Tuesday's Attention #12
"Draw the line"
“Draw the Line”
Suleika Jaouad recently encouraged those who read her newsletter, and anyone else, to do a 100-day creative project alongside her. She created a 100-day project at the peak of the pandemic and it is what led to her Isolation Journal Newsletter and the network of creatives that she has built over the years. I did the 100-day project in 2020 and it was so freeing for me and so I decided to do it again. As I’ve shared before, creating has been more challenging for me in this season and so I was ready to embark on a period of time where my creativity would be a consistent rhythm of my day.
I set my intentions, felt energized the first day of the project, and then I made it to 4 days until I dropped off. It was another area of my life I felt like I was falling short in (which goes against the grain of the project— Suleika is so good about emphasizing that creating and grace with ourselves and patience in the process go hand-in-hand). After I was finished beating myself up about not doing what I set out to do, I thought, “it is not too late”. So, 20 days later, I changed creative crafts and tried again.
This time, I made it one day.
I was catching up with a friend recently and he asked me if I had been doing the 100-day project still. I shook my head no as my frustration with myself rose back up again. Then I shared that it’s too much for me to keep up with. He said, “just draw a circle”. I nodded and then, he said “no, draw a circle now” as he took his finger and motioned it across the table to make a circle. Then he said, “do it”. And so, I did. I laughed and took a deep breath. I was brought into the very grace that Suleika emphasizes. My friend sat across from me and followed up with, “you’ve got day 2 done”.
I needed that more than he knew.
As our conversation continued on, he suggested that maybe all I need to do each day is to just draw a line and then see what those lines become over time.
I needed that too.
I’m patient in many aspects of my life. However, I’m impatient with the processes that I’m within. I don’t want the line. I want the full picture. But right now, I only have the energy for the line and I don’t even know what full picture to paint.
But, a line I can do.
One line a day.
Eventually, the lines together become something greater. Something I cannot yet imagine and there is beauty (and frustration) within that.
I think many of us hold back from taking a step towards creating or towards a dream because of fear, but also because of how overwhelming the full picture looks. It can look and feel daunting.
Right now I’m heavily considering going back to school. I’ve spent hours revamping my resume, writing application essays, completing interviews, and applying for scholarships, while simultaneously battling my fatigue from my health. I’ve been accepted into the school I’d like to attend and now I am second guessing it all. I already have a Masters and it feels overwhelming to think of 3 more years of school for a different Masters. That feels like a long time to rebuild a new career path at my age. It terrifies me. I have no idea what the full picture is; I do not know what a career in counseling will look like nor do I know what 3 years of being a full-time student will look like again with my health.
No matter how hard I try, I won’t actually know the full picture until I am within the picture. In order to be within it, I have to take the leap of faith and draw the next line. The next line for me is applying to another scholarship. That, I can do. That, I can focus on— one line at a time.
We can plan and prepare as much as we want. It is wise to be someone who is prepared and who has a vision for what they want ahead of time. However, ultimately all we can fully do is take the next faithful step in front of us. You do need to take the next 30 steps. You can’t take all of them at once. Your feet can only take one step at a time. So, allow them to do so.
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Words that have been sticking with me:
This past week I wrote my own edition of Nikita Gill’s poem “Reasons to Live Through the Apocalypse” and shared it on social media. On the post that I shared, other’s contributed some of their own reasons to live through the pain and/or to live through the apocalypse and I created a compilation piece from them! One of my favorite parts about this was seeing where there were themes and connections amongst responses. Something many people mentioned was either connecting with a stranger or simply exchanging a smile. There really is something beautiful and powerful about two strangers acknowledging one another’s existence in a kind way. One of my dear friends, Hailey Hawkins, noticed this theme as well and shared with me a poem she had recently written on that very subject. I’ve been thinking about her poem a lot and asked her if I could share it here and she said yes! Hailey is one of the most beautiful souls I know and her writing is an extension of that beauty. Here’s her poem:
There’s something about the familiarity
Of seeing strangers consistently
At the bench by the lake
I sit and wait
For the familiarity
Of the unfamiliar around me
I come at the same time
To the same place
As do the strangers
I’ve come to know
The man with his dog, Raven
And Bert the Corgi strutting along
The man teaching his daughter to ride a bike
And the woman with the unfriendly dog
We know not one another
But we reside in the commonality
Of a shared space
At a shared time
Where we each belong
I know nothing about you
But your name
And your afternoon walk routine
And with a smile and a wave
You’re back on your way
Sometimes it’s nice to rest
In the familiarity of the unfamiliar
Strangers becoming more and more familiar
As time goes on
Thank you to Hailey for being willing to share her writing here! I will be sitting with this one for a while.
List of Attention:
The ways an airport tests people’s patience and also how it is filled with so many different stories being written
The bright florals of Southern California
The kindness of the woman checking everyone in for blood work and how she made each person she interacted with smile
The adrenaline that comes from a writing energy coming from out of nowhere
How overstimulating a professional baseball game is, but how sweet it is too
Maple bar donuts and how good they are
How we need animals to remind us to not take everything so seriously
At the end of every newsletter, I want to leave you all with some questions/prompts to think on. My hope is that these can encourage you in some form or fashion. Whether it is through just taking some time to think through them, to write about that, or to talk through them with a loved one. If you ever want a friend to hear your thoughts, feel free to share them back with me! I always love to read and to listen.
If you get the chance, discuss your thoughts on these questions with a friend!
What is your line and/ or your next small faithful step? Write about it or call a friend to talk about it!
Creative Prompts/Celebration Tasks:
Write a list of the lines/small steps you have already taken in 2022. Celebrate those steps and spend some time thinking about and/or writing about how you are proud of yourself!
One Word Prompts:
Write a letter to your anxiety and pressure that you feel. Be gentle with them. Try to understand your anxieties intentions, but then redirect those intentions to what feels healthy.
What’s your next step- the small step?
What’s your next line to draw?
Draw it. Lean in there. Name the victory of letting your pencil meet the paper. It is a patient process that at times will be daunting, but worth it.
As you carry on into this week, may your days ahead be filled with words that encourage you, laughter that heals you, and moments of beauty that pull your attention in and bring you to slow down.
May you know that you, yourself, are worth paying attention to.
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Thank you all for continuing to read my words. It is a joy to share this space with you all.