Written by: Monica Le Baron, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
“To fall in love with yourself is the first secret to happiness” - Robert Morely.
If you goggle how to love yourself, you will find two million results in just 94 seconds. This can be overwhelming, especially if your sitting in the toilet at 4 am trying to find some comfort from your phone instead of tossing and turning for another hour in bed.
You might be thinking this is BS, but sadly that’s how my quest for self-love started.
That night, I read a few blogs but felt like I was already making most of the recommendations, and the rest didn’t felt like a good fit.
During this incredible hard period of my life, I remember admitting to my friends that I was going through depression, and they would tell me very surprised, “You?? But you’re so pretty and happy all the time.” Conversations will always end in, “You just need to love yourself.”
Just? How the crap do you love yourself?
This is how loving yourself looks like.
Fortunately, a few months later, the book the Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron came to my life with a recommendation from my yoga therapist. I download it to my Kindle immediately, and I started working on the exercises.
I would write every morning for an hour or so, as the book suggested, but when it came to going on a solo date, I panic. It felt weird to go on my own to do something fun, and I didn’t know how I would tell my partner about this solo date thing.
Is funny how we can add more loads of work to our days but find it almost impossible to schedule time to rest and play, right?
So the next week, I forced myself to go to a Japanese restaurant just a metro stop away from my apartment in Beijing. I didn’t say a word about it to anyone, and I took a book with me, so I didn’t look like a weirdo eating on my own (this was before smartphones data was so accessible.)
To my surprise, I never opened the book, and the moment I got my warm miso soup, I felt instant gratification. I smiled and told myself, “this is how loving yourself feels like.”
I really can’t explain the joy and happiness I felt at that moment, it was magical, and in no time, I was planning my next adventure.
For the past 5 years, I have been going to unique and special artist dates all over the world. I have enjoyed free events like hiking, yoga classes, concerts, and art exhibitions. I have indulged myself in a weekend getaway in a quiet boutique hotel at the Great Wall of China and gotten tickets for the opera in Vienna.
I added special self-love memories to my life and will continue to do so because they bring so much joy, abundance, and creativity to my world.
Artist’s dates are solo dates you go on your own once a week to give yourself as much love and attention as you would give to someone else. They don’t have to be expensive unless you want to. So if you’re telling yourself, I don’t have time or money for self-care or self-love, don’t worry. You don’t need a lot of time or millions.
All you need is the curiosity to explore and time to enjoy your company.
Here are some simple steps to get you started with artist’s dates:
Get a notebook and a pen, and set your timer for 15 minutes.
Write all the activities that bring joy to your life, the activities you used to do before quarantine, or before you got married, or whatever is keeping you busy at the moment. And especially write the activities that you loved when you were a child.
Just write whatever comes to mind until the timer stops, don’t think about it too much.
When the time is up, take a moment to go back to the list and circle 10 activities that stand out.
Choose one activity and schedule it in your calendar for a week from now or sooner if possible.
Stick to it like if it was a doctor’s appointment or a meeting with a high-paying client.
Rinse and repeat.
Make it happen even in COVID times!
I’m sure by now your mind is creating a million excuses for why this WON’T work, but what if it does? What if you get solo dates plus a bust in creativity and productivity in your personal and professional life?
I recommend you give it a try and keep it simple! Why? Because you have so much to win and little to nothing to lose.
How do you keep it simple and make it happen even during this quarantine?
Say, for example, your #1 choice is to go to a Shakira concert. But nobody is giving concerts at the moment due to COVID, so instead, you can transform your living room into your own VIP concert hall, prepare some snacks, tequila shots and sing your heart out.
Perhaps you’re not a Shakira fan like I am, but you’re craving to go out for sushi and drink jasmine tea, and at the moment, you don’t have the money or, unfortunately, your favorite Japanese restaurant went out of business. Instead of saving moola and waiting to travel to Tokyo and get the best sushi in town, you can get out of your comfort zone, buy sushi ingredients, and join youtube on how to make spicy tuna rolls.
One of Julia Cameron’s favorite artist’s date activities is going to pet shops. Why not give it a try?
As rewarding as taking your dog for a walk or doing an activity with your kids can be, it is not considered an artist’s date (if you don’t have the time or moola for a babysitter, take them for now, and plan for “real” solo dates in the future).
During an event in Santa Fe, New Mexico, I asked Julia if I would still consider an artist’s date if I became friends with the people I met on my weekly hikes, and she gave me a strong NO.
"You could if you want to," she said, "but I recommend getting out of your comfort zone." And I’m so glad I listen to her because I got to go to so many beautiful places and explore on my own because I had the courage to get out of my comfort zone, and I was bold enough to spend quality time with myself.
Monica Le Baron, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Monica helps busy women simplify their wellness to sleep better and have more energy to enjoy life. As a yoga therapist and neuromuscular-body alignment expert, Monica trained with renowned neuromuscular therapist Lee Albert and graduated with honors from her MBA. She lived and worked in both Sweden and China, where she started her entrepreneurial journey. She now runs her Sleep Simplified Six-Week Coaching Program and VIP Sessions remotely while traveling the world and getting her beauty sleep.