I come from a family of extremely strong women (and some men) who do not let the great tragedies and misfortunes of life stand in their path. Having seen their amazing fortitude all my life, I usually feel guilty when indulging in self pity…this is my way of dealing with difficult days:
“I don’t want to eat breakfast…”
Sometimes I listen to podcasts while doing mundane activities like washing dishes. Some time ago I caught Lisa Randall, a theoretical physicist at Harvard, talking to Krista Tippet on the On Being podcast.
“Most of the time we all behave as if what’s here on Earth is all there is.”
Listening to the conversation I envisioned her creating models similar to a gardener creating terrariums or bonsai plants.
“Simplicity isn’t always beautiful, and sometimes complex things are more interesting.”
During a recent flight I was listening to a couple of my regular podcasts The Knowledge Project and The Tim Ferris Show. These podcasts represent two different aspects of work/life for me: The Knowledge Project is a podcast that usually provides a new perspective to knowledge and learning concepts, and helps me understand different/difficult ideas. The Tim Ferris show is a great mix of tactical and inspirational, and usually themes I go through in my day to day work/life.
This drawing is Shane Parrish talking to Jason Fried of 37 Signals. I’ve used 37signals’ (now called Basecamp) flagship productBasecamp at work and been an avid reader of their blog since my early days as a designer, and usually find them to have a unique perspective on things.
“Always figure out what’s the right thing, even if you don’t do it.”
Personally this attitude to company building and creating sustainable team culture was really eye-opening for me.
And then I listened to Tim Ferris talking to Debbie Millman: Busy is a decision. What really stood out for me was the focus on prioritization, always my weakness.
“Make the time to do the things you want to do, and then follow through and do them.”
This is her advice to young designers starting out:
Am I constantly refining and improving my skills? What can I continue to get better at? Do I believe that I am working hard enough? If not what should I be doing in order to succeed? She says you should have a point of view and share it respectfully.
From a birthday eve a few years ago – and may I say, that inner peace – is still as elusive!
These drawings are from a few years ago when I got promoted from being a designer to a design manager. I worked as part of a large inhouse design team at Adobe, and my responsibilities included only the experience design of one or two software applications.
So up until then I was a shy quiet type content to be left alone and then, suddenly I found that I was not going to be left alone at all! Meetings, emails, decisions – my presence was requested.
I had to be prepared for scrutiny and judgment, and every situation felt like it was a test. But over time I figured out a strategy for myself.
If you’re going through a similar experience, my advice would be to keep at it – eventually it will sort itself out.
A couple of years ago we used to live in a house with lovely flowering shrubs all around. This is one spring Sunday morning when my mother-in-law and I were drinking tea in the front garden.
[We stood and admired nature in all it’s wonderful forms and breathtaking palettes. Breathed deeo the sweet smell of the madhabilata hedge in all its flowering spring. And later remembered Bridget Riley, whose birthday it is, and who said,
“I work with nature, although in completely new terms. For me, nature is not landscape but the dynamism of visual forces.”]
In the early days of being a mother I hardly had time or energy to draw. I went back to working full time when Orin was four months, and we had a nanny in the day time to look after him. Both the brown boy and I were lucky to have the choice to work flexible hours which is so important when you’re a new parent.
I started drawing again when Orin was about seven or eight months old and my drawing had of course suffered. Not only was my skill rusty but also lack of sleep had nearly killed my imagination – but I kept on drawing. The journals from those years were quite terrible, but I still needed to draw, to make sense of life unfolding. Here are a few scattered drawings from those years.
From the journal Brain cut wild, 2016
Sometimes it’s important to just to get out of the daily grind and recharge my soul by looking at some art. Way back in 2017, this was one of those days.
Just the ability to do this, which I’ve also done while living in Bombay and Malmö, is a pleasure and a blessing.