There’s something very humbling about turning 50.
I’ve never had a bad birthday. What I mean by that is that my birthdays, marking the years, never depressed me.
I’ve always embraced each birthday as a wonderful milestone in each step of my life.
And I’ve never wanted to relive my past. I’ve appreciated each decade for the lessons learned, the memories shared and the blessings I’ve received.
Turning 50, though, took a little time to accept and appreciate.
After mulling over the fact that I’ve probably lived over half my life, I realized that what I had left of my life, I would use to learn more about and appreciate MYSELF. I want to do now what I never seemed to have time for before.
You see I’m not the same person I was 30 years ago when I moved from maiden to mother, raised children, went through a couple of husbands, and more than enough jobs and relocations.
I’ve spent so much of my past just trying to keep up with all the demands that are usually placed on us when we are no longer teens and become self-supporting adults that I’ve never really been able to Take Care of Me.
It’s been exhausting!
I’m sure this can be said for everyone reading this.
Now that I’m turning 56 this March, I’m more committed than ever to taking care of me and nurturing and supporting my “creative, intuitive intelligence”, the childlike nature in me that’s been suppressed all these years.
I not only want to reacquaint myself with my soul, my true nature, I also want to bring it out into the sunlight and let it lead me on a new journey, with a more open perspective and a more loving, giving and creative expression.
How do I do this?
The Artist’s Date
Besides Morning Pages (three pages of free-style consciousness writing every morning), the Artist’s Date, done once a week, is an opportunity for you to spend some quality, uninterrupted time with yourself in whatever way makes you the happiest.
The point is for you to actually make a date to spend time with you; mark time out on a calendar for very specific and special personal time.
For example, I recently went on an Artist’s Date with my son. Now I know, technically I’m supposed to do an Artist’s Date by myself. I brought my son along because he’s still pretty new to Maui and he needed an Artist’s Date, too.
Where did we go and what did we do?
The Sacred Garden
“A nursery, a peace sanctuary, a retreat center, a botanical garden, a school, a creativity center, and a temple!”
It is home to:
- A garden nursery to sit and be inspired.
- Two walking labyrinths, one classical 7-circuit labyrinth indoors and one medieval 11-circuit labyrinth outdoors surrounded by kukui nut trees.
- The Mother Shrine meditation room for quiet introspection.
- Picnic and sitting areas.
- Gift shop.
- Free to the public 7 days a week. They accept donations.
- Free tea!!
It was raining the day we went, as it usually does upcountry Maui, but we stayed dry inside. Everything was covered except the outside labyrinth. The temperature was perfect, so the rain was not a hindrance at all.
“Inspiration, creativity, beauty and peace are the undeniable themes of the garden.”
I brought with me my Kindle, the only electronic device I had with me, and ended up not even using it.
I also brought a composition notebook, my Morning Pages book, to do some writing and my favorite purple pen.
It was really terrific. But I think I had the most fun walking the labyrinth outside. It was illuminating.
Walking a Labyrinth
According to the pamphlet give to us by the hostess, the 11-circuit labyrinth at The Sacred Garden is a replica from the Chartres Cathedral in France.
Labyrinths are not to be confused with mazes. Mazes were used mainly to trick or mislead people with dead ends and false trails.
A labyrinth, on the other hand, is an ancient path of pilgrimage. Back in the early 13th century, the Crusades made traveling to sacred destinations too dangerous. So would be pilgrims got creative and used this “path of prayer” within the safety of a local church. In this way, pilgrims could take a “metaphorical pilgrimage”.
Today, labyrinths are used as paths of self-discovery, healing, contemplation and revelation.
Guidelines for Walking a Labyrinth
If you are looking to “gain” something from a walk through a labyrinth, here are some guidelines to get you prepared, mentally, emotionally and even spiritually.
And by the way, you don’t need an actual labyrinth to have a meditative, introspective walk. A local garden area, beach, park or even a walk around your property is enough to have a rewarding experience. It’s all about the mindset.
- Let go of expectations. Just relax and enjoy this time of peace and reflection. Sometimes the messages can be subtle.
- Find your own pace. Fast, slow, rhythmic or sporadic, every journey is as unique as the person taking it.
- It is okay to pass. Utilize accessible turns to pass someone. Do so with respect.
- The labyrinth is a two-way street. The path of the labyrinth takes you to the center and then returns you to the beginning. Simply pay attention, stay present, step aside for someone to pass, then resume your place and continue.
- Emotions may be evoked. Simply observe these emotions and breathe. Remember the labyrinth will mirror for you anything you need to see.
My experience walking the 11-circuit labyrinth was definitely eye-opening! I seemed to go faster than I thought I would, almost like it was a mission. And I kept looking ahead of me to where the path was leading rather than focusing on where I was at that present moment.
This told me that I’m trying to hurry to get somewhere, I don’t know where, and that I’m not taking the time I want to be present in this NOW moment.
I’m glad I learned this. This helps me to know and understand something about myself that I was unaware of before and that I would like to change.
Taking Care of Me
Spending time doing something special, just for me, is far more rejuvenating than I imagined.
It’s also something that I struggle to find time for; yet, something that I really do want to be consistent with as a healing practice.
What helps me be consistent with my Artist’s Dates is actually making an appointment with myself, in my daily planner, and keeping it.
What also helps in keeping the appointment is deciding what to do on my Artist’s Date, doing the research to make it happen (i.e., getting directions, wearing comfortable clothing, bringing necessary items with me, etc.) and then letting my husband know about my date so that no other plans are made.
Lastly, I keep a list of dreams for Artist’s Dates near my desk so that I never run out of inspiration. I refresh the list as often as I get ideas.
If you are looking for ways to bring out your creative side, or are looking to resurrect a creativity allowed to go dormant, I urge you to read “The Artist’s Way”.
I think you’ll find yourself loving life and loving the dawn of each new day more than you ever thought possible.
What special ways do you find to Take Care of YOU?? Comment below.