I have been thinking a lot about patience. What I am doing—taking a break from my full-time professional life—and giving myself time to explore the unknown, to make new discoveries—takes patience. Some days I am present, in the moment, content to focus on whatever I am doing without a deadline, without feeling like I need to finish. And some days, I feel agitated. I long to complete a task and cross it off my chore list. The “high” of the crossing off is so alluring that sometimes I fill my day with tasks I know I can complete without challenging myself, that aren’t truly what I want to be doing. Writer Annie Dillard tells us: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” I have to continually remind myself that I don’t want my lifetime achievement to be a line of checks after every chore (grocery shopping, check; bills paid, check; permission slip signed, check).
I have been in the process or learning Adobe Illustrator for a couple of months now. One of my goals is to use it to design stencils for Alabama Chanin-style garments. I will work with the Alabama Chanin sewing patterns but instead of spray-painting the fabric with one of their existing stencils (all of which are beautiful), I will spray paint them with a stencil that I create (that will, hopefully, be beautiful as well). And then I will use the stenciled design as a guide for my needlework embellishment, probably reverse appliqué to start. I don’t know where this will lead me, but my inner voice tells me this is something I should be doing.
I have learned about vectors and how to use the Pen tool to trace shapes from photos or scans and to make my own shapes. I have learned about stroke and fill and about the Magic Wand tool. But there are often snafus that I don’t know how to fix yet. And there is always the challenge to make something that I think is beautiful. This process is taking a long time. When I am grounded and in the moment, I love spending hours playing with shapes, scale, repeats, balance. But sometimes I get frustrated and scared. What if I can’t learn Illustrator well enough? What if I am simply not capable of making something beautiful enough? And these questions lead to bigger ones: What if I can’t figure out what I want to do with my life? What if I run out of money? What if . . . ?
It’s hard not to let the mind spiral out of control. It’s hard to be patient. I have been doing a guided meditation series with Deepak Chopra called Finding Your Flow. Today’s centering thought was “My wisdom is within.” Yesterday it was "My truth and creativity are within." My mind is in the constant state of push and pull. Listen to that inner voice telling me to be patient and explore vs. make me feel better/successful at this very moment.
The unknown is full of possibilities. In the unknown is a beautiful stencil of my own design. That’s what I am trying to believe this afternoon as I open a new Illustrator file and continue my exploration.