In Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way, the author encourages “artist dates” to spark creativity and encourage play. Of all of the self care advice I give clients, taking time to play is the one I do not heed myself. I exercise daily, eat well, drink plenty of water, journal and guard my sleep jealously. But recently I had a gap in my usually overbooked schedule – and I deliberately left that space in the calendar blank. What would I do with a block of time on a weekday morning? OK, this may sound weird but what immediately came to mind was a picnic at the Vicksburg National Military at Vicksburg, MS.
I love this place. I love the history, the landscape – it’s a big, beautiful, well-kept park. My husband and I used to take our son and a few of his friends for his birthdays years ago. Cyclists love it because it’s so hilly. I packed a picnic and my camera and took off about 9am for the 45 minute drive from where I live. What surprised me is how giddy and happy I felt – set free! I meandered at my own pace (in the blazing heat but I didn’t care) taking photos, reading the markers describing the famous battle and siege at that place that help decide the outcome of the Civil War. I headed home mid-afternoon hot and sweaty but oddly refreshed, which is exactly the point. The Artist’s Way recommends making an artist date every week – not easy for those of us with packed schedules. But this day in the park reminded me that some time for play is absolutely necessary.
Ready to play? Block off some time – a couple of hours or an entire day if possible. Then follow your heart, follow your energy. Museums and exhibits are obvious choices. Scenic drives, too. When was the last time you spent time in a large library? Or a crafts store? I know a woman who regularly visits a large nursery and garden, sometimes buying something, sometimes not. She finds it energizing just walking through beautiful plants. Head to The Artist’s Way website for more suggestions. Make a date with yourself now!