I say “do it” rather than “read it” because, although it is a book, THE ARTIST’S WAY, along with others of Julia’s titles, present a program of multi-week creativity-enhancing lessons and exercises, which have probably been successful in increasing the creativity of millions of struggling artists.
Actually, while Julia Cameron’s books are marketed to artists, I’ve been the bookseller at two of her conferences, and I’ve met loads of her devoted fans who don’t consider themselves as artists of any kind, but who regard THE ARTIST’S WAY as do-it-yourself therapy for everyone, who’ve made, not artistic growth, but life-growth, using Julia’s lessons and exercises.
With all that said, while I’ve made such artistic strides thanks to her books, I haven’t found her some of her recent books quite as stirring as her earlier ones. I’ve read them all, but they haven’t had such a profound impact on me.
Until now. With THE PROSPEROUS HEART: CREATING A LIFE OF “ENOUGH,” which she wrote with Emma Lively, Julia Cameron has once again captured the stirring, life-changing lessons and exercises of her earlier works.
Some of the tools used in THE PROSPEROUS HEART will be familiar ones to her readers, such as the morning pages, which instructs those following the exercises to write three solid pages of stream-of-conscious writing as soon as they wake up, and the recommended weekly walks. But other tools, such as counting every penny in and out, and the time outs are different.
At first glance, this doesn’t seem like a book that should have a stirring impact on me. Sure, like lots of people, I don’t have as much money as I’d like. But I’m not a shopaholic — sometimes it seems as if I was born without the shopping gene, since it’s usually my least favorite activity. No smoke coming off my credit cards!
So it might seem strange that a book that helps people to manage their finances and stop over-shopping and running up debt they can’t afford should have make such a strong impression on me, but it did. That’s because, according to Cameron, prosperity isn’t a financial issue, but a spiritual one. She maintains that the opposite of prosperity isn’t poverty, but anxiety. It’s the fear of not having enough that makes us feel the desperation for more.
She shows her readers how to recognize the abundance they already have their lives, but which probably goes unnoticed in their quest for whatever magic number they think will satisfy them. She points out that the magic number rarely does satisfy. Other exercises easily help readers to bring more fulfilling prosperity into their lives. For instance, in one exercise, she instructs the reader to list five things they’d like, which they can’t afford — and then encourages them to search for some small step they could take in each of those areas.
When I did the exercise, I listed five large things I’d like, but when I didn’t immediately think of five small steps I could take toward each one of them, I poo-pooed the exercise as ineffective, at least for me. And yet, within hours I did think of small steps I could take, and each one proved to be an inspired choice and wholly satisfying.
But as with all her do-it-yourself lessons & exercises books, my gains greatly exceeded her intended subject matter. While THE ARTIST’S WAY and some other titles, including THE RIGHT TO WRITE and others, did help me to enhance my creativity, THE PROSPEROUS HEART made me to appreciate the level of abundance I already enjoy and aided me in bringing more prosperity into my life — my greatest gains exceeded the financial realm, and helped me to make life-improvements in areas that seemed to have nothing to do with money.
The book’s voice — Cameron’s voice, to those who have had the good fortune to have heard her — at times quirky, at other times stern, but always confident in the efficacy of the lessons she has to offer — will comfort those who’ve derived much from her books in the past, but should also prove welcoming to Cameron newbies. For those of you who might be shopoholics, I’m sure you’d derive even more than I did. If THE PROSPEROUS HEART offers you half of what it gave me, you’ll find it worth the time, money and personal energy you’ll invest in it.