The truth is…
Everyone falls off the wagon.
No matter how resolute our resolutions, or passionately committed our commitments, sometimes we stumble.
Life gets in the way — we get sick, or go out of town, or find ourselves neck deep in a family tragedy…
We may rail against it, but the truth is, the stumbling is not the problem. The only problem is when we don’t get back up.
That’s why I always say that our most important practice is simply getting back on the wagon! 🙂
Me, I stumble all the time.
All. The. Time.
My Recent Stumble
I fell off my daily “playing in the creative sandbox” painting wagon most recently sometime in December, and though I made fits and starts at getting back on, I confess my success was spotty at best.
Part of my problem was that I was too successful… at other things!
I’m pleased as punch that I’ve maintained a daily (well, 6 days/week) workout habit for over 18 weeks now!
But that hour spent exercising necessarily means an hour NOT spent doing other things…
Clearly it was time to retrench into what I already know: my Creative Sandbox Manifesto.
Rule #4: Think tiny & daily
Why is that “tiny” piece so often so elusive? Doodling on the back of an envelope counts, sweetheart, so what’s stopping you?
I don’t know what was stopping me, and in some ways it doesn’t really matter. All that matters is what gets mestarted again.
Which always starts with self-forgiveness, by the way.
People think that what keeps them sticking with their commitments is self-discipline.
In fact, it’s self-compassion.
After all, if you know you’re going to stumble (because you’re human), and you know that when you stumble you’re going to get a beating, then why bother trying?
No, self-discipline (read: beatings) is not the answer.
The answer, as always, lies in…
My Golden Formula:
Self-awareness + self-compassion = the key to everything good.
Self-awareness tells me:
A. I’m not making art as much as I’d like. I’m unhappy and frustrated about this!
B. I’m loving my morning workouts, and don’t want to move them to a different time, because I know I’ll be a zillion times less likely to actually do them!
C. Hey, I need to find a way to bring back my daily creating, and keep my daily workouts!
“Hmm… How about doing some doodles in bed, right after you wake up?”
In fact, Self-compassion had been whispering similar things to me for weeks, but it wasn’t until I went away for the weekend with my husband, to celebrate our anniversary, that I started to pay attention.
A change of scene can sometimes be exactly what we need.
See, I brought an old, barely-used sketchbook with me, and a few black Pigma Micron markers. If I could just do a little drawing on the trip, I thought, it would make me sooooo happy, and make our vacation soooooo much more wonderful.
So I did.
And because I was on vacation, and we filled our few days with lots of together activities, my drawing time was limited. So I didn’t put large expectations on it — not on the time I spent, nor on what I drew.
In fact, we even did some drawings together!
Here’s my favorite one, a silly portrait drawn in silence as we took turns adding one thing at a time, starting with two circles for eyes…
…and then, when the portrait was complete, adding one letter at a time to discover his name:
OMG, we laughed and laughed at that name! Mr. Jelçoven-Fjøncöl!!!!
Now THAT’S what I call playing in the creative sandbox!
Pure fun, no wrong — all about the process and creative joy.
Just the reminder I needed for my solo create time!
Back on the wagon… in the bed…?
We drew in bed in our hotel room. Why not draw in bed at home?
So that’s what I’ve been doing.
I’ve been experimenting with drawing in my sketchbook BEFORE my workout.
Before the rest of my my morning routine, in fact!
I’m experimenting with making drawing the true START of my morning routine.
I can’t make big, colorful messes in bed, like I can at my art table, but with a Pigma Micron marker and a sketch pad, I’m discovering so much richness in simple black and white doodle sketching.
(Plus I think they’d make really cool adult coloring book pages! Don’t you?)
Everything old is new again?
In fact, the drawings I’ve been making in bed are not so different from the “Dancing with Chaos”/Less Is More series of paintings I started in 2015: in both cases I start with black lines on a white field.
Here’s a finished painting from the series, Lisianthus:
And here’s a detail of one of my recent drawings:
With color, they’d look like siblings, don’t you think? And so fun to color in!
These sketchbook drawings are just a lot less messy than the paintings. 😉
Morning Ritual 2.0.?
So I’ll see how this goes, playing in the creative sandbox by drawing truly first thing before I do anything else.
(Well, okay, I do get up to use the toilet and brush my teeth first!)
Will this drawing-in-bed become a permanent part of my morning ritual? Who knows?
And who cares?
All that matters is that it’s working right now.
When it stops working right now I’ll know it’s time for a reboot. And hopefully I’ll remember my Golden Formula and let Self-awareness and Self-compassion lead the way.
Little by little we figure out what works for us. And as we change, and our circumstances change, we just keep tweaking to try and make things work a little better.
Honestly, I don’t think it gets much better than that.
PS — Pssst! Know someone who might benefit from seeing this today? Pass it on!