I’ve been thinking a lot about self-care lately.
In Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, she talks about the importance of setting aside time for yourself each week. She calls them Artist Dates. The idea is that you have to give yourself breaks in order to refill the well, so to speak.
From Cameron’s web site:
The Artist Date is a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you. The Artist Date need not be overtly “artistic” — think mischief more than mastery. Artist Dates fire up the imagination. They spark whimsy. They encourage play. Since art is about the play of ideas, they feed our creative work by replenishing our inner well of images and inspiration. When choosing an Artist Date, it is good to askyourself, “what sounds fun?” — and then allow yourself to try it.
I’ll be honest. When I first started reading The Artist’s Way, I had zero intention of doing the Artist Dates. The Morning Pages time (another Cameron recommendation, where you get up early and complete three pages of stream-of-consciousness writing each morning) was easy—I get up earlier than anyone else, step outside and write, and then I’m usually finished before anyone else needs anything from me. I’m doing something for myself, but I’m not inconveniencing anyone else by doing so.
I’m all about self-care, but I do it quietly, in ways that aren’t super noticeable to anyone but me. I do a lot of face masks. I buy potted succulents at the grocery store. I sit on my front porch, or my back patio. I plant flowers.
Any and all of those things can be considered Artist Dates, by the way, as long as I’m paying attention to what the universe is telling me during those times. (Yes. I am fully aware that some of you will read that sentence and be like- “What the UNIVERSE is telling you? Ok, flower child.” But seriously. Stop going through the motions from day to day and start paying attention to what the world is telling you. Switch up your routine a little and see what happens. Call it intuition or coincidence if it makes you feel better.)
I already know I am better when I find time alone, but it’s usually a happy little accident that gets me there. When it happens, I tell everyone how amazing it was that I found some time alone to simply be myself without needing to be anything for anyone else. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love my alone time. But the idea of planning that time in advance? Telling everyone that I have this little date with myself so I won’t be available to do anything during that time? How could I justify that? Wouldn’t it annoy people? Wouldn’t it seem super selfish and self-indulgent?
I’ve always felt like I had to really justify my love of writing. When I was in college, I used to say I wanted to be a journalist. I didn’t, really, but I figured it was the easiest way to be a writer and have what people considered to be a “real” job. I couldn’t possibly say I was going to have a career in creative writing. Whenever I tried that, someone would usually ask, “So…you’re going to teach writing?”
Maybe that’s why I felt like Artist’s Dates were out of the question. My job is doing marketing (and payroll and whatever else seems to come my way) for a local restaurant chain, parenting Lauren and Ella, and taking care of my house. Those are the things that have value because they help support my family and take care of everyone.
Writing is just for me. Artist Dates, by their definition, have to be done alone. So I’d be taking time to do something that only benefits myself.
And I guess…I’m not valuable enough for my own time?
Wow, right? I mean, wow. When did THAT happen?
A few paragraphs back I said I was afraid that Artist Dates might seem self-indulgent. What’s so wrong with that anyway? Is wanting to do something that restores me and makes me happy really such a terrible thing? (I mean, if what makes me happy is like, kicking puppies or selling crack to children, then the answer is yes. I should not indulge myself. But otherwise, finding an hour or two to myself each week doesn’t seem like such an unforgivable thing.)
So I made a list of Artist Date ideas for myself. I’m going to share it in a blog post soon, but in the mean time, tell me: What would your Artist Date look like? It doesn’t have to be extravagant, and it doesn’t need to be spent doing anything creative. Just time to yourself, doing something alone. What would you do?