Safe Spaces


Birdie meets Lizzy the Lizard from Arbor Fall Festival Chapter 4

It starts with a chair.

A chair I’ve sat in many times.

A chair that Ned (our cat) and I fight over, constantly.

A chair I’m familiar with. I know the shape of its spine, the twist of its legs, and how the front right is a bit wobbly, sometimes distracting, but mostly and rightly familiar.

I’ve been here before. I have written vulnerable words here, sitting in this chair. I have painted decent illustrations--well somewhat decent--here, sitting in this chair.

“All I could carry with me from last time was the knowledge that it could be done.”

—Circe, Madeline Miller

Learning reveals pieces of me that I’d rather keep hidden--from others, sure, but also from myself. In a giant effort to avoid that battle with learning, I tend to run to a book or the TV or most truthfully calling a friend to see if they need anything I can help them with. Distraction--there it is again, a symptom of that fear I’ve been battling all month: expectation and failure.

Camp Zephyr tin mug and a lovely flower picked from a recent walk around the neighborhood.

Learning takes courage alongside endurance to get to that finish. And even still, what is learned is never enough. I must always be learning, and I’m beginning to find the fun in that.

But how do I create a space that encourages vulnerability and endurance?

Endurance is one of those virtues that can get tangled up in a hustle culture. I want to be certain that I have boundaries and won’t get caught in the hustle -culture web. I don’t want to ignore my life while working so hard, hustling so hard. Slow living is in some ways harder to endure than the ever trendy hustle culture--but more on that another week.

This work space needed to allow me the gentleness to learn and fuel a tenacity to keep going. This sounds like magic.

I’m still working out this space. Each day is a little bit different, as each season is a little bit different for Bryan and me.

As I mentioned earlier, often when I’m feeling inadequate I’ll suddenly feel the need to cook a cake for our neighbors, clean the oven, or FaceTime a friend . When I finally--bravely yet begrudgingly--return to my chair, a sweet, encouraging note is left at my desk penned by my brilliant scientist. Bryan invites an encouraging learning environment, which revives a strength to draw with inspiration, poorly and courageously executed, to publish it here, right here for all to see.

I love you, B

I suggest writing yourself some words of encouragement and toss them around your workspace:

Flipping through last month’s journal, I found this jotted in hurried, illegible cursive. I’ll leave it here in this space, on the off chance someone needed to hear Brene Brown’s words of encouragement:

|| The Call to Courage

Social Media, an often performative space, hardly invites vulnerability for me. And I realize that publishing my progress on this blog is a bit of a contradiction to safe spaces, but I want to find the courage to publicly share my vulnerability and authenticity.

I also want you to trust me as a storyteller.

We are all fans of Brene Brown here, right? Well, in her Netflix special, The Call to Courage, she states this:

"No vulnerability, no creativity. No tolerance for failure, no innovation. It is that simple," she advised. "If you're not willing to fail, you can't innovate. If you're not willing to build a vulnerable culture, you can't create."

And as much as I want her to be misquoted or inaccurate, I’ve found my best work is when I am most vulnerable and authentic. And in the end, I’m creating a story for someone else to read. Relying on cliches and stereotypes won’t excite and connect with my reader. Connections are made in the small details that “no one” else notices...give them the truth, Jordan.

If you're new here, this is the fifth 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.

Wishing you all a cozy Autumn,

P.S. Is Autumn capitalized? or not? I think not...