(Not So) Guilty Pleasures

Photo Credit: Gage Paine

And suddenly it’s November. The days are definitely shorter and after this weekend, the nights will be darker much earlier. For those who work on campus, it’s a stressful part of the semester as deadlines loom as we count down the days to finals. For all of us the complexities of the holiday season are beginning. And yes, this past Saturday, across from aisle long shelf of Halloween candy, I saw half anaisle of Christmas candy. It has begun.

So today I want to encourage you to consider partaking of a guilty pleasure. Something that you absolutely love, that realistically you can’t do all the time, but that will bring a bit of joy into your life.

This idea came up yesterday as I was talking with a coaching client. I was encouraging her to practice Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages. As you know if you’ve been reading many of these newsletters, I find Morning Pages to be very helpful in day-to-day life. They are also especially helpful when you’re in the doldrums, feeling stuck, or a bit cranky. They can help us identify causes and solutions.

I write less often about two other ‘tools’ that Julia Cameron believes are critical to dealing with creative blocks – in other words, experiencing what I just described. One is a walk outside. Fresh air and movement are powerful mood changers by themselves, but when paired with morning pages, taking time to get up and move for a bit by yourself, without earbuds, allows you to listen to your own mind and perhaps clear away some of the chatter. Paired with daily Morning Pages, regular walks in nature set up a loop for your subconscious. You write a question in the morning and a couple of days later you figure out the answer while you walk. Or vice versa.

Her third tool is the one I struggle with the most, the Artist Date. She challenges us to take your inner Artist on a date. And this tool works for anyone, not only people who identify themselves as Artists. What’s an activity that you find fun? Be honest. What popped into your head right now? Dancing? Coloring? Shopping? Running? Reading? Woodcarving? Whatever it might be what’s the closest thing to it that you can do sometime in the next week – by YOURSELF. Just you and your inner child doing something fun. And as I said to the client I was working with last night, what’s a guilty pleasure you might indulge in – safely. I’m not suggesting an alcoholic drink or any of the other things that are harmful. But if you can safely indulge in an ice cream cone or a chocolate shake, why not grab one on the way home occasionally?

What will bring you joy that you often refuse to indulge in because…fill in the blank. The Artist’s Date can feel like a guilty pleasure. Time to oneself doing something just because it’s fun is often a luxury we forgo. But from time to time, maybe even weekly, we should do something fun. Cameron says it ‘fills the well.’ You know what well I mean. The one you have been drawing from all week until it’s empty and you’re exhausted.

Saturday, out being healthy, walking in my neighborhood, I found a great coffee and tea shop less than half a mile from my apartment. Sunday, I was back there with my morning pages journal and I spent an hour writing, people watching, and thoroughly enjoying a pot of tea and a very yummy fruit crepe. It was a wonderful couple of hours and a good way to be on my own and still be part of the world around me. It was rejuvenating and then I enjoyed the walk back home. And next weekend when I go back, I may just try a favorite of mine – a chocolate muffin – and not feel guilty at all.

I encourage you to try at least one of these practices over the next few weeks. If you want the real magic, find time for all three. I know how busy it is from now until the holidays, but like so many things that are good for us, we need them most when life is most hectic. I know I do. So this week’s challenge is to try some practices that are good for you sprinkled with a few guilty pleasures here and there. If my own experience is any indicator, it will make this hectic time a bit less fraught, a bit more manageable, and maybe even a bit more fun.

Take care,


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