What I've learned from my past 2 months of morning journaling
I've been part of two group hugs this week. The first was on the tiny, packed dance floor of our local Venezuelan restaurant last Friday night. “I'm having soooo much fun!” a friend of mine squealed above the chaos of the folk rock tune that we were all jumping and flailing our arms somewhat rhythmically to. The rest of us replied with equal enthusiasm and suddenly we found ourselves engaged in a heartfelt group hug amidst the pulsing crowd.
The second instance occurred last night, after the weekly walk in my neighborhood where a bunch of us fill up our thermoses with tea or wine (sneaky) and putz around the neighborhood chatting for an hour or so. As we exchanged parting hugs last night, there was a small collision and we decided to go whole hog and make it a group hug.
Now, regular hugs are totally fine, but there's something about a group hug that fires off millions of endorphins in my brain and makes my heart feel especially fuzzy. Group hugs are efficient, too. With 6 siblings and 8 nieces and nephews, Haizlett family gatherings often end in a group hug; you save about a full hour when you don't have to say individual hellos/goodbyes! But aside from that, group hugs make me feel a deep sense of belonging. Of unity. Of contentment to be a small part of the whole.
I've been journaling while I eat my breakfast for the past 2 months now, and something I've noticed during my morning check-ins is that I often wake up with a sense of urgency. It's a subtle feeling that I'm somehow behind–that I've woken up too late, need to rush through breakfast, or am behind on my work projects, even when none of those things are true. So what's the rush?
After much pondering, I've concluded that this urgency stems from fear. I have so many ideas for things that I want to make. One day it's a children's book, the next it's a painting series, a greeting card set, or an artistic style I want to try out. But I know that in order to do a good job with any of it, I have to take my time and pace myself. I also hope to become a mother sometime in the next few years. Part of my laser focus throughout my twenties has come from the fear that once I become a parent, I won't be able to realize this set of dreams and goals that swirl around in my head. It's a fear that my time on Earth will expire and I won't have materialized all the beautiful things that I wanted to.
Recently, I listened to an interview with musician Rosanne Cash on the Design Matters podcast
. When asked about her introverted disposition and how she handled being on stage night after night, she replied that she gradually learned to see her shows as an energy exchange between her and the audience instead of a performance. This blew my mind. What if instead of seeing my life as a solo performance during which I have limited time to make everything I want to, I begin to see it as a collaboration with every person around me?
This mindset shift fills me with a deep sense of peace. It's not up to me alone to make all of these dreams happen. My calling is simply to put my creative work out there (no matter how small) and trust that my art will be a source of energy and inspiration for someone else to bring forth their own work. Creativity doesn't exist in a vacuum and a single piece of work or idea can trickle out to touch countless others. This also means that the creative work of others isn't competition–it's part of the great group project of being human on the same glowing green planet. The pressure is off.
This isn't an excuse to keep our ideas hidden under a rock and never work hard to make things, but it's permission to breathe and rest in what we are able to create in a healthy and sustainable way.
Back to the dance floor at the Venezuelan restaurant. With the harsh lights shining in their faces, I wonder if the band saw the way their music ignited jubilation in the crowd? Did they see our group hug that resulted from their creative rhythms? If you've ever been on a stage with a spotlight, you know that the harsh glare makes it impossible to see the audience. You feel utterly alone up there–singing into the void. But it's all an illusion; the room is packed with other humans who are sharing the same moment.
When the spotlight is too fixed on what we're able to personally create or produce or accomplish, we are blind to the ripple effects that our work can have. So in this phase of my life, I'm ready to dim my fixation on my own output and celebrate being one small piece of the puzzle, one little person in a global group hug. I think this is my favorite collaboration yet.
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In the spirit of amplifying collective creativity, here are a few things that have brought me joy lately:
The podcast Wiser Than Me with Julia Louis-Dreyfus
in which Julia asks well-known elderly women questions about aging and how it has changed their perspective on life. So many good nuggets!
Grateful for you all! Wishing you a joy-filled holiday season.