Memorial Day weekend is billed as the beginning of summer. The break makes the last few weeks of school and impending exams the most tedious of the year for our family- worse than the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. There are events non-stop through May, from performances to open houses, to end of year meetings and planning, yet we are trying to force ourselves to maintain concentration while warm breezes beckon us outside, sapping energy and resolve to work hard and push through until the end.
Getting back into work mode after the first real taste of summer is hard. Maybe it’s easier for folks without kids, but even the child-free among us seem to long for evenings grilling out, slowing down a bit, and easing off the throttle. When it comes to planning events like Podcamp in the fall, we all know that it’s more difficult to get people together over the summer, since you are always working around someone’s vacation schedule.
I always look at summer as the time of year when I can “get caught up”- I think the pressure’s off and I’ll be able to start projects I’ve put on the back burner, but reality always shows me that just like everyone else, I’m ready for a bit of vacation and recharging the batteries.
Going through the process of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron for the second time, I’m reminded of how important taking time to refill your creative well is. The trick is to do it a bit every week, however, rather than waiting for infrequent, longer breaks or vacations, where often the first half of the time is spent decompressing and sleeping, and the second half , if you’re lucky, is finally spent exploring before the mad rush to return home ensues. Instead, trying to do at least one thing that is an “artist’s date” once a week- something you do just for yourself- exploring something new, taking a walk in the park, a non-obligatory event where you can be yourself and enjoy- That’s the trick.
Without making mini-vacations- time when you turn off all electronics and do something else- you won’t have the same energy to draw on when you really need it. And I’ll admit to you right now- I’m often better at talking about the need to do this than doing it myself. But I’m trying to learn to be nicer to myself, and make this once weekly appointment part of my routine. It could be a walk in a local park. It could be a lunch date with a friend I haven’t seen in a while. It could be picking out something new for the garden, or doing something on my “meant to get to that” list. All of these things help feed the creative part of me that needs to be available for the day job, which involves helping other folks solve their business challenges. Without getting out there in the world and seeing what’s happening, how can you really provide useful advice and guidance for others? These creative dates are as important as anything else we do- it’s what you need to turn theory into practice.
Vacation and getting away are terrific. But learning to treat yourself well and making even small amounts of time for mini vacations and connecting with the people we love- that’s most important, and we shouldn’t need it to be wrapped up in hotel reservations and plane flights to make it happen. While I love travelling, even the small steps, more frequently, towards refresh can make each of these pauses feel just like Memorial Day weekend. Each brief Artist’s Date, as Julia Cameron calles them, can be the start of a new season, of something new, of a Day One experience. And letting yourself start over can be the best gift of all.