Tell you right now, I did not follow my own advice from last week’s blog post. I did not make a date to re-fill the well. Instead, I struggled with what I think can be called depression: nasty thoughts, feeling unequal to life, and generally being off center. I don’t think it’s a shocker that someone might end up writing about the very stuff they struggle with. I have an enormous toolbox of therapeutic activities that I share with others, because I’ve used them on myself. But I don’t often admit to actively struggling now, today, because, well, for much the same reasons others don’t.
But I am taking up the topic of re-filling the well again this week, because mine is so very dry right now, and I have so far failed at setting aside time and space for my soul. Where I get stuck is the Very Important Task. The problem is they’re all important.
But only some of them will save my soul. Only some of them will get me to a peaceful death. Only some of them will be noticed for the effect that they have on the quality of someone’s life.
And for today, that someone is me. For you, that someone is you. That’s the deal. We’re talking about doing for ourselves what no one else can do for us: taking the time to discover what makes us tick, smile, sing, hum and feel good and deliberately give that to ourselves.
We’re also talking about what happens when you go for too long letting the tyranny of the to-do rule your life: You get sick. Mentally, spiritually sick. Like me all this past week.
In my drumming class on Monday night, certain sounds made people smile. I have some old pot lids that make beautiful chiming sounds when struck with a mallet. I have ankle bells. Someone chimed the pot lid, and someone else wore the ankle bells and sat stomping her leg up and down while the person to my left grinned uncontrollably. Afterward, she got up and, reaching for the person’s ankle, said, “Let me see those!”
That’s the response we’re going for with soul-filling activities: a full body response that demands we pay attention and follow. You may be the person stomping your leg up and down, or you may be the one pointing and grinning, but either way, you are following something other than a script that will make things tidy and logical, and make you the hero or martyr for being so darned efficient and selfless.
Now, “follow” is an interesting word choice, isn’t it? But it’s very accurate, because this is about relinquishing the keys, getting out of the driver’s seat, and letting something else be in charge for a while. Just notice how hard it is to do that.
Next point: I didn’t make this up. Julia Cameron has Artist Dates. Again, check out The Artist’s Way. She’s very smart, that Julia. She knows we need both the Morning Pages and a weekly, scheduled date with ourselves, during which we give the inner child some fun, reconnect with awe and wonder, let our curiosity lead the way, change pace from doing to being and shift gears from finishing things to opening up to greater unknowns.
And there’s something else about this. It’s a boundary we create especially for ourselves, in which we prioritize us. It is to be an inviolable boundary, something we can count on. Something that cannot be penetrated by other priorities, like cleaning the lint trap. A boundary like that actually matters more than what goes inside it. Once you have that, all you have to do is swing on a swing or kick a stone, and something inside is settled, contented, whole, validated. I’m willing to bet that getting your special time on the calendar and keeping the date will be much more challenging than figuring out what to do with yourself once you get there.
My challenge to you (and to me) for this week: Schedule in one Artist Date. If the word “artist” hangs you up, just make it a Fun Date or a Soul Date with you and you alone. Right now, look at your calendar and write it in. Commit to it. That means that when a friend invites you over for coffee, or someone wants to schedule a phone call, or work calls, you are not available then. Any time but then.
I am committing to that time this coming Friday, at my desk, with art supplies at 10 a.m. until at least 11.
How about you? When is your time?
As always, thanks for reading. Please let me know you stopped by.
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