Friday at Four #9 – Simply showing up again

After taking a week off, I’m coming back to my Friday at Four practice.

Another kind of pause

In my last post, I reported that my Friday art making session happened to be a much needed pause in the middle of two chaotic weeks. This time, my body needed rest, so I had to take a break from my weekly play session.

At first, I thought that not writing the blog post would be enough and that I could still enjoy my play time. When came time to get my art supplies, though, it turned out that anything that wasn’t napping was more than I could handle.

Breaking the chain…

Considering skipping either the blog post or the play session was difficult, though: I had been doing both every single week, no matter what life had thrown at me, since the beginning of the year. I didn’t want to break that chain.

I had followed through on that commitment to myself for a couple of months already. What would happen if I paused for a week? Would it lead to a slippery slope filled with excuses?

That idea was a scary one, because I knew that this could easily turn into a messy, guilt- and shame-laden story, which would then make it much much harder for me to get back to my practice.

… is not a big deal in itself

However, I also know that a story can take on any meaning we assign to it. Skipping a week has no meaning in an of itself; I can build it into a big thing, or not – my choice.

After having given my body the rest it badly needed, I am choosing to simply come back to my practice, without creating stories and letting them get in the way.

Here’s to showing up again, picking up where we’ve left off, and moving forward!

What about you?

Do you sometimes need to take a pause from your practice, for one reason or another? When you do, is it easy to allow yourself that break, or does it feel hard? Are you sometimes afraid it’ll be difficult to get back to your practice? What does (or would) make it easier?

Please share your experience and your thoughts, if and when you feel like it. You can do it in a few words, through a picture, or any other way you can think of! You can do it here in the comments or as a post on your own blog, on Twitter (let’s use the hashtag #fridayatfour), or elsewhere – make sure to let us know in the comments so that we can find your contribution and cheer you on!

Thanks for joining me, and happy playing!

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Friday at Four #8 – The gift of a pause

Week 8 of this Friday at Four experiment, and I must say that I am very grateful I’ve established this practice at the beginning of the year.

Right in the middle of chaos

You see, last Friday happened to fall right in the middle of two really chaotic and overwhelming weeks. A lot of it felt like having to map a route on a terrain that was actually made of moving sands.

At some point during the day, the idea of having to sit and make art felt like “yet one more thing to do on top of everything else”. However, when I actually got there, it ended up feeling like a blessing.

Enjoying a pause, practicing presence

I realised, once I sat at the table and started playing with my art supplies, that this practice was actually providing me with a most welcome pause in that hectic week. What a wonderful gift that was!

It’s always a gift, of course, but last week I could apreciate it in a deeper way. What a relief it was, during that time, for me not to have to try and figure things out! I didn’t have to worry about what was yet to come, about how I would get all the moving pieces to fit together, or about how and when all the uncertainty would finally be resolved.

Of course, I could have resisted and resented having to follow through on that commitment to myself, I could have kept seeing it as taking precious time that could have been put to use in many other ways. However, I quickly realised that everything else could easily wait for an hour, and that surrendering to that pause would be much more beneficial than any other option would have been.

I only had to be there and play. I only had to enjoy that pause, to enjoy that opportunity to be present, and to fill up on the quality of presence – which would come in handy when I’d be getting back into the chaos, and back to attempting to create some kind of order out of it.

That was exactly what I needed at that time. And enjoying it felt really good! The funny thing is that, had I not established that practice, it never would have occurred to me to give myself the gift of such a wonderful pause…

What about you?

Does your practice sometimes appear to be a gift? In which ways? And has it ever provided you with a welcome pause when you most needed it?

Please share your experience and your thoughts, if and when you feel like it. You can do it in a few words, through a picture, or any other way you can think of! You can do it here in the comments or as a post on your own blog, on Twitter (let’s use the hashtag #fridayatfour), or elsewhere – make sure to let us know in the comments so that we can find your contribution and cheer you on!

Thanks for joining me, and happy playing!

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Friday at Four #7 – Expectations and worries

The Friday at Four experiment is in its seventh week, and today I feel like playing around a bit with the format of this report. Last week’s story unfolded somewhat differently that it did the previous times, and it wants to be told in a slightly different way, too.

You see, nothing special happened last Friday: I had a play session scheduled, so I grabbed my art supplies and I played. There’s nothing more to say about it, and… that’s precisely what has led to what happened next.

After that play session, a story started building up

I guess a part of me had grown accustomed to learning something from my play sessions, and had started seeing them in a utilitarian way, like play couldn’t be enough in and of itself, it had to lead to illumination – or, at least, to a useful insight. “So now, what?”, it said, “are we going to just play?”

Support for that question came quickly from another part of me, who added: “And how can we write our Friday at Four posts if nothing special happens? Interesting stuff must happen if we want to have something to talk about! Right now, we have nothing to say at all, and that’s no good!”

Oh, I see. Expectations. Worry. Fear that play in itself is not enough anymore, and that it’ll lead to writing blog posts that won’t be enough either.

Reassurance

Dear little parts of me, sweethearts, I get it. Let me offer some reassurance, which I hope will help.

The insights are great and always welcome, of course. And they’re not the reason why I’ve started that experiment. They’re a bonus; a terrific one, for sure, but a bonus nonetheless. We don’t need to look for anything else than play and exploration when we engage in our chosen practice, at least in the context of this experiment. Engaging in that practice will often provide extra value, yes – and it’s not a reason to turn that into an obligation.

As for the posts… Of course, the insights are very useful when comes time to write for the blog. And showing up to say that we simply had fun, that nothing big or noteworthy came up while we played can be helpful too. Showing up to say that no matter how challenging it might be to engage in a practice sometimes, it can also be filled with ease at other times, might provide exactly what someone needed to read today. Also, I can play with the format and the frequency of those posts if I need and want to; they’re not set in stone.

What about you?

Have you seen stories build up around your practice? What kinds of stories – stories about what it needs to be like, what makes it valuable, something else? How do you deal with them?
If you’re feeling stuck, there might be a story needing to be examined somewhere. If you can’t quite see it, or if you’re not sure how to deal with it once you’ve identified it, let me know: I’ll be happy to help!

Please share your experience and your thoughts, if and when you feel like it. You can do it in a few words, through a picture, or any other way you can think of! You can do it here in the comments or as a post on your own blog, on Twitter (let’s use the hashtag #fridayatfour), or elsewhere – make sure to let us know in the comments so that we can find your contribution and cheer you on!

Thanks for joining me, and happy playing!

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Friday at Four #6 – Suspending judgement

Week 6 of this fun Friday at Four experiment… Here I am, reporting back on what I’ve learned from the latest play session:

What I did last week

I filled up a whole page with colour, creating some sort of background. I was wondering if I’d see something in there that would inspire what I’d draw on top of it. Nothing stood out this time, so I ended up playing around with spirals to create the second layer.

What I’ve learned from that play session

As I was drawing, I noticed that I was at times thinking about the end result and how it would turn out instead of staying in the present moment, focused on the process. To help bring me back, I made a decision: I would suspend judgement of what I was creating, at least until it was finished. And, why not, maybe I’d refrain from judging it even then!

An interesting, and quite probably unsurprising, thing happened: I started having more fun and enjoying myself more after I committed to stop evaluating how “good” (whatever that meant) what I was doing would turn out to be.

Now that this has come to my attention, I want to keep noticing where it comes up, both in play sessions and in the rest of my life, and to gently question whether a judgement is really needed in that situation. I also want to take the idea of suspending judgement that I tried on last week and turn it into a practice; I have a feeling it would be a useful and valuable experiment.

My plan for this week

I’m not quite done painting over the spirals I drew last week, so I’ll start with that. Then, who knows, this might become the background for a third layer…

What about you?

Do you ever catch yourself judging what you’re in the process of doing, even when no judgement is called for? How does that feel? Does that change the enjoyment you get from that activity? And how does the idea of (at least temporarily) suspending judgement sound like to you?

Please share how it went last time and what you plan on trying next, if and when you feel like it. You can do it in a few words, through a picture, or any other way you can think of! You can do it here in the comments or as a post on your own blog, on Twitter (let’s use the hashtag #fridayatfour), or elsewhere – make sure to let us know in the comments so that we can find your contribution and cheer you on!

Thanks for joining me, and happy playing!

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Friday at Four #5 – Finding a way to get started

This is our fifth Friday at Four – which means that this little experiment has been going for a whole month already! And it’s just the beginning… But for now, here’s what happened during the latest play session:

What I did last week

I had no project going and no plan for a new one, so I simply ended up playing around on a few different doodles.

What I’ve learned from that play session

The beginning of last week’s session was marked by a certain degree of uncertainty: it can be hard to get started when there are no guidelines or constraints sending us in a specific direction. It was a good reminder that facing too many possibilities is sometimes just as challenging as dealing with not enough of them. I overcame my indecision by picking a crayon, putting it down on paper, and drawing a line. I had no idea where that line was going, but it was a start, and the rest flowed from there.

Also, I’m noting that I was multitasking during my play time, watching over a pot of beans that was cooking on the stove nearby. It may not be ideal in all circumstances, but in that instance, this light distraction didn’t feel disturbing. Conclusion: multitasking in that context is not necessarily a bad idea, but I don’t want to assume that it’d always be a good thing to do either. So I want to remember that it’ll always be worth it to assess the specific situation before deciding if I want to go ahead with multitasking while I play.

My plan for this week

I still have no new specific project in mind, so I might end up doodling again – unless my pencil takes me somewhere else when it lands on the paper…

What about you?

Do you ever find it hard to get started with the practice of your choice? And what are the ways you’ve found to make it easier? If you need help finding new ideas, let us know: we’ll brainstorm with you!

Please share how it went last time and what you plan on trying next, if and when you feel like it. You can do it in a few words, through a picture, or any other way you can think of! You can do it here in the comments or as a post on your own blog, on Twitter (let’s use the hashtag #fridayatfour), or elsewhere – make sure to let us know in the comments so that we can find your contribution and cheer you on!

Thanks for joining me, and happy playing!

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