Several years ago, a friend recommended the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron to me. It’s a 12-week program for creative recovery. The first time I did it, I only got through the first couple of weeks. The second time, I got through 4 weeks. The third time was the charm; I finally did the work for all 12 weeks. It has a lot of great exercises, and I’ve kept up doing the morning pages (three pages of stream-of-consciousness writing each day) most of the time, though I’ve neglected to do them for a few months here and there. I then would always start doing them again, though, and I’ve been writing them regularly for the past couple of years.
A few months after I had completed The Artist’s Way, I started another book by Julia Cameron, The Vein of Gold. It includes some of the same tools as The Artist’s Way, including morning pages and weekly “artist dates” (doing something fun by yourself for at least an hour). It also includes daily walks, which works well for me, since I walk quite a bit anyway.
However, then I started on the first big exercise of the book, the Narrative Time Line, which is writing the story of your life. I started with the first five years of my life and didn’t get past that. I couldn’t remember much, and now I realize that I struggled with this because I wasn’t being honest with myself about my childhood. I was trying to paint too rosy of a picture of it, so I kept getting stuck.
Now, I’m again embarking on The Vein of Gold, and I’m starting my work on The Narrative Time Line. A lot of self-reflection, classes, meditation, and therapy in the past few years have helped me to be more honest with myself. So far, the Narrative Time Line is going much more smoothly because I’m not trying to only remember happy times from my childhood. I’m remembering the painful experiences as well. This might not be easy, but I think this will be a great journey for me.