My family may very well be sick of hearing about this book. Ever since I read it last Spring, I have been recommending it to practically everyone I know (maybe even you!) But New Year's Day is a natural time for reflection and resolutions and change, and this is a perfect book to help with all of those.
Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way is not just for artists. It is a book for anyone who wants to bring a little more creative energy & spark into their lives. She calls it a "12 step program for creative recovery". Here's how it works: you read a chapter a week for 12 weeks. Each chapter has various exercises, assignments for the week, and things to think about. I think my favorite week was when I had the assignment of writing down some of my favorite foods as a child. Then, Ms. Cameron (no relation to me) instructs you to have some of those foods during the week. I got out my mom's spaghetti recipe, had bagels and cream cheese at 11 at night, and went to the grocery store and actually bought a Skor bar (yum!)
It's these small indulgences that Ms. Cameron encourages. Nothing earth-shattering. Nothing that takes up a lot of time. Taking walks, stopping for a few minutes just to do nothing, or finding one thing you've always wanted to try (dancing lessons, flying a kite, making bread) and doing it! I, for one, spend so much of my time doing the things I should do and have to do, that I forget to take just a small amount of time out to do silly, pointless things just for fun. Between concerts, recordings, teaching, writing music, running my business, spending time with my family, and going to my day job, I have so much to do I tend to schedule every minute to be as productive as possible. If I'm not doing something that has a specific goal attached, I feel like I'm wasting valuable time.
But what I learned from The Artist's Way is that doing some reflective thinking, taking a little time out for fun, and seriously considering what it is that is most important to you can help you enjoy life in a much more focused way. You begin to see that some of those things you have to do don't really have to be done, and some of the things you really should do hadn't even made it on the list.
Re-assessing. Re-prioritizing. Fine tuning. Isn't that what New Year's is all about?
I hope you'll pick up this book. Spend some time with it. Do the things she suggests (even if they might seem silly, or crazy, or pointless at the time). I think you'll enjoy it. And it might just clarify a few things for you. At the very least, it might remind you to eat your mom's spaghetti every once in a while!
Happy New Year!