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  • Mary Bergida DeLuca

12 Mini-Artist Dates: Julia Cameron meets Marie Kondo

*Here are a few photographs that sparked joy in me when I saw them.

March swarmed in with its own brand of madness that for me had little to do with sports and everything to do with an overflowing checklist. I am scraping dry earth at the bottom of my proverbial “creative well.” Rejuvenating practices themselves seem to call for more energy than I can muster. Then I discovered the Mini-Artist Date.

But first, a little background.

For those of you who are familiar with Marie Kondo and the KonMari method, you know that “sparking joy” is essential to living a well-ordered life.

For those of you acquainted with Julia Cameron, you know that in addition to her mandate for morning pages, a thriving creative life calls for a weekly artist date.

Perhaps you have watched a few episode of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix or read her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Perhaps you have even gone through one or more sectors of your possessions and purged all the flotsam that doesn’t ignite joy.

Or perhaps, you’re in the company of those who have watched the entire season or read the book, but just feel too overwhelmed to start.

Perhaps you’ve also read Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way and strive to do morning pages or maybe sneak in an artist’s date here or there.

I try to imagine sprightly Marie Kondo meeting that force of nature, Julia Cameron, and what that rendezvous would entail. I am certain they could concoct a hybrid method in which external and interior order come together for a life of creative abundance and joyful living.

Lovely, but exhausting?

Right now I have to admit that creating KonMari worthy order in my life or treating myself to an artist date seems overwhelming.

Life speeds up and as we seek to survive, the “luxuries” of nurturing our "inner creatives" are so easily brushed aside. When we are busy, it’s so much harder to take time for self-care and our joy can become paralyzed.

Let me propose a way to start small that draws on both the philosophies of Kondo and Cameron, ideal for times of burn out and an overflowing schedule: The Mini-Artist Date.

Here are the only guidelines for the Mini-Artist Date:

  • Engage a brief practice that sparks joy.

  • Be intentional about this short practice and do it alone.

  • Use those ten or less minutes to truly savor your mini-date and the experience of joy it brings.

Here is a list of practices that can be accomplished in 10 minutes or less. Pick one practice that stands out to you and engage it as your own Mini-Artist Date this week:

  1. Read a single page from a favorite or uplifting book.

  2. Read a couple of old letters or even Facebook messages from loving friends. Or even listen to an old voicemail.

  3. Slowly eat a small portion of something that delights you. Perhaps a raspberry or a piece chocolate, letting it melt in your mouth to take in its “bouquet” of flavors.

  4. Listen to a favorite song that sparks joy, and give it your full attention. Maybe even listen to it twice and notice how you feel.

  5. Send a short text or IM to someone you cherish but have lost touch with. Say in a sentence or two that you had thought of them and what you were thinking of.

  6. Doodle something that makes you smile.

  7. Listen to a short podcast or meditation. ("Live Awake" reflection and meditations.)

  8. Go for a stroll around the block.

  9. Soak your feet in hot chamomile tea or bath salts.

  10. Day dream about what a joyful afternoon would look like for you.

  11. Place an image that sparks joy as the background on one of your electronic devices.

  12. List ten things you are grateful for or write ten affirmations for yourself.

When we pause to experience joy for ourselves, it can also open us up to share the experience. What small action might you take to spark joy for someone else? A text? Picking up a favorite snack as you glide by it in the grocery store?

I would be grateful to hear how you made time for joy this week. Feel free to share with me.

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