artist’s way, week two: irrational anxiety

Week Two: Task no. 3
A list of twenty activities I enjoy and the dates when I had last done them.

Happily, I discovered most items on my list had been completed within the past two months.  Of course, it could be the fact that I’d recently done them that I thought of adding them to my list.  Either way—my list of twenty has been completed.

Week Two: Task no. 6
I returned to my imaginary lives list to add another five, as well as evaluating how I had attempted to incorporate the first five into the previous week.

During week one, I spent more time over-analyzing how to include these imaginary lives that I wasn’t able to actually relax, have fun, and play with the ideas inspired by these alternate lives.  Hopefully, I will do better this week.

This week I added the following occupations to my list of imaginary lives:
6.  Interior Decorator
7.  Florist
8.  Dancer
9.  Museum/Gallery Curator
10.  Sociologist

Week Two: Task no. 8
Tiny Changes—I was instructed to make a list of ten changes I would like in my life. These changes could vary in significance from immense to mundane.  They simply had to be alterations I wanted for myself.  From here, tasks no. nine and ten were to pick one and actively work on implementing that change in my life.  From my list, I choose to work on slowly pushing my comfort levels.

I become unnecessarily nervous and insecure in basically any new situation—whenever I’m unsure exactly what to expect.  This irrational anxiety prevents me from making the most of my time traveling and living in foreign places. I tend to avoid social situations with people I don’t know particularly well, and I am uneasy with errands or activities when I am alone, if it isn’t something I’ve done before with someone else.

baby white dog attack
Adorable baby white dog attack! (And my new hair.)

With the intention of placing myself in situations that would normally make me uncomfortable, this week I safely pushed my social limits.

  1. 1.  I had my hair cut at a local salon here on the island.  This involved calling an establishment I’d never called or been to, an establishment where English is not the primary language.  I made my appointment and the next morning I went to the stylist and…got a haircut! Like a normal adult. I know for a reasonable person, this is not impressive or exciting.  However, for me—this is a situation I’d normally go to great length to avoid.  However, I did it.  I was fine, my heart sped up a couple of times, but really, it was fine—and I love my new, fun, happy, short hair.
  1. I attended an 80s themed squadron party with my husband.  We’re generally very content simply staying at home with our puppies, drinking wine and chatting on the sofa– but we’re trying to become more social.  I pushed my comfort levels by dressing up.  I don’t dress up for themed parties.  I have an irrational fear no one else will, and there I will be. Alone. Tall. Awkward. And dressed weird.  That mental image is no fun—so presumably the real thing would also be no fun. I pushed aside my neurotic apprehension with an off-the-shoulder belted top, leg-warmers, fun hair and costume jewelry.  Once I was dressed, I felt fine.  The party was great.  More people didn’t dress up and than did.  I think because the group was more men than women. But–I never once felt nervous about my attire.
Sophia, 10in x 12in, mixed media on canvas, 2011
Sophia • 10in x 12in • Mixed media • Carly Swenson • 2011

3.  Baby shower.  Baby showers are uncomfortable for me.  I don’t know the proper etiquette or what to expect.  I don’t know baby food flavors. I don’t know the expected circumference of a woman’s belly housing another living being. I don’t know what a baby human would like for a gift.  Something fuzzy? Something practical?   I don’t have children, and I’m not around them often. (I’m not anti-children, I’m just sort of indifferent. I don’t really get them?)  I made an original mixed media work in the color scheme of their nursery, and included elements I thought the mother would like.  The shower seemed to go well?  I knew enough of the lovely women in attendance that I allowed myself to somewhat relax.  Ultimately, I’m glad I went, even though prepare-for-baby-land is still an uncomfortable place for me.

The reward for attention is healing.
—Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way

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