Slaying your creative monsters.

Via on Jun 6, 2011

I moved to Boulder in 2004 during the height of my yoga obsession.

In the year leading up to my move, I started teaching yoga, attended two yoga teacher trainings, began assisting my yoga teacher at conferences, and met two girls who would later become my Recovering Yogi partners in crime. It was all happening.

After landing in Colorado, I quickly became reacquainted with, and started dating, a guy who was my boyfriend for a brief stint in the 8th grade. Throughout our relationship, my pursuit of all things yogic intensified. I continued teaching, attended any workshops I could get my hands on, and even began looking at empty commercial spaces to open up my own studio, which had been a dream of mine for years. From 50 thousand feet, my Boulder boyfriend seemed to be supportive. He even went with me a few times to look at studio spaces. But up close and personal, where it really counts, there were always subtle (or not so subtle) comments that told a different story. Such as, “Why do you tell people you’re a yoga teacher when they ask what you do? You’re a medical assistant who happens to teach two yoga classes a week.” But I was always too busy manifesting abundance or attempting to master a handstand in the middle of the room to notice. After a year together, we called it quits and never spoke to or saw one another again, praise Allah.

Last year I finally completed The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron after about a brillion previous attempts to get through the 12-week commitment of daily journaling, weekly artist’s dates (I sucked at making myself do those), and weekly exploratory writing exercises. Her premise states that everyone is an artist who, at some point along the way, lost their connection to their creativity for one reason or another. Often, this reason is a person (or “monster,” as she says) who was critical of something that our young, impressionable, and wildly artistic minds created. During the course of those three months, I had no problem pinpointing the precise moments when, as a girl, some “monster” blatantly squelched my spirit by laughing at a self-portrait I’d painted or a paper mâché toucan bird I’d made.

In my adulthood, however, recognizing the monsters has not been so cut and dry. Often it’s been down right confusing, as they typically come in shiny packages (read: tall, smart, and knows how to fix things) and have been someone I’ve actually dated. But here’s the thing I’m discovering about monsters as of late: they almost always circle back around. The things they did and/or said to you in the past festers, and they boomerang to repent or take another stab. And in the case of my Boulder boyfriend, he came back to sink his teeth in one more time.

I was shocked to see his name in my inbox recently. He started off the message by saying he needed help confirming a mutual friend’s email address. (Really? Of all the people in the world that he could ask for help, I was the best choice?) It didn’t make sense at all until I got to the last paragraph of his email, when the real reason for his contact became apparent: a belittling stab at the person he knew six years ago disguised as compliments about who I have become today. He mentioned that he was impressed with my part in founding Recovering Yogi, considering how genuinely obsessed I had been with yoga when we were together. He then threw out a few good digs about how annoying my enchantment with yoga had been to him, and how he never really trusted it.

Checkmate, monster.

The other thing that I’m discovering about my monsters as of late is that they actually fuel my creativity. My tagline for my online journal reflects the new discovery. It forewarns, “F*ck with me and I’ll blog about.” And so that’s what I do. Every time a monster rears its ugly head, I write about it. My way of processing a monster squelching my spirit and creativity is to be creative (and to f*ck with them a little in the process, too, given all the cyber stalking around here). I guess I’ve kind of turned the whole monster theory on its head, so to speak. And, I’d like to think that Julia would be proud.

Artwork by: Vanessa Fiola 

About Leslie Munday (Recovering Yogi)

Leslie Munday has been on the yoga scene (albeit the far, far reaching corners) since the late ’90s.  She’s experienced her share of foibles, inconsistencies, and hilarity in the industry as a student, teacher, and studio owner, which inform her contributions as one of the founders of RecoveringYogi.com.  You may also find her on her personal blog, Flirting With Grey Gardens.

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20 Responses to “Slaying your creative monsters.”

  1. Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  2. Stephanie Brown says:

    Great article Leslie. It put the light on a few creative monsters in my life.

    Keep writing girl, your so refreshing!

  3. matthew says:

    Exes. Harrumph. Nice article. I did the Artist's Way too, and found it really helpful for developing discipline. I appreciate your pointing out the moments in your childhood that turned into monsters. I remember mine all too well, but haven't killed them completely yet.

  4. tanya lee markul says:

    Nice article Leslie! Being able to manage and deal with our monsters in constructive ways is awesome. And, it's great to be reminded that that is an option for all of us. Thank you!

  5. Ang says:

    Oh Leslie – I think I love you!! Just printed this out to keep on my desk – also started my monster list on the back….

  6. Sharon Frost says:

    I enjoyed this article and ferreting out who is a destructive influence in your life is its own art form.

    I've been an artist all my life, taught a little yoga in a brief, stone-skimming-across-water confluence. (Although I don't think much of Julia Cameron's approach, it obviously works for some of us.)

  7. Really enjoyed this, Leslie. Welcome!

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  8. F**k with me and I''ll blog about it. LOVE IT!

  9. Brock says:

    Wow. So insightful.

  10. vanessafiola says:

    I love that you've channeled something that can be a total bummer into something productive. Great post!

  11. The best way to ensure you won't end up on my blog is to never ask me out.

  12. Eleanor says:

    I read The Artist's Way about four years ago and I've been doing those Morning Pages ever since. In all that time, I haven't missed a single day. Compulsive, sure, I admit it. But one secret of creativity is to take those parts of ourselves that are a little bit weird and make them work to our advantage. For a writer, self-discipline and consistency are good skills to have.

  13. Just posted to "Popular Lately" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  14. That guy had some nerve, first off, he emailed you for a favor, and then because he was who he was, he had the audacity to pinch in negativity. Keep on fighting!

  15. Kris Nelson says:

    Leslie,

    It's hot when you're all vindictive and creative and sh*t.

    Kris

  16. Leslie Munday says:

    I'm always wondering what the heck is wrong with me too.

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