Julia Cameron calls them Artist Dates. Sarah Ban Breathnach calls them Creative Excursions. Whatever you call them, they’re worth making a regular event in your life.

“The Artist Date need not be overtly artistic,” says Cameron, “think mischief more than mastery. Artist Dates fire up the imagination. They spark whimsy. They encourage play. Since art is about the play of ideas, they feed our creative work by replenishing our inner well of images and inspiration.”

The purpose of such solo events is to take time away regularly to visit a new place, gather ideas, or just feed your soul. Although it’s easy to find new destinations, it’s equally easy to find excuses not to do so.

When people tell me they have no idea what they want to do with their life, I’m pretty certain that creative excursions have not been on their agenda.

With that in mind, here are a few idea starters to get you thinking about potential excursions of your own.

° Visit a Japanese garden or arboretum. You don’t have to be a gardner yourself in order to find pleasure in beautiful landscapes. For several years, I lived within walking distance of a Japanese garden and I visited it whenever I needed a lift.

° Spend time browsing at a flea market or community festival. Imagine yourself as a vendor. What kind of booth would you have? What catches your eye? What turns you off? How would you welcome visitors?

° Go to your public library and explore an area you don’t normally browse in. Read a couple of unfamiliar magazine while you’re there. See what resources are housed in the reference area.

° Explore the scrap booking aisles at a craft store. Consider starting a scrapbook of favorite cartoons so you’ll always know where to look when you need a laugh.

° Slip off to the movies on a midweek afternoon. It’s almost like having a private screening if you catch the first showing on Tuesday. You may also feel slightly decadent.

° Gather travel brochures and pictures of destinations still to be visited. Make a collage for your office.

° Make or buy a card of congratulations and send it to yourself. Then send another to someone in need of encouragement.

° Take a nature hike. Gather seashells if you’re near an ocean or wildflowers or weeds for a bouquet if there’s a woods nearby.

° Visit a hardware store and investigate gadgets you’ve never seen before. Imagine having a project to use one of these tools.

° If you haven’t visited a local museum or art gallery, it’s time you paid a call.

° A great junk store or antique mall is another perfect place to stroll. Talk to the folks working there and find out what kinds of treasures are popular.

° Pretend you’re an investigative reporter and visit stores secretly making notes on their customer service—or lack thereof.

° Start a new collection and begin a treasure hunt. You could begin by finding all the treasures hidden in your own neighborhood. It’s not unusual for folks to overlook things in their own backyard that visitors come to see.

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