April 29, 2013
I’ll make you a bet right now. If you examine the lives of people you consider to be truly happy, my hunch is you’ll find that they spend quality time alone. Welcome to the notion of dating yourself!
Taking yourself out on a date was a concept I discovered years ago through that classic bestseller on creativity, “The Artist’s Way.”
Julia Cameron has written other self-help books since then, but none of them, in my humble opinion, have the impact of this first work. Her suggestion that we date ourselves once a week immediately blew me away because it’s all about taking care of myself.
To this day, my ability to practice the self-date remains a barometer of my emotional health. Can I make space for me? Or am I too stressed out by daily living? When I honor myself with a date, the sense of contentment and serenity somehow infuses the rest my life. Everything flows more naturally.
The feeling came back to me on Saturday night when I took myself to a Latin jazz concert. Until then, it had been a long, long stretch since I’d taken myself out — too busy, blah blah. So this blog post is a personal reminder to get back on track. :)
Dating myself instantly makes life less complicated. On Saturday night, I went to hear Paquito D’Rivera perform with the Westchester Jazz Orchestra at the Tarrytown Music Hall. The legendary jazz saxaphonist and author of “My Sax Life” was in top form and playing with a wonderful group of musicians. The whole evening was fabulous — and easy. I ordered the $43 ticket online. The charming little theater was 15 minutes from my house. Street parking was plentiful. What’s not to love?
Dating myself gets me outta the house. It’s really easy for me to get sucked into an endless to-do list. The chores and bills never go away. That’s why it was critical for me to step outside of the box of my routine. The fresh perspective of being in a a new setting has done wonders for clearing my head. It has also brought new music into the rooms of my home. A win-win.
Dating myself takes the pressure off of dating. Life would be pretty depressing if I was constantly waiting around for other people. Even organizing friends for a get-together can be complicated because we all have such crazy schedules. Plus there’s another issue: What if no one is interested in doing what I want to do? Self-deprivation is no fun!
Dating myself builds confidence.In a world where the social model is to pair off with a significant other, the idea of showing up for life alone can be a bit frightening. And, lonely. In fact, I almost bailed on this adventure. As the clock ticked towards 8 p.m. on Saturday evening, my passive-aggressive machinery kicked in. Procrastinating meant that I slid into my seat just minutes before the performance began. Turns out there was nothing to be scared of. But the only way to know that is to show up for my own life, right?
Dating myself teaches me to nurture myself. I’m one of those people who was raised to take care of others, sacrifice for others, blah blah. This means that if we’re eating a meal family style, you can bet that I will give you the best pieces of chicken on the platter and take a bony scrap for myself. So it was a useful exercise for me to splurge on a ticket that was two rows from the stage instead of some cheap seat in the bleachers. What a treat to be able to view the action up close!
I started dating myself during some of the best days of my marriage. Looking back, I’m sure it helped me to both stay married longer — and to get out when the relationship was clearly over. That’s probably been the greatest challenge of this entire self-dating exercise. The practice of staying in the moment is going to take us places.
But am I willing to go there, no matter what? Hmmm, I say, yes. Go for it. xo.