The Self-Care Connection

Week 5: Artist’s Date

Back when I completed the Artist Way (AW) for my very first time my world opened up to self-care practices that I was not accustomed to. I had been thinking to myself at the time that I would really like a massage. A couple years before that I had strained my back and received a few sessions of massage with chiropractic care. My back felt pretty good for a while and then began to give me pain once again. I think of basic self-care as air. If it is not in place, it is hard to even imagine more creative activities to do. For me, the basic needs must be met before I can really relax and receive the “magic” from the Artist’s Date (AD) experience. So, when I began the AW, my mind wandered to wanting to get back into massage therapy if at all possible. I opened my phone book to a random place and there was a coupon for a free massage with a chiropractic exam. The location was a little out of the way (20 miles to the north), but since I was looking for adventure anyway I called and made an appointment. This was when I had my first serendipitous experience on an the AD. At the time I had been focusing efforts on fictional writing. Each person at the chiropractor’s office had such interesting and distinctive character that I felt like I was in some kind of dream. I had such a fun time imagining them as characters in my own story.

This time around, my week 5 date desire was once again to pamper myself a with a massage (my back had been letting me know that it needed care). I had a referral from a friend for a therapist that was located close to my work, so I looked her up online. Her practice was called Elemental Energy Massage. I wondered what this meant and found that in addition to regular massage techniques, she also had more eastern practices offered such as Thai compress massage. One of the the techniques offered was Japanese Reiki energy healing incorporated with massage. I felt like being adventurous, so I asked her about her special (which actually was the Thai compress massage) and she ended up thinking that I was asking about the Reiki energy healing massage. Even with the mix up I was in for a very interesting experience. Many times when I come out of a massage, I am so relaxed that I border on lethargic. This was not the case with the energy work and massage. I came out feeling a relief from my pain, but also very alert and ready to tackle the remainder of my day.

Week 6: Artist’s Date

I went for my first pedicure with one of my early AD back my first time through the AW as well and was sold on the practice. For the price that you pay, the result is so dramatic. Pretty and healthy feeling feet are a necessity once you get into the practice. Unfortunately, if you get low on time or funds they are one of the first rituals up for elimination.

I hadn’t been for a pedicure in over six months when week 6 rolled around this time, and I decided that I could strain my mind trying to come up with a great AD or I could do what my body was begging from me.. a little foot care. It was Valentine’s Day and I knew that I could rationalize a special treat. When I arrived, the nail place was empty except for one other customer (which immediately put me at ease). The price was so reasonable that I threw in a manicure as well. I relaxed and enjoyed the process.  On that date, I established a rule of no cell phone use. I considered the more recent loss of social etiquette in society when it comes to being attentive and present while with others at the eating table and out for special time. I slowed down and enjoyed being in the moment. When leaving, I felt like a million bucks, loved, and treated on a holiday that can sometimes be a letdown. Immediately following, I shopped for Valentine gifts for my husband and kids. It is so much easier to be giving when you feel like your own needs are met. So, now that my self-care is up, I am excited to see what adventure is in store for next week!

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Finding Peace

Week 5: The Artist’s Walk

I planned my walk early in the week. I decided to walk along a different water front. After meeting some friends for lunch downtown, I took a brisk walk along the Columbia River walkway. Being in the downtown, I mostly wondered what this walk would have looked like 100 years ago or longer before having man’s impact. Vegetation was sparse. I even wondered if the trees were native to our area. The river was wide and its color blended with the sky.

Many walkers and joggers passed along the concrete walkway that had been made for a heavy traffic of people. I had a hard time feeling as at ease as I had the week before, but continued along as planned. I took pictures of the plaques that were occasionally placed along the walkway explaining history of the river and the settlement of the area. A feeling of disappointment hit as I finished my walk. There was still the beauty of the river and its banks, but I couldn’t help but feel a loss for what must have been its majestic beginnings. It was brought to this state all for the sake of progress.

Week 6: The Artist’s Walk

I didn’t plan my walk as early on, but decided that I would stick closer to home. I went to Lewisville Park that is set down along the Lewis River. As I drove into the park the rain began to come down. I wasn’t going to let that spoil my walk though. My rain coat would keep me dry enough.

The park was basically deserted. There were a line of cars parked outside of the park’s entrance (walkers, joggers, fishermen, and hikers regularly park there to avoid the entrance fee), but once inside the parking lots were empty except for the occasional truck. I wondered if there would be a possibility of animals up on the trail that I planned to walk along. I figured that I would make as much noise as possible. I went along the river bank first to look at the river. The rain was coming down hard enough that the rocks were slippery and I needed to protect my camera. The river always moves fast during this time of year and today was no exception.

I found the entrance to the hiking trail and took my time walking up the steep dirt walkway. I stopped to admire ferns, moss, and so many beautiful trees. I forget how much I really love this setting. My way back I decided to put my camera away and really just enjoy being a part of so much greenery. I felt like I was breathing and relaxing deeply even with a brisk uphill then downhill terrane. At one moment I felt so happy and peaceful that I knew this was an experience that I would want to duplicate. I considered all of the factors that were in play. I was alone. Lush plant life surrounded me. The river roared  below. Birds tweeted above. The rain had stopped and blue skies broke. Endorphins also must have kicked in after 45 minutes of walking up and down the trail. Would it be too much to ask for this place to stay unspoiled forever?

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Slowing Things Down

Week 4: The Artist’s Walk

The desire to get back to nature surfaced again and again over the week. I found it interesting how many times the thought to plan my walk came to my mind throughout the week and especially during my Morning Pages. I felt like it was a time that I did pamper my artist with high quality air and greenery.

I also notice that my artist is feeling rather shy when out and about these days, so I decided to pick a more secluded location where I would be less inhibited. I consider this a perk of living near the country. There are times when the quiet is so important.

I chose to go to Battle Ground Lake for my walk. As I walked down to the lake I noticed that it took my eyes several moments to begin to come into focus with the details around me. A handful of fisherman were along the dock and shore line. There was a stillness. It crossed my mind that these guys have the idea. They are out there with the stillness of the lake. Every noise that the animals make echoes and is amplified. I looked out on the lake and notice birds lined up on floating logs. I regret not bringing my high powered lens to get a shot. I only realize that these were ducks after the one at the end of the line stirs and flies off and lands in the water with a splash.

I decide that I want to go around the lake’s lower trail in order to get in a nice brisk walk. I remember that it is only a mile around and think that it should be no problem to complete before the sun gets low in the sky. As I begin around the trail a small animal in the bushes scurries away. I am just as started by its noise as it was by mine. I get a chance to go right down to the water and a fish scares and splashes away from the bank’s shallow water in a hurry. During this time of year when the park is mostly forgotten, the wildlife must also have that feeling of being safe and alone.

I get almost a third of the way around the lake before the trail is covered with water and I must turn around. It is then when my eyes really come into focus and I begin to see all of the interesting things around me. Steam was rising from a floating log in the water, ferns were growing out from the most unusual places, a tree trunk which could pass in a Dr. Seuss landscape. The old lesson that the artist’s eye is an eye of detail once again manifested itself to me. I could hear many sounds of the little critters all around.

One must slow down, really slow down if one expects to see the beauty that is missed by many. It was on this date all alone that I was able to relax enough to really let go of an agenda of having to go, go, go.

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