Monday, February 21, 2011

Week Six: Recovering a Sense of Abundance

I'm returning to my "go through one chapter a week" plan with The Artist's Way.  Week five derailed me for a bit, for whatever reason, but I'm back! And not a moment too soon.  Week six is all about tackling a "major creative block -- money."

Confession: I have a serious money problem.  And it's not just a spending problem.  It's a problem discussing money.  Period.  Oh sure, I have the "If I won the lottery, I'd..." conversations, but when it comes to a serious conversation I freeze up.  And run away.  And avoid it at all costs.

Confession #2: I am actively working to overcome this issue.  Needless to say, it's made life a bit difficult, since said life is supposed to include a partnership over budget issues.

I can stretch a penny like nobody's business. For example, I can usually figure out how to feed 12-16 people for under $50 and still have it look like this:
If the budget for the meal is even smaller, the dinner may look like this:

And, for the past few months, I've kept it to under $25, which means only making one or two dishes (usually a huge pot of stew or soup and a salad), but I can still feed everyone.

My sister wins in the buying-things arena because she can coupon shop better than anyone I know and can usually bring home a carload full of goods from Target or Rite Aid for next to nothing.  We both had to learn, growing up with very little.  We know how to stretch, how to make do, and how to enjoy.

Confession #3: I hate the word "budget."  I feel like I'm going into convulsions when I hear it.  For years I didn't know why, and I still don't think that I truly understand everything, but now I have a feeling that it probably has something to do with budget = not enough.  At least in my mind.  And I always worry about not having enough.  Ask my family.  They'll tell you that usually I make too much food.  That, I think, is left from the days of always being hungry, eating very little.

Growing up, money always caused fights.  Perhaps that's another reason why I avoid it.  I don't like confrontation.  Oh sure, I'll become Darth Vader on steroids if I feel someone is threatening one of my babies, but other than that I avoid conflict. (I'm working on that, too.)

Julia Cameron writes that most of us believe that work is work, play is fun, and the two don't intersect.  We somehow feel like what we have to do with our lives and what we want to do are two different things.  I know I definitely believed that growing up!  Now I have a few lovely women in my life who show me that life can be different.  They have embraced their creativity and their desires and have found a way to work from this depth.  It's truly inspirational.

And so as part of this week's tasks, I'm to write in my morning pages about the god I believe in and the god I want to believe in.  Those tend to be two different versions of reality.  And yet if I go back to the beginning of my journey into The Artist's Way I remember that my creativity and desires come from someplace.  If I believe that they come from God, then shouldn't I also believe that this Creator has given me the means to use my own creativity?

It seems Peanuts was on the right track:
Our Puritan work ethic here in the US seems to tell us that hard work = value/good, so something that is easy must have a lesser value.  Why is that?  Maybe we have certain talents and so particular tasks just seem easy or more fun or less stressful because we are working from within our talents instead of fighting against them.  It doesn't necessarily mean less work, just a different kind of work.

Part of this old cliche, "let go and let God," really seems to be about money.  If I believe in scarcity, then that is what I'll face.  If I believe in abundance, then that is what I'll see.  I've tried this on a small scale, being intentional about little things, trusting that everything will work out, and when I am really focused on that intentionality, life tends to appear very abundant indeed.

Julia Cameron has a different way of putting this, "Because art is born in expansion, in a belief in sufficiency of supply, it is critical that we pamper ourselves for the sense of abundance it brings to us." Pampering may take many different forms.  For me, there are a few things that make me feel really good, and they aren't even that extravagant:
A good cup of coffee

A good book
Pretty stationary, usually greeting cards

A meal from one of my favorite fast food places -- Pizza Scmizza or Burgerville or Baja Fresh
But I realized recently that even though these are little things, I don't always indulge.  I would really love to go to a coffee shop by myself and sit for an hour and just write.  So why don't I do that?  I have plenty of excuses -- many legitimate -- but I can't blame God or the Universe or whatever for holding me back when I don't take the first step myself.

And so the tasks this week are focused on allowing little luxuries and looking at abundance:

  • Find five pretty or interesting rocks or flowers or leaves as a reminder that abundance is in nature.
  • Bake something. (There is a nutmeg donut recipe I've been wanting to try!)
  • Send notes -- postcards or the like -- to five friends.
  • Reread the Basic Principles and the Artist's Prayer each day.
  • Say "yes!" to freebies.
  • Collect images that represent what you'd love doing in life.
  • Change or clear something in the home environment.
This week is a busy week, full of more work assignments and school assignments and other pressing tasks than I care to admit.  But I am going to find the time to create a little luxury in life, let my artist breathe a bit, and reflect on life's abundance.


  1. Great post! Very inspiratonal! Thanks for sharing about the money/talking issue!

  2. Ewww, budgets...I've got some things I don't talk about easily, either. But actually I've been discovering that budgeting is a very positive/proactive thing. It's a chance to say, "This is what we value and so that's what we'll spend our money on." (Rather than spending it on x, which is what someone else values and thinks we should be spending our money on. Even though we don't really care about x.)

  3. I used to think of budgeting the exact same way! When I started viewing it as me telling my money where to go I actually got excited about budgeting. We went through Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover book and it has helped our finances and our communication about them.

  4. Thanks, ladies. It's a difficult issue, but I'm learning! :-)


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