Ask the Right Question

One of the first things I decided about small//shift was that I was going to go back to being the artist who existed in me when I was a child. The girl who was always drawing and had a million things to dream up. I figured she must be hiding in my psyche somewhere, and this project might be what I needed to find her.


I didn’t want to go too easy on myself, though. I’d really abandoned that poor kid, and I knew she needed to see some real effort if she was ever going to feel safe enough to exist again. So no, I wasn’t just going to learn to draw again. I was going to learn to do it on an iPad. Go all in, show lil Joce that large Joce is super brave. Welcome her back with open arms and modern technology!


I immediately went out and spent a quick three months doing nothing about it. When it started getting dark at 5pm and we were in the midst of our second world-wide economic shutdown, I figured I better find a way to fill my time. The pandemic wasn’t getting any shorter, was it?


Rational and frugal woman that I am, I thought to myself, “Listen, if it turns out you can’t draw or write or do anything that you think you can do, you can sell the iPad; they hold their value. You won’t lose the whole investment. Don’t get it engraved. Don’t commit, then you can easily pawn it off if you’re hopeless.”


Here’s the real big problem with having achieved some form of personal growth: you can immediately see your bullshit and it’s really hard to ignore. I was willing to invest in myself and my project but was already planning for my failure. That’s not badass! That’s not playing big! That’s not daring greatly! That’s not…not giving a fuck! (Please feel free to insert any self-help book title here, they’ll basically all work.)


So I do the responsible thing and call bullshit on myself to Monica, the wise woman who curates all my self-help books and knows a thing or two about implementing what they say. I confess to her, “I’m already thinking about how to recoup the loss. What if I just waste my money? I know that’s the wrong attitude, but it’s where I’m at.”


She blinked for a minute and said, “No. You’re asking the wrong question. What if this is the best investment you’ve ever made? When this project is a huge success, that’s what it’ll be. This money spent will be the best investment you’ve ever made.”


Can’t argue with that shit. I ordered the iPad the next day. And the case for it. And bought the domain. The website hosting, too. And in case you’re wondering, I engraved the damn thing with small//shift. Call it an insurance policy against my self-doubt.


small//shift: Ask the Right Question. When your mindset is off, give yourself some space and let your mind find a better question to ask, the right question to ask, that supports you, gives you hope and leads you to greener pastures. Or a really expensive iPad.

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