October 04, 2004


So, let's see . . . where was I? That's right. I was in the midst of recounting the various classes I participated in.

In mid-September I flew to San Diego and took an intensive workshop with Jill Badonsky. The purpose of the workshop was so that I could become trained to lead Muse Groups, following the model Jill has laid out in her book, The Nine Modern-Day Muses (and a Bodyguard).

What is a Muse Group, and why would I want to lead one, you ask? Well, a Muse Group is a small group of people who want to honor their creativity. Meeting with others once a week makes you set goals for your creative project and be accountable for reaching them, and forces you to make room for creativity in your schedule. (Jill's model is sort of similar to an Artist's Way group, but far more playful, and does not require morning pages.) I am interested in leading a group like this because I have experienced firsthand the excitement and productivity you get when you can bounce your creative idea off of other people. You come to a group with your rough draft, or your swatch, or your sketch, and you say, I'm not really sure where to go next with this. The comments and response from the others in the group can be fruitful. Also, I earned an MA in Education a few years back; although I am not currently teaching, I feel that leading a group like this would be a good match for my teaching skills.

These five days in San Diego were incredibly intense. At the same time, I don't remember when I've had so much fun! But, what else would you expect from someone who's tag line is: "Coaching Creative People, Motivationally Speaking, Making People Laugh, Making Art, Writing Stuff, Staring at the Sky" as Jill's tag line is.

Jill is as whimsical as her book. She is also incredibly savvy in interpersonal and intrapersonal skills. For example, the first day, there were the five of us who were there to get training, and Jill, sitting around a conference table introducing ourselves. I started off with an explanation of jobs that I have held that had some component of creativity to them, and various creative projects I've dedicated myself to . . . It went like this: "I was Executive Director of Washington Lawyers for the Arts for a year, which I loved because I really felt like I knew what was going on in the arts scene in Seattle and in the state, but I got tired of helping artists when what I wanted to do was to be an artist myself, to devote myself to writing a novel. So I worked on a novel, and studied with a Seattle writer. But my novel wasn't going anywhere, so I got my MA in Education and a teaching certificate and taught English and drama at a high school and directed the school plays. I loved directing the plays, but teaching English along with that was exhausting." Suddenly, it was like my jaw unhinged and shifted into overdrive, and I started blurting out all of these creative projects that have been percolating in the back of my mind. "I've recently taken up weaving, and I want to design a Fair Isle sweater using 14 colors, and I want to start a Shakespearean theatre company, and I want to write the Great American Novel--"

I had to clap my hand over my own mouth or I would have jabbered on like this for hours, so excited was I at the prospect of all the things I want to start.

Jill fixed her eye upon me and said, "You're a boomer, aren't you?"

Okay, okay, so I was born on the tail end of the Baby Boom. So what?

"Boomers think that things are supposed to be easy. They don't know that creativity is hard. If you're always starting new things when the going gets rough, you haven't developed your creativity muscle."

I felt utterly seen and understood. Throughout the five days, Jill continued to deliver pearls of insight into how the mind works and how the creative process works, and I continued to be impressed with how psychologically savvy she is.

My favorite memory of the five days in San diego, though, is the field trip our group took. Our hotel was not far from Little Italy and an excellent art supply store, so one day at lunch we walked to that neighborhood. The art supply store had a table display of notebooks and sketchbooks of various kinds, and one of these had a quote on the front of it: What would you do today if you knew you could not fail? Our little group gathered around this question and pondered the profundity of it.

What if, today, we didn't buy into our own limitations?

A short time later, I was at the cash register paying for some art markers and sketchbooks. I looked over at our group -- and they were uninhibitedly dancing in the aisles to the rock'n roll that was playing over the sound system. So I joined 'em.

My task for today, October 4, is to block this:
brontescarf 011.jpg
I finished the knitting of the Bronte scarf over the weekend! The blocking of it looms before me.... It's what I'll be doing today, hoping that I cannot fail.

On Saturday, I had the chance to meet my friend Marti for coffee. She gave me these jewel-like stitch markers that she made:
brontescarf 012.jpg
Thanks, Marti!

Posted by Karen at October 4, 2004 06:10 PM

That is a great description of your class. I am ready to go out and be creative, now!
Congratulations on the Bronte scarf. It looks pretty great even unblocked.

Posted by: Anne at October 4, 2004 08:00 PM

Fascinating! What a provocative description.

I'm looking forward to seeing this Bronte scarf, by the way--get those blocked pictures up!

Posted by: Janine at October 5, 2004 01:42 PM