Baby Steps


“Your heart is on your sleeve, dear. You might want to cover up.”

Art of slowing down, taking baby steps, means pausing enough to notice my surroundings, Concord, MA.

I feed off emotion, and when I’m feeling particularly giddy about a project—I’m so in it.

Until I’m not.

I’ll hit a speed bump, lose interest, or find frustration with my work, and suddenly I’m no longer excited about the project. And with that golden spark lost, I’ll toss this project off to the side in replacement of a nice new shiny project. Beginnings are my favorite.

As I implement new habits that allow me the freedom to learn without fear of unfulfilled expectation, I’m practicing the lovely, the one and only, everyone’s favorite virtue, patience. As I aim to claim patience as mine, I’ll be practicing with little baby steps

So why take small steps? I’ll drown if not.

Writing is often an isolating job. No one catches me muttering verbs to myself. No one sees that horrific attempt to make my character baddies as vile as I can imagine. No one hears me laugh out loud at my own jokes. No one sees the massive highlight and delete days.

Let me just add, I absolutely have an incredible support system (Hey fam! Hey Bry!) who each love and care about me and my work, but I’m talking about when I’m in the work, crafting line after line, goodness, it is lonely. It isn’t until draft 32, edit 75 that the project enthusiastically welcomes other eyes.

These small steps are vital to a healthy work endurance. I begrudgingly admit that I’m more of a hare than a tortoise—and I even know the ending of that story—I lose every time.

It’ll take a ton of work to find a balance between that initial spark of new projects and making small, sustainable steps to find the finish line.

Art of slow living means getting out in nature, pausing to look up. Shot by Bryan Brattlof, Amherst, MA.

A little thing called patience.

The funny thing here, I want to learn and accomplish patience overnight. I’m pretty good at waiting when it’s convenient for me, but when I’m left longing for something, I turn big and blue and I want it now. Each morning in my journal, I remind myself that this practice of patience is a daily hurdle. I have small victories, small setbacks, but all small.

I set little goals for the day in my writing and drawing projects. I don’t have to finish the tree in one sitting. I, instead, give myself permission to come back tomorrow and the next day and even the next to evaluate my progress, make adjustments, and continue the work with restored excitement. I’ve noticed (to no one’s surprise) that my finished product looks cleaner, more engaging, and it always looks a little bit changed from what I originally planned--and every time I prefer the evolution of the work.

I’ll get there, eventually.

Art of slow living begins with taking time to read, Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker, PhD

Taking small steps and learning slow living introduced an appreciation for long-awaited rewards. I, however, want to be very clear here. I’m making these changes without sacrificing the golden spark of new beginnings. I’m still wearing my heart on my sleeve. I still crave and love that little golden spark in starting something new. But I’m just helping extend its life a little bit longer, so I avoid burning out.

Your sincere well-wisher,

Thank you, friend, for joining me as we navigate this whole learning in public thing. And if you’re new here, welcome! This is the twelfth post in the Learning in Public series, in which I take you along as I learn to draw and storytell. Here is the first of many.