How Un-Hauling My Books Changed My Life || A BESpring19 Discussion

Hello and welcome back to my blog!

Today I’m joining in on Bookending Spring, an event hosted by Clo @ Book Dragons and Sam @ Fictionally Sam. This seasonal event brings together the book community to talk about all things spring cleaning/organizing—be it your blog, your bookish life, or anything at all. For more info, you can check out Sam’s announcement post.

This prompt for this post comes from the lovely Haley @ The Caffeinated Reader’s prompt on “Learning to Let Go” which explores ways to let go of books you don’t need anymore.

Some of you may know that I have blogged before.

Back in 2017, I went through a period of blissful unemployment which is when I first got involved in the book community. Alas, my very fortunate circumstances were temporary, and my then-fiance-now-husband and I ended up packing up our things to move across the country and back to my homeland of Oklahoma.

Instead of doing the traditional route and renting a truck to move, Seth and I bought a retired wheelchair-accessible school bus and converted it into an RV.* We weren’t sure what was next for us in life, but we knew we wanted to be able to live minimally and, if possible, live out of the bus** itself. Which meant, of course, that I had to get rid of a bunch of my things.

*I did some posts about this which are long gone…but if that’s something you’re interested in seeing re-posted here, I mean, let me know?
** Whom we affectionately named Gus.

Getting rid of clothes I don’t wear is easy for me. Getting rid of books, on the other hand, is heartbreaking.

Still, it had to be done, and in 2017, I did it. I unhauled almost every single book I owned, with the exception of a few that I saved, either to re-read at some point, or for my 8-year-old niece to read when she’s old enough.

How I Un-Haul

  1. Sort books into two piles: ones I will read again, and ones I definitely won’t read ever again.
  2. Set aside books from college that I might reference at some point, like my literature anthologies and old sociology books. Those have to stay, regardless.
  3. Sort books I will read again into ones I’m actually intending to re-read soon versus ones I loved so much that I would hypothetically read again. The hypotheticals can get boxed up.
  4. Ask my friends if they want any of the books I won’t read again.*
  5. Sleep on it. (Always a good idea when doing anything drastic.)
  6. Donate remaining un-haul pile to the local library. See also: selling them to a used bookstore, leaving them on a street corner** or in your old apartment for the next tenant to find.
  7. Repeat yearly, or as necessary.

*I skipped this step in 2017 because everyone I knew was at least 90 miles away, and I didn’t have money for shipping. This would also be a great time to do giveaways…provided I actually had enough of a following for something like that.
**yes, I’ve done that before, because homeless people need to read too!)

By the time I moved back to Oklahoma, I had less than 20 books that weren’t boxed up. I probably could’ve kept even fewer books, but I wanted A Song of Ice and Fire, The Lord of the Rings, and Anne of Green Gables to watch over our passage, so those came on the bus with us.

Now, I’m a firm believer in the power of un-hauling.

Even though I live in a decent-sized apartment, I refuse to let my book population get out of control. Yes, I always want more books. But I also look through the ones I have every once in a while and realize how many I will probably never read again.

Un-hauling my bookshelves has change the way I currently acquire books.

Before, I loaded up my Kindle and physical shelves with books I wanted to read, even if I probably wasn’t going to get around to reading those books for months or even years. I’m still guilty of the occasional book buying spree* but I try to ask myself questions before I purchase something.

  1. Is this a book I can read through the library for free?
  2. Is this a book I have heard only amazing things about from my blogging friends and therefore one I’m likely to be flailing over and possibly read again?
  3. Have I been considering buying this book for a while now, or is it a new release I’m impulse-buying because it’s in front of my face at work?

*I work in a bookstore, which is like an alcoholic working in a bar, tbh.

I bought so many books in the early part of this year that I put myself on a book-buying ban until my birthday in early May.

Granted, I broke the ban a couple times* but for the most part I’ve been really strict with myself. Even better, I have a running tally in my head of books I can’t stop thinking about reading, and I’ve got enough cash back on one of my credit cards to have a gift card sent out. When my birthday gets here, I will be able to buy myself presents in a way that’s well thought-out instead of impulsive. Which means I will likely (hopefully) not have buyer’s remorse with my birthday presents!

*Book of the Month was running a special and I really wanted to join, okay?

Books Currently on my To-Buy List

How do you manage your book collection? What is your favorite way to un-haul books? Do you plan your book purchases ahead of time or impulse buy? I would love to hear your thoughts! As always, thanks for stopping by!

Until next time,

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The Artist’s Way: Week 3 Check-In

Welcome to Week 3 of my ongoing series on The Artist’s Way with Erin @ Flappers and Philosophers! In case you missed it, here is my intro post, explaining what the project is, why we’re doing it, and what you can expect.

The short version is, Erin and I are both going through The Artist’s Way, a 12-week course in self-discovery and creative recovery. Throughout the next three months, we’ll be sharing weekly updates on how it’s going, what we’ve learned, and how this process has affected our creative lives.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Week 3 was a mixed bag for me, honestly.

The theme of Recovering a Sense of Power seemed to fall a little flat in my life. That being said, I tried to keep in mind the idea that “growth occurs in spurts.” Just because I’m doing The Artist’s Way doesn’t mean I’m going to be experiencing Huge Changes right away.

Things definitely started to pick up a little later in the week; I had a three-day weekend away from work to catch up on writing and generally just get myself together. This week, I started to focus on crafting a morning routine that’s geared toward not just productivity, but taking care of myself. I start by drinking water first thing, and I’m trying to get in at least some yoga and meditation before I do anything else. So far I think it’s really helping my state of mind, and I like the feeling that I’m building healthy habits.

Week 3: The Check-In

How many days this week did you do your morning pages? How was the experience for you?

I did morning pages all 7 days this week! Once again, I felt like I was repeating myself a lot. This week’s writing seemed to focus around my obsessive need to feel productive, and the accompanying guilt complex that keeps me from really letting go and treating myself to moments of nurturing.

Did you do your artist date this week? What did you do? How did it feel?

On Wednesday, I did a sort of artist date at home. Instead of making myself go out and do something adventurous, I decided to indulge my inner child a little bit. I spent almost two hours coloring and listening to music. I also did this 10-minute face mask I found at the grocery store. Even though it felt weird to do this kind of deep, purposeful self-care, I know it sends a signal to my brain that I am important and deserving of nice things.

Were there any other issues that you consider significant for your recovery? Did you experience any synchronicity this week? Describe them.

At first, when I read this question in the check-in section of Week 3, I wasn’t sure that I did experience any synchronicity. I’m…honestly not great at paying attention to signs from the Universe (just like I’m not really all that good at believing in Source Energy/God/whatever you want to call it). As I thought about it, I realized that my synchronicity happened later in the week. I went to coffee with a good friend and coworker (whom I’ve convinced to do the Artist’s Way!) and while we were talking I had a small breakthrough with my WIP.

Because I’m such a Type A person, I’ve generally always been a planner when it comes to writing. I like to have a solid, detailed outline before I get started, and I generally write each scene in the order it will appear in the book itself. I realized that I don’t need to write this story in order though.

I just need to write the pieces for now; Future Me can worry about putting the pieces together. Right now I just need to focus on showing up to the page.

Have you ever participated in The Artist’s Way? How was your week? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for stopping by!

Blogging Guilt: Is Scheduling Ahead Productive, or Harmful? || A BESpring19 Discussion

bookending spring

Hello and welcome back to my blog!

Today I’m joining on on Bookending Spring, an event hosted by Clo @ Book Dragons and Sam @ Fictionally Sam. This seasonal event brings together the book community to talk about all things spring cleaning/organizing—be it your blog, your bookish life, or anything at all. For more info, check out Sam’s announcement post.

Today’s post is inspired by Jayati @ It’s Just a Coffee Addicted Bibliophile’s post Pre-Scheduling and Organizing Your Blog ft. Mood Blogging.

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Photo by Stefan Cosma on Unsplash

In case you weren’t already aware, I’m a bit of a Type A personality. It’s something I came by naturally: both my parents are extremely neat and organized, and that’s just how I grew up. Being organized has been extremely helpful throughout my life, both in school and as a writer. I’m really great at making a plan…the problem is, I tend to really guilt myself when I fall short of my goals.

Which is what inspired my take on this prompt: Is scheduling my blog posts ahead of time productive, or overkill? How can I manage to stay organized while not being drowned in dreaded blogging guilt?

Let’s take a look at how I currently keep up with blog planning.

To start with, I use Scrivener for almost everything related to writing, whether it’s fiction or blog posts. If you’re not familiar, this is an app that lets you create folders upon folders of mini-docs within one giant document. I love using Scrivener for blogging, because it lets me create folders for each type of post I do. I also have mini-documents for my TBR, books I’ve read, and, most importantly, a section where I plan out my blog.

Currently, my goal is to have posts scheduled out ahead by about a week. What this means is that on Sundays, I try to have all my posts up and ready to go through the next Sunday. I try to draft posts two weeks ahead of time, that way they have time to simmer and grow through the editing process.

What ends up happening, though, is that I fall behind on drafting posts ahead of time—and then I become swallowed by guilt.

The Pros of Planning Ahead

• I can plan out my week based on my work schedule and pencil in time to blog when I know I’ll have free time
I don’t have to panic about needing to have a post go up the night before
• I can be consistent, which is important for stats (or so they say)
• Whenever life threatens to get in the way, I always have a week of buffer between me and a missed post
• I don’t have to worry about my blog every single day of the week
• I have more time to focus on blog hopping

The Cons of Planning Ahead

• When I get behind, I have to draft a whole week of posts in one sitting, which is really draining and probably affects the quality of my posts
• I’m always slightly delayed when it comes to jumping on blogging trends, because I plan my posts so far in advance
• When I fall short of goals, I feel awful, which isn’t conducive to blogging
Blogging starts to feel more like work and less like fun, because I’m sticking to such strict expectations for myself

To be honest, I don’t think I’ll ever stop being a planner.

It’s so ingrained in my personality, and it mostly does bring me a lot of comfort. Throughout the week, when I have busy days in other aspects of my life, I don’t have to stress that my blog will be okay without me there, watching over its shoulder. I feel better about my posts when they’ve had time to sit for at least a day before I read them over, edit them, and post them. I feel confident in my consistency.

That being said, I definitely need to work on my guilt complex. Blogging is, ultimately, a hobby. Granted, it’s a hobby that requires a lot of time and work. But ultimately, it’s an act of creating something for myself and hopefully others to enjoy. If I’m not enjoying the posts I’m writing, how can I expect people to enjoy reading them?

If I want to enjoy blogging, I might have to let go a little bit. Whether it’s forgiving myself when I get behind on reviews, or letting go of the need to draft posts out so far in advance. If I really want to have fun with my blog, I’m going to have to learn to live a little.

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Do you schedule your blog in advance? What’s your favorite method for staying organized with blogging? Are you participating in Bookending Spring? Let me know in the comments!

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The Artist’s Way: Week 2 Check-In

Welcome to Week 2 of my ongoing series on The Artist’s Way with Erin @ Flappers and Philosophers!

In case you missed it, here is my intro post, explaining what the project is, why we’re doing it, and what you can expect. The short version is, Erin and I are both going through The Artist’s Way, a 12-week course in self-discovery and creative recovery. Throughout the next three months, we’ll be sharing weekly updates on how it’s going, what we’ve learned, and how this process has affected our creative lives.

Week 2: Recovering a Sense of Identity

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Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

“You may find yourself drawing new boundaries and staking out new territories as your personal needs, desires, and interests announce themselves.”

Overall, this week was about settling in for me. This week’s theme focuses on identifying people in your life who are helpful vs. harmful to your creative recovery and developing a sense of open-mindedness to the universe. I started working through some of my major issues when it comes to my current WIP as well as some deeper issues that are blocking my creativity.

The most exciting thing that happened in my creative life this week is that I finally started writing toward a draft of my WIP. I sorted through a lot of my qualms, as well as decided on a course of action and POV. Mostly, though, the triumph is that I actually wrote 1500 words this week, which is much better than nothing.

Week 2: The Check-In

1. How many days this week did you do your morning pages? How was the experience for you?

I did morning pages seven days this week, although I did fall slightly short of three pages a few times. At first, it felt like a chore to wake up and sit down at my desk and purge my brain. By the end of the week, though, I definitely started to feel like I’m getting into a groove. The pages give me a chance to assess and work through issues that I can’t really access at any other time or in another medium. I did feel like I was repeating myself a lot, and I noticed that my issues seem to fall into the same category: I need to learn how to fight for myself/my art, but I don’t know how.

2. Did you do your artist date this week? What did you do? How did it feel?

On Tuesday, I went to my favorite coffee shop again. This time, I used the time for myself to work on my writing. While I initially planned to go through and revise a novel I finished writing last year, I came to the conclusion that I more or less need to re-write the same story in a completely different way. I had a really nice time actively investing in my writing. I do still hope to take more unproductive artist dates as the weeks go on.

3. Were there any other issues this week that you consider significant for your recovery? Describe them.

I wrote about my God concept in the morning pages, which was definitely an important breakthrough, and something I’m going to keep talking about as the weeks wear on.

In keeping track of the time spent on various activities this week, I realized that I might actually spend too much time reading. It’s not that I don’t love reading…but I think I’m filling the well with too much of other people’s words and not enough of my own.

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Have you ever participated in The Artist’s Way? How was your week? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for stopping by!

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Why I’ve Given Up on Twitter || A BESpring19 Discussion

bookending spring

Hello and welcome back to my blog!

Today I’m joining on on Bookending Spring, an event hosted by Clo @ Book Dragons and Sam @ Fictionally Sam. This seasonal event brings together the book community to talk about all things spring cleaning/organizing—be it your blog, your bookish life, or anything at all. For more info, you can check out Sam’s announcement post.

Today’s post is brought to you by Charvi @ It’s Not Just Fiction’s prompt: Trying to Control Social Media Chaos. I’m taking my own spin on it and talking about Why I’ve Given Up on Twitter.

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I’ve had a love-hate relationship with Twitter.com since approximately 2010.

I first discovered it in college as a quick way to keep in touch with friends online in the days when Facebook truly dominated the internet. At first, I enjoyed it as a way to blurt out thoughts quickly, but I never really gained much of a following.

I only re-discovered Twitter later, around 2017, when I first got into book blogging via my former blog, the story salve. I mass-followed a bunch of amazing bookish folks and even became mutuals with a fair few. At this point in my life, I was jobless, so I was able to actually keep up with most of the happenings on Twitter.

The problem is, Twitter doesn’t really work well with my everyday life.

It’s not that I’m any busier than the average person, but I tend to get sucked into things for long periods of time. Every time I used to get sucked into Twitter, it was because I really didn’t have anything more pressing to attend to; now, though, there’s always something more important than scrolling through an endless feed. Maybe this is just my Type A personality guilting me into always being productive…but that’s another post entirely.

Beyond time constraints, Twitter inspires the kind of social anxiety that honestly rarely pops up in my real life.

Even as someone who drinks insane amounts of coffee on a daily basis, I never have enough mental energy to stay up-to-date on my Twitter feed. I suppose I could weed out my following list, but I’m horrified that I’ll unfollow someone and they’ll notice that I unfollowed them (which, yes, I realize is irrational).

On top of that, Twitter is the place I feel like I’ve never quite fit in. Especially when it comes to bookish Twitter, the environment is super cliquish. Sure, I could reply to people’s tweets, but they’d probably think I’m weird for being this invested in their lives. On top of that, I live in horror of saying the wrong thing, of coming across as an asshole (even when my intentions are good). I know that once you’re blacklisted on Twitter, everyone will find out what you said or did, and nobody will ever trust you again.

Add to that the fact that I don’t really know how to Tweet consistently, and the fact that nobody ever seems to see or react to my tweets, and I finally reached the point where I’ve given up on being active on Twitter.

At the same time, I realize that Twitter is perhaps the best possible place to not only promote my blog, but to promote any future books I want to publish.

It seems like everyone who’s anyone in the bookish world has a Twitter account with varying states of activity. I see folks winning chances to have their favorite author as a mentor, folks winning pitch wars, folks making their dreams come true…from Twitter. Accepting that that will never be me means accepting that I may have to fight incredibly hard in other ways to make up for my lack of Twitter presence. As an aspiring author, how am I going to self-promote? How will I convince an agent that I’m a worthy investment?

I don’t have the answers to these questions. All I know is that I can no longer spend so much mental energy trying to be a person that I’m not. I’m not a Twitter person. And I don’t need to give myself endless anxiety just to be part of whatever happens to be trending at the moment.

So I’m going to stick to the parts of social media that I love: commenting on other people’s blogs, following friends on Goodreads, and posting occasionally on Instagram. I have to do what brings me joy, and ditch what doesn’t.

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As always, these are my thoughts on Twitter, but I’d love to hear yours! Do you enjoy Twitter? What social media platform do you dread the most? Where is your favorite place to talk about books? Let me know in the comments!

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#MentalHealthMonday || Are my meds working?

#MentalHealthMonday is a (sometimes) weekly discussion series I discovered through Wendy @ what the log had to say. You can read more of my #MentalHealthMonday posts here.

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Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN on Unsplash

Today I want to talk about something pretty personal: my relationship with anti-depressant meds.

I first started taking medication for depression when I was not-quite-18.

I was a senior in high school, and my inexplicable depression had finally reached the point where I couldn’t—and didn’t want to—handle it on my own. I was prescribed a low dose of Lexapro by my family’s general practitioner. This was also around the time I started therapy.

I honestly don’t remember how well the meds worked. I do remember getting some relief, but at the same time, it was a pretty tumultuous time for me in general. I graduated high school and started college; I was also involved in a pretty toxic relationship with an older guy that definitely took a toll on my mental health. It’s hard to say if the meds stopped working, or if life just got really hard.

Somewhere in my college years, I switched from Lexapro to Cymbalta—which I would not recommend. Cymbalta is designed to work differently from other anti-depressants; instead of a traditional SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor), Cymbalta also acts on Norepinephrine, another neurotransmitter that affects your mood. Cymbalta did work for me, but it also has a really short half life. What that means is that it passes through the body quickly. When I would miss even one dose I would get terrible withdrawal symptoms like headaches and mood swings.

After Cymbalta, I took Prozac, perhaps the most famous anti-depressant in America at least. Prozac has an extremely long half life…which means that after a while your body often gets used to it…which makes it feel like it’s stopped working. This is a vicious cycle that I don’t think people talk about often enough: you start taking the drugs to feel better, but then you become dependent on them to not feel like total trash.

After the Prozac stopped working, I switched back to Lexapro, which made me so nauseous in the first two weeks that I almost threw in the towel. I kept taking Lexapro, then quit abruptly in the fall of 2014. I then entered the actual worst depressive episode of my life. I’d just moved to New York City and was making some pretty poor choices when it comes to my overall health. It was only through many long months of therapy and the act of separating myself from people who weren’t good for me that I managed to pull through.

Finally, in the fall of 2017, I couldn’t take it anymore and went back on meds: this time, on a low dose of Zoloft. Due to lack of health insurance, I weened myself off Zoloft last summer, but began taking it again in the fall of 2018. I am currently still taking medication, although I admittedly sometimes forget a day here and there.

Are my meds working?

When I go back to see my doctor, he always asks questions about how the medication is working. I never seem to be able to answer. I’ve stopped crying every day, which is something. Now that I no longer work in the coffee industry, I’m actually getting decent sleep. And while I do experience nerves leading up to important events, I don’t feel constantly on edge about the state of my life. In general, I go about my day feeling like I can do whatever it is that I need to do—as opposed to feeling overwhelmed and completely incapable of managing.

There’s a part of me that weirdly hates feeling so even-keeled though. Growing up and living with depression for most of my life, feeling okay about being alive is a weird feeling for me. It doesn’t feel like me. I’ve always been the kind of person who cries regularly as a form of catharsis, but I don’t really cry anymore. I don’t even journal the way I used to, pouring out pages and pages about how I’m feeling. If anyone asked me how I’m feeling, I don’t even know how to answer that.

At the same time, I know I still have so many depressive thought patterns to work through. I can’t afford therapy (again) even though I know that’s what would truly help me. Part of me wonders if I’ll ever have the time to truly work through all my cognitive distortions.

Does this mean my meds are working? Hell, for all I know, “just okay” is how non-depressed people feel. Maybe this is what being alive is supposed to feel like. And then I feel guilty, because I know I should be grateful that medication still works for me, when so many people have reached the point where nothing really helps them.

I guess I just wish I didn’t need medication to feel like I’m capable of managing my life.

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If you feel comfortable sharing, I’d love to hear your experiences with medication. Do meds work for you, or not really? Have you experienced the on-again-off-again situation like I have? Let me know in the comments.

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The Artist’s Way: Week 1 Check-In

Welcome to Week 1 of my ongoing series on The Artist’s Way with Erin @ Flappers and Philosophers!

In case you missed it, here is my intro post, explaining what the project is, why we’re doing it, and what you can expect. The short version is, Erin and I are both going through The Artist’s Way, a 12-week course in self-discovery and creative recovery. Throughout the next three months, we’ll be sharing weekly updates on how it’s going, what we’ve learned, and how this process has affected our creative lives.

Week 1: Recovering a Sense of Safety

193BBC44-CCBD-45F5-AF0E-8016C42F40E4“This week initiates your creative recovery. You may feel both giddy and defiant, hopeful and skeptical.”

Week 1 of The Artist’s Way encourages you to think about the people in your life who have hindered or encouraged your creativity, whether it’s parents or other family members, art teachers, friends, exes…anyone. Julia Cameron talks a lot about how important it is for creative beings to feel that they’re supported, and how dangerous it is for us when we’re not supported.

Throughout this week, I felt pretty hopeful about the process. Since I’ve gone through The Artist’s Way before, my main goal is to continue to be open to change, even when things seem a little hokey and out there.

Week 1 Check-In

1. How many days this week did you do your morning pages? How was the experience for you?

This week, I did morning pages 7 out of 7 days. For the first time, I actually wrote three full pages in my spiral notebook (aka Christine’s Sh*t Book—because it’s full of miscellany and my unedited thoughts).

I’ve been journaling for a long time, so it’s a little complicated for me to do morning pages. I am so good at writing about what’s going on in my head, but I tend to do it in an oddly formulaic way: I write what’s bothering me, then try to sort out a solution (almost as if the page is my therapist).

This week, I tried to combat that tendency by ending each morning’s pages with affirmations from pages 36-37 of The Artist’s Way. Some of these are really cheesy, whereas others seemed to resonate more with me. At the end of my pages each day, I worked through the next three affirmations and recorded my brain’s reactions to them. It was interesting to see how much of my “blurts” are really just Depression Brain, popping in to remind me how much I suck.

In general, I feel like the morning pages feel a lot harder when I’m thinking about having to do them. Once I actually sit down and get the pen moving, I’m reminded how much healing can take place on the page.

2. Did you do your artist date this week? What did you do? How did it feel?

A confession: Artist Dates are actually really hard for me.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy time spent alone—I actually prefer being alone most of the time. It’s more that I’m not really well-practiced when it comes to doing nice things for myself without any purpose other than just taking care of myself.

For Week 1, I decided to start off pretty simple: I took myself out to coffee at one of my favorite coffee shops. I succeeded in purposefully hanging out with myself. I did find myself a little too concerned with appearing/actually being productive: I ended up working through some of the Week 1 exercises in my notebook, and I even wrote a little scene from my past. I’m proud that I took the time to spend with myself and invest in my creative recovery, but I’m hoping that by Week 12 I am better about spending completely unproductive time with myself in play.

3. Were there any other issues this week that you consider significant for your recovery? Describe them.

Without getting too personal:

  • I realized that I definitely need to work through my God concept (or rather, lack thereof) in my morning pages.
  • I discovered that to this day, my exes are still affecting my sense of creative self-worth.
  • I learned that I need to work on learning how to play at creativity without giving in to the itching need to be productive.

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Thanks for stopping by and keeping up with my progress on The Artist’s Way journey! Are you participating with us? Do you think you would give The Artist’s Way a try based on my recommendation? Let me know what you think, and happy creating!

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