Fill in the Gaps


Carrying my art-book (50 Ways to Draw Ordinary Everyday Objects) around the house, for practice.

A few years ago, I had decided to take this incredibly difficult exam after graduating with my undergrad. I had etched out 7 months to study for this exam. Yes, 7 months. It’s a tough exam. And the pressure was on.

Looking back, this might have been the most productive I have ever been in my entire life. One of my closest and dearest friends (Hi, Anne Elizabeth) invited me to workout with her in the early hours of very early morning--ya know, teetering on the edge of morning and night. I, then, would leave the gym to spend the next 8 - 9 hours most days studying for that one certain exam. I, also, somehow managed to start an entry level position for an incredible company that same 7 months.

My days were filled to the brim.
Every day mattered.
Every moment mattered.

Sundays were the exception (still the exception). I spent Sundays restoring my exhausted mind and body. I would visit with family and friends most Sundays, and often each afternoon I’d grab a book and read at the local Starbucks off Texas Highway 46--

--*whoops*. I’m getting completely off topic.

If I’m honest, those 7 months were a bit of a blur. What I can remember is a lot of good, warm feelings. Like being happy. And I remember being grateful. I was grateful for time. Grateful for actual seconds.

Every moment mattered to me.

My favorite blue & white tea mug (that Bryan so graciously repaired for me) sitting on the window sill with Twining's Irish Tea steeping.

When seconds begin to really matter, crazy things start to happen. I had carried around all my study materials in my bag, and anytime I had an extra 10, 15 seconds, I’d pull out that huge book and start reading/studying/memorizing. When the car needed gas, I’d sit in my car while fuel pumped, and I’d review eukaryotic genomes, record molecules, and recite the periodic table song. When the grocery line took a bit longer than usual, I’d embarrassingly pull that heavy book out and start studying—eventually I started copying the chapter for the day into a little notebook, and I’d haul that around instead—hey adapting!

The point I’m trying to make to myself: every moment matters. It isn’t day to day, but instead moment to moment. I don’t have to wait until the next day to start again. I can do it right now. I can decide at 6 PM that I want to learn how to draw, or perhaps finally learn to sign, and even learn to grow tomatoes for that victory garden I’m always dreaming about… I don’t need to wait until tomorrow.

It all sounds so simple when I read through this journal entry. Well, of course, I don’t need to wait until tomorrow or the morning or heaven forbid the new year, but I can simply start now. So why is it so hard to begin--now? I haven’t figured that out yet.

After all, tomorrow is another day.

Scarlett O’Hara

Perhaps I can implement a few little practices from that 7 month season to help me break that habit of starting tomorrow.

So, what if I started carrying around my project with me? And in those spare moments, begin again?

I suppose it is the same practice as an artist carrying sketchbooks, stopping when they feel inspired by the way the light flies through the concrete jungle of skyscrapers. But this pandemic, it makes for an odd season, huh?

How do I carry this practice with me? I suppose it is still the same. When I’m home for the whole day, I set timers to remind myself that hey, I’ve got a ten-minute window to practice this new skill. Fill in my gaps with learning.

I think I could simplify this whole thing and just say: practice.

And it is just that simple. I tend to over-complicate a situation because I don’t want to find a hiccup half way through and have to start again or completely let the project fall off the wayside (again).

Let it be simple, and practice a lot.

Like, a lot.

Wishing you spare moments,

Thanks for reading! It’s currently snowing outside, and our legs and arms are sore as can be from all the shoveling (it’s fun though). I hope you’re having a wonderful week with your project. Thanks for being here. Talk to ya, soon.

In case you’re new here, this is part of the learning in public series, in which I take you along as I navigate all the ups and downs of storytelling. Here is the first Learning in Public post if you’d like to begin at the very beginning.