My long-time, 60-something, married friend (I’m calling her M, not her real name) met a new man about six years ago. Within two years, she left her emotionally abusive husband (she’d been married 37 years), found a full-time job (she hadn’t worked during most of her marriage, while she raised four children), and moved into a one-bedroom apartment (after living in a big, beautiful house for decades.)
M was happy in her new life. She loved her boyfriend, her work and her new home. But, unexpectedly, she lost her job about six weeks ago at the struggling company. Still unemployed, she feels like she’s losing the footing she’s worked hard to establish during the last few years.
M was inspired by a New York Times article she recently read about author Julia Cameron, who wrote The Artist’s Way, A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity in 1992, which has sold over 4 million copies. One of the seminal “self-help” books, The Artist’s Way proposes that absolutely everyone is creative and gives us the tools to release our “inner artist” in 12 weeks. That’s how long “it takes for people to cook,” Julia told The New York Times.
An avid reader, M couldn’t wait to read the book and start following Julia’s central advice to write three pages, by hand, the first thing every morning about absolutely anything that pops into your mind. The exercise is called “Morning Pages,” and I asked M to share some of hers with me. She generously agreed.
I admire M’s determination to put her intimate thoughts on paper, especially during this stressful period in her life. Too many of us are so busy running around we don’t take the time to think about what we’re really about.
Day One: M’s “Morning Papers”
“Week 5, still jobless! What to write to fill up three pages? Always had something to do. House, kids, friends, job. Void now of anything. Wake up at 6 am everyday – the day is long, stretching out beyond. I need a job! Resumes have been sent – no replies. Waiting for unemployment checks to start. Signed on with Medicare and Social Security. I’d rather have my job. Or any job. Work is good. Work is healthy. People to meet, energy used, brain power required. I want to write a book. I’ve always wanted to write a book. But first I have to fill three pages every morning, which seems impossible. Is it?
“This is day one of the ‘Morning Pages.’ I’m trying my best to fill up page one – how will I get to page three? If I had a job I wouldn’t be doing this. I’d be drinking my coffee, reading emails, checking Facebook, listening to the news in the background, looking at the time, planning on when to take a shower, wondering what to wear, what the weather forecast is, checking the weather on my phone.
“Make my bed, procrastinate about getting into the shower, hair needs washing, but I’m lazy. Will wash tomorrow. Text my daughter, ‘Good Morning Bella.’ She loves getting a morning greeting.
“Why did I lose my job? I loved my job. I loved going into NYC. I loved the kids I worked with. I loved the people I met. I have to fight the tears and depression. There’s so much to be depressed about. I am not a depressive person. I’ve always woken up happy. The glass is always half full! Waking up on the wrong side of the bed doesn’t mean a thing to me. There are so many things I can do. Jack of all trades, master of none. The thing I love to do most is cook. Cooking is relaxing. It’s art. It’s passion. It’s creative. Food is comforting. Enjoying a meal with the person you love is beautiful. Eating alone is lonely. Living alone is lonely. Watching TV alone is lonely. Never lived alone until three years ago when I moved into this apartment. But having a full time job meant I was only alone at night and on weekends.
“Now I am alone 24 hour a day – seven days a week. The exception is a few hours on the weekend, when my boyfriend comes over or if I’m invited to my daughter’s or a friend’s on a Saturday night. Single people are not invited to couples’ dinners. Friends. Now that’s a word that has really taken on new meaning for me. I had so many friends. My phone was always ringing, my door always swinging with someone dropping in. I know friends come into your life at different times and leave. But, the friends I’ve lost gave no reason for the their exit from my life. A life that is so far from the one I had.”