Entries tagged with “Cinderella”.


Beth Lee-BrowningThis is part of an intermittent series about Julia Cameron’s Walking in This World.

by Beth Lee-Browning

Second to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, my favorite childhood movie is The Wizard of Oz.  Back in the days before On Demand, Netflix, Redbox, and hundreds of cable stations playing the same movie over and over again were the days of anticipation and excitement. I looked forward to the special night when I could watch a movie while eating dinner and I cried when they ended because I wanted them to go on forever.

As a child I thought that Dorothy’s companions were the Lion, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Man. As an adult I’ve come to realize that the foursome was really worry accompanied by fear, insecurity, and doubt.  In spite of the anxieties and feelings of panic, Dorothy and her friends survive danger, conquer the enemy and emerge from their journey triumphant.

In week nine of Walking in this World (Julia Cameron) the author defines negative emotions and explains how they can play a positive role in life if they are kept in their proper perspective.  I wondered if Julia had somehow read my journal before she wrote the chapter Discovering a Sense of Resiliency. The first section is entitled Worry (which is my middle name) and she introduced me to the chapter with a gentle but firm reminder, “No artist is immune to negative emotions…As the week focuses on the inner trials faced by artists, it assures us that while the dark night of the soul comes to all of us, by accepting this we are able to move through it.”

Merriam Webster defines worry as “mental distress or agitation resulting from concern usually for something impending or anticipated: anxiety.”   Julia describes worry as obsessive and “a kind of emotional anteater” and says that “[w]orry is the imagination’s negative stepsister.  Instead of making things, we make trouble.”  Worry is often accompanied by panic and fear.  Panic is the immobilizing certainty that we know just where we want to go but no idea how we are going to get there.  Fear can take a small worry and translate it into “paralyzing inertia.”  She also pronounces fear as both “positive and useful,” and further explains that we should not give into our fears but we should pay attention to them, admit them, and be open to help.

Too often we pretend we are not scared, we feign bravery and we begin to feel isolated, helpless and not good enough.  When we ignore the message fear is sending us, when we hold ourselves to blame, “we blind ourselves to the possibility that there might, in fact, be someone or something wrong in our environment” and we may miss the opportunity to change something wrong into something right.

I took heart when she said, “If we are to expand our lives, we must be open to positive possibilities and outcomes as well as negative ones.  By learning to embrace our worried energy, we are able to translate it from fear into fuel…This is a learned process.”  I think I have a lot of learning yet to do.

Lately I’ve been feeling restless and out of sorts.  According to Julia “restlessness is a good omen” and it means destiny is getting ready to knock, prayers will soon be answered, and that “[i]nner malcontent actually triggers outer change – if we are willing to listen to our malcontent with an open mind and listen to what will feel like a wave of irrational promptings.”  I had never thought about feeling agitated or discontented in this way, but as I jotted down a list of major breakthroughs in my life creatively, personally, and professionally I had to admit there may be something to what she was saying.  Maybe fate is asking me if I want to dance.

Maybe things do happen for a reason, and maybe that reason is because we finally acknowledge our fears as well as our dreams and in doing so we quit clinging to Plan A and we become open to Plan B or C or even Z.

I think most people are insecure and as human beings and especially as artists we tend to focus on how we compare to others rather than being content with who we are.  We lack patience and hold ourselves to a standard of perfection that has little to do with actual criteria, instead we feel bad because we’re not as good as we think we should be. We negate our own value by wishing we were as good as what’s his name rather than being proud of our accomplishments. That’s not to say we shouldn’t try and improve ourselves, but it is saying that we need to accept ourselves for who we are and we need to guard against allowing our insecurities to keep us from following our dreams.  In the task Exactly the Way I Am Julia asked me to list fifty specific things that I like about myself. After completing the list I realized that there is a lot to like.  “By counting our blessings we can come to see that we are blessed and that we need not compare ourselves to anyone.”

Julia has a way of turning things on their head for me and her take on doubt is certainly one of them.  “Doubt is a signal of the creative process.  It is a signal that you are doing something right – not that you are doing something wrong or crazy or stupid.” I thought my doubts about my writing meant that I was self-aware and realistic and that the essay I had just written really did deserve to be deleted because it wasn’t any good.  It turns out that doubt and self-appraisal are not one in the same.  Doubt plagues us at night when we’re alone and vulnerable and tells you that you can’t while self-appraisal arrives in broad daylight and helps you adjust your course.  Doubt is something to be waited out without giving into behaviors that are self-destructive.

There is an underlying theme woven throughout the lessons. Although we will encounter negative emotions and unsavory characters along our own version of the yellow brick road, we can combat them, wait them out, and use them to our creative advantage, but most importantly self-acceptance and self-respect will lead us safely home.

 

This is a reprint from Beth Lee-Browning’s personal blog, it’s a whole new world,  originally posted  December 11, 2010. Other reprints from this series are available here at FFC: Going the Distance Without “Rests,”  Music Would just be NoiseStar Light, Star Bright…I Wish I May, I Wish I Might…A Spoonful of SugarFaith, Trust, and Pixie Dust, Mirror, Mirror on the WallIn Living Color: Summoning the MuseThrough the Looking Glassand I Could Have Had A V-8!

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Beth Lee-Browning lives outside of Philadelphia, is a transplanted Midwesterner, and a mid-life woman who is discovering the joy of living life to its fullest and under her own rules. She chronicles her adventures from the ordinary to the unusual with keen and thought provoking observations, a unique wit, sensitivity and an underlying theme that “everything is going to be all right.”  Read Beth’s blog at it’s a whole new world.

 

 

This is an intermittent series by the author about using Julia Cameron’s Walking in this World.

by Beth Lee-Browning 

I love the classic Disney films because most often they are about wishes and dreams being fulfilled.  From Cinderella to Simba, the characters overcome obstacles, find the courage to follow their dreams, discover beauty within themselves, and learn that wishes really can come true.

Throughout the past two weeks I’ve faithfully written my Morning Pages, taken myself out on an Artist’s Date and have pondered and gained insights during my Weekly Walk.  Week two in Walking in this World by Julia Cameron is entitled Discovering a Sense of Proportion, and “inaugurates an ongoing process of self-definition.”  Julia introduced me to the chapter with these words, “As you redraw the boundaries and limits within which you have lived, you draw yourself to a fuller size.”

As human beings we’re filled with self doubt, some of us more than others. When we look in the mirror we see ourselves as ordinary and maybe even odd, we wonder if we’ll ever ‘fit in’ and whether or not anyone will find us beautiful. But, if we close our eyes and turn off the voices, we see the part of us that we’re afraid to let out.  I think Julia says it best, “Part of us knows we’re more than they see; part of us fears we’re less than we hope.”

I cried when I read the story she told of a man who became a composer after two decades of denying the truth in the compliments he received about his talent. He had convinced himself that he was ‘just the appreciator’ in a family of musicians. It took a trip and time spent with people who knew nothing about him or his ‘musically gifted’ family for him to begin ‘jotting down notes.’ When he returned, “He didn’t call himself a composer, a songwriter, or even a musician, but he did call himself happy.”

It made me wonder how much we hold ourselves back because of how we think others see us.  And it struck me that often we are lucky enough to have people in our lives that see more than we do, people that challenge us to see ourselves as creative and competent, who encourage us to “spread our wings,” and to become who we were meant to be.

I was also reminded how I discovered my love for writing, how I heard the words but not the message when people told me how much they enjoyed reading what I wrote.  “You’re very nice, but I’m not a writer,” I would respond.  Thanks to a persistent friend, I took my first writing class and I now know that whether or not I become famous or ever earn a dime doing it, writing has become like breathing and I call myself happy now.

The previous chapter focused on self acceptance and faith, this week she carried those themes through while gently nudging us into the world of growth, transformation and the idea of ‘living large.’  Living large doesn’t mean driving a flashy car, living in a mansion, or vacationing in the trendiest hot spot, it means admitting dreams, miniaturizing doubts, and trying on pieces of our new identity one step at a time.

I was moved by her reference to Nelson Mandela who remarked that “we do no one any favors ‘hiding our light’ and pretending to be ‘smaller than we are.’”

I’ve never considered myself to be a “dreamer,” but I am an unrivaled “wisher,” which is why I think my favorite task was to create a wish list. The instructions were to number a blank sheet of paper from 1 to 20 and complete the phrase “I wish” as quickly as possible, ranging from large to small, whatever came to mind. My list ran the gambit, everything from “I wish” my tummy was flatter to “I wish” I was debt free, and “I wish” I could write a book.

I was amazed at what came next.  She revealed the secret of the list, “Very often, each ‘wish’ will suggest some small action.” I read over my list and made notes in the margin. Out of the twenty items, the only one I couldn’t take at least one small action toward making it reality was, “I wish travel was less expensive.”  In that moment, I realized that my wishes are also my dreams, and that within me lies the power to help them come true.

I hung on every word as she explained that “art is not linear” and that “life is as much about mystery as it is about mastery.” I thought about transformation, and the many times in my life that I was ready for change and somehow just what I needed found its way to me.

The final task was once again the most difficult and yet the most illuminating.  After answering a series of questions designed to invite feelings of vulnerability and expose secret dreams, I was asked to write a letter to myself, to my “inner artist” about the dream that was revealed and to find a concrete form in which to take action toward achieving it.

I’m not quite ready to share my innermost dreams, I’m still “trying them on for size.”  The letter to myself concluded with the following.  “Continue to express your humor and intelligence through your words.  Continue to ‘build it’ and ‘it will come’.”

Wishes,
Dream a dream
Wishes,
Set it free
Wishes,
Trust your heart,
Just believe.

[Jiminy Cricket]

 

Reprinted from Beth Lee-Browning’s Blog, it’s a whole new world on October 2, 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.  Beth maintains a very observant blog,  ”It’s a whole new world” here, where this article was first published.