My upcoming move to the Wild Atlantic Way on the west coast of Ireland is hugely driven by my soul’s need for more nature – the sea and mountains.
Wherever we live, we can pay attention to what our souls crave and do our best to meet those needs.
Several years ago, now, I could have wept with overwork one summer. I’d been working around the clock and doing too many trainings. When a friend talked about a holiday with sea swims, I promised myself to make time for my own.
Since then, as soon as it would get warm enough for me, I’d make the weekly pilgrimage (two trains, about an hour) to my local seaside.
I still remember the guilt I used to feel (I’m over that – the benefits far outweigh the time away from work). I was used to travelling into London (about an hour in the opposite direction) at least once a week yet this, being purely for me felt beyond indulgent.
This year, I’ve been going pretty much every week since January as I started seeing some clients there. I was paddling every week from February (apart from one week where the tide was in and it was snowing) and we’ve had a warmer than usual summer so the sea has been especially divine to swim in.
Often I go alone, sometimes with friends and loved ones but even typing this, there’s that sense of ahhhhhh. I need that Vitamin Sea.
I’m also very fortunate to live five minutes from the local River Walk. The River Brain is more of a stream, really but it’s beautiful. I used to cycle back and forth several times a week for work. Having given up my high street space to see more clients and supervisees online (making my practice more portable for the move) means that I was missing it.
So, on days like yesterday, where I didn’t have to go anywhere and was too hunched over the laptop, I grabbed my bike to quickly cycle up and down. Sometimes, I do the whole thing (4 mile round trip), other times, a shorter burst.
When I move, there’ll be a 42km local bike trail so Future Imaginary Me has the bonus of becoming much fitter, too!
A few weeks ago, I met a friend for a swim in the Serpentine in London. Just a little more, price wise, than a local pool (travel excluded, of course) and yet one of my alltime favourite swims as we swam amongst the swans, geese and ducks in the rain then (before getting out for safety’s sake) thunder.
Today, I managed a walk in the woods. Other days, it might be making a detour to see a favourite painting (Lee Krasner’s Gothic Landscape) at the Tate Modern or going to an unknown gallery or exhibition.
All of these things, when done solo, fit Julia Cameron’s ‘artist dates’ criteria. The pioneering author of The Artist’s Way and others (who I had the privilege to interview many years ago) recommends ‘artists dates’ along with ‘morning pages’ to help readers live more creative lives.
She talked about them ‘filling the well’ and looking back, I see how burned out I was before they became a necessity for me.
While what I’ve mentioned above are mostly ‘nature’, it could be anything – it could be going to a concert or losing yourself in a favourite piece of music. Even window shopping works for some.
Whatever soothes your soul and helps you feel that sense of wonder and ease.
I’d love to hear your favourite ways of ‘filling the well’, recharging and honouring whatever your soul needs.