Slow, Mindful Self-Love Practices| Self-Love Series #2

Springtime, like falling in love, is a slow unfolding. It’s different for every flower. Certain flowers and trees, like azalea bushes and flowering dogwoods, blossom early on, when it’s still frosty in early April. But they lose their petals quite quickly, usually by mid-May. Flowers that take longer to bloom tend to last the whole season. Roses, for example, typically bloom in June and last through the end of fall.

Dean Bond Rose Garden, May 9, 2019

The roses were not yet in bloom on May 9, 2019

In my last post, I shared several 5-minute practices that can spark your self-love journey. The practices I write about today are slow self-love exercises that will fan the flames of that spark and keep it alight. These activities take more time; a critical component of self-love is spending time with yourself. Think about it: you typically spend the most time with the people you love. Carve out some time for yourself, too. If you want to make a lasting impact on your life, you need to invest in yourself – even if it’s doing just one of these activities a month.

I share 5 practices in the list below, organized by how long I estimate they’ll take you.

30-Minute Self-Love Practices

1. Learn a new skill that brings you joy.

To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.

Joseph Chilton Pearce

Do something every week that makes YOU proud, happy, and excited about life. What’s something new that you want to learn? What’s a skill that you want to get better at? Let’s say you want to get better at blending eyeshadow colors. Watch one 5-minute eyeshadow tutorial a day, and then spend 20 minutes afterwards practicing what you’ve learned. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and you don’t have to be going out anywhere fancy. The point is to learn something new that makes you happy! You’re not getting a grade from a teacher, so it doesn’t matter if you “mess up” or “don’t get it right.” You’re doing it because you’re unleashing your inner creativity and having fun.

I’ve started to watercolor. I have no professional art training beyond general art courses in elementary school and high school. Whenever I visit museums, I’m inspired by the work of impressionist artists like Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt, and Claude Monet.

I had a crazy thought one day at a museum: “I wish I were one of those talented people who could paint like this.” And then, a few weeks later, I had an even crazier thought, “Why don’t I just become one?” Sky’s the limit, right?! Why can’t I become a painter? Who’s going to stop me? The watercolor police?! I bought a watercolor palette, some paper, and watched a few YouTube tutorials. Now, nearly every day, I bust out my watercolors and paint something new. Am I Renoir? No. But I’m something better. I’m Julicia. I’m me. I’m doing what I’ve dreamt about. And I love every step of my progress. Life is about finding joy in walking your journey, not instantly reaching the destination.

Watercolor floral pattern I painted, following exercises in the book Modern Watercolor

2. Listen to an inspirational podcast

Remember that podcast you found last week? Now it’s time to open your podcast app and play that episode! Most podcasts are around 30 minutes. You can listen to it while you commute to work, clean your house, or meal prep. I like listening to my favorite podcasts while I’m running errands or doing mundane tasks around the house.

Listening to an inspirational podcast feeds your brain yummy, new knowledge and opens your mind to concepts, ideas, and solutions that you’ve never considered before. Your brain longs to be stimulated with new content – uplifting content. Give it what it wants. Sometimes I struggle with choosing between listening to yet another pop culture YouTube video (anyone else following the Tati/James Charles Saga?) vs. listening to an episode of the Lavendaire Lifestyle on Choosing Wonder Over Worry. But I’m always thankful when I make the decision to unplug myself from addictive gossipy YouTube videos and plug into an invigorating podcast. To be clear – I still enjoy watching gossipy YouTube videos from time to time, but I also value knowing when to stop and give my brain a rest from them.

3. Write morning pages

Morning pages are an amazing daily practice that Julia Cameron invented. Julia Cameron is the author of the book The Artist Way, which is all about unleashing your inner creativity.

Chanticleer Garden, back patio

Morning pages are 3 pages of stream-of-consciousness writing. You write them by hand in the morning, as soon as you wake up. It’s unfiltered, unedited, raw journaling. I think it’s a great self-love practice because it takes all the garbage and tumbleweeds that are rolling around in my head and dumps it on the page. It’s like dragging a folder from my brain and dropping it into the recycling bin (my journal). It’s a mind dump. Once I get rid of all those thoughts, I can start my day feeling fresh and energized. I usually meditate for 10 minutes after journaling, so my mind is truly a blank slate.

If you often wake up in the morning with an avalanche of thoughts racing around in your mind, consider writing morning pages. If you sometimes wake up in the morning thinking a negative thought that you can’t seem to shake off throughout the day, consider writing morning pages. If you have any mental blockages or a decision to make that you’re obsessing over, consider writing morning pages. They’ve helped me so much, and I trust that they will help you too.

In this video, Julia Cameron herself talks more how to write morning pages.

4. Create a list of personal policies

A personal policy is a rule that you create that teaches other people how you want to be treated. It’s like a boundary. You can create a personal policy for just about anything. For example, if you feel unsafe answering your door when you’re not expecting anyone, you can create a personal policy to never answer the doorbell without advance notice. If you don’t feel comfortable paying more than $30 for birthday presents for work colleagues, you can create a personal policy to spend no more than $30 on co-workers.

A personal policy makes it easier for you to say no to people in a situation where you may have felt pressured to say yes. People may challenge your decisions with a question, and that’s when you have an opportunity to clearly state your personal policy and enforce it.

Someone may ask, “Hey! Why don’t you want to pitch in to buy Geneviève a $5000 annual membership to her favorite yoga studio? It’s just $200 per person if we all contribute. Don’t you want her to have a great birthday?”

You can respond, “I have a personal policy against spending more than $30 for coworker birthday gifts.” If you want, you can add an explanation like, “If I spend more than $30 on one of my coworker’s birthdays, I feel like I have to spend over $30 on everyone’s birthday, and that’s not within my budget.”

But, truth be told, you do not need to elaborate on your personal policy. State it, and let the mic drop. Alexandra Franzen stated it gracefully in a blog post:

“In 2015, my rate is $250 an hour.”

Is much more clear & powerful than saying:

“After a great deal of thought and consideration, I have decided to raise my rates — slightly — in order to provide better service while honoring my commitment to self-care. This is why my rate will be going from $200 to $250 an hour. If you have any questions about this change, please let me know. In some instances, I will be willing to honor my old rate for long-time clients, as well as new clients with financial difficulties…”

Your time is invaluable and irreplaceable. Spend it well. Teach people how to treat you, and enforce it.

1 hour Self-Love Practice

5. Take yourself out on a date once a week.

Poetry often enters through the window of irrelevance.

M.C. Richards

This is another idea from Julia CameronCameron calls them “Artist Dates.” An Artist Date is a “once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you.” You do not have to be a painter, writer, YouTuber, or gourmand to go on an artist date. You just have to be a human being who wants to practice self-love.

Figure out who you are and what you like without another person distracting you. You’re going on this date alone because moments spent by yourself are just as significant as moments spent with somebody else.

I’ve given myself a personal challenge to visit as many gardens in the Philadelphia metropolitan area as possible this spring and summer. I recently discovered that Philadelphia is America’s Garden Capital, and many of them are listed in a little booklet called a “Passport” that has a section where you can collect stamps from every park. I’d like to fill up the back portion with the stamps of every garden I visit in the tri-state area.

Scott Outdoor Amphitheater

Other solo date ideas: going to a stationery story, exploring a gourmet grocery store, eating breakfast at your favorite café, going to a museum exhibit, taking a walk in your favorite part of the city, getting cocktails at a bar during happy hour, going on a bike ride along the river. The possibilities are endless!

This marks the end of the self-love series. When you bathe yourself in self-love, your life will transform for the better. You will start to love your life and the trajectory you’re on; and, you will love yourself enough to want to change that trajectory if you’re not fully satisfied with where it’s going.

I wish you well in your self-love journey.

Join the free Self-Love Course

Start a self-love practice that is sustainable, helps you to achieve your goals, and leaves you feeling fulfilled. This mini course includes a free 14-page nourishing, gentle guide with nature meditations.

Many thanks to Julia Cameron for writing The Artist’s Way. I’m currently reading this book, and it is fantastic. Both of the quotes in this article are from that book. 

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