It feels a little strange to be sending this along, business as usual, after recent events—so you can read some of my thoughts on the election right here if you're so inclined.
More and more lately, I’ve been thinking about noticing.
I'm talking about making time to stop what you're doing and look at the sounds and sights and feelings and thoughts happening right now, whether that's inside of you or in the world around you.
I particularly love the idea of noticing projects—choosing a specific period of time and then a specific thing to pay attention to and just seeing what happens.
Maybe that's setting several random reminders on your phone to simply stop and take notice ofeverything going on inside and outside of you for one week. Maybe it's taking a photograph each morning or evening for a month. Maybe it's taking a daily walk and paying special attention to the changes in a single tree over the course of one season.
Or maybe it's choosing to spend 31 days writing each day, noticing your thoughts and ideas and memories instead of simply letting them zoom by unacknowledged. This past January, many of you did just that when I opened the doors to an experience I called Explore: 31 Days of Intentional Writing*.
I didn't create Explore as a noticing project—but as I've become more aware of my own fascination with these types of experiences, I can see that that's exactly what it is. And figuring that out made me really excited! (FYI, I'll be opening registration for Explore soon; you can sign up at the bottom of this post to hear when it's time.)
Now Explore is a very personal experience—just you and your writing. Of course, you could choose to share what you've discovered with someone else, but it's not inherently a public-facing project. But today, I wanted to share with you three very public projects that I've found immensely inspiring over the years!
I’ve been following MAV and Stephanie from the very beginning of their time together, when they simply posted a diptych each day—without discussing the subject ahead of time. The combination of their photos was always beautiful, and sometimes there were stunning similarities that were always a joy to notice. Over the years, they’ve created many things based on noticing and recording everyday life—a book of morning photos, a book of evening photos, a magazine series, an online journal. They’ve just launched another book full of letters and photographs and recipes and projects, and I’ve been fully immersing myself in their world in the past week or so. These women—their site, their Instagram, and the books and magazines I own—are an unending source of inspiration for me.
Remember the good old days when blogs were beautiful portraits of everyday life? When advertising wasn’t really a thing yet and you could simply peek into someone’s world through their eyes? Elephantine, by Rachel Ball, captures that feeling to me, and she’s currently sharing a single photo each day, which I love. She does run two shops—one selling beautiful, dainty jewelry, and one selling carefully selected and beautiful gifts for yourself and others—but her blog is not really a platform for those stores. She mentions them here and there, but she also shares about her writing life, curates favorite finds in beautiful images, shares books she loves, and more. It’s a real treat.
You’ve read about my love for Susannah before (here), and I find her August Break to be genius. Susannah’s work usually comes back to photography in some way or other, and each year, she takes a break from sharing words in the month of August, instead simply sharing a photo each day. She has now created prompts so others can join in, and it’s beautiful to see so many people take a meaningful, intentional pause for noticing. (She's also about to start her annual December Reflections project, which could be a fun option if you're inspired to start noticing and sharing right away!)
I’m sure I could go on, but I wanted to simply give you a taste of my inspiration. In a world that's filled with minds that jump from thing to thing (including my own), it feels like a refreshing pause to watch one person focus on one thing or idea and carry it through.
And doing a noticing project can feel that way, too. I did Explore myself the last time around, and I would love to do it again. There’s something about knowing there’s time set aside to record your thoughts and ideas that feels pretty magical, and even though Explore has specific prompts for each day, it would be wonderful to also include five minutes of writing about something you noticed that day. I’d be so interested to see where you found yourself after 31 days of noticing.
Keep an eye out for more emails about Explore, including a note about when it’s ready for you to begin!
Sending much love,
* For those of you who weren't around when Explore opened up last time, or who would like a reminder: The idea is that for 31 days, you write every day, responding to a prompt that arrives in your inbox. But so much of the beauty of this experience is in preparing for it (you get a guide that helps you set an intention for the 31 days and make some choices that will help you see it through) and in reflecting on it afterward (you get another guide that helps you use whatever you create in that 31 days, whether that’s momentum or clarity or the actual words you wrote down). Once you’re done, you can choose to keep going—or you can simply enjoy the experience for what it was and move on to another experiment.
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