Self Care… it’s a word that conjures up visions of spa days and pampering. Something that’s outside of my normal routine as a wife, mom, and business woman. Who has time, opportunity, or spare cash for these things… all at the same time?

In our busy, get it done world we can find ourselves pushing through each day and week, year after year, by shear force of will. We often miss the subtle warnings from our body and spirit that the pace needs to change. Being chronically tired, having an achey body, feelings of anxiety and disillusionment with life, eventually leads to dis-ease… Not until we get sick, depressed, or become a crazed lunatic barking orders like a drill sergeant do we pause to take inventory… and often even this doesn’t change our direction and pace… we look at life, shrug our shoulders, pop a few pills, down a dozen vitamins, or slather ourselves in magic oils and keep moving. What other choice do we have?

What if there are daily and weekly actions, that are easy, cheap, and simple to do that can reset your death march?

I’ve totally been there… moving through life, just trying to get it all done, keeping everything and everyone on script. It works until it doesn’t… when I just couldn’t continue, I became convinced there had to be a better way. I started researching, reading everything I could get my hands on… stalking, following and studying others who were living differently.

What was their secret?

Turns out they listen to their essential selves.

If you missed my post on the essential and social selves hop over here and read it… I’ll wait…

Ok, so all those subtle clues were your essential self talking to you… if you don’t listen it will start throwing a tantrum – that’s when we start feeling the bigger symptoms, which can eventually lead to a lowered immune system, disease, discord, and/or disasters of our own making.

But how, after having been so disconnected from our essential selves for so long can we reconnect?  How do we listen to something we can no longer hear?

Enter Julia Cameron’s book, The Artists Way. Now down’t freak out… I know you think you don’t have time to read so I’m going to share the two exercises from this book that have made all the difference for me. These two easy practices helped me hear myself again… Actually listening to and believing what we hear can take time, but these exercises will get you in the same hemisphere again.

Morning Pages:

Grab a notebook and a pen you enjoy writing with… if you like pretty ones – I do! – Target and Barnes & Noble have nice ones… but I’ve used 50 cent spiral notebooks too. Keep these next to your bed so you can grab them first thing each morning.

When you wake up, before you check Facebook, you know you do… Write three stream of conscious pages in your notebook. This is not a journal, it’s NEVER going to be shared with ANYONE – in fact Julia recommends regularly burning these notebooks. If you don’t know what to write, scribble “I don’t know what to say, I don’t know what to say,” over and over until something else pops into your brain, then write that thought.

Over time, as you put your thoughts, fears, concerns, frustrations on these pages, you’ll start to hear ideas, solutions, dreams, and desires in response to the questions – write them down. This is communication. These words will tell you what’s wrong and it will give you the solutions.

Now, don’t worry, you don’t have to act on anything that comes out… you can, but you don’t have to. Just observe. This is how you start to hear and listen to your essential self.

Artist Date:

Once a week – religiously, without fail – you must spend at least ONE hour by yourself, doing something that feeds your soul.

Yeah, who has time for that? YOU DO!!

Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day, and I promise – the people who’s life you wish you had are doing this – even if they don’t call it this, or recognize what their doing, they are.

Not sure what to do?

  • walk on a beach
  • stroll through a wooded path
  • visit a museum
  • lay on the grass and watch the clouds roll by
  • spend time in your favorite store window shopping
  • ride a city bus or subway
  • people watch in a coffee shop

This is a time to purposefully unplug – no electronic distractions, no friends, kids, or husbands, You need to refill your emotional and creative well. This is a time for quiet contemplation, for wonder, imagination, and curiosity. In the scriptures we’re told, “Be still, and know that I am God.”  In the stillness we will hear what we need to hear, and become connected with ourselves and our creator again… in this we will find health and healing.

In her book Julia Cameron teaches self care to artists. She shares how to reconnect with your essential self and create your art. Don’t think you’re an artist? You’re wrong – our life is our art. What we give to the world is our art. That might be how we parent, the food we make our kids, the way we serve and share with our friends, or the decor in our home. We don’t have to be creating in the traditional sense of the word to be an “artist” – humans create, everything we do and say, creates our daily life. Writing morning pages and having a weekly artist day will make your life beautiful!