The Artist's Way, Depression, & Snow

Week 2: Recovering a Sense of Identity

Disclaimer: I am doing the Artist's Way 12-Week program and sharing my thoughts and experiences each week. If you're new to this blog series, scroll down to read the first post.

In Week 2 of The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron claims that having a good life isn't about the overall quality of your life, but is about each individual's "capacity for delight."

I don't know how to rank my capacity, but I feel like it's been low.

Of all the things that this program has helped me realize, the most significant so far is that I have become brutally aware of how far I've fallen back into depression and anxiety. 

I have struggled with depression most of my life, with various ups and downs, but these last few months, it's had a new edge to it, an emptiness that I've never before experienced.

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I didn't plan on getting this personal this fast, and it makes me feel quite vulnerable, but I don't like beating around the bush, and I feel like my journey to thrive as an artist is intertwined with my journey to thrive as a Tessa/person.

Nothing like a program that focuses on light to make you realize how far you've fallen into dark. My continued resistance to the light is what makes this so clear (and painful).

However, I am working hard to practice self-compassion, express my creativity (like through this blog), get some outside help, and otherwise, just keep swimmin'.

What do we do? We swim, swim!

The takeaway from my Artist's Way MeetUp group this week was that the program is increasing everyone's self-awareness. The process is sometimes unpleasant, but it's also empowering.

For example, in Week 2, there's a lot of focus on CRAZYMAKERS (people in your life who use and manipulate you and deny it). I realized (with gratitude) that I don't currently have any crazymakers in my life. Huzzah! However, I also realized that I am still affected by the crazymakers who used to be in my life, and thus, I need to do some additional healing work in those areas.

What do we do? We swim, swim!

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I think one of the best ways to increase your "capacity for delight" is to practice gratitude. When you express appreciation for someone or something, oftentimes what you're really expressing is pleasure or delight. And if there's anything we can agree on, it's that being grateful makes you happier.

Just read this article. Or this article. Or this collection of studies. Or watch this TED Talk.

Or my favorite, watch this "Confessions of a Jewish Mother" YouTube video, which I also linked below. 

Many things brought me delight this week, like reading in the hot tub at the gym, my mother's silly way of "zapping" me with love, buying books with a giftcard from a friend, eating that hazelnut chocolate bar, researching Houdini after watching that new show Timeless, reading Joel Osteen's new book in public without shame, exercising with a friend, attending The Artist's Way MeetUp, laughing at Obama and Biden memes, and this #WokeBaby who said everything with baby-style abstract expressionism. 

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But above all, SNOW, SNOW, SNOW!

I live in Utah and the inversion has been getting everyone down. It's a big, big problem and I am constantly worried about everyone's lungs, but then on Saturday, like Christmas Day, I woke up to SNOW, so much snow that I had to be bailed out of my neighborhood. 

I didn't mind so much.

At work, I listened to people complain about how much they hated driving, shoveling, or shivering through it, but all I saw was how the storm had cut through the inversion and we could finally see the blue sky again.