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Grand Central Station Centennial

Last month, I started Jani Franck’s free Unearth Your Creative Nature e-course. I got a little stalled when I got to the week 2 exercise to go on a creative adventure, but I’m back on track now and will finish it soon. I got stalled because I found out that Grand Central would be celebrating its 100th Anniversary on February 1st, and since I live a short train ride north of New York City, this would be a perfect time and place for my adventure. On the way there, I wrote Morning Pages. So here’s what I wrote on the train, followed by some photos and info on what I did.

February 1st, 2013

Finally doing my week 2 creative adventure – going to the 100th Anniversary celebration for Grand Central Station. aka Grand Central Terminal. Like the movie The Terminal, I don’t plan on stepping foot out in the city. This is something I need to do for myself. To reassert my independence to myself. And for my art, to reaffirm that it is important, worthy, and worthwhile. Because it is, or should be. Today I will go into stores I’ve only passed by. I will eat at restaurants I’ve only smelled. I will sit on a wall, observing and drawing, and pretend to be an artist. I’m excited already at where the day will lead me. No schedule, no responsibilities. Just me and my camera, my sketch book, my art supplies, limited and limitless as they are. Free as the boat on the river. The sky is full of clouds, but it might as well be warm and sunny. The train surges ahead, hurtles toward my destination. A bird flies over the river, another reminder of the freedom I feel. A stop. Usually I get off the train here, but not today. No work today. Goodbye, coworkers. I’m sure I’m not missing out on much. The train pulls away. A thrill.
I’m still here. This is real. This is happening. This is further than I usually go by myself. I look at the sky again and realize there are patches of bright blue. The conductor finally comes. “Thank you.” He takes my ticket, punches two arrow-shaped holes in it, and gives it back for my return trip. He moves on with his routine, not knowing how un-ordinary today is, how special to me already. I love the train. The sounds, the acceleration and stops… the sound of the whistle is much more exciting than a car horn. Attention! Passing through! Taking people to the best city on earth. New York City. The bright blue patches are growing larger, fighting the clouds for prominence. Tunneling under bridges, alongside a running track. Taller buildings tell me we are here. It’s not yet Manhattan, but it’s the outskirts of The City. We pass Yankee Stadium. Old buildings, the paint peeling. We cross a bridge to the island that is Manhattan, and now my heart starts to race. Harlem, such a historical place, goes by, and I wonder if Langston Hughes ever took the train. We pass a high school football field, possibly the last sign of nature I will see for hours. Now the sky is only half full of clouds. Buildings so tall I can’t count the number of floors before they are gone. And then, at last, we enter the long, dark tunnel that ends at Grand Central Terminal. Here I come!

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After I got off the train, I headed for the main area, where I was delighted to see the special numbering in the windows:

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I walked around that floor for a while. My favorite store was this cute little place with kid stuff like games, books, and toys. The store is called Kidding Around. I was really tempted to buy this Olivia lunch box, and I kinda wish I had gone back for it:

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I also saw a book called Do You Doodle? that reminded me of the e-course, because one of the exercises is to doodle every day.

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And I loved these little unicorns, one with a rider and one without.

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I bought Wreck This Journal, which I’ve been thinking of buying on Amazon for the past month. Seeing it in the store was like a sign that I need to get it. I got a tiny notepad of the Eiffel Tower, because I have been to Paris and I want to go back some day. I got a button-making kit, which I plan to have fun with. And I got Mark Silly Putty, because I figured he would love it. (Turns out I was right.)

Then I was a little hungry, so I went downstairs to get a yummy smoothie at the Dishes kiosk. I went for Agua Fresca, which is strawberries, pineapple, and orange juice. I didn’t get a photo, but trust me, it was delicious. I did take a photo of an old man falling asleep on a bench, which was pretty funny.

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I actually stayed in line for Magnolia Bakery because I had heard that their cupcakes are amazing. I bought two cupcakes and a chocolate chip brownie.

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I wandered around a bit more, and then I went outside to look for a real NYC hot, soft pretzel. Sadly, there were no vendors nearby, perhaps because it’s winter. I walked halfway around the outside block, and along my way I went to Starbucks and got my favorite drink, a venti peppermint hot chocolate with whipped cream. I looked at the sky and didn’t see a single cloud anymore. It had turned into a perfect day.

I went back inside went to Zaro’s Bakery, because I can’t go to Grand Central without stopping there. I got myself an authentic NYC black and white cookie, and I got my husband Mark a cannoli, which he loves. I found an empty wall across the hall and sat to cool down (I was hot from so much walking) and to enjoy my hot chocolate. (Photo below is my view of Zaro’s from where I sat.)

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About ten minutes later, I got up and walked around some more, and found myself at Posman Books. I loved seeing Julia Cameron books, because she is the person who first taught about Morning Pages in her book The Artist’s Way.

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I fell in love with a lockable mermaid diary, so of course I bought it. And I bought another book I’ve been eye-ing on Amazon lately, Doodle Diary: Art Journaling for Girls. And a little Degas notebook, because I love his ballerina paintings. And a journal that says “Write” because, well duh, I love to write. And it has typewriters on it, which rocks.

Then it was time to get creative. I found myself a nice quiet little corner, sat down, and… ate my brownie. I was hungry. LOL. Then I did my best to draw what I saw… minus the people. I’m not very experienced with sketching, but I had fun anyway. Here’s a photo showing part of my view, followed by my sketch.

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After the sketch, I did my best to copy the Centennial logo with colored pencil, then used colored pens to add confetti.

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When I was done, it was time to head for the train home. I had purchased an off-peak priced ticket (not during rush hour), so I had twenty minutes to get the next train home, or I would have to either pay extra or wait a few hours to get another off-peak train. On the way, I saw the special Lego version of Grand Central, which was awesome because I forgot about it and I’m glad I didn’t miss it.

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Then I went and got on the train and took photos of some of my purchases.

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Button-making kit, Silly Putty

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Eiffel tower notebook, Degas notebook

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Wreck This Journal, Doodle Diary

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Write journal, mermaid diary

Then I started to work on the Doodle Diary by folding creases into the spine and tearing out the title pages and coloring the second page. I had a fun time, even though I was only there for about 3 1/2 hours. It was plenty of time for me, and I will never see Grand Central Station quite the same way again. It will always remind me of this day.

Quotes from The Artist’s Way

In January-March of 2011 I worked through The Artist’s Way. I read mostly on my Kindle, and posted quotes I like to my Facebook page. I’m compiling my list here so I can delete the individual posts there. Preceding each quote is the comment, if any, I posted along with it. Any quote not attributed is by Julia Cameron.

love this quote, it fits with my Word of the Year JOY

I cannot believe that the inscrutable universe turns on an axis of suffering; surely the strange beauty of the world must somewhere rest on pure joy! LOUISE BOGAN

 

note to self…

Do not let your self-doubt turn into self-sabotage.

 

must rememer this when my Censor starts her crazy perfectionist ranting

You will discover the joy of practicing your creativity. The process, not the product, will become your focus.

 

Julia forgot to say clean. I know I am not the only person whose instinct when angry is to clean.

ANGER IS FUEL. We feel it and we want to do something. Hit someone, break something, throw a fit, smash a fist into the wall, tell those bastards. But we are nice people, and what we do with our anger is stuff it, deny it, bury it, block it, hide it, lie about it, medicate it, muffle it, ignore it. We do everything but listen to it.

 

Proud to say I did not abandon my MPs when things got tough last week. 🙂

In my years of watching people work with morning pages, I have noticed that many tend to neglect or abandon the pages whenever an unpleasant piece of clarity is about to emerge.

 

TAW chapter 5

Recovery is the process of finding the river and saying yes to its flow, rapids and all.

 

Wow. I love this one.

It seems to work more like we shake the apple tree and the universe delivers oranges.

 

Yes. Love this.

Expect the universe to support your dream. It will.

 

“A painting is never finished. It simply stops in interesting places,” said Paul Gardner. A book is never finished. But at a certain point you stop writing it and go on to the next thing. A film is never cut perfectly, but at a certain point you let go and call it done. That is a normal part of creativity—letting go. We always do the best that we can by the light we have to see by.

 

hmmm…. yes. I agree. not with everything she says but this is so true.

QUESTION: What would I do if I didn’t have to do it perfectly? ANSWER: A great deal more than I am.

 

Usually, when we say we can’t do something, what we mean is that we won’t do something unless we can guarantee that we’ll do it perfectly.

 

in order to move through loss and beyond it, we must acknowledge it and share it.

 

Aha moment. Right here. Yup.

In order to recover our sense of hope and the courage to create, we must acknowledge and mourn the scars that are blocking us.

 

OMG. Hell to the yes.

Do not call the inability to start laziness. Call it fear.

 

umm… guilty!

Until we know better, we call a great many creative swans ugly ducklings. This is an indignity we offer our brainchildren as they rear their heads in our consciousness. We judge them like beauty-pageant contestants.

 

Believe.

It is the inner commitment to be true to ourselves and follow our dreams that triggers the support of the universe.

Letter from my 8 year old self (TAW)

Dear Michelle,

Hi me! It’s me! I mean you! I mean… you know what I mean! I can’t stop putting exclamation points!!! Okay, I’m done now. Really I am. Really! I’m j/k, that was the last one.

So, um, you’re so old! Not as old as Mr. LoGuidice. (I’m really good at spelling his name now. He made us practice.) I don’t know what you’re like because it’s 20 years away. Are there flying cars yet? Do people live on the moon? Are you married? Do you have any kids? Will I ever stop asking questions? (NO!)

I’m guessing you would like to hear what I think your life is like. Well, if you did get married I hope you didn’t marry Gary (hey, that rhymed!) because he is so mean to me. I guess it would be okay to marry Danny or Mike or Kevin. They are very cute. WAIT! What am I saying? You might have married someone I don’t even know! Or maybe you’re not married and I’m making you feel bad! Okay, if you are not married, I’m sorry if I made you feel bad. Okay? Okay.

Are you still friends with anyone I know? Is Craig still mean to you a lot? Does Krissy still want to be just like you? Why can’t I stop asking questions?

Oh, I am supposed to be telling you what I think you’re like. I think you still love the color purple and that you are a famous ballerina. Or a published author. Are you rich and famous yet like Ann M. Martin?

Hmm, what else?

I think you live in a small house, but someday you want a bigger one. You have lots of money and a purple car and you don’t have any pets and you read a lot and write and color in coloring books, because I those are all really nice and fun things. I hope you don’t mind me being silly because I am! And I hope you don’t mind me asking a lot of questions.

Are you pretty? Of course you must be, because you’re me all grown up! I hope Daddy still gives you roses. He gave me a rose on my eighth birthday and I was really happy and I felt like a big grown up girl. And Mommy put it in the Bible in Matthew 8 so we will have it forever and ever. Okay, that is all.

Love,
Michelle (at 8 )

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This letter is an exercise from Week 4 of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.

Letter from my 80 year old self (TAW)

Dear Michelle,

First of all, stop worrying about Charlotte. Mark will get better. Charlotte is yours to find in your future but I can’t tell you when, as that would ruin it. She’s beautiful, though, a real looker. But she’s not the only one… oh, you’ll see. The journey is far more important than the destination! Oh, to be 28 again…

Look, this whole art thing. I know you’re only just starting to understand this, so let me help you out. Don’t put yourself in a box. You don’t need to be an expert. You’re a dabbler, and there’s no shame in that. Follow your heart. Follow your gut too, but follow your heart. Make what makes you happy. If you want to sell your art, sell it. If you want to give it away, give it. But don’t keep it all. You don’t need it. Keep photos if you want, but you don’t need to hold on to it. It’s time to start exploring your options. (If you do sell your art, you can use the money to buy new art supplies! Ever think of that?)

And travel, my dear girl. Travel as much as possible. See the world, even if you’re not sure how you’ll pay for it. Life is too short to have regrets, or to live in fear. I know it’s cliché, but it’s true.

Oh, what a wonderful life you have ahead of you! I don’t want to give too much away, but I can’t resist a little hint. You will have more joy than you can contain! Laughter, too, so many laughs you’ll cry. And you’ll cry, sometimes so many tears you’ll laugh.

Never forget that you are a work in progress. So am I, by the way, and just wait til you see this side of it all, it’s pretty remarkable if I do say so myself. Don’t dwell on the bad stuff, but always look on the bright side. It can always get better, and you have the power to make it so.

Everything you struggle with now, you will figure it out. Everything you hope for, you will get it and then some! Just wait til you turn… but no, I can’t be too specific. Just remember that you have one birthday coming up that will be a wonderful day you will never ever forget.

I know I’m going on and on, I’m just so excited to get this chance to talk to you. Never give up. Never give in. Stand your ground. You are stronger than even you know. But know too that there is a time and a place for vulnerability. Oh, I just love you so much.

Take care of yourself, baby girl. (What? Oh yes, of course.) I have a message from someone else who’s here with me. He says he loves you, Honey Bunny, and also thanks for everything you’ve come through and every challenge you still have ahead of you. I wish I could walk with you forever and tell you everything is going to be okay, but Charlotte is on her way over with the family.

Lots of Love,
Michelle (at 80)

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This letter is an exercise from Week 4 of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.

The Artist’s Way – Week 4 preview

I am working through The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron with some friends in the Goddess Circle (link should be in the sidebar). Today starts week 4, of which a major component is the Reading Deprivation exercise. The goal is to get through the week with as little reading as possible. I can read anything that is vital, like street signs, and I can read what is necessary for work. Other than that the goal is not reading, but doing. Reduce input to increase output.

Here are some guidelines I’ve set for myself:

  • Email: I will check my work email once when I get to work, and once before leaving for the day. My personal email I can check slightly more often, but the goal is to handle it as quickly as possible. Anything that is not a quick read, and not urgent, will be archived in a Week 5 file, which I can look at next week.
  • Blogs: I am not allowed to read any blogs. I am allowed to post in my blogs, because writing is allowed this week. If someone comments on one of my blog posts, I will allow myself to accept or decline the comment (but let’s be honest, I don’t decline unless it’s spam).
  • Books, newspapers, magazines: I am not allowed to read any of these. The only exception is that I will allow myself to cut up magazines for collage work, but any articles I am interested in have to wait until next week to read. As a librarian, I usually read a lot. So the “no books” rule is particularly challenging.
  • Work: This is the biggest exception. I am allowed to do work-related things. This is important because part of my job is to look things up for people, so I can’t just not do that. But it’s also that hardest thing because I sit at a computer just about all day, and I have to be very aware of what I’m doing so I am not accidentally sliding into old habits.
  • Facebook and Twitter: I am not allowed on these sites because they are all about input and very little output. I am allowing myself to text message a few people, but I can’t just sit and text for an hour. I can do enough to barely save my sanity from the lack of FB and Twitter, and to encourage friends who may be going through a rough time and need to know that I’m around. And I can text if it’s to regain my determination to get through Reading Dep week (or to help someone else do the same). But I have to be careful and try to limit this too. I even deleted the FB and Twitter apps from my phone to limit temptation. Oh! And my blog posts automatically post to FB and Twitter, so that doesn’t count.

So that sums up what I’m cutting out for this week. What are some ideas about what I can do while I’m not reading?

  • Write blog posts. Beside this one, I am limiting myself to one post each night to give a status report of Reading Dep week, because I think I need the accountability. I can also post if I’m sharing something creative I’ve done, like painting or taking photos.
  • Paint!
  • Take photos!
  • Work on the latch hook white tiger I started in about 2003 and still haven’t gotten ten rows done.
  • Make lists (clearly I’m an instant pro at this one).
  • Clean my apartment.
  • Play board games with my husband.
  • Play solitaire – with real cards, because the computer has too many temptations.
  • Dance.
  • Do a workout video.
  • Listen to music, especially in the car (no more morning talk on the radio, that’s input).
  • Baking/cooking.
  • Get even more chatty with the girls at work. (Is that possible? We’re about to find out!)
  • Pedicure. This one is almost guaranteed to happen.
  • (left blank for possibility)