You know those tips and tools I suggest you use on your journey to becoming a recovering lawyer? Well, I’m not just blowing smoke up your skirt (or pants, as the case may be). I use them, too. They are the only thing that keep me in the recovering lawyer category, as opposed to say the mere former-lawyer-who-is-still-miserable category.

gears turning
Planned fun time gets the important wheels in your brain turning.

If I stop using the tools, it shows up really quickly: I get crabby, pessimistic, and depressed. My inner lizard, Guido, starts gaining the upper hand. Guido is a judgmental thug, so I can’t have that.

One of those tools is a weekly date with myself. I’ve written about these before (here and here), but I thought rather than tell, I should use that old writer’s trick of showing you an Artist’s Date (as Julia Cameron calls them). This past week, my Artist’s Date (AD) was a trip to Jo Ann’s. For those of you who aren’t battling a serious crafts/sewing/scrapbooking addiction (yet), Jo Ann’s is a store that stocks stuff to make other extremely fun stuff: beads for jewelry, paper and embellishments for scrapbooking and card making, paints, inks, fabric, patterns and all kinds of other creative goodies. It’s a bit like Home Depot for visually creative types.

Jo Ann’s is a default AD for me, because it’s about 3 miles from my house and often on my way to or from somewhere else. Also, the sheer variety of stuff lets me experience a vastly different AD every time I go. I try to venture out and do other things, too, but if I’m pressed for time and not feeling adventurous—I end up at Jo Ann’s. Or Michael’s, which is similar but doesn’t stock fabric.

I had a mission this time: find some polymer clay for the Artist’s Way class I facilitate weekly. We were going to try making our inner critic’s (aka inner lizard’s) face. (More on that in another post.)

black and silver diamond-shaped pendant
The clearance section at Jo Ann's---fun but sometimes distracting territory. Photo (c) 2011 Jennifer Alvey.

On my way to the clay section, I got distracted. Which is, um, kind of common whenever I set foot in Jo Ann’s. I’ve been into beads and making some jewelry lately, so when I saw this cool pendant piece in the clearance section, I had to have it. It spoke to me, loudly. That’s one thing that AD’s do, if you let them—you can tune into those more quiet voices that have answers for you. You learn to follow your gut a bit. It’s fun! I then actually made it to the clay section—

rows of Fimo polymer clay
I am a sucker for pretty colors---they make me smile. Broadly. Photo (c) 2011 Jennifer Alvey.

but only because it was very close to the clearance aisle. Oooh, the colors! Oooh, the ones that have glitter already embedded in them! Plus there were a slew of tools to add patterns and textures to your work.

Just looking at all the colors and contemplating cool things I could make with clay and some simple tools made my heart go pitter patter. It sounds silly, I know, but it really does put a smile on my face when I let myself experience that kind of simple happiness–the shine of possibility. After the clay, I had my oooh, shiny! portion of the AD.

Mirrors cut into peace signs, birds and dragonflies.
Dragonfly mirrors on the far left--how seriously cool and fun are they? Photo (c) 2011 Jennifer Alvey

Oooh, shiny moment #1: The mirrors–seriously shiny. Interesting. Could be fun to add to a space somewhere, like my studio, which is a constantly evolving, rather cluttered mess. Or maybe the simple circles would be good to put a grouping of candles on . . . I savor the possibilities as I make my way to the next aisle, which has

Oooh shiny moment #2: colored metal squares. Yes, I am probably one of 3 lawyers, recovering or otherwise, on the planet who goes all squeeeee! about these.

colored metal squares
Colors and shine together, oh my! Photo (c) 2011 Jennifer Alvey.

You can emboss these, either with tools (also available, of course, right next to the metal squares), or glue stuff on them, or even cut them into shapes. Or layer them. Or . . . well lots of really cool possibilities, which I am going to have to investigate sometime rather soonish. That’s the challenge when you really tap into your gift, whether it’s creativity or something else–you get so excited about it, and you want to do it ALL! RIGHT! NOW! Learning to modulate that flow is important and tricky at first, but it does get easier with practice. Breathing is a very helpful first step, I’ve found.

Oooh, shiny moment #3: I meandered over to the yarn section. I know, doesn’t sound like much possibility for shiny there, right? I had not gone there in quite a while. But just in the last week, I’ve rediscovered my insane love of needlework, so I wanted to see if there was anything interesting in the way of yarns.

skeins of DMC metallic thread
A riot of shiny colors---I'm digging the possibilities. Photo (c) 2011 Jennifer Alvey.

Holy broccoli, there was! Jo Ann’s used to carry pretty pedestrian yarns, but they have seriously expanded their selection. I adored these shiny DMC embroidery yarns—I’d  never seen them before anywhere. They have a lot of potential for some of the projects I’m working on. And did I mention they were shiny?

And that, in a nutshell, was my weekly fun date with my inner artist. I walked out with a broad grin on my face and a bounce in my step. I only spent about $15, for stuff I had planned on buying (well except the pendant, but it was only a buck). It was simply pure joy to dwell for 45 minutes in possibilities. Planning for projects is going on in the deep recesses of my brain still, and will at some point spring forth.

That’s what these dates do—they get your mental wheels turning, and give your brain something fun and stimulating to chew on, rather than the spit and vinegar your inner critic would choke you and your happiness on.

Come on over into the light, unhappy lawyer. You can do it. Start by making your weekly date completely non-negotiable. The more stress in your life, the more your date needs to be immovable. Doesn’t have to be fancy, just has to be done. It’s a great tool, and you’ll be glad you picked it up and started using it.

FTC disclaimer statement (which I know all you lawyers appreciate!): I did not receive any compensation, direct or indirect, for mentioning any merchants or products in this post.

Jennifer Alvey is a recovering lawyer who has a serious affliction for pretty and shiny. If you want to add some pretty, shiny, or just fun to your busy life, and subtract some misery, depression or hopelessness from it, try a free sample coaching session. Email to schedule yours today.