“Synchronicity: we change and the universe furthers and expands that change.”-Julia Cameron
I found myself in a bit of a creative slump this past week, so I gave myself permission to take a day off from writing and instead I took a walk to the beach where I got to watch a school of dolphins swimming by while seagulls swooped overhead. It made all the difference in my creative process. These moments we take for ourselves are so far from frivolous, they are as necessary as breathing. And the simple practice of giving yourself these moments can go so far beyond nourishment, taken as a regular practice it can transform your entire life.
The Moment I Began My Long Road To Loving Myself
When I was in my early twenties I hated myself. I spoke to myself about myself with such vitriol and violence it could be classified as an emotionally abusive relationship. This is all too common. Almost all of us have these fictionalized impossible standards we set for ourselves, and as we inevitably fall short of this unattainable ideal, we eviscerate ourselves as punishment.
My inner script went a little something like this: “You’re never going to accomplish anything, you’re destined to be a failure, you don’t deserve to be happy, and no one is ever going to love you.” It. Was. Brutal. But somehow, magically, one day when I was curled in a ball on my bed having once again fallen into the pit of self hatred while this voice had its way with me, another voice started to whisper through the noise. A kinder, gentler, more loving voice. “So what? Maybe you will be a failure who never accomplishes anything and never discovers love or happiness, but you will certainly be all those things if you don’t give yourself a chance.” That was the moment. That was the moment I began my long road to recovery, to learning how to like myself, then love myself. To give myself the chance I deserved.
The Book That Absolutely Transformed My Life
By what I can only class as divine intervention, around the same time Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way came into my life. This book absolutely transformed my life, a pebble who’s infinite and expanding ripples are still guiding my life in magical ways today. Between it’s pages I found the words of encouragement and necessary tools to first begin to heal my relationship with myself, ultimately transforming my life. One of Cameron’s primary practices is called The Artist Date. This is how she defines it:
An artist date is a block of time, perhaps two hours weekly, especially set aside and committed to nurturing your creative consciousness, your inner artist. In it’s most primary form, the artist date is an excursion, a play date that you preplan and defend against all interlopers. You do not take anyone on this artist date but you and your inner artist, a.k.a. your creative child… think magic. Think delight. Think fun. Do not think duty. Do not think what you should do— spiritual sit-ups like reading a dull but recommended critical text. Do what intrigues you, explore what interests you; think mystery, not mastery… follow your sense of the mysterious, not your sense of what you should know more about.
You don’t have to be an artist to benefit from the practice of regular artist’s dates. It’s the perfect place to start when you begin your road to self love. It’s a chance to discover what delights and inspires you, to rediscover fun and joy, to learn how to be nice to yourself, and to experience the magical things that begin to happen as a result. If you really commit to it, and give yourself this time to take yourself on a date once a week, things will start to profoundly shift. And after some time, perhaps a few months, or maybe as long as a year or two as in my case, you’ll find yourself strong enough and inspired enough to change your life in a radical way, if that’s what’s called for. Either way, you’ll wake up one morning and realize that your relationship with your self and thus your life have transformed.
It was by committing to this practice of artist dates that I began to get to know myself, love myself, and get brave. It’s what helped me realize that I had it within me to travel by myself to India for four months. It was these first small and consistent steps that lead me to transforming my life, little changes that the universe furthered and expanded as the magic of my undiscovered journey unfolded.
So whether you’re in a creative slump and need to fill the well, or whether you’re trying to find the necessary strength and self compassion to change your life, I hope you consider trying this profound practice for yourself. If you’d like to discover more about The Artist’s Way, I’ve included the link to purchase it below.
Carina Covella is a writer and currently working on her forthcoming memoir, Love Dogs, detailing her six month transformational journey from Hollywood through India. Carina graduated from Barnard College, Columbia University cum laude with a degree in Art History. She also attended the Sorbonne in Paris and studied opera at the Manhattan School of Music through the university exchange programs. Until recently she lived in Mill Valley, California with her wonderful Welsh boyfriend Anthony in a house nestled in the trees, but now they’re off on a two year adventure around the world. When she’s not writing or traveling she loves to cook for her friends and family.