CASE OF A WOMAN WHO CLAIMED TO HAVE NO TIME TO WRITE
“I don’t have any time to write,” a middle-aged woman said. “I work until five or six, then there’s dinner to cook, and I have to check over the homework of my three children and…”
“Wait, stop, please stop right there. I realize you are very busy and you have many obligations and responsibilities. But what would you think of following Eric Maisel’s suggestion of “creating in the middle of things”?
“What does that mean?” she asked.
“Well, you want to write and Julia Cameron, a person who has written many books, suggests that a person grab a minute here and a minute there to write. She says, “Write while the onions sauté.” Can you see that approach working for you?”
“Maybe. I’ve always thought I’d just wait until I’d retired and the children had grown. But, maybe not. I do do a lot of onion sautéing,” she said, laughing.
The following week she came into my office waving a batch of papers in her hand. “Look at what I’ve done. Of course I don’t expect you to read or critique it. I just wanted to show you. I am writing. Really writing.”
She added, smiling, “While the onions sauté.”
CASE OF A WOMAN WHO WANTED TO IMPROVE HER PAINTING SKILLS
“I’d love to be a painter, but my trees look like fat sticks with leaves and my mountains just big gray pyramids,” Suzanne said, adding, “It’s all so bland and boring even to me—especially to me.”
I thought of asking her what she wanted to do about it. But if she knew, she probably wouldn’t be coming to me for coaching.
I wondered. Maybe it would help if we did a little actual seeing.
“Let’s go for a walk,” I suggested.
As we walked down the road in the sunshine of the late autumn day, we stopped to really look at trees.
“Look at all the different shades of green in that cedar,” I said.
“Oh, yes,” she replied. “And see all those striations on the trunk and those funny bent branches.”
We also studied the many shades of blue on a Blue Jay, perched on a fence, as well as studying the fence itself. Within an hour we had really looked at many things.
At the end of our walk, she explained, “I can’t wait to get home and paint. I just know I can paint better now.”
CASE OF A WOMAN CERAMICS ARTIST MARRIED TO A MAN WITH A TEMPER
A frail girl in her thirties began to cry almost as soon as she sat down in my office.
Between sobs she muttered, “He broke it.”
“Can you stop crying and tell me who broke what?” I asked, putting my arm around her shoulder.
“My husband. I made a really lovely vase in my ceramics class. That evening I overcooked the steak a little. My husband jumped up in a rage and threw my vase on the kitchen floor. It broke into a dozen pieces.”
She cried. “I really loved that vase.”
“Does he often get that angry?” I asked.
“Oh, yes, all the time.”
“Do you think he’d be willing to come in and work with me?”
“I think he would.”
And he did. Three months later he had learned to channel his anger.
They came together for a last session and, he handed me a lovely vase his wife had made saying, “I really love her work.. I hope you won’t ever lose your temper and break it.” He had a wide grin across his face.
“I’ll certainly do the best I can to control my temper,” I said, smiling up at him.
CASE OF A WOMAN ARTIST WHO HAD HAD VERY BAD RELATIONSHIPS.
A woman watercolorist arrived at my office complaining, “I’ve had five relationships in the past two years and each one ended with the guy really abusing me—sometimes just cussin’ me and sometimes giving me a black eye or worse.”
We explored her childhood experiences together and recognized all the forms of abuse she had experienced during that period of her life.
We worked on her being able to recognize the early warning signs, foretelling that the man might become abusive. We also worked on her becoming a bit stronger and more assertive.
Six months later she was in a relationship that was going very well and—no abuse.
“The worst enemy to creativity is self doubt” – Sylvia Plath