In a recent staff meeting with the Zen Habits Team, it was suggested for each of us to go through one of Leo’s courses like a student would. I chose his ‘Beautiful Mornings’ course. I love waking up early and seeing the first light of day, but to do that and feel rested, I needed to reel in my bedtime.
In the course Leo’s asks that we implement something into our morning to make it more beautiful. There’s a book that’s been laying on my bedside table for years. You can tell by the cover it’s been well used, and the pages aren’t as bright, white as they once were, but it’s been laying there waiting to be used some more frequently. I’ve re-inserted it into my morning and praying over my adult children.
Most mornings I wake up and my mind begins rolling through the day, but last year I promised myself I’d ‘watch the day unfold‘. Being in need of more practice, I’m sticking with it this year. There’s one thing I feel the need to do before anything else, (even coffee), and that is to spend time with God.
No matter how the day unfolds, or what I see on my plate, by putting Him first I’m trusting His plan instead of mine. When it comes down to it lovely, the only reminder I need today is, I am second.
It’s still dark outside my window, and the house is quiet and still. I’ve already written my morning page, and I call it that because I only write one page. Julia recommends 3 pages of longhand, but that feels like work to me. It’s more enjoyable to pull out one blank page and fill in the empty space. I’ve been noticing a certain feeling toward the page of the bottom.
The halfway mark has a satisfying feel to it, and once you get there, ‘it’s all downhill’ as they say. The pen glides back and forth across the page, making it’s way to the bottom. I always pause when there’s only enough room left for two lines to be written. How do I want the page to end? Sometimes I simply wish myself a remarkable day and sign off.
The page is not about what you write, it’s just asking to be written. It’s become my daily disciple before the day begins. A certainty to be relied upon in this uncertain world. For the past few days there’s a feeling of accomplishment, or completion when filling in the bottom. My soul is at ease at the bottom of the page.
It was 2019 when I first tried implementing the Morning Pages into my life, and it was a struggle. I tried and failed many times, but never stopped completely. In 2021 it finally clicked, and today, the page feels like mine.
Looking back I see it as playing with pages. You have to find the page that’s right for you. I kept bending the rules, but in reality there’s not many rules with the Morning Pages. It’s pen to paper, first thing in the morning, therein lies the name. One thing I always came back to was a standard size piece of paper, but today the page looks totally different than where I began.
It’s blank with no lines and it’s not in a notebook.
I’d continually try different forms of paper and encourage you to as well. I’ve used journals and spiralbound notebooks. Notebook paper worked for months, but then I purchased some paper for a project at work. I only needed 25 pieces of paper to print out some letters, but the smallest sized box held 100 pieces. This paper is pale gold parchment, and if you’ve never held a piece of parchment paper in your hands, you need to.
Each morning I sit down at my desk, pick up a pen and let it glide across the blank page.
You gotta write everyday and I just learned Morning Pages don’t count as everyday writing. Those pages are simply there to catch yourself thinking.
One of my most loved writer’s is Julia Cameron, and I’m going through her course, ‘The The Right to Write.” Listening to Julia’s sage advice is similar to listening to my Mother if she would’ve written. This course was given to me by my son for Christmas. He asked what I wanted this year, and I know how much he usually spends on me at Christmas, so I told him about the course. The course has more meaning as a gift.
I imagined sitting and watching hour long videos, but that was only in my mind. Julia is smart in making each video one minute or so long, and breaking each lesson into tiny clips, which leave you hungry for more.
Not everything you write is meant to be published. I believe that’s the beauty of the Morning Pages. I can lay exactly how I feel to the page. Julia expressed the importance of writing them by hand, instead of typing. She described typing on a keyboard instills speed and accuracy, but writing on a page by hand brings depth. Those ‘first thing in the morning’ thoughts run deep, which I’m grateful not to publish.
Everyone has a Writer in them, but writing wants to be released everyday. If you need a permission slip, here it is my lovely. You have the right to write.
This weekend my bedroom door fulfilled it’s purpose. I can count on one hand how many times this year I’ve closed my bedroom door. It’s been used, but not as a door.
I hang my winter robe on the top-left corner, so it’s readily available every morning as I walk through the door. The door handle is dripping with handbags that I’ve been wanting to sell or give away for months. Today the door stands clean and ready to be used as an actual door when needed.
What prompted this revelation? Two dogs and a cat.
I first noticed it while responding to a friend’s Marco Polo. I get excited when I talk and my voice reflects it. While trying to record the Marco Polo, our cat would try to sit in my lap, or he would stalk me if I were walking while talking. It became a distraction and I’d lose my train of thought.
Over the weekend someone called and I was excited to hear their voice, but this time here comes two dogs and a cat, circling around my feet with excitement too! It reminded me of how kids know when you’re on the phone and will appear with the most urgent of need at that very moment.
These toddlers have four legs.
I retreated to my bedroom, but they came scurrying in. I grabbed everything hanging on the bedroom door and tossed it on the bed. Scooted their furry butts out of my room, and slowly shut the door. The door slid into place with a click, and a soft thump. I liked the sound it made when it shut. Click, thump and then silence. I’ll keep it cleared off so it can serve it’s purpose, and may we always know my darling when it’s time to close the door.
Writing gives us a place to say what we need to say, but also to hear what we need to hear.
I’m reading The Artist’s Way for a second time. This year my Kindle died, but instead of replacing the device, I’m replacing digital books with real ones. Julia Cameron was first on the list for replacement, and I found a whole stack of her books at a second hand sale. 🥳
The Morning pages and I have a longtime love/hate relationship. I still can’t write all three pages every morning, but one solid page is better than none. Maybe it’s something you have to build up to, like each stroke across the page is strengthening the muscle needed to go onto page 2 and then 3. I had to smile at Julia’s description of her Morning Pages in The Artist’s Way.
“In order to retrieve your creativity, you need to find it. I ask you to do this by an apparently pointless process I call the Morning Pages,” says Julia. That’s one of the things I fancy most about these spaces I’ve shared with you this week. Only one has a valid reason, and that’s only temporary. The other two are pointless, and have no solid reason behind them, but when you have no particular reason you stand before the door of possibilities.
This morning my corner wasn’t comfortable to write the Morning Pages, so I moved to the kitchen table. The first sentence said, “I don’t have much to say today,” but before long I was filling in the last line of the page. What Julia describes as an apparently pointless process, is where the magic in this simple practice is revealed.
At this stage of my life there is not a lot of reasoning behind the majority of what takes place. It’s not so much the actual space as it is allowing time within that space to grow.
“It’s better to be seen than viewed”, said the cashier at the gas station. That phrase has stuck with me for almost a year. We were just making small talk, and then those words fell out of his mouth as I headed toward the door.
The people who walk through our lives are important, and we need to pay attention to who steps in and what they say because most have a message.
When we first moved here, there weren’t many people walking this neighborhood. There was the occasional runner, or someone would zoom by on a bicycle, but no one just strolling the streets. A year ago I began a simple habit of walking to the end of the street as a friendly presence in the neighborhood. I’ve met a good many neighbors and been doing this for long enough now, when they see me coming they stop and talk.
The time or day doesn’t matter so much as the doing.
This is not considered exercise. I literally step outside in whatever I’m wearing and stroll the nearby streets. My daughter got tickled at me one day when I walked out the door and forgot to leave my glasses at home. I was wrapped up in my favorite cardigan and my glasses were still sitting atop my head as we strolled, but it didn’t bother me because I want to be seen for who I am.
To be a writer, you need to release your words. To be a good neighbor, you need to keep them.
An excerpt from the book.
I enjoyed all of your fun comments on my previous post Embracing the New. Here’s a couple of photos I shared in my Fearless community taken with my new phone. I wanted to capture the tiny detail of the yellow flower blooming, and it did that, but it also but picked up every vein in the leaves. I love how the pot sitting below is blurry like it’s not supposed to be the focus.
We do not see our size. We do not view ourselves with accuracy. We are far larger, far more marvelous, far more deeply and consistently creative than we recognize or know.
Pg. 48 of ‘A Right to Write’, by Julia Cameron.
Here’s to showing up in true form and allowing ourselves to be seen. Much love-Barb.
My Fearless community adds value to my life. On our Team call, I recommended the Morning Pages to a Team member, because I used to do them and saw value in them. Then I asked myself, “Why did you stop writing them Barb?”
My Fearless Team member ran with the idea, and has 3 weeks under his belt. He’s doing so well with it, he inspired me to start writing them again. The main reason I stopped was out of frustration. I couldn’t complete the 3 pages of longhand Julia recommends, but then I heard her voice say, ‘Grab three pieces of paper.’
I’d been using a notebook to write the morning pages, and it was uncomfortable to write in. It was bulky and larger than a regular piece of notebook paper. Eyeing the stack of notebook paper from my daughter’s school stash, I grabbed three pieces of paper and laid them on the table. As I began to write I felt my hand glide across the page and noticed it was resting flat on the table, not elevated by the thickness of the notebook. After completing page one, I went on to page two and then three!
Morning pages are to be written first thing in the morning, and it’s different than Blogging. These are thoughts not fully formed in the mind and feel scattered. Pen to paper helps pull them together and smooth them out. They are not to be shared with anyone, so you can say whatever you darn well please. I do this before anything else, even coffee, so there’s a commitment.
As soon as your eyes open you’ll need:
Three pieces of paper.
Your favorite writing utensil.
Staring out a window helps gather thoughts.
What better place to scatter words than onto an empty page? Be happy and well loved. ~Barb