As I untangle this messy, sticky relationship with learning bit by bit, I’m paying close attention to the foundations: finding rhythms, naming fears, asking questions, creating vulnerable friendly spaces.
This week I invited an inquisitive practice into my day--not only in storytelling, but in everything. I’m learning to ask questions.
My brother last Christmas gifted me a leather journal with refillable tiny classic Field Notes. This journal is small enough to slip into a coat pocket, in the basket of my bike, or carry it around on my daily walks. It’s the perfect size, and I can carry it with me anywhere, which is important because this journal is reserved for questions.
Not answers, not thoughts about the way the thunder echoed my emotions, not favorite quotes, book ideas, or new words I learned.
I gathered this idea from two places: Bryan, no surprise there, who has been doing this exact practice for years, and Werner from Anthony Doer’s All the Light We Cannot See.
Here are just a few questions I jotted down this week:
- What is Ned thinking while watching the afternoon rainfalls from our bedroom window?
- What is Deanna’s go-to comfort drink?
- What slows down a computer, old age, overwhelmed?
- Which brush is best for watercolor in Adobe Photoshop?
- How do birds chew?
- Do they chew?
- How to DIY beeswax clingwrap?
- What is the name of the droopy, yellow, petaled flower outside of 48 Elm Street?
- How long did it take Charlotte to write Jane Eyre?
- Does Bonnie prefer the mountains or the beach?
- What is an instinct?
- What is histrionic’s relationship to narcissism?
- How do I create a newsletter sign up page without the help of mailchimp and other services?
- Are Birdie’s wings as big as her body? Or smaller?
- How do I change a bike tire?
I’m learning to ask questions, but more so I’m learning to actually write them down. This week I noticed that, hey, I ask a lot of questions, some pretty random questions, and I ask mostly how to and what questions. I'd like to ask more why questions this next week. But before I started documenting these questions in my Book of Questions, I had often just let those questions float off into no-man’s-land never to be seen again. Not anymore, or well, less so. I have a book of questions that I have begun to slowly answer day by day.
It’s kind of fun, like I’m a collector of curious things. And, plus, I don’t pressure myself in providing an answer right away. This book is only a book of questions, which was key for me.
Oh! Once I find an answer to a question, in a separate journal, I document my research and findings there. I certainly take my time in finding an answer (usually), so I can be extra thorough in my answer. In the past (ahem, like way back when in August), I'd simply google for an answer, if I was near my phone or computer, and be done with it. Then, a few weeks later, I would ask that same question, revisit google and do it all over again--not really learning anything. My hope is that in taking notes, thorough notes, I'll actually learn a thing or two.
As I continue to find my rhythm in drawing, I’m still reminding myself I’m trading a life of expectation-based-anxiety for a life full of purpose and peace, and I’m giving myself the freedom to learn.
I’m still chiseling away at my Arbor Fall Festival artwork, playing with movement and color theory--I’ll have a mini tutorial on that in the coming weeks, if you're interested. I’m being quite patient with myself, working and reworking this same piece. I hope you’re not bored of it.
Still learning so much from 50 Ways and having fun with it. As Bryan and I wade the wilderness waiting for what comes next, I’m using this little home drawing experiment to explore what I find beautiful about ordinary objects and what I’d like to place in our future home.
And this week, I had two lovely fellas for company. It was the best.
I hope you’re having a great week. The weather took a dive late last week, and I’ve unpacked all my sweaters and have committed to drinking only warm things (haha not exactly breaking news).
How is your work in progress coming along? I would love to hear all about it. Thank you for those that have shared your work with me these last few weeks. I've enjoyed reading your work and discussing dreams with you--very talented and introspective lot, y'all are. You make me brave. Thank you.
All the Light We Cannot See: This World War II retelling masterpiece chronicles a French girl, blinded at a young age, navigating and adapting to a constantly changing, war-torn France, and conversely chronicles a German boy who has a brain faster and hungrier than anyone else. It is Werner, the German boy, who inspired this Questions Journal. If you know, you know. If you don’t know, let me know, and I’ll send you the book. It’s one of my top ten books of all time--a must read for WW2 Literature.
50 Ways to Draw Your Beautiful Ordinary Life by Irene Smit and Astrid Van Der Hulst and the illustrators of Flow.
If you're new here, this is the third post in the Learning in Public series, in which I take you along as I learn to draw. Here is the first of many.