33 & 3
It's been three weeks since I started the doodle project, including the plotting and planning before the count began. Three weeks leading up to this moment, but in a way, thirty three years, because not one step of this new adventure is really new, no, each one is informed by the one before it, all the way back to those first wobbly steps when I promptly fell over, knocked my head, and gave up on that new feat for quite some time before trying again. This adventure I am on right now has been exactly like how I learned to walk, only this time there were decades involved, not months.
I went from a girl who loved to draw, paint and make, make, make to being a moody teenager who only made things when it was cool, or in secret, but never crediting any of it as being any good, to being a busy adult with responsibilities and loses that overshadowed the importance making things when something else needed to be done that "counted" more.
In the last few weeks, I've been learning techniques, so many great ways to take what I have and make it better and more available, but at its core, it's still my work, the drawings of a girl who likes things as tiny as possible, with as much variety as possible, who likes to map out her days as if they were interesting enough to be the mapped pages that begin and end some of the best books. I haven't been starting so much as starting again, picking myself up, dusting off my knees scuffed by time and personal, let's be honest, unrealistic expectations, and doing what I know how to do, what I love to do.
Pen to paper - words, doodles, whatever it may be, just make, make, make.
In the past three weeks I've learned, as I think I have for the past thirty three years, that it's me who is responsible for the steps, but it's the community who will cheer you on, and you can't have one without the other, not successfully, anyhow. At some point, we all need cheerleaders, and at some point we all need to be a cheerleader for someone else, and every now and then, we all need to be the cheerleader for ourselves. In the past three weeks, I've had and been all three, and they have been some of my most favorite weeks of the past thirty three years.
In about a week's time, I will open a small shop online and sell some of what I've been making, and the thought that held me back was the worry of how my heart, broken and mended as it is like all good hearts are, could handle the possibility that no one would want what I had to offer, and wondering what I might get in return for the energy expended. In the last three days, though honestly, even more before than, I've been so incredibly fortunate to get so much from the communities I am apart of, in person and online, through the feedback and encouragement, fist pumps and cheers, kind words and offers to help, that there is not one thing more that I need from this adventure, all the rest are wants and wishes, and those come to the kind and lucky who work hard, so I will do my best and hope for a type of success that is measured by a heart that beats longer and louder than ever before.
This post was supposed to be about what I've learned, about a little girl who knew all along who she wanted to be, but took the long way around, and will likely continue to do so because it's just so much more interesting, but really, it's turning into a kind of fragmented thank you letter to those who stumble here to this place, who leave comments and send emails, who offer support and teach me new things and remind me of old things, and cheer me on and forgive me when I am being petty/anxious/silly, who take what I have to offer and who give what I didn't realize I could ask for, and who, at the end of days that feel too long to be possible, laugh at my ridiculous jokes and seemingly endless Murder, She Wrote references.
My goal, in part, is to open a small shop that allows me to make things that make other people happy, that might help them to tell their own stories, or allow me to tell what they cannot say, but more than that, my goal is to remember what it feels like to put yourself out there and to be welcomed and supported with open arms, and to do the same for others every chance I can.
After receiving some incredibly kind mail this week, I posted this note on Instagram, tapping it out before giving it much thought, but it's been rattling around in my head and heart ever since:
Make it. Share it. Give what you've got and take what's offered, and be good to those who haven't figured any of this out yet, especially yourself, for the times when you forget.
I don't so much care about being the person who gives this advice as I want to be the person who follows this advice.
And now, back to the making...