Several years ago I had a deep yearning for something but I didn’t quite know exactly what it was. I knew there was a lack in my life but couldn’t quite figure it out because on the outside, I was doing all the “right” things. What I discovered missing was not exactly tangible, but I had a felt sense it had to do with what I was like when I was very little. It was about an energy inside me that seemed unencumbered and free. I remembered the summers when I was a child and I could hardly wait to play outside because of the new discoveries I found every day, just outside the apartment building where I grew up — I would lay back on the patch of grass at the side of the building or in the field at the back for hours & hours watching the cloud formations turning prehistoric animals into human faces or tall buildings. I was mesmerised by it. Or I’d turn my attention to the earth where I was lying and be very quiet and still in order to watch the praying mantises pray. I really thought they were. Or I’d go to the creek and watch the tadpoles and baby frogs. And I’d make up stories and I wrote songs and I sang them to my pretend friends and sometimes real friends and it was the quality of this time that I was missing so desperately it my life as an adult. It was like an ancient dream that had died with growing up and competing in a world that doesn’t honour ease, rest, silence, innocence, spontaneity, dreaming, wonder — certainly not fun — unless it’s going somewhere where someone else is doing the entertaining. I realized that I had conformed into the box society had asked of me even though I stayed outside of it longer than most of my peers.
I didn’t get married and move to the suburbs and have babies the second I got out of high school. Instead I lived the life of a hippie because I was lucky enough to be born of that age when hippies existed but that time, like all times, couldn’t sustain itself so I went on to find my place in society. Still, I never seemed to get out of my system the quality of life that those years instilled in me — peace, love, brotherhood, sharing, caring, ideals, giving, openness, trust. I tried to hold on to it in my own way but I couldn’t find what my way was. I was constantly told I was a dreamer – an idealist, too sensitive and it was true. My poetry collected dust on the shelves and I eventually stopped writing it in my attempt to go out and make money and have the things it could by. So I said good-bye to the dream and took on my parents and society’s expectations of me. I learned that fitting in was buying me acceptance which started to feel better than being different. I had no idea at the time the high price I was paying to live this way. I had many jobs that never expressed my incredible creativity and talent. Why would I? I was told that I had to work hard for a living and that’s what I did. Writing, which was my first love, came far too easily so surely that wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing. It was a frivolous hobby to engage in after the real work was finished. So I did the real work and felt more isolated and alone than ever. But I continued this way for many years, often not even knowing there was something wrong.
Eventually it was bubbling out of me — the container was no longer working and I needed to do something to bring about the lack in my life that I had now identified as my missing spirit. I came up with an idea and approached a friend who I believed would help me to bring it into existence. I realized that if I was having so much pain around the lack of spontaneity, joy, creativity and gentleness in my life, there must be others just like me also wishing to find a way to bring it back.
So I went to my friend Janice Fricker and I told her about the concept of having workshops about creativity and play for adults and after about a year of process and design, we launched our first workshop called Re-awaken Your Sleeping Child. It was a huge success. We continued to do these workshops for several years helping people to re-find the areas in their lives where they want to create more joy and freedom.
Since that time which was in 1989, I have learned to nurture my inner child in ways I didn’t know how to before. It’s true that we teach most what we need to learn.
Now I have chosen to offer a support group for Julia Cameron’s brilliant book The Artist’s Way for much the same reasons. It is an incredible journey back into our artistry, our spirit and our honouring of who we really and truly are. The exercises in her book are excellent. They are designed to help us move through the blocks that have stopped us from going forward with our creativity. To keep us connected to our higher power and to the love inherent in all of us.
As incredible as this book is, in my opinion, I know very few people, including myself, who, first run, completed it from cover to cover. We get to a certain chapter and then put it down — saying we’ll pick it up again next week but we don’t. And the weeks pass and like so many other of our wonderful attempts that help us to grow and stretch, other things take precedence — for me it’s still work.
Now I love what I do and my work is often very creative but I use it like a drug to stop me from just living in the moment — taking more time to go for walks, dreaming, meditating, reading novels and not Self-Help books or required reading to see where I can apply it to my next course or client.
We all have saboteurs — mine is work — what are yours?
(It has been over fifteen years since I wrote this article and I am delighted to say that my work is no longer my addiction. Living from inspiration is. Look for my next article – Living From Inspiration – coming soon!)