Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Smell the Roses

Too many of us live on a treadmill, doing the same things every day.  We get up, go to work, come home to watching TV, eat, sleep, and then start all over again the next day.  Weekends are often filled with doing the things we didn't have time for during the week.  Not fun things, but catching up on laundry, buying groceries, and other chores.  My own schedule isn't too far off that.  In fact, for the past few months, even weekends have resembled weekdays, with only bits and pieces of time to get away from work and the tedious schedule of day to day.  Let's face it.  This isn't the way to live.  It isn't healthy--physically or mentally.

Two weeks ago I blogged about refilling the well, and that's pretty much the theme of today's blog post, too. Why?  Because sometimes we have to be told over and over to give ourselves a break.  Sometimes we need to be reminded repeatedly that we need to do something for ourselves.  Not randomly, but on a regular schedule.

After doing a little research, I blogged about this same thing last Saturday at Bits & Bytes, and I decided to share a little of that here.  Yes, it's that important, especially for women, because we tend to spend a large portion of our lives doing for others. In fact, the prevalence for depression is twice as common in women as it is in men.  Looking back over my own life, I can definitely see that pattern.  Added to that are statistics showing that artists, writers, and creative people are also more apt to suffer from depression.

Houston, we have a problem. 

We need to stop and smell the roses.  

Of the many things in Julia Cameron's book, The Artist's Way, one of the best ways to keep life on an even keel is to use Artist Dates.  "An artist date is a block of time, perhaps two hours weekly, especially set aside and committed to nurturing your creative consciousness, your inner artist.  In its most primary form, the artist date is an excursion, a play date that you preplan and defend against all interlopers."   

An Artist Date should be done once a week and ALONE.  Sorry, no taking the baby, or even the dog.  This is for you and you need to focus on yourself.  It's used for enjoyment and relaxation, not worry.  (Yes, it's time to be selfish!)  Suggestions include visiting a junk shop, a museum, a park, a concert, and more.  These "dates" don't have to cost money.    Keep your eyes and ears open (local newspapers, TV, and radio) for opportunities.

(From the list found at Well Done -- Bit's & Bytes)

  • MUSIC  Is there anyone out there who doesn't enjoy listening to music?  Not music we listen to for inspiration while writing.  This music is for our own enjoyment, be it pop, rock, country, jazz, showtunes, classical, etc.  Whatever you choose, it should make you smile, calm your nerves, and, yes, even put you to sleep, if sleep is what you need.
  • DANCE  Yes, dance. I'm pretty certain that if left alone, with no one around to watch, most of us could dance away some time.  Whether it comes from a radio, a playlist, a CD/Mp3 or whatever, put on some music with a beat, get on your feet, and dance.  In only a few minutes, you'll be smiling.  Maybe even laughing.  And probably winded. ☺ Your blood will be pumping, which will produce more endorphins, giving you a natural high.  Wow!
  • YOGA/MEDITATION  Once again, both of these are catching on.  Why?  Because they can make us feel better, not only spiritually and mentally, but physically, too.  Don't believe me?  Look it up!
  • WALKING  As with dance, this gets the body moving.  Try to walk outside, whenever possible.  That fresh air is good for the body and the soul.  Make a habit of it.  And remember to ENJOY!  Nature is all around us, so keep your eyes and ears open.
  • WATCH A MOVIE  I love movies.  All kinds of movies.  Some lift me up, some make me think, some make me laugh, while others make me cry.  For that couple of hours, I can stop thinking of what might be wrong in my own life and let the story take me away.  Be sure to do this one on your own.  No hubby beside you on the sofa.  Just you.  And if you absolutely can't watch it alone at home, try looking for a local theater that has matinees at a reduced price.  We have one that shows movies about to go to DVD, and Tuesdays the tickets are $1.
  • READ A BOOK  I'm guilty of not doing this one enough.  I get busy and forget, or when I do remember, I'm too tired for even the best of books to keep me awake.  One way of solving this is to set a specific day of the week and a specific time to read for an hour or two.  Maybe it's only a chapter or two, but it's something.  Or use reading a book by your favorite author as a reward for finishing your manuscript.
  • TAKE A MINI-VACATION  Doesn't this one sound wonderful?  In the past, I would visit a high school friend in my old hometown.  It was nice to get away from home, and because we're both single now, we didn't have to answer to anyone.  An overnight in a hotel/motel can be a refreshing escape from family and work priorities.  Great for catching up on sleep, too!
Check out Exploring Women's Creativity: A Guide for Creative Women on for more ideas on Filling the Well, Renewal Through Walking and more.
No matter what you do, remember to be aware of what's going on inside and outside of you.  If you're not feeling well, see a doctor.  If you've over-scheduled yourself, find one or two things that can be dropped from your life or at least set aside for another time.  Learn how to say NO.  It's something we all need to do more often.  And SMILE!  You'll not only have fewer frown lines, but people will wonder what you've been up to!
“Sometimes it's important to work for that pot of gold. But other times it's essential to take time off and to make sure that your most important decision in the day simply consists of choosing which color to slide down on the rainbow.” ~  Douglas Pagels

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