Going through The Artist’s Way for my first time in 2014 literally changed my life. I wanted to share my story with all of you so you know why I feel so strongly about sharing this book with others.
I’ll just start with brutal honesty and say that, in 2014, I was pretty lost. I had actually been lost for quite a few years by that point — mostly because I’d left my identity behind in 2011 when I quit my job and moved across the world to be with my now-husband. I thought this new life would bring me freedom to pursue and live out my true purpose (my old job of marketing consumer electronics was decidedly not my true purpose). But the more I forced myself to find my “passion”, the more confused I got. The more new things I tried (and didn’t immediately succeed at), the more I felt like a failure and the more despondent I became. In Switzerland, I felt like I was good at nothing, helping nobody, and was basically completely useless. My self-esteem and self-worth was obviously diminished by this.
My group of Expat girlfriends here in Zurich decided to go through The Artist’s Way book together. I didn’t have any particular interest in it — I wasn’t a lost artist nor did I aspire to be an artist at all — but I figured I wasn’t doing anything better with my time so I decided to participate.
I fell in love! With the book, the group, the two on-going exercises. It made me spiritual for the first time in my life. It felt like, for the first time in a long time, my spirit was revived and I had finally realized what my purpose and passion in life actually are (without forcing it like I had been trying to do all those previous years). I had just spent most of my adult years covering my emotions to be strong enough for Corporate America, all the time feeling like a fraud. I was finally able to be vulnerable through artistic expression and creativity and this book. It was a big revelation that this was allowed and encouraged.
The Morning Pages
The Morning Pages are a daily morning journal practice where you write whatever comes to mind for 3 full pages. If you were to go back to my Morning Pages journal entries, they would look something like this: “This is stupid and I hate journaling and it won’t bring anything and it’s a waste of time for me to do this every single freakin morning and I wish I hadn’t agreed to do this stupid book.”
But even that felt good to write. It felt good to be bitter and honest when so often I didn’t want others to know those negative thoughts swimming in my head. Slowly but surely, I became addicted to Morning Pages. It was where I could bare my soul and get out all of the hopelessness that was stuck inside of me. It was where I could start to turn my thoughts around. It was like, once the burden of having to carry them around with me was lifted, I had more energy and the will to try new things again. It was where I could begin to dream again. It brought me hope and a sense of adventure and possibility again. It brought me back my enthusiasm and optimism for life. I woke up every morning excited again to learn and grow and achieve — which was a hunger I had lost for a bit there.
The Artist Date
The Artist Date is a weekly excursion you bring yourself on to bring in new sources of creativity into your life. I bought a coloring book for a date (it was amazing). I painted a clay piggy bank (it was not so amazing). I sang to myself at home for an hour (it was cathartic but probably painful for my neighbors). I painted a portrait of the woods (it was fun). I took photos of the woods (they were breathtaking). I just began to look at the world with awe again. I noticed beauty where I’d never seen it before and became a lot more present in the moment, almost by accident.
It was great to fill my inspiration bank with new experiences and to even start thinking up new fun ideas (I’ve always wanted to try Barre classes). I used to love new experiences and adventures… but since I’d come to Switzerland, I’d been so overwhelmed by all the change and failure that I just sat safely at home with my husband and we rarely did anything new. Suddenly, I wanted to keep exploring new places and eating new foods and dancing new dances. There was a whole world out there worth exploring and experiencing.
The book itself is where I had the real revelation. I loved it. I loved every thought the author had, every exercise we did. Even the exercises that I immediately disliked and told myself I’d skip – those were the ones I forced myself to do because there was something in my subconscious needing to be upturned there. I found the courage to once again address my life and my life’s goals. Through The Artist’s Way, I discovered my creative superpower.
And most importantly of all, I finally realized that all of my interests that I’d always had in people and philosophy and psychology and compassion and giving could add up to one life purpose: coaching people to live a meaningful life and live up to their full potential. The reason I found my new career (as a Lifestyle Design coach and a corporate leadership trainer) is because of The Artist’s Way. I had never really given coaching and training a second thought as a service, let alone as a job I would perform. But I realized that my passion is in helping others to lead a fulfilled life that involves interesting and meaningful work… because that’s the most important thing in the world. I want people on their deathbeds to smile, having no regrets about the life they lived.
The book wouldn’t have been as meaningful or life-changing without the group. This group became my lifeline. I finally felt I had a support network of like-minded people who understood what I was struggling with because they were struggling with it, too. And above all, when I shared my fears and failures, they accepted them without question. They accepted the real me without question.
And that’s the weirdest part: I started this book with a group of girlfriends and most of us had been friends for a while. It was fascinating to have deep conversations with friends that felt more “real” than any of the conversations we’d had over the prior years of our friendship. All I can say is that something in the group shifted when we picked up this book and every discussion became authentic and deep and meaningful and important. There’s something in doing the search together that bonded us closer than we could have ever been without the quest for the meaning of life.
The moral of the story is, I only had the courage and insight to start on this incredible coaching journey (where I get to live every single day doing what I love!) because of The Artist’s Way. So I’m begging you, if you’re looking for more happiness and fulfillment in life, at least give this book a try. Or, better yet, if you’re in Switzerland, join our Sacred Circle!