Vein of Gold, metaphorically the hidden treasure of our lives, is the title of a Julia Cameron book on journaling our way to creativity and spirituality. Her books are for people seeking to uncover their art, who may be stuck, or lack confidence in their ability to bring forth their ideas.
Since I perceive little difference between creative and spiritual endeavors, her work appeals to me. Also, the book is subtitled “A Journey to the Creative Heart,” which has been my journey.
When her first book, The Artist’s Way, came out, I assembled a group of women to do the work, a recovery process for blocked creatives. Every person in the group (I was the only would-be writer) made significant changes in her life. The process worked.
When the chance arose to work on The Vein of Gold: A Journey to Your Creative Heart, I spontaneously said, sure, why not. Let’s get a group together. Afterward, I wondered at my motivation. After slaying the dragons that had stopped me from writing fiction, I wrote and published short stories, essays, and three novels. So I asked myself, what do I expect to get out of Vein of Gold other than interesting interaction with like-minded people (not a small thing!)
Part of my practice is to follow my impulses, so I started working with the book. Whipped through the first few chapters. Yes, regular writing. Yes, walking is meditation. Yes, play invites the creative spirit. Then I got to the part about writing about my earlier life. There, lightning struck.
For several years, I’ve been toying with how to write a book about healing. Much of my life has been devoted to healing–physical, emotional, and psychological. After a recent difficult period, I broke through another veil. I understood what I wanted to say and how to do in, in broad strokes.
Broad strokes are the easy one. The work is in the details, and I found myself sitting in fear and trepidation about reviewing earlier parts of my life. Considering past experiences is not always pleasant. Remembering can be painful. Putting them into perspective is daunting.
Illumination comes from unlikely sources. This morning on the radio I caught a discussion about how memory, rather than being fixed and immutable, is a creative process. According to neuroscientists, when we remember, we re-create the experience. The more often we remember, for example, our disappointing sixth birthday party, the farther the memory gets from the original experience, and the more different it is. Emotion, judgment, and later experiences all influence it. The influence can be positive or negative.
This explains why one of my therapists helped me re-envision difficult early experiences mentally, through imaginative journeying. It explains why energy healers can go back in time and heal physical and psychological patterns active in a family for generations.
MEMORIES CAN BE CHANGED!
Of course! I knew that! But it’s fascinating when science discovers the mechanism by which mystics, healers, shamans, and psychics (and some psychologists) assist us in changing our lives.
Now I know why I’m working on Vein of Gold. As I review the phases of my life, I can change the experiences I choose so my present can be more creative and fulfilling.
Today, the book seems a lot less daunting.
If anyone is interested in joining the Vein of Gold group that is still forming, please contact me.
If you’d like to listen to the radio lab broadcast, here’s the link
When I started writing short stories, I was struggling with my novel, which refused to bend to my will. I wanted to write a fantasy about the characters who lived in my head and the alternate worlds they inhabited, but they kept wanting to tell me about their re-incarnational experiences on earth.
So I put the book aside, used my dreams as a starting point, and wrote shorter fiction. More manageable, I thought. Again, the characters kept bumping up against the veil that separates ordinary reality from what lies beyond.
I shouldn’t have been surprised since that happened frequently in my everyday life. It seemed more natural, so why shouldn’t my fiction reflect what visions as well as actions, flights of fancy as well as plans and goals?
I had to study meditation and then metaphysics before I realized that my reality was normal even though it included phenomena most people didn’t recognize. Just lucky, I guess.
Now that I have learned more and written a lot more, I find my work falls into the category of Visionary Fiction, a subset of speculative fiction (fantasy, science fiction, paranormal, horror) that uses ancient teachings to inform the present day.
According to the Visionary Fiction Alliance, a growth in consciousness is the motivation for protagonists in this type of fiction. It explores human potential and celebrates the possibility for evolution and co-creation. The plot elements of dreams, visions, reincarnation, and psychic abilities figure prominently. Finally, a place where I fit in!
My book of short stories, The Way Home, explores the journeys of characters who are trying to get home and keeping bumping up against an invisible wall.
The Dreamwalkers of Larreta is a fantasy trilogy, published by Ellysian Press. Two spirits have furthered their education through the trials of earth incarnations so they can return to Larreta and find each other again. Difficulties abound.
If you enjoy fiction with a twist, characters who are more than even they know, and some (slightly skewed) insight into the human condition, you might enjoy reading visionary fiction. You could start with the visionary fiction reading group on Goodreads.
My new novel, The Tyro, is now available in paperback on Amazon. Book One of the fantasy trilogy, The Dreamwalkers of Larreta, it has already been well received by reviewers for which I am very grateful.
We are having a Facebook Celebration for Tryo on October 2, 4-6 PM PDT. Join us for games, contests, and the chance to win free books. I’ll be there to answer any questions you might have.
I am thrilled to announce the publication of The Tyro, Book One of the fantasy trilogy, The Dreamwalkers of Larreta. Pubished by Ellysian Press, The Tyro is now available on Amazon!
This story has been rattling around in my mind and haunting my dreams for a long time, so it is gratifying to finally be able to share it with you. The electronic version is out now, and the paperback will be available soon for those of you who prefer to hold your books.
It means a lot to to an author to be read. On Amazon, a book’s success is often defined by its sales in the first months of its release, so if contemporary fantasy, metaphysics, adventures across worlds and a romance that spans centuries interests you, please consider The Tyro.
Help! I’ve Run Out of Time!
When I teach classes on creativity and writing, the number one problem students mention is they don’t have time for the writing, painting, or designing they long to do.
Believe me, I know. I suffered for years from the twin syndromes: “I’m too busy” and “I’m too tired when I get home from work.”
Of course you’re busy. Of course I was tired. Even on vacation, our lives are hectic.
The question to ask is, how can I figure out how to allow myself to invite more happiness into my life?
I say that because people who participate in creative work, paid or unpaid, public or private, are happier, healthier and more satisfied with their lives. This is true regardless of income, education, and socio-economic status.
If you have urge to create something, even if you don’t know what, it makes sense to figure out how to get less busy.
The busyness syndrome is real and it is deadly. Modern society supports it. Busy is good, right? If you’re busily creative, sure. If you’re busy with busywork, not so much. Being overly preoccupied with details is a sure sign that your busyness might not be productive.
The busyness syndrome is manageable if your inner critic is only moderately strong.
Time management tomes advise us to declutter, set goals, re-arrange our schedules, dispose of or delegate less urgent tasks, and set up organizational systems. All are useful and important,
But what if your inner critic is heavily muscled and overbearing? It might not even let you start. It might tell you that other people’s needs are more important than your desire to create.
It might say that you’re bad, wrong, deluded or stupid to consider spending time on what you love.
It might entice you with movies, gaming, shopping, cleaning, television, even volunteering. After all, it’s more important to help others than yourself, right.
If you are blocked and unable to start, move past a certain point in your work, or allow yourself to work regularly, there are things you can do to convince your critic to back down.
- Recognize that the negative messages you are getting are not coming from you, but from the critic. Acknowledge the critic. It is part of your conscious mind. Its goal is to keep you safe, which it interprets as not taking risks.
- Form a clear intention to do your work. Write your intention in present tense and post it where you can see it every day.
- Set specific times to work. Try to choose the same time for every session. At the appointed time, be there. Beforehand, do what you need to do to get ready. Some people light a candle, say a prayer, meditate, close the door, turn off the phone.
- Gather any resources you need and have them at hand. Don’t leave your space to find anything. If the internet tempts you, find a program to block it during your work time.
- Stay in your appointed spot for the designated time. Even if you don’t work, stay there. When the time is up, leave. This will help develop a habit, and you’ll find before long, you’re becoming productive.
- Notice that your intention to do creative work is part of the universal field. You can connect to it any time. Notice that the critic is part of the ego mind. When you connect to the universal intention, it is much easier to say no to the critic.
- Find a way to reward yourself for learning a new habit that will increase your happiness. At minimum, tell yourself “I am creative. I spend time regularly on my creative work.”
- Remember to forgive yourself for any judgements you make against yourself. Forgiveness opens you to the universal intention. If you do it enough, it becomes a habit, and before long, your critic will turn into a positive ally.
Do you have an inner critic? Do you recognize its voice?
You know the one I mean. It whispers, “How could you be a writer? Start a business? Stay on a diet? Stick to an exercise program?”
It murmurs in the background, always on alert, ready to stop you from moving forward.
Or, maybe you don’t even hear it. Maybe you stall out in the middle of a new venture. Lose interest. Get too busy. Decide it wasn’t important.
Resistance is a force. It’s human and it’s normal. Everyone resists change. Some a little, some a lot. Resistance seems to be a function of how our brains work, so it’s nothing to judge yourself for. The point is to recognize it, and learn how to work with it.
The inner critic is a form of resistance that is especially virulent because it mimics our inner voice. We listen to the critic and believe we are hearing ourselves. In fact, we’re hearing an internalized judgment from parents, teachers, friends, the community or the larger culture.
You can think of the inner critic as a recalcitrant child, a part of us that has not evolved. It’s stuck in the past. Something hurt it, and now it wants to protect you from experiencing more pain.
Better safe than sorry. Why rock the boat? What if I try and fail?
The problem with this approach is that we stagnate. Potential goes untapped, hopes fade, creativity withers and enthusiasm is lost. All because we weren’t willing to engage the inner critic.
Something as simple as asking yourself if its messages are true TODAY can work wonders. If you engage it, you can find out what it wants. You can help it evolve and come into the present.
Instead of seeing the inner critic as a force to be ignored, defeated, boxed in, argued with, silenced or stomped on, a gentler approach could transform it into an inner ally.
An inner ally supports, encourages, focuses on the positive, sets goals, makes plans, knows that growth is process, is a learner, and remembers that others are more focused on themselves than on judging us.
There are many ways to change your relationship to the inner critic. I have found this simple process to work for me.
1. Sit quietly. If you meditate, pray, or quiet your mind in nature that’s the perfect time for this exercise. If you journal, you can engage your critic with free writing.
2. In your mind or aloud, say “hello.” Allow an image, a sensation or words to appear. Say “hello” again.
3. In your mind or your journal, ask your critic if she is willing to talk to you. (this may be a little unfair, since she’s doing it all the time, but it’s polite, and often changes the dialogue).
4. Ask her why she is giving you negative messages.
5. Listen. Do not argue. Simply listen.
6. Conclude by writing and/or drawing what you asked and learned from your critic.
You can repeat this exercise with any question. You can offer the critic alternative ways of looking at the issue at hand. When you hear a negative message, you can turn it around.
For example, if your critic say, “It’s too cold to go for a walk today. Just stay inside.”
You could say, “Yes, it is cold. But I’ll wear my heavy coat and I’ll feel better if I complete my goal of exercising four times this week.”
With practice, you can turn around any negative programming that’s stuck in your brain. As you realize that your beliefs can be changed, your inner critic will gradually transform into an ally.
7. The last step of this exercise is the most powerful. Conclude each session by forgiving the critic and yourself.
My next post will be about a simple, yet profound method of forgiveness that has helped me shift my critic into an ally.
What about you? Does an inner critic hold you back?