s taken by you. I will be waiting there for you. And you are not the one to judge your work. It’s definitely not where your energy should go. Your task is to create and I will judge by admiring and enjoying it.


During the second day we also had to write a short dictation and then choose a phrase that makes us feel good.

I chose this: There is a divine plan of goodness for us.

And indeed after this training which the organisers decided to finish with a show of falling flowers, I started to believe in this a bit.


Джулия Кэмерон | Блог Listen to your broccoli

P.S. I did not ask my question to Julia. Apparently she already answered it in her book “Floor Sample: A Creative Memoir”.

What to ask Julia Cameron?

Страница Джулии Кэмерон | Блог Listen to your broccoli

Whatever interesting community I join, be it on psychology, reading, self-development, time management there will be always someone there who is reading, doing the exercise according the book of Julia Cameron “Artist’s Way” or looking for other people to complete the program of the book together.

Book – About?

“Artist’s Way” is a book about how to find your creativity which is for sure sitting inside you. The writer published this book herself as an publishing agency refused to deal with the book. And afterwards the book ended up in all possible hit lists for non-fiction books.

Julia was an author of a course for people with creative professions and she wrote this book based on her experience and stories of people she trained. Morning Pages exercise is probably the most famous from her book, but it also has letters to yourself, working with recollections of your childhood and finding the right environment for yourself.


Julia Cameron, author of the book, will come to the Netherlands with her 2 days training.

When you read a self-help book, you kind of accept wisdom from another person and it probably should be important to know who is this person, what is the life experience of this person. But I rarely check biographies of authors. A book either works for me or not. And that’s it.

По тону и книге автор представлялась мне добродушной тетушкой. Оптимистичной. С правильной жизнью и верой в себя. Перед тем как идти на тренинг, я решила почитать о ней в википедии и оказалось, что она была женой Мартина Скорсезе, американского продюсера и режиссера. Правда, всего год. Вот непонятно, зачем женятся всего на год. В какой-то момент она погрязла в алкоголе и наркотиках, у нее были нервные приступы, паранойя и психоз и в возрасте 30 лет она смогла остановиться. Начала вести курсы по креативности и потом на основе этой работы написала книгу Путь художника. Сейчас Джулии 70 лет. Книге уже 20 лет, а описанный в ней курс до сих пор проходят, проводят марафоны, делают совместные группы.

Based on the book and the tone of the book I imagined the author very optimistic, homey, kind and warm person. With a proper life and self-esteem and confidence that was there from the birth. Before joining the training I decided to read her biography in wikipedia and it appeared that she was a wife of Martin Scorsese for a year. At some point she was overwhelmed by alcohol and drugs, she had nervous breakdowns, paranoia and other disturbances. However at the age of 30 she stopped all this and changed her life. She started the course on creativity and then wrote the book based on her experience. Now she is 70 years old and her book is about 20 years old and it is still very actively used for all types of trainings, group of people completing the course in the book in the entire world.


Джулия Кэмерон | Блог Listen to your broccoli

Julia’s instagram: https://www.instagram.com/juliacameronlive/


When I was signing up for the two days training with Julia, I saw a photo of a long table for about fifteen people and nice paper notebooks on the table and flowers. The picture appeared to be just an attention getter:) as in reality the training is for about 100 people and this will probably be more of lecture than a training and you have to bring your own nice notebook:).

Probably I will not be even able to ask anything, but during all that time that I was waiting for the training and thinking what do I want to know, what do I want to ask, I had only one question in my head – how is it possible to handle yourself and stop yourself from all these alcohol and drugs? What is the trigger and strong motivation? How is it possible to stop it and become so successful and worldwide famous? But, probably, I can’t really ask this, right?

Year’s results. How to end a year?

Blog Listen to your broccoli year results

“I can’t see these posts full of year’s results and conclusions from my friends. When it’s gonna stop?” I have seen more of these posts in my Facebook feed than posts with year results and achievements. And you?

I read about different ways of summarising your year and achievements with a lot of interest: mini questioneers (person of the year, book of the year, film of the year, purchase of the year, failing of the year), detailed conclusions with numbers (those were a minority), year in images, year in a movie, list of completed things, list of unfinished things, just a list of something.

And I thought that I have to convert all these energy around into something and chose three rituals of finishing the year for myself:

Letter to yourself in the future

This is a task that very often you receive if you attend self-development trainings and this is something I always want to skip because it is either too complex or too silly. But there is something in this Christmas and New Year period that makes this task a mix of ritual, metaphora, attention and support to yourself and additionally the universe is absolutely all set for irrational things during this period.

Also, it is very useful for me, for a person who is always forgetting what was the wish I wrote on a napkin, burned, put the ashes into a glass of sparkling wine and drank (note: this is a New Year ritual spread in Belarus, not sure it is universally known:)) as it helps me:

  • to at least remember myself at that moment and to remember my wishes.
  • to allow me to look back to point A and assess my progress as I am in point B

And yes, we leave in times when there is a service for everything: you can write and send yourself an email today and get it after a year back in your mailbox.

Year of gratitude 

How many times did you start to keep a diary of gratitude? As many times as I did? (Note: okay, not sure it is a fair question. But in the Russian speaking community it is considered that keeping a diary of gratitude is an must and a key to open the universe to yourself, okay in female Russian speaking community).

So how to end a year if you could not this famous diary of gratitude? Of course, with gratitude! To a year or to selected people that amused / impressed / were important for you. Once I was very envious because of my colleague who at the end of the year gave nice looking chocolate bars to her top 10 people of the year. This is very elegant and nice, especially if it is not a formality, but a real thing.

This year for the first time I sent the postcards with a meaning: to a my Dutch teacher, who gave exactly what I needed at the exact moment, to hosting provider who answered my beginner questions, to friends who continue to inspire me.

Блог Listen to your broccoli | Итоги года

A Year in Photos

There should be some excuse why we have all these photos in our smartphones. That’s why we have to go through all the photos and choose 2-3 photos for each months that contain reference to an important moment, emotion, remind of an atmosphere that your experienced. Do not chose pretty ones, they are for another album. This one is about your path.

So why do that?

Firstly, you will need these yearly albums when your memory will start to weaken. You have an easy reference to what happened and when. Everything in one place.

Secondly, you will have a documented answer to a question ‘What I am spending my life on?”

Thirdly, this is it. This process of selecting process is your summarising of the year’s results – you see what you did and what was important and not important, and what you want to repeat?

Marvellous Mrs Maisel. Worth Watching?


Why to watch? because of clothing? interiors’ design? improving English? interest in stand-up comedy? Yes, you can watch tv series ‘Marvelous Mrs Maisel’ because of any of these reasons, but I will remember it because of friendship story of two main characters.

Midge, the main start of the story, is left alone by her husband because of the affair with a secretory and she starts a new life. What type of life? She does not know, but at a certain point she is on stage with a microphone. One time and then another time, and one more. The club manager Susie, who notices how natural Midge while performing (she is not even performing, she is just drunk) and persuades her to start a stand-up career. Susie becomes then Midge’s manager and producer (whatever that means in the 5o’s).


Susie saw Midge for the first time on stage

Their relationship grows. They search different strange places to get a chance to perform, they celebrate failures, they sleep in one room while touring. They look like they should never have met and talked to each other (so different they are). They are dressed up in such a way that one of them should be somewhere else, not where they are. And still their conversations is the most interesting thing for me in this series – the way the talk about relationship, stand-up, husbands, children. They acquire their own rituals, favourite table in the bistro, their own motto.

Morning after Midge’s  performance in Concord (the biggest recreational hotel in Catskills area).

There are other reasons to watch it of course:

Why to watch?

  • because of atmosphere of 50’s of the last century. This is like Mad Men, but with characters that you actually like.
  • because of interest in stand-up comedy, its history and development. One of the characters in the movie is Lenny Bruce (role is delivered by Luke Kirby) who is a real and famous stand-up comedian of that time. His speeches in the movie are based on real speeches (you can compare a song by Lenny in Episode 10 of Season 2 with the original or watch his performance on tv)
  • in order to see how to progress in men’s world and in men’s profession and to stay firm when you are told you’d better be a singer if you are a woman, when you are denied payment for your performance, when people assume you will be worse than any male comedian just because you are a woman.
  • in order to see a creation of Gilmore Girls producers. Yes, Gilmore Girls where we were getting used to speed talking, learned to decode interesting allusions and metaphors and hoped that the mother and the daughter will be friends forever.

Watching Experience

  • If you are not aware what the movie is about, you might assume based on the first episode that it is about love and affairs, but then it turns out to be about finding your path.
  • If you watch it, you have watch it in English, but probably you will have to do it with subtitles (if you are not a native speaker of course). The actors are talking very fast and in order to understand all jokes and references you might even need to google some stuff. Just in order to understand what The Borscht Belt means and why performance in Concord is such a big deal.

I will be waiting for Season 3 and will be wondering about all these magic of performing on stage like Marvelous Mrs Maisel and if you are still doubting whether to watch or not, this is the Season 2 trailor. 

Listen to your broccoli. How to make 5 mistakes when choosing a name for a blog?

Как выбрать название для блога | Блог Listen to your broccoli


Suffering from not knowing how to name your blog or coming up with a blog name within seconds and registering it within next seconds and after that never posting anything there – these are probably two most popular scenarios and I experienced both of them.

How to come up with a blog name – first attempt

Please look at that – Blog WithoutABlog. This is a blog created on wordpress that I created very quickly but never wrote anything there. I thought how funny it will be to use the name of the blog in the blog posts’ phrases. For example: “I don’t where I would write all of this, if I would be without a blog’. But this blog name was prophetic, I was still without a blog.

Next time I spend more time thinking about the title. It was absolutely unclear how to come up with a name, but it was absolutely clear that it should not contain any pretty word.

How to choose a name for a blog, when it is nothing to chose from

I was reading up all types of advice on how to avoid mistakes in naming my blog, I was going through different words that were coming to my head and the same time realising that spending time on making up a name is that most useless thing that means just avoiding working on the content. I ended up with couple of options:

  • Glass and Wood
  • Tea with nothing 
  • Solo with everyone 
  • Anna is writing

All of them were okay, but none of them had a story behind.

How to find a name for a blog when it is right in front of you

And I find myself writing the following words while discussing the book of Anne Lamott ‘Bird by Bird’: “and this is such a nice option to name a blog for somebody’. And only a week after that I thought – why I am not naming it like that???

This is a printscreen of the discussion where I am writing about my impression on the book: there is a funny moment in the book, where the author refers to a situation where a psychiatrist advises to his patient – listen to the broccoli, it will tell you what to do with it (how to cook it). His idea is that in any difficult situation, when you do not know what to do, what to write, you still have this quiet voice inside yourself, you have just to hear it. Sounds strange, but funny. 

This title (Listen to your broccoli) has several disadvantages:

  • this is a name in English for a blog in Russian (yes, originally I did not plan to create a English version)
  • while spelling it it is very easy to make several mistakes (I am still misspelling the word ‘broccoli’ myself)
  • the name does not fit on smartphone screen
  • it creates associations with topics which has nothing to do with the blog (bio food, healthy lifestyle, cooking)
  • I have to explain it (always!)

However that last one might be an advantage! Who knows:)

Название блога | Блог Listen to your broccoli
Название блога | Блог Listen to your broccoli