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On Finding Focus

Logan on Black Butte Summit - Photo by Tammy Strobel

I’ve been unfocused for the last few weeks. It started when I began to second-guess a book/course idea that I’ve been brainstorming. Then, I was selected as an alternate juror for a criminal trial. As an alternate, I sat through the trial—and had to be on standby during the jury’s deliberations—but I couldn’t sit in on the deliberations. The jury selection process and the criminal trial were fascinating. I learned about the trafficking of methamphetamines and how criminal trials work.

As I write this essay, I have notebooks, fountain pens, and books littering my desk because I’m trying to regain my focus. This week, I need to decide if I’m going to teach my online photography course in August. In addition, I need to determine if I should proceed with my new course idea, turn it into a book, or just let the project go.

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron is helping me sort through my options and creative blocks. I’m beginning Week 4 and have 8 more weeks to go in the class. I’m inspired by the course, and I love doing my Morning Pages.

Cameron describes Morning Pages as:

“…three pages of long-hand writing, strictly stream-of-consciousness. They might also, more ingloriously, be called brain drain, since that is one of their main functions.”

Completing my morning pages is the first step I take toward calming my mind and finding focus. When I write my morning pages, I jot down whatever comes to mind. I write about how I feel, what I’m doing, what I’m thinking, and more.

Also, spending time in nature helps me refocus. For example, last weekend, Logan and I hiked to the top of Black Butte (you can check out my photo gallery below). After spending three days in court, being outside and basking in the sun felt amazing.

After the hike, I felt ready to focus on work and dive into The Artist’s Way. As I read through Week 4’s essays and assignments, I felt nervous because one of my main tasks was centered on “reading deprivation.” Cameron explains:

“If you’re feeling stuck in your life or in your art, few jump starts are more effective than a week of reading deprivation.”

No reading? That’s right: no reading. For most artists, words are like tiny tranquilizers. We have a daily quota of media chat that we swallow up. Like greedy food, it clogs our system. Too much of it and we feel, yes, fried.”

Recently, I’ve been feeling stuck and fried, and I’m hopeful that Cameron’s task of no reading will enable me to find even more focus. It’s going to be an interesting experiment. So this week, I won’t share my Happy Links roundup on the blog because I won’t be reading articles or books. After work, I’ll be taking photos, cooking, swimming, spending time outside, and doing the exercises in The Artist’s Way.

I hope you have a lovely week. Enjoy the photos!

If you’re reading this via email or in a feed reader, visit RowdyKittens.com to view my photo gallery.

With gratitude,
Tammy

P.S. A Simple Year is open through June 23, 2016. Join us for a yearlong course on living simply.