Last week I suggested an Arts Immersion To-Do List to help you recover from a draining school year or to help inspire your Arts Integrated teaching for next year. As promised, I have begun to check items off the list and I decided to start with item number one, a weekly date with your inner artist. If you have decided to embark on this journey with me, I have some advice for you. If you do nothing else on this list all summer, do this one. Of all the items on the list I think this is the most key step to recovery and rediscovery of your playful, creative, unstressed, best-version-of-you self.
It was Julia Cameron in her book The Artist’s Way who gave me this idea of the weekly artist date. She warns not to take your inner artist on dates you think you should take her/him on but rather do what intrigues you. The single most important thing about an artist date is that you do it ALONE. No pets, friends, significant others, etc. Ever. This is sacred “you” time and should be spent doing whatever is fun for you – a movie, antique shops, a solitary walk on the beach, preparing a favorite meal. Fight the inner voice that may try to sabotage you. Keep it sacred (“I just didn’t have time this week”), keep it solo (“I couldn’t go for a walk and not take the dog”) and keep it fun (“I really should make myself go to __________”).
Here’s another little piece of advice.
In order for you to really notice and process any changes that happen as you devote time to yourself or to remember any awesome moments of inspiration that may occur, keep a journal. Maybe it’s once a day when you awake or before you go to bed. Maybe it’s once a week on Sunday morning before you get the new week started or Saturday night before you put the old week to bed. It could be right after your artist date so you can remember what you did and how it affected you. Or, maybe you want to keep your journal with you so you can jot down thoughts as they occur. The journal is simply a tool for you to use as it best serves you.
For my weekly date, I took my inner artist to a coffee shop with a good book in hand. In the walk from my car to the coffee shop I noticed that the pace of my walk slowed dramatically (I tend to speed walk everywhere I go) and I really saw my surroundings. While I did enjoy reading my book the great gift of my date was the art I saw on the wall of the coffee shop created by participants in something called Art Aerobics held at a local Expressive Arts Center. I had just been talking about how to get more visual art in my life and here it was; art made in a fun, relaxed atmosphere with music intended to make you move. Ask and you shall receive!
And that is exactly why I am committing to my Arts Immersion To-Do List.
Had I not taken that date, I would never have known about this art class which I just have a feeling could be a wonderfully transformative experience for me. The date also reminded me how grounding taking time for yourself can be. If this is the sort of thing you already do for yourself, kudos to you. If not, I highly recommend it. You just never know what little or big gifts you may receive.
Deirdre is a teaching artist and AI coach in the San Diego public schools dedicated to helping classroom teachers make arts an integral part of their teaching. Deirdre has an MEd in Arts Integration and over twenty years of classroom and performing arts teaching experience. Email Deirdre.