LUNCH IN THE CHURCH
“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.
I READ “ARTIST’S WAY AND I …
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?
JULIA AND MORNING PAGES
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.
JULIA AND POPCORN
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.
JULIA AND BLANK SHEET OF PAPER PLEASE
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.
JULIA AND GOD OF CREATIVITY
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…
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.