Anyone else having a really hard time committing to all the things you used to do, in a pre-COVID world?
The Printable Project has been one among many of my side hustles that have been momentarily shelved.
I talk a lot about the concept of “the shelf” with other makers, creatives, and mentees in my life. The idea is simple: when you lose interest in a project or hobby that is only mid-way, don’t worry about “quitting”. Simply put it on the shelf to pick up later (whether this is a physical or metaphorical shelf, the mental lift of pressure feels the same).
The concept of the shelf didn’t come to me until after I had graduated college, primarily from a mental health need to be able to commit to a system that allows me take a break without the extreme amount of stress that comes to me from not finishing something I set out to do. As I learned how to deal with perfectionism through college, every mental health professional and professor I had said, “Just do less. You need to be doing less”.
To no surprise, that didn’t work. I always want to be starting the next thing before the current thing is even half way finished. I realized that as a goal setter, it’s okay to continue drawing the check boxes on the to-do list, even if the other tasks haven’t been checked off the list yet. I’m pretty sure there is a bounty of studies that say you’re only supposed to have three things on your to-do list, or to use the 1-3-5 methodology. Fuck that, that’s not what I’m talking about. Knowing that I will come back to a goal or side hustle when I have time, interest, or a second wind later on gives me the mental validation I need; knowing I didn’t give up, I’m just taking a break and putting it on the shelf.
Explaining this concept is just a long winded way of me saying, “sorry I missed a few calendars, I was too busy worrying about my health, my job, a new apartment, a new relationship, and the world collectively screaming “Black Lives Matter”.
I wish I would have journaled my feelings throughout the pandemic. I wish I would have written what it felt like to see all of Minneapolis board up their windows and doors and mandate a curfew, as I watched military vehicles roll past my apartment for weeks. I wish I would have written down how I’ve never felt a bigger sense of community marching the streets in protest. I wish I would have wrote what it was like when people were running and screaming and throwing up in fear after the semi drove into the protest. I wish I had written down how much more empathetic people were at the beginning of the pandemic. I wish I had the mental space to write down those words at the time, but I didn’t.
What I did do, however, was give myself daily emotion scribbles in my planner. As much as I wish I could go back and read how I was feeling each day, I’m (at minimum) able to look back and see, as a whole, how I was doing, and how I am doing now.
If words and hobbies and tasks and responsibilities and jobs and relationships seem hard right now, that’s okay. I feel you. If you need to shelve a couple things right now, even if they have to collect some dust, that’s okay. I feel you. I’m writing this to share just a sliver of an attempt to document this moment in time, and give you a tool I drew for myself, so that you can track your feelings over time too. And then I will probably put The Printable Project back on the shelf, and return when metal space allows.
This is completely up to you how you would like to use this mood tracker. Choose your own emotions. Choose your own color key. Get creative! Think about good and bad emotions you experience frequently, and add them to the key! Hate colors? I usually do too, I’m a black and white Sharpie kind of gal. Use patterns: dots, lines, cross hatch, full ink, etc. to fill in your leaves.
Each pot from left to right is one month, starting with July 2020, ending with December 2020.
Every sprig/twig/vine is equal to the week in that month. For example, in July, the first sprig is on the far left, first week of July, which was July 1-4, therefor there are only 4 leaves on that sprig. This should allow you too look at a glance how that week or month was colored.
Simply download this sheet, print it out (journal size, letter size, poster size) and get coloring! Post and tag along the way, I would love to see what you do with it (and honestly, how we’re all feeling).