First the good news: I am actually 57. At least until July. (Oh come on, you must be able to tell I’m a Cancer!)
There is one pair of shorts bought last January that fit just fine. January 2016, not 2017.
I am sustained, if not invigorated.
Today’s discussion is about bedrock.
Anyone who has ever been in therapy, and I have certainly had my share, will tell you the moment of truth is the split second you come face-to-face with this fact: your old behavior no longer works. You understand why you’ve made these choices up to now, your need to stay stuck. If you squint just right you can see the hint of a possible New You. Yet you have no new behavior with which to replace the old. There you stand, paralyzed, stark naked to the world. The emperor has no clothes and this time she knows it.
It’s terrifying. Petrifying. “We fear change.”
Gear change: I am prone to sleeplessness. I am prone to worry. I am prone to hear things go bump in the night. Years and years of going over and over issues, usually in the dark; sorting out problems, working for best results, ciphering highest odds for survival, conjuring the cleverest defense, designing cleanest offense, fearing the most devastating outcome. From taxes to health insurance, auditions to old age.
I call it ‘the grind’.
These are the voices in my head. The windmills of my mind. My own little Thomas Crown Affair. (Ah Noel Harrison , we hardly knew ye.)
These voices – often foe, sometimes friend – can serve me, if not well, then perhaps…metaphysically? If feeling generous, they might remind me of steps that have helped, even healed.
Bedrock. A place to begin. “Here we come on the run, with a burger on a bun….”
Vitamins, morning pages, nutrition, exercise, meditation. Little victories.
From my experience in physical fitness comes the understanding that A simple, achievable goal gives one confidence and pride. Motivation to move forward and courage to attempt a greater goal. Little Victories.
Christ on a crutch, I can certainly remember to take my vitamins. (“Well you haven’t up to now!” – Voice #Twenty-Teen)
Nutrition! (“No-brainer.” –Voice #1)
Exercise? (“Of course, Blockhead.” -Voice #367)
Meditation…. (“We’ll get back to that.” -Voice # -38)
Morning pages…. Journaling…. (Hhhmmm.)
Morning Pages are a concept from The Artist’s Way , a program designed to help anyone who wishes to experience more creativity in their lives. It is a daily ritual of writing. Named so because author and creator Julia Cameron suggests that journaling first thing in the morning, before too many outside thoughts and issues cloud the mind, allows an individual to bring into focus what is most essential. It’s not that far removed from any concept of a diary or journal, except the specific quantity (three pages) and the belief in a.m. clarity.
My first experience with keeping a journal began as a requirement for an acting class. C.J. Zander, professor at my undergraduate alma mater, William Woods College (now University), recognized journaling as a conduit to ‘know thyself’ – a must for any actor. Don’t tell Johnny Knoxville.
I take that back. Mrs. Murphy, my eighth grade English teacher at Clifford H. Nowlin Junior High School in Independence, MO, was the first mentor to assign a journal. I believe it was meant as an entire year’s investigation. I completed it in one night immediately prior to the due date.
Two dear friends and I embarked upon The Artist’s Way in the 1990’s as an experiment in guided artistic development and an opportunity for camaraderie and connection. (“What have we got to lose?”)
Whenever I have gathered myself to the discipline of Morning Pages I have found order (“Shut up, Voice #Buck Three-eighty!”), focus (“What was that you said, Voice # 4?”), perspective (“That’s true, Voice #1.”), clarity (Now I understand.) and immense calm.
Regardless of whether the Pages culminate in the day’s To Do List, a rant at my husband for an ornery comment like “You think?”, a reminiscence of events decades old, or a struggle to hold pen to paper for three pages, the invariable result is a return to myself. A silencing of the voices in my head and a rediscovery of the voice in my heart. All for the bargain basement price of thirty minutes.
One of the first audiobooks I recorded was about a 17th century cloistered nun who was believed to bilocate. Historic accounts have her in NM and other parts of the Southwest US though she never left her monastery in Spain, once entered at the age of fourteen. I have never considered myself a religious person but her story moved me. Reading and narrating her history, I experienced the same hope I find in Morning Pages. Sor Maria of Agreda – The Mystical Lady in Blue wrote:
I can do that.
Morning pages it is.