Discover more from Dandelion Seeds: Illustrated Essays
On creative resistance
And believing we’re enough.
Hello there! And welcome to Dandelion Seeds, an illustrated newsletter that is hand-painted and hand-lettered, from my desk to yours.
Last week, I loved publishing a new illustrated essay, “Blue Skies and Tailwinds,” about finding blessings in unexpected places.
And to my great astonishment, it quickly began to receive more comments and shares than any other post I’ve published here yet on Dandelion Seeds.
Next week, I’m excited to share a few of your beautiful comments that I’ve hand-lettered — just like I did in “The roots of who you are” over the summer — but today, I simply wanted to share with you the reason I was so astonished:
I almost didn’t even write the story.
It was two weeks ago tomorrow — a Wednesday — that Elena and I were traveling home to Belgium from the US.
One of our layovers was in JFK airport, where we just so happened to witness a small farewell ceremony for a pilot who was about to retire. And the airline’s closing words for him during the ceremony felt like a blessing to me:
“We wish you blue skies, tailwinds, and all the good things.”
That evening, on our overnight flight to London, I thought about capturing the moment in an illustrated essay, and it occurred to me that some of the artwork I created earlier this year for “Home is a Window Seat” would pair perfectly with the story. It all seemed meant to be, but for whatever reason, after we arrived back in Antwerp, I began to doubt the idea.
For three days, I put off writing. I asked Jose if he thought it was a good idea for a story, and then I asked him again the next day, just in case he’d changed his mind.
I wondered if the idea was deep enough, if it had enough to say.
As I write these words now, I can see that I wasn’t just questioning if the story was enough.
I wondered if I was enough.
Then, late Saturday night, Elena woke up crying. And as I lay there helping her fall back asleep, I began to think about the pilot’s blessing again — and this time, lines just started coming to me, as if the story was writing itself in my head.
Once I got Elena back down, I couldn’t open my laptop fast enough. It was 12:30am when I began writing, and by 1:15, I’d gotten the story down on paper.
It wasn’t done, it hadn’t yet been tweaked a thousand times as I’m wont to do, but the heart of it was there. After three days of waffling back and forth, after three days of wading through resistance, it had taken me exactly 45 minutes to just write the story.
More than any other essay I’ve shared here yet, the journey of bringing “Blue Skies and Tailwinds” to life has taught me so many things — but most of all, it’s been a lesson in creative resistance.
Sometimes, resistance is a force we encounter from outside ourselves, when things beyond our control rise up and get in our way. But lately I’ve been relearning that the even greater force to overcome is the resistance that rises up from within us — from nowhere else but our own heads and hearts.just wrote about this on her Substack, Peak Notions, last week; about the voice inside us that loves to question the value of our work. And her insights on how to live with that voice were just what I needed to read — how to hear the voice, how to acknowledge it, and then keep on creating anyways:
“What you make is imperfect but it has value if it’s valuable to you. You can simply make that decision. Once you do, lots of things don’t get easier. The voice doesn’t go away, but you learn to recognize it for what it is. It is you, and it isn’t, so hear it and then do whatever you were going to do anyway. Make what you want to make. Say what you want to say if you have good reasons for saying it.”
So that’s the story of how I almost didn’t even write “Blue Skies and Tailwinds,” and I wanted to share it here today first and foremost as a note for myself, to remember the next time I find myself straying into the Land of Not Enough.
But I wanted to share it for you, too. That even when you’re feeling resistance — or perhaps especially when you’re feeling resistance — I hope you’ll remember:
Your ideas are enough. Your stories are enough.
You are enough.
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