It Only Takes a Moment to Change Your AttitudeNovember 29, 2010
The post is a suggestion on changing your attitude when you’re experiencing a bad day.
Above: Page spread from my current journal. The grid paper sketch was completed in a notebook I carried around with me on this day—I had to travel light so I couldn't carry the large journal. I was working with a thin point Staedtler Pigment Liner. I glued the paper in that afternoon and later that night added additional sketches of the French Bull Dog. The page had been pre-painted with metallic rubberstamp ink. Click on the image to view an enlargement.
You can be having the worst day in your life, but if you are a visual person it only takes a wink of recognition to whip you out of it. You'll see something that you love: the light on a puddle, the smile of a mother walking with her child, the blazing colors of fall leaves, the odd fashion juxtapositions of people waiting at a bus station, or the intent gaze of a dog—and you'll have to sketch.
Trust that impulse. Don't swallow it. Get your pen out of your pocket and go for it. Don't worry if you come up with a finished sketch or not. Focus only on catching something from the moment: a few lines, the energy, a sense of what caught your attention and called to you.
The rewards will be great. You will feel frustration at your circumstances melt away. Arguments with loved ones will fade to the background (and you'll see your way through to patching things up). You will smile. But most of all you will breath again and you will have taken action. That's how things happen in life: we move our energy out of a cul-de-sac of despair, anger, even petty insult, and suddenly we have balance again. Our step is lighter.
On this day, after a horrendous trip with the in-laws to the ear doctor (horrendous for them because it was their appointment) I was exhausted and stressed, sure I would never get back to the studio in time to meet a pressing deadline. I pulled up to the post office to mail an insurance form for the folks. It was job number one that had to be done, regardless of other tasks. My shoulders sagged, and I know I wasn't breathing with more than the top third of my lungs.
And then I saw her, black and white and graphic and full of joy and earnest goodwill—a Border Collie leashed to a bike stand, waiting for her owner to come out and join her. She waited with polite patience, and every so often she would turn her head away from the door to watch other people and animals, but her mind was focused and ready for the return of her owner.
"She'll move in a minute," my mind said, beginning an argument against drawing. I countered with, "that's just enough time." I whipped out my notepad and pen. I scribbled. I just let the frustration of my day escape through my hand as I felt around her energy, her face, her body.
And because I was watching her and not my paper, when her owner did emerge two minutes later I got to see the full explosion of joy on the dog's face as her tail wagged, her body shook—but she maintained that sit as her owner approached to greet her.
It only took a moment, those two minutes, to brighten my day, to open my heart, to shift my mood, and most importantly, to get me breathing again.
I mailed the form, had a pleasant exchange with the postal clerk who was having a rough day (so I got to pass on some of that sustaining energy), and had no trouble meeting that deadline because my energy was moving forward.
The next time you're grumbling, tense, and about to pass out from lack of breath, take a moment to look around. Let something you love catch your eye. And draw it. It's as important an exercise as moving your body every day. Practice saying, "A moment's just enough time."