As of yesterday, I am one quarter of the way through the 100 Day Project.
Originating in 2010, the 100 Day Project originated with Yale University Art Professor, Michael Bierut, as a graduate level graphic design project. You can read about it and see some of his favorite projects here. His instructions were fairly open: choose a creative operation you can repeat in some form or fashion for 100 days.
Elle Luna, artist and author of The Crossroads of Should and Must, brought the project to Instagram in 2014, where its continued since. You can start any day you’d like, of course, but the next “official” start date is on April 7th. You can read about the project here.
My own project is wide-open, if not a little vague: 100 Days of Photography.
So what have I learned 25 days in?
I have more time than I think I have. This project is about making photography a priority in my life, and as my husband often says, “We make time for what’s important to us.” Haven’t missed a day yet.
I’m learning to look at the ordinary as an opportunity. Today I photographed a rack of cookies cooling on the counter. Last week, I played around with shooting candlelight on our dining room table. There’s art and inspiration in everyday living. Looking around to find a photograph each and every day helps me see it.
An iPhone can take some extraordinary photographs. Wow.
The process of photography: composition, lighting, angle, post-production is becoming more intuitive. I’m learning to trust my eye and I’m growing in confidence.
Winter feels like a tough time for this project. Weather and lack of daylight make this a little more challenging, but by no means impossible. I hunger for color and often look to the sky for relief from the white and grey.
For me, the 100 Day Project is less about improving my skill as a photographer and more about devoting time to my passion. This is my second go-round with this project and I’m twice as committed as I was the first time. Sure, there was that quick shot of the Hershey’s kisses in the candy jar for Valentine’s Day, but there’s also the day I tried to capture rolling ocean waves in the extreme cold. I’m learning to be flexible. I’m learning to show up for myself – at least for a minute or two – every day.
I spend almost all day Monday through Friday making decisions. For myself, yes, but mostly for other people. It’s part of my job. I’m granted a lot of freedom. Choices. And the autonomy to make them. All of which I’m very grateful for.
But sometimes tired too. By the time the end of the work day or the weekend rolls along, it’s a challenge to make even one more decision. I’m decision weary.
Should I stay late or go in early? Home or gym? Cook or order in? News or Netflix? More often than I care to admit, my book gathers dust on my bedside table while I choose to scroll Instagram. A choice and decision I almost always regret.
Maybe my want-tos are all tangled up with my should-dos. Too many choices can overwhelm. And often there’s others to consider. What would he want? What choice would they make?
Sometimes decisions are mutually exclusive, and I want them both. Or both choices are necessary and pressing so I need them both. Sometimes I simply can’t make up my mind.
I want this and that. When and where is there room for both? For both and instead of either or?
I think the answer is: as often as possible.
More often than not these days, I’m compromising between wants and needs, work and play, and all of the shoulds, musts, and coulds. It’s thoughtful decision making at the end of the day. Tired or not, it’s finding room for a little bit of this and that.
The passage of time is predictable, of course, as are most of the ways I use my allotment. There’s a rhythm to my schedule and a routine. Some days, you’ll hear me complain about how little time I have. A common theme. It’s difficult to finagle a few minutes to do what I love, to be the friend I want to be, or finally get around to what I’ve been meaning to get done for weeks.
Come to find out: the time’s been there all along. I just needed to find it.
This week, I found time to:
walk with a friend
chat with my sister
photograph an amazing sunrise
sit in a bit of solitude
pack healthy lunches
listen (closely and carefully and completely)
run an unplanned errand (without stress)
moisturize my skin (not once, but twice)
enjoy a meaningful conversation – unhurried
soak in a hot bath
read – right there at my desk – in the middle of the day
And full. Purposeful. Mindful. Meaningful. Grateful.
I’ve felt powerful: building my physical strength and stamina. Resourceful: planning relevant experiences for my students. Sorrowful: remembering the first anniversary of my mother’s passing. And, of course, hopeful: beginning each and every day this month filling the pages of my journal with gratitude, guidance, goals, and hope for grace.
I’ve lived faithfully: honoring my commitment to #the100dayproject with at least a photograph a day – – showing up at the gym more days in January than not – – devoting time and effort to my health, diet, and overall well being.
There’s been wistful days, joyful days, and stressful days. More ups than downs, thankfully. A few trips and falls, painfully. Many new insights, realizations, and emotional turn-abouts, helpfully.
In other words, life’s been plentiful. And I’m taking one more deep, full breath of January and the fresh, clean air of a new year.
I think it’s true: the more you write, the more you write.
Writer’s write. It’s habit. It’s pen in hand. Laptop open. It’s simply showing up. The words, I’m discovering, will take care of themselves. It’s work, of course. Equal parts determination and devotion. Sometimes, delight. But mostly, it’s a decision.
So, I write.
I’ve been writing every morning. Journaling mostly. Lists. Notes. Phrases. Quotes. Ideas. Seeds.
As a child naturally seeks boundaries in order to feel safe enough to grow beyond them, so does the structure of my morning page first fence me in and then free me to roam beyond.
Ideas arrive, much to my surprise. Pages fill. I think bookish thoughts.
My notebook travels everywhere I do. Sometimes the words arrive in the spaces between. The space between leaving for work and arriving. There’s space too, after writing what I want to say in which I sometimes discover what I need to say.
I am not the sum of my words, but the subtraction of them. I take away what I mean to say from the entirety of what I wrote, so what’s left is what’s necessary, real, and true. Somewhere in all those words is my tiny moment of knowing.
And sometimes, simply sitting with stillness and silence feels just right. There’s faith the words will come, because the habit of writing proves this to be true.
After a rough walk-around count, we’ve just about 70 hide-aways in our home. Places where we tuck away the often used, useful, and very nearly used-up. Out of sight and out of mind, these drawers, doors, cupboards, and closets stash our stuff: the flotsam and jetsam, the random, and miscellaneous.
And December seems like as good a time as any to poke my head into each and every nook or cranny to take stock of what we’ve collected. I can knock off a quick drawer or two or even three each day of the month so come January the first – we’ve whittled away the unnecessary and organized whatever’s left. Closets and cupboards take longer, of course, but totally do-able in this long season of indoors.
Refrigerator door shelves need an annual purge of expired dressings, marinades, and forgotten vegetable stock. Medicine shelves need review too. Socks need sorting. Supplies need updating. In the process, the forgotten will be found and the accumulated reduced to the required.
Odds and ends. Bits and bobs. Remnants and paraphernalia. Pieces of our shared lives stored here, there, and often forgotten altogether. Each room, each drawer, closet, and cupboard with its own purpose, stuff, and substance. I’ll be going day by day, room by room, drawer by drawer, and item by item. A fun little focus for a dark, cold month.