In the End, a Beginning
A little over one hundred days ago I made a mental list of all the reasons I didn't have time to be taking on a project: too busy, too stressed, too lazy, too nervous, too sensitive, too scared. The busy season of fourteen plus hour days at work was just about to kick in, and all I could think of were the reasons why this wasn't the right time to begin a project. I was right, it wasn't ideal, and I was right, some of those "too much" scenarios did make this project more challenging than it needed to be. I was right when I said that in spite of all this, I would be able to get it done, that I would come out of this project having completed one hundred doodles, one for each day, but I was wrong when I thought that this was the outcome I'd be most proud of, because in one hundred days I gained so much more than the drawings on paper.
Tucked within the past one hundred days I drew portraits of families of all shapes and sizes, I captured a child's first ride in a swing, the pieces of "home" for someone getting ready to redefine what that word meant to them, and so many maps of happiness crafted out of only what I could see - small snapshots of incredible, messy, beautiful lives being lived. In these three plus months, I've given pets the page, surprised friends with images of the life they love, made people smile with animals full of personality, and when needed, I sat and carefully chose the right words for the right doodle for the right person at the right time. For the past quarter of a year, I sat down each night with my well worn list of names and I scrolled through requests and Instagram feeds, galleries and blogs, and I tried my best to give someone more than what they asked for, or maybe, more accurately, I tried to give someone more than what they thought to ask for. I made hundreds of mistakes, recycled way too much paper, and declared my inability to draw at least four times a week.
And from all of this, what did I get in return? I could tell you the practice made me a better artist, or I could cheer that I am finally calling myself that from time to time. I could tell you that I opened a shop, designed and launched a class with an incredible site, created a doodle for a design company I adore, and have mini flair badges with my doodles on them, and all of that would be true, and amazing, incredible, blow my socks off wonderful, but they're only a tangible scratch to the surface, because what I will most remember from this project is so much bigger. In one hundred days I've been so lucky to meet an incredible savvy and talented business lady who so graciously shows me what it means to be kind and successful, and is the reason why I started thinking less about comparison and more about collaboration. I've gotten to know so many insanely talented artists who share their creative pursuits in a way that is humbling and inspiring. I've been amazed by the sincerity and gratitude of those I hardly know, and I am constantly floored by the emails and comments I receive from each very humble doodle I offer in exchange. I've connected with people I swear I must have known my whole life, and I've pushed myself outside the comfort zones of what it means to make friends. I've been inspired and challenged by those who have been working through this project, too, and I've been unabashedly thankful for their willingness to say what I cannot.
In one hundred days I learned that the only way through is through, and no matter how late it is, how tired I am, or how guilty I feel for the laundry list of failures I dragged through the day, the only way to give up is to stop, and stopping was not an option for me. Stopping is not an option for me. While it will be nice not to feel I have to complete a doodle each day, it is also a little bittersweet to see this project close. I will keep doodling and sharing, of course, and no count of days will stop that.
I am sure I was flippant about this project before it began, because how can doodling something for one hundred days straight change your life? All I can tell you is that if you'd asked me one hundred days ago if I thought I was capable of doing anything I wanted with this life of mine, I would have said maybe, but meant no. If you asked me that now, I would yes, and I'm on it.
Because how can doodling something for one hundred days straight change your life?
You let it.
My utmost gratitude for those who came with me, who cheered and listened, who requested and encouraged, who told me to keep going when they knew I didn't want to, and who gave me just enough permission to rest that I no longer needed the break. Thank you.