Have you ever had one of those weeks that made you feel like you were army crawling through Monday, sobbing through Wednesday, then mud wrestling through Thursday and when you finally reached the end, you felt like you hadn’t done anything for yourself, other than survive?
You know the weeks when you’ve been rushing around and you’re exhausted yet you feel restless and unfinished?
The weeks when you’ve not achieved anything that you wanted, for you. You might have done the shopping or cleaned the house but the time dripped through your hands and slipped off your fingertips and before you knew it, it was Sunday night and you haven’t so much as sniffed a book, let alone, created something or spent time pursuing the things you love the most. Those weeks are the worst.
After a stressful few months, I’ve been trying really hard to build more self-care into my weeks, to build in more ‘solo dates’. These have varied from week to week, from crying in cafes to reading more and creating. I’ve been trying to consciously build in more ‘me time’. To build my life around things that I love. Some weeks it’s really difficult and this in itself, seems crazy to me. We find time to do so many things, why can’t we find time to look after ourselves. Why can’t we find time to take ourselves on a date?
It was after trying to read Julia Cameron’s morning pages book, I first read about the ‘artists date’. This is a book all about developing, honing and increasing your creativity and the book talks about these artists date as an essential tool to help your creativity muscle grow. Now, this ‘date’ doesn’t have to be expensive or extravagant but it has to be inbuilt into your week. The time has to be sacred and it has to be just you.
A couple of weeks ago, I escalated my usual cafe date to an evening out. As the sun set over Manchester the sky came alive, it was a perfect crisp Spring evening and the pink sky mixed with the yellow city lights to create the perfect sunset, it was beautiful.
I took myself to my very first book launch and live podcast recording. It was one of the best dates I’ve been on in a while.
The venue was perfect. As I walked into Waterstones, I felt at home. It was late and the shop was full of anticipation. I looked at a few shelves and made my way upstairs. There was a huge queue to get into the event but it only added to the atmosphere.
I’ve never been to a book launch before. The room we piled into was small and completely unassuming, with storage boxes and ex-display items, chairs stacked and dusty window ledges, it was perfect and real. The complete actualisation of what writing is really like. Behind the scenes it’s ugly and shabby, yet dusted off, cleaned up and polished, it becomes something great.
Greeted with a huge glass of rose, I nestled into an empty row and made my way right to the end. I was happy, a hidden seat, with a fantastic view. The book launch was for Me and Orla’s – Sara Tasker and she was recording an episode of her podcast – hashtag authentic. Laura Jane Williams was interviewing Sara and the whole show was spectacular.
Laura Jane Williams started by asking Sara to take in the moment, I want friends like that, I want to be a friend like that. A friend who stops and says this is it, this is a moment you need to pause for, you need to be fully present.
I didn’t realise how completely incredible it would be to hear an author read their own words. Read how they were written. Read exactly how they were supposed to sound. It was breathtakingly beautiful. Everything felt in sync, the room fell to easy silence and the evening continued.
After the recording was finished, I got my books signed, which I would never normally do, but it felt fitting and right to meet someone who had created something, to meet someone that had written words that resonated. One of the best parts of my date was walking around an empty Waterstones after it has closed, I walked from room to room exploring the empty store and soaking in the books.
When was the last time you took yourself out? All on your own, for no other reason than you should. It’s good to be comfortable on your own. If you can’t be complete within yourself, something is out of balance.
“Within you, there is a world of spring” – Danish proverb. There is the unlimited and unrequited potential for growth inside of you. Growth for new things, for change, for coming alive after winter. But you need space and time to grow and to listen. Take your self on a date, give yourself time.
But where to go? Lean heavily into who you are and what makes you, you. That’s how you’ll find the perfect date idea. The one that leaves you tired but full. Recharged and inspired.
Does your date look like a 50-minute episode of a tv show with a glass of wine when the kids are asleep?
Does your date look like a coffee before work with a good book in a nice coffee shop?
What about a date to a museum or an art gallery, all on your own?
How about trying a new evening class?
Try new things. Break down your routine and start to build a life you love. Even if it’s in between the exhales and stressful days. Build your five minutes of self-care, then ten then 30. Eventually, we will build a life that is crafted with intention, it’s built by design. The small acts of self-care once used as survival, as armour for the exhausting weeks, will be the daily habits and routine that allow us to give more and be more and will eventually allow us to become so full, we will just overspill and overspill and never run out.
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