Learning in Public: Finding My Rhythm

published: 

A work in progress, drawn leaves fluttering in the wind, with the first paragraph of AFF.

I had to remind myself several times this week that I’m trading a life of expectation-based-anxiety for a life full of purpose and peace. I’m giving myself the freedom to learn.

Often when I sit down at my desk trying something new, well about ten minutes later, I’m actively seeking out something else to do. Why is that? If I want to create diligence in my work, if I want to show up every day so that I may find purpose in my work, I have to investigate my hindering behavior. So I did.

I suppose I was just trying to avoid the hard work required to learn a new skill. I think I was being lazy. But when I talk to myself like I’m talking to a friend, I find there is more to explore. I find that no one is lazy, not entirely. There is something deeper happening beneath that aversion to complete the task.

Ultimately, fear had a lot to do with my broken focus, with the expectation of not meeting the standard. My expectations were (still kinda are) unraveling me. Perhaps I'm worried that I’ve been talking about this book for far too long that if it doesn’t work, then what?

I gave my distraction a name: expectation based anxiety, better known as failure.

And like any cliche villain, I demanded that Failure divulge its plans to unravel me, so that I shall confront with courage and the freedom of grace.

And what is more courageous than unbridled laughter?

I laugh in the face of danger. I find delight in the work I’m doing. I find pleasure in the art that I’m creating. I find joy in the process.

It isn’t always simple, and transforming anxiety into purpose and peace takes a lot of work, years of work. It is only step one of many, many steps. But giving it a name and recognizing it when it shows up has honestly really helped me focus my attention back to the joy in this process of storytelling.


This week I spent time drawing for the Arbor Fall Festival, a tale of well-groomed trees, a lost bird, and a brave lizard. Here’s a glance at my week in drawings. I showed up each day, sat at a desk and doodled for a good hour.

50 Ways to draw your beautiful ordinary life, flower pot edition.

I skipped ahead to the garden section of my "textbook" and practiced drawing flower pots. It's a great little book that helps me step by step visualize how to draw ordinary objects. The shading bits are very confusing for me.

50 Ways to draw your beautiful ordinary life, coffee section.

But, of course, I had to play around with the coffee mugs from page one. Truthfully, I had started sketching from this 50 Ways back in July. But I thought I'd save the rest of this experience to share with you guys. Back to the mugs I went, and again I fell in love with drawing them. I'm certainly no expert yet, but I do have so much fun. I guess there isn't anything about coffee I don't like.

Bright yellow and orange Maple Leaf found on the pavement in early September.Bright yellow and orange maple leaf inspiring my whispering leaves drawing.

After a few scribbles in 50 Ways to Draw Your Beautiful Ordinary Life, I braved Adobe Photoshop. On one of our walks this week, Bryan and I found the most beautiful, lonesome Maple leaf (I think it's maple) that had lost track of time and, as my friend Emma Graham said, a little bit of fall snuck into summer. So I took my treasure home and returned to the Arbor Fall Festival storyboard.

Drawing in bed with a sleepy kitten, who really is more of a cat these days.

Sometimes I crawled under the covers and played with this drawing of whispering leaves. Our cuddly kitty, who is very much not a kitten anymore, often snoozed next to me while I worked.

It's all still a work in progress, especially myself, not even close to finishing. This week I created a rhythm, and I named a fear, and I'm excited for next week. I call that a wonderful week.

Thank you so much for being here. I'm eager to hear how your work in progress is going.

Have a lovely week! Wishing you all the last bits of watermelon, salty breezes, and dare I say sunkisses.

Thanks,
~JH

If you're new here, this is the second post in the Learning in Public series, in which I take you along as I learn to draw. Here is the first of many.