One of the most inspiring things I took away from reading Julie Cameron’s game changer “The Artist’s Way” was the concept of the artist’s date. As part of each week’s assignment, we were told to take ourselves out on a date. It didn’t have to be fancy or expensive, just a time once a week to go on an interesting or inspired outing.
At first, the dreaded “shoulds” came up. “I should be working right now, instead of taking myself out” or “I should hurry up and get this date over with since the house is so messy” or a bunch of other negative self-talk. The idea of taking myself out on a date seemed silly, extravagant even. Especially since we are struggling with money, spending even a small amount of it on just myself seemed selfish.
But I took on the challenge whole-heartedly. I began taking myself on outings. I would scour the internet to find free or cheap events, discounted museum days, outdoor places I had never been to and just about anything out of the normal routine of my work/school day. I penciled them into my planner as if they were important meetings and I stood by the commitment (even if it meant leaving my “real” date buddy home!) As I began to take these dates more seriously, I began to take my self-care more seriously as well.
I realized that I didn’t spend much time just listening to my intuition, body, desires and heart. During the dates, if I wanted to stop by a store and spend an hour just perusing the goods, I did so, without worrying about the time constraints I would have felt had I not been solo. If I felt an intuitive pull to walk down a certain street I would follow, not having to advise someone else about the new plan. If I desired to eat a doughnut while watching a really silly movie at the theater, I enjoyed it, without feeling embarrassed or defensive about how I sometimes like to spend my down time.
The process of the artist’s date allowed me to respect time by myself, to understand what I need on a regular basis and to begin to provide for those needs, in a fun, creative and inspiring way.
Previous artist’s dates have included:
fun magazine reading and a chai out in a rose garden
practicing walking meditation in a sacred labyrinth
taking a peaceful nap among the trees, soaking in the sun on a comfy blanket
I have been practicing this ritual for about a year, although there have been windows of time where I have either been too busy/stressed/sad to go on one or where I completely forgot. And even throughout this difficult time we have had since we moved here, the artist’s dates have been my comfort, my joy and my creative leap into a little piece of the unknown.
What do you think about the artist’s date? Do you take yourself out and if so, what kinds of things do you do?
[incredible illustration from Salvador Dali’s interpretation of Alice in Wonderland]