Friday, August 21, 2009

the best gift of all

some of you might be familiar with the concept of an artist's date, a term coined and popularized by writer and filmmaker julia cameron in her book the artist's way. in short, and according to amazon's description, the book "links creativity to spirituality by showing [the artist]how to connect with the creative energies of the universe."

cameron's general directive is for artists to follow two regular practices which, according to amazon, "conquer blocks and self-destructive tendencies: morning pages and artist's dates. morning pages are three pages of writing, performed daily, about anything at all. this exercise overcomes the writer's internal censor and makes writing habitual, she claims. the artist's date is a weekly block of two hours spent observing, experiencing, and sensing."

i love both of these ideas, and not just for artists. journalling, at times, feels like a chore, but everyone who does it knows it's the best thing they do for themselves. no more discussion about that right now - i'm in a guilt-over-not-journalling phase at the moment.

a variation on "the artist's date" is really what i want to address - taking time to go somewhere or do something that makes you feel calm and happy and connected is extremely important, and it's something that can so easily fall by the wayside in all the plans and obligations we all have. but it's one of those things, i really believe, where just the ritual of doing it sends positive messages to yourself, and then the actual activity enriches you as well. the idea is to do something just for the activity itself - for the moments you spend looking forward to it, doing it, and reflecting upon it.

this week, the place that made me smile was papyrus. i didn't buy anything, i just looked around at all the beautiful stationery and gift wrap. there was nice music playing, it was wonderfully cool, and for the ten minutes i was there, i felt suspended in something i was really enjoying. my mind wasn't working on anything, i wasn't focused on a task, i was just walking around, smiling and enjoying myself. it was really a gift.

i suppose it's more than a coincidence that i came upon this journal there:

i guess maybe it's telling me something about journalling...especially because "follow your bliss" is actually the beginning of one of my favorite quotations -- "follow your bliss, and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls." that's the whole point of these "artist's dates" and really the best gift you can give yourself.

there are other stores i want to visit...roberta roller rabbit, pearl river mart, the todd alexander romano showroom. and it doesn't have to be stores - i want to visit the new highline on the west side of manhattan and there is a wooded park near my house that i have somehow never explored. i keep a running list for when i need something planned, but a lot of the time, it's more spontaneous than that, and is just about letting yourself stop and enjoy something that catches your attention, rather than blocking it out and steamrolling through that moment. it's about following your bliss as often as you can.

on really busy weeks, you can even find a way to combine it with something else if you must. this past week, i elected to go to ikea to make some exchanges without mitchell because i'm a browser, and he is not (unless we're at best buy, in which case i'd rather wait in the car). and there is sooo much to browse at at ikea, so even though i would almost always rather be with mitchell than not, i knew i'd enjoy my time there that night more without him.

sometimes i walk across to the florist over my lunch hour and browse at all the arrangements and incredibly long stems of exotic flowers. and my morning walk through the grand central market totally fits this category - choosing to be somewhere that makes me smile and feel good, rather than an alternate route.

truly, though, i think making specific time to do it is half the value and should be part of it whenever possible. it's time just for me, and sometimes we just have to do that for ourselves. a good friend of mine has a phrase for it..."after me, you come first." at first, it sounds selfish, even mean. but when you really think of it, it makes perfect sense. in order to do all the things we all do, and care for all the people and things in our lives, we need a strong connection to ourselves and an inner peace and strength that can't come from anywhere but within. we need to follow our bliss. it's worth the time, and it's the best gift around.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am with you on the "Artist's Date". When I am feeling blue I'll go to a nursery to look at the beautiful flowers, KAte's PApiere if I am in the City and just look at everything, not to necessarily buy something. Thanks this is Ina.

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