Feeling the need to take charge! 10:51 a.m. 2003-07-02

Drive Time: 40 minutes ;-(
Current Listening: Selling Ben Cheever, by Benjamin Cheever
Current Reading: A Cook's Tour by Anthony Bourdain
Current Viewing: Season Three of Sex and the City on DVD

This is a day when I definitely do NOT want to be here - teaching summer school. Traffic was sailing along until I hit 75 North, and then it slowed to a crawl - almost a standstill. When I finally emerged, what was there - nothing! It must have been a phantom jam....I have already warned my husband that I might crash when I get home!!!

As I was writing in my "morning pages" journal, I revisited one of my old favorites. I am a big fan of The Artist's Way, and, in that book, the author and "creativity guru," Julia Cameron, is a big proponent of Morning Pages, which are:

Put simply, the morning pages are three pages of longhand writing, strictly stream of consciousness. You might also think of them as "brain drain," since one of their functions is to help clear your mind. In order to retrieve your creativity, you need to find it. This can happen through a process of writing daily "morning pages."

There is no wrong way to do morning pages. These daily morning meanderings are not meant to be art. Or even writing. Morning pages are meant to be, simply, the act of moving your hand across the page and writing down whatever comes to mind. Nothing is too petty, too silly, too stupid, or too weird to be included.

I am a big on journaling, and am going to try and impart that love in my students next year. Here are some benefits to keeping a journal, from this great short course on the Artist's Way that I found on MyBackyard.com:

1. Journaling helps you work through stressful events without the fear of social consequences. You can journal about things that you don't want to discuss with friends or family.

2. Journaling is an affordable method of self-therapy. As you record your thoughts, dreams, desires and feelings your self-esteem and self-knowledge will increase. Journaling nurtures your spirituality and taps into your unconscious mind. Ultimately, this connection can reduce stress and keep you healthy.

3. Journaling helps you solve problems. Write down a problem and your related feelings and emotions. Then imagine that problem soaking into the paper and rearranging into a solution. Be open to insights.

4. Journaling is a healthy way to release pent-up emotions. A blank page is a safe place to dump anger and frustrations without hurting anyone. Releasing your feelings to the page may actually help them subside.

5. Journaling is an investment in yourself. It does not require any skill or talents--just willingness to write when you feel like it. You benefit from the self-expression and increased awareness of your thoughts and feelings.

Cameron really wants us to do the Morning Pages on paper, longhand, but I am giving it a try on the computer, in another, private, online journal. As for my students, I plan on using a new piece of software that I found, called DiaryMaker, from Tom Snyder Productions. I might allow them to have paper journals, but they are really hard to read.

I once facilitated an Artist's Way group, which was small, but moderately successful. By that, I mean that we made it to the end - there were four people in the group. I also attended one, formed as an outreach by a Methodist church in Decatur. As I was doing the search on The Artist's Way, I found workshops offered by Taos Creativity, with Julia Cameron. I would love to attend one of those some day - maybe next summer? I could also visit my friend, Vanessa, my former riding instructor who now has my pony, over near Albuquerque. That would be keen. I like New Mexico a lot, having spent summers in Ruidoso with my grandparents.

Another component of the program is something called an Artist's Date:

An Artist Date is a block of time, perhaps two hours weekly, set aside to nurture your creative interests. Your date with yourself is a designated time for you to simply have fun, and to listen to yourself. Just as spending quality time with another person is essential to strengthening the relationship, spending time with your inner artist nurtures your creative expression. Your artist needs to be pampered, taken out, and listened to.

Here is a link with some examples of Artist's Dates. I need to start those up again, too!

I am beginning to feel the need to head a group again. I used to organize a dinner group that went out to different restaurants every month. I have taken a sabbatical from that because of the lack of response, and the website I was using, called Evite.com, was experiencing some major glitches. I might do that one again.

And, although I am not Oprah, I would like to organize a reading group. I have already made notes of some books on other cultures that I would like to present to a group. I might even coordinate ethic restaurants to go with the books, where we could meet and discuss, or maybe have a speaker. I might write a proposal to our principal to offer the group to teachers, since multicultural activities are encouraged, but I would not limit it to teachers. I even came across a free website offered for organizing classes, called Nicenet. I could use that to post information and discussion questions. Or, I could create my own website!

I like the idea of planning activities. I have allowed myself to become discouraged by lack of response by others, however. I have also joined a couple of groups, such as a Cooking Light dinner club, but, instead of preparing the dishes together, as you were supposed to, it turned into a pot-luck. I have also found that, in the end, I prefer to be the organizer! That's why I am a teacher! ;-)

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