Approaching Your Life as a Work of Art

Each one of us is an artist. An artist is merely someone with good listening skills who accesses the creative energy of the Universe to bring forth something on the material plane that wasn’t here before. … So it is with creating an authentic life. With every choice, every day, you are creating a unique work of art.
— Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy

I’m continuing to read Simple Abundance—at 700+ pages, I’ll be at it for a while!—and I’m continuing to find all sorts of interesting insights. (See first post here.) Something that has really struck me is this concept of creating our daily lives as works of art.  Breathnach recommends to “start thinking of your life as a work-in-progress. Works-in-progress are never perfect. But changes can be made to the rough draft during rewrites. Another color can be added to the canvas. The film can be tightened during editing. Art evolves. So does life. Art is never stagnant. Neither is life. The beautiful, authentic life you are creating for yourself and those you love is your art. It’s the highest art.”

Wow. Thinking of my life as a work-in-progress is a simple concept, but it feels radically freeing to me. It essentially takes the pressure off.  And approaching each day as if it is art I am creating—rather than just a to-do list I have to get through—really elevates everything.

Breathnach also talks about how to make our lives more nourishing by scattering moments of joy throughout. She says, “What is missing from many of our days is a true sense that we are enjoying the lives we are living. It is difficult to experience moments of happiness if we are not aware of what it is we genuinely love. We must learn to savor small, authentic moments that bring us contentment.”

Of course, as a “joy detective,” I love this idea. Something you can do, which I have done before, is to make a Bliss List: a list of simple pleasures that bring you joy. Then do at least one thing from it every day. Here are some of the items on my list:

·         Reading

·         Sitting in the sun

·         Savoring a cup of tea

·         Watching classic movies

·         Fresh flowers

·         Listening to jazz

·         Hugging

·         Toast with butter

·         Chocolate

·         Sitting and doing nothing (especially on a rainy day)

Breathnach also suggests trying to do daily tasks mindfully to “restore serenity to your daily endeavors.” She says, “Serene women do not get sidetracked. Sidetracked women, who scatter their energies to the four winds, never achieve serenity. … Concentrate slowly on completing one task at a time, each hour of the day, until the day is over.”

She says that we will wonder how we’ll manage to get everything done this way, but “I assure you that you will accomplish all you set out to do and need to do with much more ease, efficiency, pleasure, and satisfaction.” In fact, studies are now proving that multitasking actually makes us less efficient. Plus, this approach just feels better to me.

What do you think about these concepts? Do you also find them comforting and supportive? I’d love to hear. You can let me know by replying to this email, or in the comments below.

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On Community, Creating, and Pushing Past the Fear

This past weekend I was reminded—again—of the essential nature of community, and the vital importance of sharing our true selves. We are wired to seek out others with whom we feel like we “belong.” As Brené Brown says in Braving the Wilderness, “Belonging is the innate human desire to be part of something larger than us.”

Even those of us who are introverts want to feel that connection with others who get us and support us. Brown also says, “Never underestimate the power of being seen.” And yet, in order to truly feel like we belong, we have to show up as our authentic selves.

In a creative setting, where we’re putting out something we made, it can feel like we’re offering up a piece of our soul. I find that to be so risky emotionally. Brown agrees: “True belonging is not passive. It's not the belonging that comes with just joining a group. It's not fitting in or pretending or selling out because it's safer. It's a practice that requires us to be vulnerable, get uncomfortable, and learn how to be present with people without sacrificing who we are. We want true belonging, but it takes tremendous courage to knowingly walk into hard moments.”

But the rewards for that risk are great—when you’re accepted for who you are, or your work touches others, it’s deeply satisfying. I work at home and really miss the camaraderie of coworkers. Online groups fill part of the gap, but I also crave personal connection.

Last weekend I had the chance to go to the opening of an exhibit featuring a painting that includes one of my poems. And although it meant driving eight hours to Houston over on Friday and back again on Sunday—and I was nervous because I’d also have to read my poem aloud at the event (risk!)—I grabbed that chance. What made it even better was that I’d get to stay with one of my dearest friends, whom I hadn’t seen in over a year. To be able to spend uninterrupted time catching up with her is a rare treat, and immensely nourishing. (More connection!)

The exhibit was called Color:Story 2019, by amazing artists Leslie Gaworecki and Marlo Saucedo. I met Leslie at Lucky Star Art Camp. Last year she put out a request for words to feature in a collaborative work with Marlo, so I submitted my poem “What If.” I was thrilled when they chose it, and even more so when I saw the finished piece (pic below, and more on my Facebook page).

It felt amazing to be part of a collaboration like that. Then they decided to create more pieces along those lines, and were approved to exhibit them in a show. I figured the opening would be fun, and I knew it would meet my desire for connection, but I didn’t anticipate how very much it would fill my soul.

Their space is a huge warehouse subdivided into studios, and before the opening we were able to wander around and see all the other artists. Being in a place dedicated solely to creativity, I felt a special kind of energy that was inspiring and rejuvenating. (It also made my hands itch with the desire to grab a brush and start painting!!)

It was incredible to see my piece in person, and all the other beautiful pieces in the show. The other writers’ work was amazing. And then hearing that work read aloud, and feeling the appreciation of the crowd, brought a whole new level of energy.

It wasn’t quite enough energy to keep me from being increasingly nervous about my turn. But since my poem actually talks about feeling the fear and doing it anyway, I couldn’t possibly back down! I managed to read it all without losing my place or misspeaking—or tripping on the way up—and afterward, several people told me how much they liked it. That meant the world to me. Writers so often send our word babies out into the universe and don’t hear anything back…to get affirmation that our words touched someone makes all the effort, uncertainty, and fear worthwhile.

Seeing such a large group gathered to support the writers and artists was fantastic. It was like getting an infusion of love and appreciation. And seeing all of the artists gathered in that studio space, inspiring and encouraging each other, really brought home to me how important it is for creatives to have a community. Whether it’s “in real life” or virtual, having others who understand the challenges you face and can cheer you on is invaluable.

Especially when we’re starting out, that inner critic can really be loud, and can stop us before we have a chance to get going. Sharing with others who have been there before, who struggle with their own inner critics, really helps us keep going.

And then having others appreciate your work when it’s out there in the world—wow. We create because we have to—because there’s something inside of us that wants to be born, and if we don’t let it out, part of us withers away. We also create to bring joy, or solace, or inspiration to others. Our own pain or happiness, while personal in detail, is universal in feeling. Sharing it heals both the creator and the viewer. Everyone is lifted up. It’s magic, and I’m grateful to have finally gotten to a place in my life where I can experience it for myself.

If you’re feeling that urge to put something out there, remember this. If even one person is touched, it’s worth the vulnerability and the risk. The world needs your voice. Each of us has something unique to share, and someone else needs to hear it because it will benefit them. Don’t let fear keep your voice bottled up inside. Something that can really help you push past fear and doubt is the book The Artist’s Way. Read that, and find your community, and as Rumi says, “Be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder. Help someone’s soul heal.” The risk is great, but the reward is enormous.

What If


Let's Get Creative

I’ve talked before about how vital creativity is, no matter what form it takes for you. Today I wanted to share two poems that speak to that, by my friend Mary Walker. She is an amazing writer and inspiring person; I met her during the Write into Light class I took, and now she is leading her own online course, “Meet Your Creative Self,” which I am eagerly looking forward to! (It starts in February.) I thought I’d also share that info here, in case it interests you. You’ll find her description of it below the poems. Here’s to a beautifully creative 2019!

 THRIVE

by Mary Walker

Pasture covered slopes
will slip;
shallow rooted grass
cannot hold the hill
on its own.

A life stripped of riches,
a self swept aside
for sameness,
for blending in,
barely holds itself together.

You are a forest.
Recolonise your life.
Let new ideas take seed,
colours bloom,
let the strange and exotic
spring up.
Trust your wild diversity.
Thrive.

***

PERMISSION

by Mary Walker

I see you at the fence
watching everybody play,
waiting to be invited, or discovered,
or allowed.
There is no benevolent guide to open the gate;
no old hand will usher you in.
No encouragement is hearty enough
to fill that hollow doubt. If there was,
you’d be in there already.
No one will announce your arrival,
but no one will bar your way.
Take a ball or a hoop,
find a slide or a swing,
laugh, kick, cry, dig,
burrow, build, or sing.
Life is a playground,
and you,
one of its children.

***

“Meet Your Creative Self” online course led by Mary Walker:

This is for any creative, not just writers. It's even for people who think they aren't creative (but secretly suspect they might be), for the start-stop creators; for those who create but are too scared to share; for those who create but think there's really no point in doing anything with it.

This is for you if you wonder what you might be capable of if you finally let it flow out...

It's all about learning that our creative self is always speaking to us, offering us creative urges and ideas. It's about learning to trust the creative process and being willing to create without seeing what might lay ahead - knowing that the next step will ALWAYS present itself to us.

Working with your creative self is a joy. Our creativity is alive, vibrant and life-giving when we know how to work with it.

Working WITH your creative self feels like the opposite of effort. Instead, it is about allowing.

Less thinking, more quiet.
Less trying, more doing what you love.
Less strategizing, more trusting.
Less about the things ‘out there’, more about what’s ‘in here’.
Less ‘building ourselves up’, more ‘knowing we already are’.
Less ‘getting there’, more ‘already here’.

In February, I'm leading a 10 week immersion called 'Meet Your Creative Self'.

We are focusing on our relationship with our creative self, trusting our creative urges (including the urge to share our creative work in the world), and tuning in to our unique creative needs and practices.

What are you being asked to create? What are you being asked to share in the world? And where and how do you do that?

If you can sense YOU already have the answers, and are ready to tap into your innate creative wisdom, this might be for you.
• Private Facebook group
• 10 live sessions (February 3 – April 10)
• Group Messenger chat
• Three 1:1 private calls (20 mins each)
• Cost: 3 x monthly payments of $140
• No payments until 1 February

REGISTER: https://gum.co/meetyourcreativeself

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Take a Vacation from Adulting

**I've been craving more playtime lately, and was going to write about it--then realized I already had! So here is a repost from June 2017.**

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the blue sky, is by no means waste of time.
— Sir John Lubbock, “The Use of Life”

I think it’s a travesty that we don’t get summers off as adults. Who needs the break more than us, I ask you? I get grumpy in the summer when all I want to do is go to the beach but my endless list prevents it.

Remember what summer was like as a child? All those marvelous days stretching ahead of you with absolutely no responsibilities, and the only “to do” was have fun! Let’s try to incorporate some of that feeling into our lives this summer. Whether it's for an hour, a day, a weekend, or even a glorious week, craft a plan to release yourself from the tyranny of adulting. Do absolutely nothing or go have some totally frivolous fun.

Play hooky from work, play hooky from home, take everything on your list and give it to someone else—or procrastinate like a student facing exams. It will all be there when you get back. Turn off the phone, turn off the computer; be as unreachable as if you were in one of those over-the-water thatched bungalows in Bora Bora. (Better yet, actually go to one of those over-the-water thatched bungalows in Bora Bora, lol!)

What do you miss most about childhood summer days? Lying around? Reading all day with no interruptions? Napping? Going to the movies? Going to the beach? Getting ice cream? Do whatever your heart yearns for.

Think of the activities you did that made you feel free and full of promise and possibility. Or, think of what you wished to do but never got to. Go rollerskating or bike riding or swimming or camping. Set up a Slip’n’Slide! Go to a playground, swing on the swings, and eat Popsicles. Get some art supplies and do some wild and crazy finger painting, play with clay, or create Jackson Pollock-style splatter art. See if you can round up some friends to play kick the can or sand volleyball. Meet up in a park and have a picnic. Have a picnic all by yourself! Rent a boat, kayak, canoe, or paddle board and get out on the water.

Maybe you miss sleep-away camp. Several summers ago, as I was planning my son's summer, I found myself feeling jealous. “I want to go to camp,” I thought. “I want to make art and swim and hang out with other girls and have campfires!” I posted that thought on my Facebook page—and amazing life coach Carla Robertson replied, “I could make that happen for you!” She actually created a weekend “camp” with several other women at a group of little cottages in St. Francisville, Louisiana. We made crafts, hiked in the woods to some beautiful waterfalls, and relaxed. We also enjoyed marvelous individual coaching and treated ourselves to Prosecco with sorbet, which was a nice grown-up twist! Maybe you can create something like this for yourself and a few friends.

In 2016, I Googled “art camp for women” and discovered Lucky Star (which is held in early November but since it’s in Texas it still feels like summer)! I immediately signed up, and it was the quintessential camp experience—only way, way better (gourmet food and you could bring your own adult beverage!). Held at a gorgeous historic girls’ camp on the Guadeloupe River, it was incredible from start to finish. I immersed myself in art classes, yoga, horseback riding, sitting by the river, and late-night campfires with singalongs—and I got to share it with about 100 new friends. It was magical, and I highly recommend it! (Lucky Star is in Hunt, Texas, in the hill country: www.luckystarartcamp.com.)

Whatever you did in your childhood summers that made you happiest (or whatever you wanted to but couldn’t!), try to do it or something similar now. At the very least (and perhaps this would do the very most good), spend an afternoon lying on the grass in your backyard with some lemonade and good music, watching the clouds and listening to the birds. Enjoy doing nothing; imagine that you have absolutely no responsibilities and the entire glorious summer lies ahead, full of promise. Repeat as often as possible, and I bet you start to feel like a kid again!

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Zoom in on the Good

I’ve been participating in The 100 Day Project, where you choose an activity and do it for 100 days, posting on Instagram as you go. Many of the projects are art-related; I decided that mine would be to create something new every day, either with art or words.

The first few days I was pleasantly surprised by what I produced. Then on Day 8, I hit a wall. I’d been busy and wasn’t able to do anything until late in the day. I had an idea of what I wanted, but what ended up on the paper did not match the vision in my head at all. I really didn’t like and didn't want to share this piece. However, there wasn’t time to start over, and I wasn’t about to miss a day so early in the project.

Then I discovered that if I zoomed in tight on one corner, I liked what I saw—a lot. So I took that picture. And it struck me that this could be a sort of metaphor for life. No matter what the big picture looks like, we can always zoom in on at least one detail and find something we like. We can focus on that area and feel appreciation for it, which shifts us into a positive mindset of gratitude rather than a negative one. And even if nothing about the big picture changes, if we stay focused on that feeling of gratitude for what we do like, we will feel better.

Appreciation and gratitude are so powerful. Studies have shown that feeling grateful actually improves our physical and psychological health. That’s pretty amazing. And in my experience, when I consciously seek things to appreciate, I seem to encounter them more and more.

So my reminder to myself, for the rest of this project and beyond, is to zoom in on the good whenever possible.  As this quote from William Arthur Ward puts it, “Gratitude can transform common days into Thanksgiving, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” Happy Thanksgiving! ;-)

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Taking Time for Creativity

Inside you there’s an artist you don’t know about. … Say yes quickly, if you know, if you’ve known it from before the beginning of the universe.
— Jalal ud-Din Rumi

I had a rare opportunity yesterday morning to meet a friend for an “art date.” We set up at a coffee shop with markers and paper (and a chocolate croissant for me—very necessary for creativity!) and I showed her what I had learned in the “whimsical lettering” class at Lucky Star Art Camp taught by Roxanne Glaser (aka Super Doodle Girl).

We had so much fun! It felt frivolous, and I had rescheduled a couple of times because I was “too busy, ”but it was really energizing. Doing something creative—and completely different from my usual routine—on a weekday morning was soul-reviving. Self care, baby!

I made myself a lovely little reminder sign (pictured below), so no, nasty voice in my head, it wasn’t a complete waste of time!

But honestly, even if I hadn’t made anything, it still wouldn’t have been a waste of time.

I have been so focused on finishing and launching my book, plus doing client work and managing the usual life stuff, that I have neglected my creativity. This week I was feeling spring feverish—not in the mood to sit at the computer and work, antsy, bored, grumpy. Taking this time was just what I needed. My inner grownup thinks that creativity for creativity’s sake is useless, but as I seem to have to rediscover over and over again, that simply isn’t true.

As Julia Cameron says in her groundbreaking book The Artist’s Way, “Creativity is the natural order of life. Life is energy: pure creative energy. … We are, ourselves, creations. And we, in turn, are meant to continue creativity by being creative ourselves.”  

This weekend—or, gasp, one day next week!—play around with something creative, just for the heck of it. Doodle, or paint, or collage, or sew, or color, or garden, or cook … whatever form of creativity calls you. Because you can feel it, can’t you? You can feel that tug, that inner child who wants to go play with all those colors and make a mess—but is afraid of getting in trouble. Give your inner grownup some time off and let that child go wild! I promise, you won’t regret it!

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The Restorative Power of Retreats

What a difference a year makes! I recently returned from Lucky Star Art Camp, and while I was there I reflected on how much I’ve changed since I first attended in November, 2016. I have stretched myself way beyond my comfort zone, beginning with going to Lucky Star last year completely alone and not knowing a soul in advance. I was scared, but proud of myself for doing it anyway. I also had been feeling a deep yearning to be creative, but had no idea how and zero confidence in my ability. And, I felt silly, selfish, and irresponsible to be spending time and money on something that was not “productive” or “purposeful.”

Then I took my first class, began to loosen up, and gradually learned to let go and enjoy the process for what it was giving me rather than focusing on what I created. I also discovered how friendly, open, and supportive everyone was, and how delightful it feels to be surrounded by kindred spirits united in a common goal of creating and connecting.

This year, I felt way more comfortable from the beginning, and I was much more relaxed in my approach to the classes. (At least I had gotten better at stemming the rising tide of performance anxiety and ignoring that critical voice in my head.) I’ve been channeling my creativity into my book project over the last six months, but had been missing the hands-on fun of making art. It felt so blissful to dive in to each of my classes and be fully present in the moment.

 I made beaded necklaces, learned watercolor and whimsical lettering techniques, and played around with acrylic paint while sitting by the river. I did acquire some skills, but I also practiced letting go of my expectations, which was way more valuable.  I was even able to display some of my creations during “show and tell” the last evening of camp. They weren’t perfect or professional, but I was still proud—and putting my imperfect art out for all to see was quite an accomplishment for me.

What makes Lucky Star so special? Certainly the people are a huge factor—from creator Lisa Hamlyn Field and the team of family and friends helping her, whose enthusiasm and energy are contagious, to the gracious and generous staff of Camp Waldemar, to the inspiring creative souls who teach the classes, to the fun and supportive women who attend—everyone contributes to making the experience unforgettable. Sitting around the campfire at night, telling jokes, sharing, and singing along as the resident singer/songwriter Mandy Rowden plays her guitar—you feel like part of a vibrant sisterhood. That sort of connection with other women can be lacking in our hectic lives, and it’s so vital.

Also, the setting is spectacular. Waldemar is a restorative, spiritual spot. You feel it the minute you turn into the drive: the peace, the beauty, the history, the magic. On the last afternoon I lay for hours next to the river, listening to the waterfall downstream and watching the breeze blow through the cypress trees. Horses came down to drink and splash around. Small groups of women were gathered at different spots, talking and making art. It was a powerful tonic. I am so envious of the girls who get to spend months there in the summer.

And then there’s the food! I’ve never had such nourishing, delicious meals in all my life. The staff prepares everything with tons of love, and it shows. They make every dish so tasty and appealing, I find myself eating way more than I usually do at home! But as another camper noted, mysteriously, we don’t gain weight while we’re there. Despite eating three large meals a day for nearly four days (and dessert! at lunch AND dinner!), I’m not any heavier when I come home. We theorized that it’s because the food is prepared both healthily and lovingly, and that our creative exertions burn a lot more calories than you’d imagine!

I had thought that perhaps I’d built up last year’s experience in my mind, making it seem much more wonderful than it really was—but no, it was just as incredible as I’d remembered. I’m so glad I went back and immersed myself in that magic once again. I feel creatively recharged and personally restored. I remember now that retreats like this do have a purpose—they renew our spirits so that we can return to our lives with fresh energy and enthusiasm. It’s not irresponsible or silly. It may be selfish, but in the best sort of way—taking care of oneself is necessary for a good life. I talked with one camper who said her husband was so struck by how happy she was after coming home from camp her first year that he insisted she go every year. It makes a real difference in the quality of our lives—and our loved ones’ lives—when we are happy, and activities like this fill us up. I can’t wait for next year!

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Making Bad Art Is Good for You!

Tomorrow I leave for Lucky Star Art Camp! I’m so excited to be giving myself this gift for the second year in a row. Last year, I was nervous—I didn’t know anyone else and wasn’t sure what to expect. But I quickly discovered a wonderful group of kindred spirits—women of all ages coming together to feast on creativity (and some really excellent food)! And the setting was magical—a working girls’ summer camp on the banks of the Guadaloupe River, complete with campfires and horseback riding! I left camp last year rejuvenated, with a new awareness of just how much joy making art gives me.

Last year, before I found out about Lucky Star, I kept feeling a pull to paint. I was tired of working with words all the time and wanted to make something with my hands. I wanted a creative experience that allowed my mind to relax, to find that feeling of flow. I began messing around with acrylics and watercolors, and had fun even as I cringed at my lack of ability.

When I found out about Lucky Star and signed up for it, I thought I’d get some guidance there on how to make better art so I could stop feeling embarrassed about my creations. But what I actually learned was infinitely more powerful and useful.  I learned how to give myself permission to make bad art—to just create for the sake of creating, regardless of the results. We were shown how to do the crafts in the various classes, but the emphasis was on enjoying ourselves while we were learning, as opposed to trying to “get it right.” The point was to feel that thrill of making something, not to judge what we made.

While I was initially intimidated because of my lack of art experience, this relaxed approach helped me open up and begin playing around.  I discovered that the process of creating was what really made me happy: process, not product. And isn’t that what life is really about? How many times have we heard, “it’s the journey, not the destination”?  When I finally let go of self-judgment and anxiety about how I was doing, it was amazing. While I was making art, I felt full of joy. I was calm and centered. It was pure pleasure for pleasure’s sake, which feels decadent when you’re a goals-driven adult!

It was exhilarating to not worry about being productive. In regular life, I tend to pack as much as possible into each day, and I feel like I’m slacking if I relax or do something just for fun during the “work” day. But I know that it’s actually essential to take that time for myself. All work and no play makes me not only dull, but also impatient, resentful, and tired. After I came back from camp last year, I made the commitment to spend some time creating each week—and I actually managed to do it for most of the year!

But the past few months have been incredibly busy, and I haven’t done any art in a long time. I miss it, and I’m craving that bliss again. I’m also craving the freedom of four days away from responsibility, with all meals provided! That will be sweet indeed. I’m so grateful to Lisa Hamlyn Field for dreaming up this amazing camp. After I return, I’m sure I will have a whole fresh set of insights to share!

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Take a Vacation from Adulting

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the blue sky, is by no means waste of time.
— Sir John Lubbock, “The Use of Life”

I think it’s a travesty that we don’t get summers off as adults. Who needs the break more than us, I ask you? I get grumpy in the summer when all I want to do is go to the beach but my endless list prevents it.

Remember what summer was like as a child? All those marvelous days stretching ahead of you with absolutely no responsibilities, and the only “to do” was have fun! Let’s try to incorporate some of that feeling into our lives this summer. Whether it's for an hour, a day, a weekend, or even a glorious week, craft a plan to release yourself from the tyranny of adulting. Do absolutely nothing or go have some totally frivolous fun.

Play hooky from work, play hooky from home, take everything on your list and give it to someone else—or procrastinate like a student facing exams. It will all be there when you get back. Turn off the phone, turn off the computer; be as unreachable as if you were in one of those over-the-water thatched bungalows in Bora Bora. (Better yet, actually go to one of those over-the-water thatched bungalows in Bora Bora, lol!)

What do you miss most about childhood summer days? Lying around? Reading all day with no interruptions? Napping? Going to the movies? Going to the beach? Getting ice cream? Do whatever your heart yearns for.

Think of the activities you did that made you feel free and full of promise and possibility. Or, think of what you wished to do but never got to. Go rollerskating or bike riding or swimming or camping. Set up a Slip’n’Slide! Go to a playground, swing on the swings, and eat Popsicles. Get some art supplies and do some wild and crazy finger painting, play with clay, or create Jackson Pollock-style splatter art. See if you can round up some friends to play kick the can or sand volleyball. Meet up in a park and have a picnic. Have a picnic all by yourself! Rent a boat, kayak, canoe, or paddle board and get out on the water.

Maybe you miss sleep-away camp. Two summers ago, as I was planning my son's summer, I found myself feeling jealous. “I want to go to camp,” I thought. “I want to make art and swim and hang out with other girls and have campfires!” I posted that thought on my Facebook page—and amazing life coach Carla Robertson replied, “I could make that happen for you!” She actually created a weekend “camp” with several other women at a group of little cottages in St. Francisville, Louisiana. We made crafts, hiked in the woods to some beautiful waterfalls, and relaxed. We also enjoyed marvelous individual coaching and treated ourselves to Prosecco with sorbet, which was a nice grown-up twist! Maybe you can create something like this for yourself and a few friends.

Last year, I Googled “art camp for women” and discovered Lucky Star (which is held in early November but since it’s in Texas it still feels like summer)! I immediately signed up, and it was the quintessential camp experience—only way, way better (gourmet food and you could bring your own adult beverage!). Held at a gorgeous historic girls’ camp on the Guadeloupe River, it was incredible from start to finish. I will go into more detail in a future post about the healing power of making art, but I immersed myself in art classes, yoga, horseback riding, sitting by the river, and late-night campfires with singalongs—and I got to share it with about 100 new friends. It was magical, and I highly recommend it! (Lucky Star is in Hunt, Texas, in the hill country; 2017 dates are November 1-5: www.luckystarartcamp.com.)

Whatever you did in your childhood summers that made you happiest (or whatever you wanted to but couldn’t!), try to do it or something similar now. At the very least (and perhaps this would do the very most good), spend an afternoon lying on the grass in your backyard with some lemonade and good music, watching the clouds and listening to the birds. Enjoy doing nothing; imagine that you have absolutely no responsibilities and the entire glorious summer lies ahead, full of promise. Repeat as often as possible, and I bet you start to feel like a kid again!