"Can you believe it's only been two weeks?" Tina asked me yesterday. I nodded in agreement, feeling like our Paristrip was a lifetime ago after plunging ourselves back into our full-time jobs. I'm still figuring out the best way to incorporate my writing and collaging into my daily routine. For now, I'm taking it slow, focusing on completing one collage a week and writing my weekly entry for Sundays with Stella. It may not seem like much, but I'm committed to finding a schedule that works.
Here's my dilemma: I've always been a morning person. That's when I'm most energetic and creative. Despite enjoying my job, my mental gas tank runs empty by the end of the day. I attempted several times to write in the evenings, but I found myself dozing off in front of my laptop with my fingers still propped on the keyboard. I've discovered that collaging is more effective during this time slot. Even though my eyes are tired from looking at images all day, it’s easier to push through and produce one artwork per week. Though it may seem like a small feat, it's a win that I take pride in. Consistency is the heartbeat of any creative practice, and it's what keeps me going.
My friend Carina and I briefly touched on this very topic this afternoon. We both agreed that consistency is a crucial ingredient to any creative practice. For some, accountability is equally important. Apart from that, she had questions about Substack. I told her about the private mode feature as something she could explore while building her writing practice.
Menopause has disrupted my sleep patterns, but it has also created a time frame for me to write during the wee hours of the morning. My mind has rested and I feel clear and focused. After saying my daily gratitude prayer, I reach for my phone to capture my thoughts. While I typically prefer to jot them down in my journal, the allure of staying in bed often wins out. Despite some occasional guilt, I remind myself that consistency is key, regardless of the tools or methods used. The most important thing is to establish a habit, preferably something that is sustainable. Additionally, I've also managed to squeeze in an hour of reading before I drift back to sleep.
On Saturday afternoons, I gather my notes from the week and settle in to write for this newsletter. As I've mentioned before, my pace is slow but steady. I require a sizable block of dedicated time to meet my self-imposed deadline. Thankfully, I haven’t missed a post since starting Sundays with Stella eight months ago!
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Early this week, I called to check in on Gail. “I’m just calling to let you know that I’m thinking of you and that you are special in my life,” is how I usually begin our conversation. She shifts to a more joyful tone and laughs in response.
Dealing with dementia has taught me a valuable lesson: to have the courage to communicate my thoughts and emotions candidly and wholeheartedly. There's no room for small talk or long-winded conversations anymore. It's the essence that counts.
During our call, I shared some funny stories from my month-long stay in Paris with Tina. In a moment of temporary clarity, she asked me, "Are you writing this all down?" It made me smile, reminding me of the times we spent together in Santa Barbara. She used to say this to me all the time long before her diagnosis.
Another thing that struck me during the call was when she said, "I know you will keep in touch when you're back. And, here you are..."
I’d like to think these small acts I’ve done over the years are imprinted somewhere in her mind or perhaps in her heart.
“You can rely on me, Gail, “ I responded.
As I close this post, I can't help but recall the words of John Gottman, the renowned American psychologist: "Small things often." His message resonates with me because it speaks to the power of consistent, positive actions in maintaining relationships. Even in the midst of Gail’s dementia and the distance between us, I believe this principle remains true for our friendship. And it’s not just limited to relationships– it applies to all aspects of life, including creative pursuits.
So, my dear readers, let this be an encouragement for you to do small things often in your life.
And to leave you with this thought to ponder: What small actions can you take today to move closer to your goals, deepen your relationships, and enrich your life? For those of you who would like to share, feel free to leave a comment below.
See you all next Sunday!
Beautiful. Seeing the photos of Gail brought me back! She is a wonderful lady and so lucky to have you as a friend.
Thanks for the encouragement--so needed! Small things often. I’m going to focus on that this week. So much in my life has gotten out of balance in the last couple of months between a long road trip and busy schedule. I can find time for small things, and in doing the small things often I will reach the top of the mountain!