Beth Lee-Browning

This is an intermittent series by the author about her journey through Julia Cameron’s Walking in This World.

by Beth Lee-Browning

I have to admit I enjoy a good love story every now and again and there’s nothing more romantic than listening to a beautiful song in candle lit darkness in the arms of a lover. I think even men secretly enjoy the romantic component found in many books and movies.

I never thought about why there are so many love songs and stories or why Romance is the hottest selling genre in fiction until I began reading week 5 of Walking in This World (Julia Cameron). The chapter is entitled Discovering a Sense of Personal Territory and Julia was right on target when she alerted me to “Expect to feel heightened emotions as energy rebounds into your own court.”

At first I wondered how in the world I was going to write about the first section, Sexuality vs. Caretaking. After all, both my parents and my kids read my blog, and well, talking about sexuality could be awkward.

As I read on, I realized that while she introduced the section by saying, “As artists, our sexual energy and our creative energy are very closely intertwined.” She wasn’t talking about the act of sex, but about our human sensuality and passion for life. Passion and love are words that are often associated with each other and passion is the fuel for art, “creativity is sensual, and so are we.” Maybe that’s why love is the central theme of so much art.

She also explained how relationships with our partners, friends, and family affect our inner core. And maybe most importantly, how we as artists and as people, “must be alert to what people ask us for and reward us for being. Our partners and friends do condition us into behaviors quite unconsciously.”

When we have people in our lives that stir our imagination and return our investment in them we are inspired and we create, we dance, we sing, we cook, we write, and we love, in short – we thrive. When keeping the company of those who are overly needy and poke fun at our crazy ideas we shrivel and hide.

She spoke about the necessity of festivity and playfulness in life and for the need to allow ourselves to be child-like so that we can grow. She challenged a perception that many of us fall prey to: “life is dreary and difficult and something to be soldiered through…the truth is that as children, many of us expected much more.”

She reminded me that when I was young I sang at the top of my lungs, (my microphone was a curling iron), made up dance moves to Cherokee Nation in the living room, produced plays in the basement, and pranced around the neighborhood pretending I was a horse. I played barber shop and boutique; I was filled with enthusiasm, my imagination ran wild, and I dreamed big dreams.

One of the things I’ve struggled with as my writing dream grows larger and my passion for it swells, is the notion of balance. I’ve chastised myself about feeling frustrated or even resentful when the phone rings at the wrong time, homework assistance takes priority, or my ‘real’ job gets in the way. Then I wonder if I’m being selfish and maybe I should consider putting my dream on hold.

We’ve all heard the saying, “Charity begins at home,” and if you’re like me you interpret that as taking care of your family and friends before you take care of others. Maybe we should take it one step further as Julia does, “It means start with being nice to yourself, your authentic self, then try being nice to everyone else.”

That’s not to say we should become self-indulgent or self-absorbed since these behaviors can be just as damaging to our creative nature as putting everyone else first. It means that we should be honest about who we are, what we need, and the peril in taking responsibility for everyone else’s shortfalls. It’s ok to say no and we should take the time to be nice to ourselves – it’s good for us. “Clarifying ourselves to others brings honest connections that are grounded in mutual respect. Honesty starts with us…Artificial acceptance of people and circumstances we resent makes us ill tempered. A little self-love does wonders for our personality, and for our art.”

I was fascinated by the concept of Energy Debts and the idea of thinking about looking at the way a person spends energy in the same way we think about spending money. Personal boundaries are like a financial budget. If we spend our creative energy judiciously and do not invest in situations or people that leave us feeling emotionally drained and creatively impoverished our lives will become richer.

The final task this week was to write a letter to myself, an honest look in the mirror. A reflection on how I’ve been leading my life and ways that I chronically sell myself short and sabotage my own dreams. The task was designed to generate suggestions for change and to identify ways to “invest in yourself energetically.”

Throughout the five pages of my letter, a common theme appeared, “don’t worry so much about who’s the ‘fairest of them all,’ just enjoy being you.”

 

Reprinted from Beth Lee-Browning’s Blog, it’s a whole new world on October 23, 2011.

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Beth Lee-Browning is originally from the Midwest and currently lives in Pennsylvania.  She is a proud mother of three, a full time professional, and an aspiring writer.  Read Beth’s blog at it’s a whole new world.