Radiant Practice #4: The Artist’s Date

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?

Tips for a Happy + Healthy Holiday!

The time has come. Whatever you celebrate, something festive is here! However, this wonderful holiday season brings not only cheer, joy + reasons to be merry, but food that upsets your tummy, family drama + all-around stress.

But have no fear! This year, we are going to take the holidays on and not only survive, but thrive during this usually frazzling time. Here are some tips to keep you rocking:

1. WATER, WATER, WATER!

When we are busy and rushing around (doing some last-minute Christmas shopping maybe?), one of the first things that gets forgotten is drinking enough water. Make sure you are hitting at least 8 glasses a day (more if you are indulging in holidays treats, since water is the best way to detoxify your body). Which brings me to…

2. SIP SOME TEA

Not only can it count toward your daily water quota, tea is often the easiest + fastest medicine. Are you feeling anxious about the family dinner? Try some calming chamomile. Feeling stuffed from too many cookies? Some peppermint tea will do the trick. Whole leaf is always best, but if buying tea bags (which are easier to bring with you wherever you are dragged going to dinner), make sure they are organic + free of any sugars.

3. TAKE SOME TRIPHALA

The superstar in the Ayurvedic herbal world, triphala (meaning “three fruits”) is a combination of three berries native to the Indian subcontinent: amalaki, bibhitaki + haritaki. Triphala is the most commonly used herb for Ayurvedic detoxification + cleansing, which is why taking some during seasonal feasting would be perfect. Aim for around 1000 mgs (of organic Triphala capsule) a day for a week or so to shed excess toxins + reduce buildup in your organs and tissues. A gentle warning: since it is a detoxifying powerhouse, expect more frequent bowel movements (which is a good thing this season anyway!)

4. GET LOTS OF SLEEP (AT YOUR NORMAL TIME)

Since vata is what rules this season, a restful sleep routine can help you get re-grounded during a busy time. Furthermore, the more sleep you can get, the less cranky you will be + the more revitalized you will feel to take on whatever comes your way (snobby Aunt Milda, you don’t stand a chance this year!) Try to get to sleep around the same time you usually do (if you can hit the hay earlier, that’s great) and leave the anxiety out of the bedroom. That means no ruminating on passive-aggressive comments made by family members or worries about everyone liking your presents!

5. MAKE TIME FOR MEDITATION

Although you will probably feel like you hardly enough time alone to breathe, make some time for mediation. You don’t need a cushion or a fancy space, even meditating for 5-10 minutes while lying in bed first thing in the morning will be such a gift. Focus on your breath from deep in your belly. With each inhale, imagine breathing in pure light + healing energy and with each exhale, release all of your anxiety, stress + whatever else isn’t serving you this holiday season. Meditation Oasis has some great meditations you can play on your iPod to get you started.

6. JUICE IT UP!

Drinking fresh + organic green juice is great all year round but if you usually can’t afford to do so, try to make this next week (or whenever you will be stressing + feasting the most) your own green juice time. Search the internet (Yelp is really helpful) to find where the nearest juice bar or health food store is and sip that delicious green goodness! Juices with dark greens + beets are best for optimal cleansing.

7. TRY A PRE-MEAL TONIC

If you know you will be having a heavy meal, try this Ayurvedic trick beforehand. Squeeze half a lemon (or just a slice if you are at a restaurant) into a cup of hot water and add a few twists of fresh ground pepper and a bit of salt (either sea salt or other “rock” salt, not table salt). This tonic will help recharge your metabolism and allow you to process the upcoming heavy meal with ease. After eating, chewing some fennel seeds is a great way to aid in digesting that giant piece of pie you had…

8. MAKE TIME FOR EXERCISE

I know that for most of us, exercising during a stressful time seems close to impossible. But even a walk after dinner can do wonders for your digestion + your mood. Extra points for exercising out in nature and getting some fresh air! Dance parties with your friends + family totally counts 🙂

9. SET YOUR INTENTIONS

So much of the holiday stress comes from being unprepared with how to handle what arises. Before leaving for your trip, or having everyone over at your house, make some intentions. How do you want to feel during this time? What do you want to work on while being tested during this season? Maybe that nosy relative that asks you inappropriate questions can remind you to be accepting of others + their flaws. Maybe your competitive sibling can allow you to focus on what matters – your own personal growth + happiness. Taking stock of what might happen + how you are going to best deal with it can change time with family from a panic attack to a lesson in love.

10. RELAX AND ENJOY!

Although your family might drive you crazy, you might be rushing around like a maniac + you might be stressed to your gills, remember how great the holidays can be! Try to ask yourself the most important question ever: “how can I make this easier for myself?” Are you freaking out about the second batch of cookies gone wrong? Pick some up at your favorite bakery instead! Are you feeling guilty about eating too much unhealthy food? Take a deep breath + smile at the joy of celebration! Is your sister pushing your buttons? Take 5 minutes to walk around the block, look at everyone’s Christmas decorations + come back refreshed. Because at the end of the day, the holidays are meant to be FUN!

[great illustration from Methane Studios]

The Joy in Saying “No”.

I wasn’t planning on writing a post today but this topic has been on my mind lately and I felt inspired to share…

Most of us are constantly on the move. Up early to get ready for work, scarfing down some cereal or a granola bar while we get our shoes on, grab our cell phones and haphazardly pierce our ear with the hoop that had been dangling on our sweater (does this only happen to me?) After hours of work (sometimes mind-numbing, sometimes excruciatingly difficult), we might be lucky enough to quickly eat some lunch (if not spending the entire break catching up on other work) before running right back to the daily grind.

Fast forward to rushing home (many times via a crowded, stressful and time-sucking commute), trying to balance pots of hot food, and chowing down on dinner before starting chores/errands/homework/work brought home.

It is amazing that more people don’t die from physical and/or emotional exhaustion. As many of you know, I could talk all day about how capitalism is literally killing us, the planet and the future of our collective happiness. But for today, I wanted to share what has personally made me feel like a less stressed, more relaxed and happier person.

Ready for it?

JUST. SAY. NO.

The blogging world is an inspirational one, filled with recipes, goal-sharing and stories of multi-tasking, awesome folks that live life to the fullest! It can also be a stressful world, making you feel pressured to do a million things at once, go on amazing adventures everyday and still have time to make a three-course vegan dinner. Eep.

It is easy to forget that doing too much is actually a bad thing, not a source of joy. Capitalism has robbed us of what it really means to be “productive”, “successful”, and “happy” (which I plan to discuss in a later post).

We need to re-claim our sanity, our health and our lives. And one of the first steps is learning when to say no.

I listened to a great talk by Danielle LaPorte on the World’s Biggest Summit last week and something she said really stuck with me. She suggested throwing away those to-do lists and start making to-not-do ones. I don’t think I am ready to give up my highly organized, sometimes spreadsheet-ed to-do lists just yet, but saying “no” more often is something I want to try.

I thought of all the things I would like to say “no” to. Some were things that I can’t get rid of right now (paying our rent, working while in school and being continually poor). But some were quite fluid, with some room for change (not having enough time with my husband, not giving myself enough care, spending too much time inside and attending unnecessary social obligations).

I began to envision these problems fading away (and maybe even dissolving completely!) and I felt better already. Not enough time with my husband? I will schedule “couple’s time” throughout the week; no chores, no work. Not enough self-care in my life? I will plan pampering activities that make me happy (such as painting my nails, dancing to some great tunes in my underwear and taking myself on a coffee date). Needing some more time outside? I will re-instate our after-dinner walks (which are strongly recommended in Ayurveda – double win!) and spend some time on the weekends reading by the redwoods. Social obligations that feel too stressful? I will decline invitations that make me feel anxious and remember that good friends will understand I need more time for myself.

So there you have it, I saw exactly what I needed to do in order to feel more joyful. I was raised to always take care of others, to never say no and to make sure I was never, ever being impolite so this journey is not an easy one for me. But it is super important that I learn to make more time for myself, lean more toward joy and less toward sadness and (as Davidji always says) “let go what no longer serves us.”

Today I was supposed to go to a regional conference on Marxism. The tickets were already bought and I was expected to be there. In addition, my dear friend wanted me to go see The Black Power Mixtape with her (which, by the way, looks awesome!) As much as I wanted to do both of these things (and keep being busy + productive), I knew I shouldn’t. I started getting sick yesterday, my body holding out until my stressful week was over until finally sucummbing to a cold.

The old me would have felt bad about cancelling plans, pushed on through with a 10-hour Saturday and gotten even more sick by Monday. But you know what? This time I said no. I told my friend + my husband that I wouldn’t be leaving the house today.

 

And most importantly, I gave myself permission.

Permission to watch a Roseanne marathon (she is my working-class tv hero!)

Permission to take a nap after breakfast

Permission to drink lots of white tea (go antioxidants!)

Permission to cuddle with my kitty and have cat-lady conversations with her

Permission to listen to a lecture while giving my face (and sinuses) a lovely peppermint steam.

Permission to not answer the phone

Permission to be grumpy, and to be alright with that

and

Permission to enjoy the moment, just for what is was

 

I cannot stress to you how much this recharged my body + soul. Although I am still not feeling well, the compassion + love I gave myself today filled me with the most comforting, heart-warming joy.

So next time you are feeling stressed, sad or depleted…

Ask yourself, what can you say “no” to?

 

“Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.” – Chinese proverb

 

 

21-Day Meditation Challenge!

The time has come again my friends!

The Chopra Center has started an all-new group of meditations for their 21-Day Meditation Challenge. We always partake in this program, as it is a great way to unwind for sleep (I usually do 20-30 minutes of unguided mediation in the morning so the Chopra guided meditations are quite a treat!)

Each day, a new meditation will be emailed to you. There is a large variety of modalities, from visualizations to body scans to chakra alignments. Best of all, it is free!

Give it a shot (it only started yesterday) and let me know how it goes!

[photo found here]

motivational mondays!

+engraving by albin brunovsky+

happy monday!

so here we are, at the beginning of the week and boy, was it a rocky start. today i had a series of frustrations that led to a mini breakdown and so what did i do? i threw on my sweater and took a walk. i live near a beautiful campus so i wandered around the grass-filled paths and found my special spot. it is a little stone bench by a stream and it is surrounded by redwood trees and eucalyptus. i sat there, closed my eyes and let the sun shine upon my face. i only spent 15 minutes there but when i left, i was more calm and feeling happier about my situation. what a little change of scenery can do!

here are some wonderful inspirations for your week!

the wonderful, marvelous goddess leonie strikes again! this time with a helpful article on how to meditate – for lazy people.

the brainy sayward from bonzai aphrodite (where i got the above photo) wrote a great article on misconceptions about juicing. if you are still on the fence about getting your greens and nutrients via good ol’ juice, check this out!

jen saunders shared wonderful thoughts on how to notice when you are happy. i really enjoyed the article and it prompted me to write a little list of what/where/who makes me happy.

and last but not least, i finally saw the trailer for the feature film from youtube, life in a day. oh my goodness, it looks so inspirational and beautiful and incredible…i can’t wait to see it!

have a wonderful week!

spring meditation challenge: join me!

greetings friends,

the incredible chopra center is beginning another meditation challenge for the upcoming season!

i am so excited. it is a wonderful time to explore the world of meditation (if you are a newbie) and extend your practice if you are a seasoned meditative mind. my husband and i took part in the winter meditation challenge. we are each at very different levels in meditation experience and we both learned and grew a lot from the practice.

each day, the center sends you a meditation audio/video to help calm your mind and focus your energy. a wide variety of practitioners lead the meditations, from mind-body therapists to primordial sound meditators to chakra specialists. they are all from 15-30 minutes so they are easy to fit into your day and will make you feel great!

you can register HERE! check it out and give it a shot. they say it takes 21 consecutive days to instill a positive habit within you.

make it happen!

 

beautiful image from coquinete