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The Miracle of Mindfulness

This “Artist Date” business is a real trip.

Seriously — even if you couldn’t care less about Walking in this World, you need to start scheduling Artist Dates for yourself.

What bowls me over more than anything is that we have to schedule an hour with ourselves every week just to remember to enjoy ourselves creatively.

Remember when we were kids? Childhood was different back then — I was talking about this with the Page recently. No Baby Einstein or “play dates” or rigorous athletic/musical/language curricula. On weekends the sun came up and our mothers shooed us outdoors with a broom and told us not to come back until sunset or dinnertime – whichever was later.

I spent years in the woods behind my house in Connecticut, building forts in the fallen trees from Hurricane Gloria. We skinned our knees, cried, and then got on our bikes and rode without a helmet until we cracked our skulls open and had to go home for Band-Aids.

I tamed wild creatures in the forest — snakes and birds and rabbits. Climbed trees and fell out of them. When I was older, we went pool hopping through the neighborhood after dark. We played multi-block games of hide-n-seek. We got dirty and got bored, made new friends, beat each other up, and then rode to the convenience store for Cokes made with real sugar.

We survived. But then somewhere along the line we stopped being spontaneous, stopped “playing.” We replaced “What should I do today?!” with “What has to get done today?”

I know, I know: You’ve got bills to pay, children to feed, a job to endure. No time for frivolous, spontaneous fun.

I get it. So at the very least, schedule a To Do item for yourself. Get out your iPhone or your Filofax and make a date.

For me, the Artist Dates have been all about mindfulness. We do a lot of rushing in this society, a lot of multitasking. Multitasking is particularly damaging. Instead of doing one thing well but slowly, we do two things half-assed (as my mom says).

Artist Dates can be the antidote to this too-much-at-once-ness.

Becoming Present

I was talking about Artist Dates with my friend Kerry, who chose to spend one of her recent dates going to a local grocery with a ridiculous produce section — seriously, acres of apples — and chopping, washing and cooking for four hours in her kitchen. She was fully present with the preparation of food — just basking in the smells and colors, slicing and dicing. Feeding her soul in the process.

I spent my last Artist Date in a state of muddy bliss. The sun was out Saturday for the first time since November, and my new yard/garden/patio is in desperate need of some love.

I rolled up my sleeves and spent several quiet hours pulling weeds methodically and digging in the dirt. Not planning or rehashing, not fretting or trying to get it done.

I was mindful of each weed. I fully soaked in the vivid colors of my new plants, smelled the fresh earth and rosemary. Felt the sun on my face. It was amazingly restorative. I was bursting with creativity afterward, like my well had been refilled.

When we’re mindful of our surroundings and fully present with what we’re doing, time stops. It’s so clichΓ©d, but we appreciate the little things. We very literally stop to smell the flowers. And in doing so, we replenish our creative selves.

Not a bad way to spend an hour. Afterward, you can journal about the results. Go schedule yours now!


  1. Kristin,
    You have hit the creative nail on the head with mindfulness. One thing Julia Cameron is superb with is encouraging such a mindset. I love the different examples you give for an Artist’s Date. I have enjoyed perusing watercolor books from the library, checked out an Art Walk in McKinney, TX, have visited an art gallery, and enjoyed perusing colorful toys from my childhood in Target! Book store visits always do the trick for me. I love the fact that an artist’s date can be anything that fills your creative well. πŸ™‚

    I have chosen your post,The Miracle of Mindfulness, for the #JournalChat Pick of the Day for all things journaling on Twitter on 4/27/11. I will post a link on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and my blog, Refresh with Dawn Herring.

    My @JournalChat account on Twitter is for all things journaling.

    Thanks again for such a cool reminder of taking time for ourselves to fill our creative well. πŸ™‚ It certainly gives us fodder for our journals! πŸ™‚

    Be refreshed,
    Dawn Herring
    JournalWriter Freelance
    @JournalChat on Twitter for all things journaling

  2. Thanks Dawn!! I’m honored you featured me.

    I definitely plan to continue the Artist Date habit when the 12 weeks is up. Kind of like Morning Pages — they just stuck with me. And here I am, 15 years later… πŸ™‚

    I love A.D. at the bookstore or library, too. I often pick a topic I wouldn’t normally look for books on. Like Moroccan cooking, or bead-making, or hummingbirds, etc. It’s good for the brain to change it up once in awhile!

  3. Ahhh….Artist’s Dates! The soak-em-up-enjoy-yourself-time!! I couldn’t live without them….and if I go too long without one….no one wants me around!! LOL!!

  4. Again thank you for this “mindful ” post. I have been spending my A.D. in thrift shops and hobby stores. The book store idea is one I think I will do next. A great idea! I spent one date with my grandson, climbing on rocks like a seven year old. I”m not sure it counts since I wasn’t alone, but I definitely would not have done it by myself with out him encouraging me.

  5. Hi Kristin,
    I just found “Journaling Saves” this week and I LOVE IT!

    I’ve been journaling on and off for years, mostly to process difficult stuff in my life, but in the last year I’ve been trying to write daily.

    Yup, I subscribed to the BIG DIG.

    I am a father; I have a 9 year old son. I bought him his first journal a couple months ago and he is writing in it fairly often. The last couple years on several occasions, my son has decided out of the blue to write a story, at home, at school – it’s been SO FUN to see his writing develop!

    Thank you for your ideas, and your writing and your humor.

    See ya,