Anger’s Invitation

I wake up angry.

And I’m angry about it.

I’m angry that Lyla’s making us do two whole chapters at a time, and I know I’ll have to go through this book again and take my time, and I’m afraid won’t.

I’m angry that I can’t answer even one childhood question–the ones Julia says will help us restore the persons we’ve abandoned. Like the question about a favorite toy. I don’t know. Although I do have a picture of me with an old Brownie camera and a fishing pole.

I’m angry because that makes me wonder if I had a real childhood or if I was too responsible even back then. The questions make me remember things like sprinkling and rolling and refrigerating my dad’s white shirts–the ones he wore while bartending (his second job)–then pulling them out to iron on a summer morning while my parents worked and I babysat my pesky brother who had probably crawled out the window and was hiding behind the cabins or the outhouse.

I’m angry because I haven’t been able to kept up with my morning pages, and when I finally sit down to write this morning after I take Grace to school, I keep dozing off. Could that have anything to do with the fact that I had nightmarish dreams last night and my husband woke me up at one point after hearing me repeat some word over and over (it was “Jesus, Jesus” in my dream–and one of those times when you’re trying so hard to squeeze words out of uncooperative vocal cords) and the I let out a “high-pitched scream.” He said I sounded like a child. Hmmmm.

And by the way, I use an 8-1/2 by 11 spiral notebook with college-ruled pages. Maybe I should switch to wide-ruled. Or altogether blank.

I’m angry because I look around and see so much that needs to be done. And people need me.

And all. I want. To do. Is write.

Finally I kick off my Keens.

Yes, kick. And they land in the midst of the unpacked.

I yank on sensible socks and tie up tennies and grab my camera and drive three miles (only three!) to a little spot where I’ve wanted to linger for years.


Why haven’t I done that?

And I remember how my mom said she liked when I got mad at my high school boyfriend because I crocheted much faster on the afghan I was making for her.

Julia has some things to say about anger.

Anger is meant to be listened to. Anger is a voice, a shout, a plea, a demand. Anger is meant to be respected. Why? Because anger is a map. Anger shows us what our boundaries are. Anger shows us where we want to go. It lets us see where we’ve been and lets us know when we haven’t liked it. Anger points the way, not just the finger. In the recovery of a blocked artist, anger is a sign of health. ~page 62

I must be pretty healthy.

She goes on to say:

When we feel anger, we are often very angry that we feel anger. Damn anger!! It tells us that we can’t get away with our old life any longer. It tells us that old life is dying. It tells us we are being reborn, and birthing hurts. The hurt makes us angry.

Anger is the firestorm that signals the death of our old life. Anger is the fuel that propels us into our new one. Anger is a tool, not a master. Anger is meant to be tapped into and drawn upon. Used properly, anger is use-full.

Sloth, apathy, and despair are the enemy. Anger is not. Anger is our friend. Not a nice friend. Not a gentle friend. But a very, very loyal friend . . . It will always tell us when we have betrayed ourselves. It will always tell us that it is time to act in our own best interests. Anger is not the action itself. It is action’s invitation. ~page 62

I hang out for an hour, only coming home because I have to go to the bathroom. The anger has fizzled with the river’s flow–for now.


We’re working on weeks 2 and 3 — “Recovering a Sense of Identity” and “Recovering a Sense of Power.” Come join the discussion over at Tweetspeak Poetry as Lyla continues to lead the charge through The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron.


  1. says

    I’m not reading Julia’s book, but I have been enjoying reading so many of your responses to it.

    I think if I were reading it, I probably would have chucked it at something or someone by now.

    And…when did you switch over to Comment Luv?
    Nancy Franson recently posted..This Thing Called Love

    • Sandra says

      Ha! I wish you were. Reading along that is. And it might be fun to watch you chuck.

      I’ve always had Comment Luv…

  2. says

    You’ve identified a lot of sources of your anger, and that you wanted to write… but in the end you chose to escape everything, including your writing. Hmmm. Wonder what that says. 😉

    While I read it some time ago, I recall being surprised that Julia’s evaluation of anger’s usefulness didn’t include any acknowledgement that anger is not always justified because sometimes it’s an indication of selfishness and resentment. (Not that I’m suggestion yours was!) Amid the search for a lost identity God reminds us it’s occasionally necessary “to deny ourselves.” Caring for the person he created means finding a balance that includes time for our renewal and recreation, time for others, and time for him. When life crowds us, we don’t tend to keep the balance, but steal from ourselves instead of pinching bits off all the demanding entities. We need to learn how to do a better job of balancing.
    Carol J. Garvin recently posted..What’s to be done with the rough material?

    • Sandra says

      Awwww, man, Carol. Here you come with your wisdom again. I thought I was grabbing an artist’s date, but maybe I *was* running away. So now I need to think about that. At least I got some photos (that’s creative, right?) and I came back to write about it. 😉

      You are exactly right about the balancing act. I’m still learning to do that. Wonder if I’ll ever get that down.

      Have I told you lately how much I appreciate you?

  3. says

    Wow, Sandy. This is pretty much my response, too. Although it comes out somewhat differently. I’ll tell you what though, that anger generated some GORGEOUS PICTURES. And that’s worth more than you think, friend. And these words? Valuable and real. So…maybe it’s working? I keep trying to tell myself that at any rate. Now to get the DANG PAGES done.
    diana recently posted..Redeeming the Time

    • Sandra says

      I keep telling myself that I might find some great surprises if I’d just get those pages done. If I could just make and keep that habit of daily spillage. And look at it as a meditative exercise–a time of not only writing my thoughts but His. It’s apparently a well-proved creative aid.

      And thanks. :)

  4. says

    I must be pretty healthy, too, because since I made anger my friend, she has been very, very loyal.

    And like you, dear Sandy, my childhood is clouded with adult responsibilities and cares. Five favorite foods? Good heavens! I can’t name even one.
    Megan Willome recently posted..Summer?

    • Sandra says

      I thought of a favorite food! Campbell’s Soup (probably chicken noodle.) But I had to have the same kind Soupy Sales was serving. And I could have it instead of liver–as long as I didn’t throw a fit about the liver cuz then I had to eat the liver.

  5. says

    I love this.
    feeling honored to be able
    to share in
    your fresh raw honesty
    poured out so beautiful.
    Heart thumping grateful
    over every. single. word.
    thank you, braveheart,

  6. says

    I started that book TWICE Sandy – and didn’t make it past the first couple of chapters either time. I understand. I hate trying to figure out things about me. Those kinds of questions leave me a bit angry too.
    So….the pictures are stunning, and you, dear friend, are an exceptional writer.
    Linda recently posted..Evil

    • Sandra says

      Wasn’t it just last week that I was spouting determination? I *want* to figure these things out about me. So it’s frustrating to run into roadblocks. But as long as they are needful things and not just sloth or procrastination–I can deal with that. :) I do wish you were along for the ride.

      And thank you, dear friend. Have you decided if LL will be a go for you yet after your move and all?

  7. says

    I read her book a few years back. Some of it I had to skim – was too heavy for me. Maybe it was the part on anger?? I have stuck with my three morning pages since then (although I use a smaller spiral, 9 1/2 by 6)(the smaller size is do-able for me)(and I don’t always do them in the morning)(is that too many parentheses?) A book like that, you take what you can, learn, and move on to create, like you did with your photos, especially the shadows on the water. I can feel the cool breeze, the anger drifting away. Good job.
    Maureen recently posted..Breathing

    • Sandra says

      I think there’s a legalist in me that says if there are 10 tasks, you do 10 tasks. If the sign says to say on the path, you don’t step into the grass. So I get frustrated when I can’t follow all the instructions. Thinking I probably need to explore that issue. :)

      And thanks.

  8. says

    I don’t know if it’s an artist’s date or running away — or maybe running hard right into the very heart of God? — but your words, your photos, your honesty are worth every roadblock. Sometimes I think we try too hard to put ourselves, our actions, motives, heart intent — God — in a box, label it nice and neat so we can itemize action steps, draft a plan and do something, make progress, grow, anything quantifiable. But isn’t the growing sometimes underground, in the dirt, in the muck, in the darkness where we can’t even see?

    I don’t love The Artist’s Way, but fascinated by the reactions. I’ve been staying just outside the reaction stage, because since my injury, anger costs me too much physically. I’ve had to learn to stay calm or I literally can’t breathe, can’t swallow, can’t talk, can’t move because of the pain. And it takes days for the nerves to settle and allow the muscles to relax. I’m not sure that’s necessarily good either, but I have definitely become a more calm and thoughtful person. Ahhhhh…God! Beautiful gifts in the midst of the muck.

    Love You, friend. And I’m already looking forward to next week’s discussion. :)
    Cindee Snider Re recently posted..Capacity

    • Sandra says

      Oh Cindee! Exactly. EXACTLY! Maybe I wasn’t so much running away as running to. Because it’s in places like this where I find His gifts, His artistry, and all I want to do is reflect Him. And maybe I’m angry because there are so many–too many–times I don’t.

      Yet still, I think part of the anger is due to my lack of discipline. For not doing the things that need to be done in their time. So I often create my own muck.

      But if we don’t live in the muck, learn the ways of the muck, how can we help others out of the muck?

      So I guess working through this book IS helping me to discover and face some things about myself–and the best place to take those are to Him.

      Thank you for this! Loving you right back.

  9. says

    I know that all the posts (completely unrelated ones) about anger are definitely an indicator that God may be trying to tell me something…and I really don’t look forward to the pain of that rebirth.
    Sandy Marsh recently posted..The Shape of the Heart

    • Sandra says

      Anger is usually the result of–a coverup for–underlying emotions–fear, disappointment, loss–and if we can just recognize it for that and then ask God to show us what birthed it…

  10. Diane BAiley says

    Applause! I know what you mean, You are speaking my language. We also have that book, though I have not read it yet, my husband has.

  11. says

    Oh yeah, I can relate… and I had to chuckle because my morning pages gave me a heck of a time today (trying to use my laptop which is against all the rules but my hands fall asleep when I write more than a few minutes by hand and my pc was crashing). I decided to use a journal SMALL pages lol! It made me happy to break another rule (me who hates to drive against the arrows in an empty parking lot)!!! Grrrr and ha ha! Take that you pissy anger inducing morning pages! So, the thought of your BLANK pages gave me a whole heap of pleasure to consider!!!

    As for unjustified anger, I don’t see it possible anymore to feel unjustified anything…. it always points a finger at something, but it is not the direction it is the finger… it’s up to us to figure out what caused all the wagging to begin with- somewhere under all the layers of why it’s okay and not okay to blame or not blame is the raw kernel of truth that makes the pulse race and the face redden. It might be a body memory from a time when we were too young to speak but old enough to feel. We stored it away. As feeling. I have a feeling that it’s when we put inaccurate words to it (bc it catches us off guard and we try to figure it out but our memory can be faulty and we don’t go deep enough) that we fall into blaming in the wrong direction…

    Your photos are spectacular! The one of the light on water caught my eye. It’s magical to capture LIGHT on WATER, don’t you think?
    Donna recently posted..madness

    • Sandra says

      ” . . . it [unjustified anger] always points a finger at something, but it is not in the direction of the finger . . .”

      What an important truth. And maybe sometimes it IS justified. A righteous anger. A table-tossing, Keen-kicking anger (I didn’t toss a table) that has shows us where we are putting ourselves before God. That we need to point that finger at and set our focus on Him.

  12. says

    Sandy, I really like what Maureen added here. Give yourself some room to do what works. All of Julia is not for all of us. (Surely not for all of me. 😉 ) Take what you can, let the rest go. And since we’re taking at a little bit of a gallop, feel even freer to do that. Pick a couple of things, go back to others later. Maybe years later. :)

    Even Julia says to just do some tasks, not all — pick a couple that appeal and a couple you resist. You know which parts you resist because they’re what you might need and which parts you resist because they’re crap. (Yes, you also know I just said and meant that.) Love you, friend.
    Lyla Lindquist recently posted..The Artist’s Way: Currents