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Entry Points & Participation

On the backend of this website, along with the shop products and photos and galleries and classrooms, is a place where blog posts are started and saved. Some make it to the light of day and others never do. Some are stories about my life or my kids or memory keeping topics I think you might enjoy. Right now there are about 30 in there - some just have a title while others have a few thoughts jotted down and others are more fully formed. 

The other day as I was going through some of the ones I have saved for someday - some of which were started a couple years ago - I came across this one. This one was written while Simon was attending a summer camp at the University of Oregon probably in 2014. It was one of those moments when a specific idea popped into my head (entry points) and I knew I needed to get it out of my head through the process of writing it down. This idea literally stopped me in my tracks after I dropped him off. I stood outside of the UO art museum and typed up my initial thoughts right into my phone (Evernote is the program I use for stuff like this). I had the luxury of a few minutes to get those thoughts out before moving on with my day.

Those thoughts were story sparks. 

A beginning. A jumping off point. A little piece of my story. A little piece of his story. 

Later that day I read this from Chase Jarvis as part of his Hit List series: 13 Things Crucial For Success

#6 | Iterate.
"Nothing–and I’ll say it again, but louder–NOTHING will spring from your creative self fully formed. Genius, clarity, vision–whatever you want to call it–will come in fragments at inopportune moments over days, weeks, months, years. Be ready to catch each one of the iterations and push it out of you. The summary of those iterations will aggregate into something special."

The summary of those iterations will aggregate into a story. 

I honestly could not have told you the definition of that word "iterate" before I read it on his blog. I had to look it up:

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 12.13.52 PM

Ha. It's one of my favorite things: repetition.

All those little repeated stories (the iterations) coming together to form a bigger story. Sounds a lot like Project Life® to me. Sounds a lot like a scrapbook to me. Sounds a lot like what many of us like to do. 

All that said, for whatever reason, I never did finish up that post and I never did hit publish. Most likely I thought I needed or wanted to add more to it - I wanted to make it a fuller, more complete story rather than being a fragment. I probably wanted it to have a beginning and a middle and an ending - this was probably before I got more comfortable with documenting stories in progress without a neat and tidy beginning and end - or some greater lesson to pass along. 

So today I'm hitting publish. I'm hitting publish because I want you to see what one of my iterations looks like - a started story. It's part of a bigger story for sure - the story of me, the story of Simon, the story of opportunities and choices and participation and invitations taken and not taken. 

It's about noticing entry points when then happen and potentially saying yes or saying no based on what's needed most at that time. 


“In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt

Every day this week I've driven over to the University of Oregon to either pick up or drop Simon off at a summer art camp.

Today I picked up a couple of brochures on the way out of the museum and wondered if maybe this is one of those "entry points" that occur every so often if we are willing to pay attention.

I wondered, as I do from time to time, why I don't come over here more, why I don't visit the museum or participate in art events - things I know would fill me up if I participated.

I wonder if this will be the time that changes.

Entry points are invitations.

We encounter them all the time. Most of the time we move past them as we hurry on to the next thing or discount them because of time, money, motivation, etc.

Not the right time. Not enough money. Too tired.

And sometimes they are the beginning of a new chapter. 

My message to Simon this week has been about participating. I've said to him multiple times this week that it's through participation that we learn, that all I'm asking for from him is that he participates.

There's resistance there. It's not his favorite. It's something new. It's different.

Participation requires paying attention, maybe stepping outside our comfort zone, and acknowledging that we don't know everything at the beginning. It requires being a beginner. 

An entry point to participate.

The lessons I want to teach him need to be modeled by me. I need to show up. I need to stretch. I need to participate.

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27 thoughts

  1. Houston says…
    09/12/2018

    Wow Ali, I needed to read this today... not when it was written or published, but today... thank you! Thank you for your willingness to speak into the lives of others through your blog, through your classes and your products. Thank you for fearlessly, and gracefully, sharing your heart with all of us for all of these years.

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  2. bcbc says…
    04/14/2019

    I arrived here today through links from an April 2019 blog post. This one really resonated with me. Participating with others is challenging for me. It’s a delicate balance to figure out when to “try harder” and when to accept and follow where my temperament leads. This is a story spark for me.

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