The past month I’ve been over on Instagram doing a creative 100 day challenge with my sister, Sarah. We’ve meant to collaborate on something together for some time, and we spontaneously decided to jump in and do a 100 Day Project together.
The 100 Day Project is a yearly creative challenge founded by Elle Luna and Lindsay Jean Thompson. Every year on 2nd April, a diverse range of creatives embark on small and large projects that run for 100 days. It’s often best to try something you can do in 5-10 minutes a day, something small in scale that challenges you or makes you happy. I overreached the last time I joined the challenge, by writing 100 poems with accompanying images, but I did manage to eventually finish.
This year, Sarah and I are doing 100 Days of Heart to Hearts, a microblogging and photography project. It started with a loose ‘call and response’ style of writing – both of us doing the same prompt or replying to something the other has written. So far, we’re a bit behind but we will eventually catch up even if it means doing the project for a bit longer. What this project has done for me so far is shown me that I can still write from the heart. It’s something that I’ve been struggling with a little lately, after writing my book of essays. Perhaps I just burnt out a little because I was focusing so completely on writing non-fiction personal essays. Re-filling the creative well and using prompts to make us both think has been interesting and I’m looking forward to seeing where we go next.
I’m including a few examples below of what we’ve been doing and the photos we’ve shared:
Life is change
‘Like Sarah (@fateischance), I can be too much of a perfectionist. I dwell on things that I should just let go, can be too hard on myself when something goes wrong, and get frustrated when something I’ve written or made doesn’t quite match up to what I wanted. I don’t take my own advice. I wrote a book about what I’ve learnt in 30-odd years of being human, and still go back to it and marvel – and realise that I should listen to myself more.
As an HSP (highly-sensitive person) and introvert, it’s often easier for me to stay in my comfort-zone. But that is juxtaposed with how much of myself I put out there – writing and sharing essays and poetry, self-portraits, talking about mental health and being deaf.
Sharing is intimidating, whether online or offline. Putting yourself in the arena, as Brené Brown puts it, is difficult. I’ve had vulnerability hangovers from sharing a self portrait or from sharing something about depression or anxiety. But that fear dissipates over time. We’re only here for a finite time, and I’d rather be in the arena being myself than out of it afraid of risking and living fully.
That said, it was hard for me today to think about what to write for this #100daysofhearttohearts prompt. I’ve had a few restless nights, which isn’t conducive to thinking. A few anxious dreams. I woke up today feeling unsettled. It could be that it’s because life is feeling better again. The fog is lifting. I’m anxious because I don’t want to fall back in. But I know that I’ve got this. We’ve got this.
It’s all too easy to forget how far we’ve come and what we’re going to learn in the rest of our lives. Life is change. Sometimes change is hard to adapt to or feels too fast, but it’s still going to teach us something. About ourselves, other people, or about what we do or don’t want.
‘That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you’ve understood all your life, but in a new way.’ – Doris Lessing.’
‘A journey, in a literal sense, is about travelling from one place to another. It’s also an overused metaphor in self-help and non-fiction, to signify someone going on some kind of mental, physical or spiritual journey, to travel to a different state of existing.
Life can be described as a ‘journey’ too. Maybe it’s overused to the point it’s become a cliché, but it’s also an apt metaphor.
And what other word could we use that describes the march of our lives moving forward in time? The things we learn and experience? Like the mountain road full of twists and turns on a literal journey.
Journeys are often my favourite part of travelling. I don’t like the crowds at airports or on train platforms, but the anticipation after the anxiety of packing, and taking off on an adventure always feels exciting. Even if it is to visit a place you’ve been to many times.
I like the heart lifting take-off of a plane, which always makes me want to laugh. The sensation of a ferry rumbling across the channel. Watching the rush of scenery through a train window.
I loved car journeys to Europe with my family as a child, driving through the night, with Sarah and I bundled up in the back with all the duvets and pillows for our camping holidays. Stopping in the mornings for breakfast at service stations or a French supermarché.
If life is a journey, we take many real journeys within that, that provide interludes and moments of joy. What kind of journeys make you happy?’
‘A hundred days! I can recall the questions that raced through my mind before I decided to jump in: Can I handle it? Will I push through when my schedule is jammed? Will I share even when I can’t resolve a piece? Will I show up every day, even when it hurts—especially when it hurts? A group of us banded together and decided to share our projects on Instagram, tagging images with #the100dayproject. People of all ages joined in, and there was something very empowering about the accountability of doing the project alongside other people in a very public way via Instagram.’ – Elle Luna, Interview on The Great Discontent.