Jun. 30th, 2014

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Wow, do I ever have mixed feelings about this chapter. This is a hard one for me to approach, because I feel like there's a lot of good and bad mixed in together. Here's a summary of sorts (reprinted and adapted from [profile] alexconnal)

Luxury, says Cameron, is a thing we often deny ourselves because it is too expensive. Time to do art is a thing we often consider a luxury. Most of us think work should be work, not play, and if we want to do it, it is a frivolity.

Cameron says that we must have a little luxury to create art. It doesn't need to be much luxury—see Emma Goldman's quote up top—perhaps a twenty-dollar magazine subscription, or a couple-dollar basket of raspberries, or a wildflower in a cup on the table, free. Cameron describes people whose luxuries are new fun music, new watercolors; she might add that free time and space can be a luxury. One must be able to enjoy life, one must be able to enjoy art; one must do self-care.

Even if all the space we get for ourselves is a bookshelf and a windowsill, even if all the time we get for ourselves is fifteen minutes for morning pages and ten minutes to relax in the bathtub after work, we need the luxury of that space, we need the luxury of that time.

Cameron's exercise for the week is to track "every penny" of how and where you spend your money, and she suggests you keep it up for a month or more. The point is to observe yourself, not to judge yourself; to observe what you spend money on that you don't truly need or want and what you don't spend money on that you truly do.

We've talked before about how unexamined class privilege sometimes clouds Cameron's advice, and I feel like this is an example. This exercise is not going to make sense for everyone. If you don't have enough money to spend money on things you don't need or want, I don't know that it will do much good to remind yourself of it with extra bookkeeping. I am in this position currently, but I'll be trying the money-tracking exercise anyway this week to see how it pans out.

If having and spending money isn't a relevant issue for you, you might think of other resources that you have and spend – time, energy, emotion – that it might be worthwhile to record without judgement.

Don't forget to go on a date with your artist sometime this week and do your morning pages every day!
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Ok, so. I know I said I would keep my grubby atheist mitts off the Spiritual Path posts, but I'm going back on my promise for just a minute because I want to be clear about one thing. This chapter is chock-full of quotations from and allusions to a very sketchy genre of writing in which money naturally flows toward people who have the "right" spiritual and emotional alignments, and "money will come when you are doing the right thing." These quotes aren't particularly central to the chapter, but they're all over it and I really wish they weren't.

This is not the way our economy works and it is irresponsible to pretend that it is.

If you're poor or broke right now, it is not because you didn't place enough trust in the benevolence of the universe, because you failed to visualize your dreams, or because you blocked the natural flow of monetary energy with your negative commie thoughts. At the very least, there are other factors at work.

This is not a blanket diss on positive thinking as a practice. Clarifying your goals to yourself CAN help you achieve them. Working through your attitudes toward money CAN help you get more of it (for example, if you have blocks about saving money or asking for a raise). Doing what you love instead of what you think you ought to do CAN have financial payoffs, sometimes more quickly than you expect (and sometimes not). Anything that clears your head and decreases stress can have positive effects that are wide-ranging and deep, and might include being better able to make and manage money.

But the idea that "money is God in action" or "a golden flowing stream of concretized vital energy" (both quoted passages appearing in the margins of this chapter) is neither true nor kind, and I can't sign on for it, even by passively not including it here. Money is just money. Economic systems are not karmic systems. I am going to chalk this one up to "Julia Cameron's unexamined class privilege" and move on.

A couple of better ideas below:

This week, in your morning pages, write about the god you do believe in and the god you would like to believe in. For some of us, this means, "What if God's a woman and she's on my side?" For others, it is a god of energy. For still others, a collective of higher forces moving us toward our higher good. If you are still dealing with a god consciousness that has remained unexamined since childhood, you are probably dealing with a toxic god. What would a nontoxic god think of your creative goals? Might such a god really exist? [. . .]


Many of us equate difficulty with virtue )

In addition to the morning pages direction above, for this week's tasks, Cameron encourages us to look out for "[a]ny new flow in your life" and to "[p]ractice saying yes to freebies" (114) She also suggests that we

Reread the Basic Principles (See page 3.) Do this once daily. Read an Artist's Prayer-- yours from Week Four or mine on pages 207-208. Do this once daily.
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Twelve-week creativity workshop!

August 2014

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