Other Ways to Help Yourself

Here’s my update on week four of Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way:” I stopped doing the exercises about two weeks ago, after Burns night.

It’s not Burns’ fault. Combining whisky, wine, and haggis probably wasn’t the wisest decision, but it is tradition, and I felt fine about it. In the morning we sat around the coffee table happily eating Dijon and offal toasts. I did not write a single morning page that Sunday, and have not since.

Burns Night Breakfast

“Morning pages” are the pillar of Cameron’s program. They are simple: upon waking and before anything else, hand-write three sheets of stream-of-consciousness. I found them meditative and I definitely noticed that I was less bitchy during the day, but the truth of the matter is that I got lazy and felt like stewing.

Instead of following the artist’s way, I re-read Sally Rooney’s Normal People, and a select few stories from Lucia Berlin’s A Manual for Cleaning Women.

This line from “Emergency Room Notebook, 1977” gets me every time:

“Maude, beery, bleary, is sprawled on a gurney, kneading my arm like a neurotic cat.”

Self-help is fantastic, if sometimes annoying, and I’m sure that I’ll get back to it eventually. In the meantime, here are some other options:

  • Ask a child how they feel.
  • Read.
  • Turn off your mobile phone.
  • Stop drinking alcohol.
  • Sleep for eight consecutive hours, if physically possible.
  • Walk up a hill.
  • Cry (<30 minutes).
  • Wake up early on a Saturday, and go outdoors.
  • Fleabag.

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