by Karen E. Hoover
Years ago, my friend and mentor gave me a book to help me through some of the creative self-doubt I'd been struggling with. It is a book that has changed my life and one I have bought and given to friends many times over. The book is called The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron and is a 12 step program, a spiritual path to creative self recovery. Who would have thought artists need creative self recovery? But we do. Artists as a group tend to be very sensitive, and doubt themselves and their abilities frequently. Artists are rarely encouraged to pursue their love of the written word, or music, or painting. It's most often supported as a hobby or not at all.
I was blessed to have a mother who encouraged me to write. It was a love we shared. She'd always wanted to be a journalist, but life and family made her put that dream on the back burner for many years. She finally turned that love to writing several family histories, writing occasional articles for magazines, and gaining a final publication credit just weeks before she passed. Mom always told me I could do anything I wanted in this life if I wanted it bad enough. She always told me she had confidence in me and my abilities--and yet still The Artist's Way was needed, though for some strange reason, I've never been able to get beyond chapter 4. Just those first four chapters have given me tools that allow me to be creative and know where that creativity comes from.
Recently, three of my dear friends and I have begun this journey together. They are new to the Artist's Way, but their e-mails to me have been full of excitement and wonder as they discover the gifts that doing morning pages have given them, or the eye-opening understanding of adding voices to their Monster Hall of Fame. Discovering where those negative critical voices come from has been crucial to their creative self-recovery, just as it has been to mine.
This journey for me is not new, and yet even now, the fifth time I've begun it, I have discovered things about myself and the blocks that have made me what I am. I've added new Monsters and am realizing some of my potential.
But, I think the pinnacle of this week was knowing that I'd made a difference. While doing affirmations two of my three friends told me that they weren't hearing any blurts (the negative self talk that comes when we praise ourselves). And then they told me why. They in essence said that they weren't hearing blurts because when they did the affirmations they heard my voice telling them it was true. One of them listed me in her Hall of Champions. It was an act that was more dear to me than any award I've won, made me feel more value than any money I could gain. It humbled me to the depths.
I was somebody's hero.