Drawdown is a process of depletion.
It’s fair to say that most of us experience drawdown at some point in our lives. A few years ago, the phenomenon stopped by to visit me, and damn if the freeloading jerkface didn’t set up semi-permanent residence.
It began in 2007 with a series of demoralizing financial pratfalls that included seven months unemployment and two years at the kind of near-minimum wage jobs that suck souls, crush spirits and kick puppies. Then came April 12.
April 12, 2009… I am unlikely to forget April 12, 2009. After all, that was the day the person who had been my everything, my all and the unhealthy nougat center of my universe left with a didn’t-see-that-coming suddenness that sent my emotional equilibrium flying ass-over-teakettle down a long flight of mental stairs.
What do you do when you lose the thing you thought was most important? Well, you have a choice: give into grief and entitlement and be drawn all the way down, or work to eventually draw yourself back up. I chose the latter.
In years that followed, I sorted through my emotional brokenness. I reevaluated my career goals and returned to school full-time to build skills and marketability. I built a new studio and began making serious artwork for the first time since my drawdown began. It wasn’t easy, but I had incredible support.
A backslide came in August of 2010, when what I thought was a routine doctor’s follow up revealed a cluster of cancer cells lurking in an organ I barely knew existed: the thyroid. Within a month of diagnosis, I was under the knife. Recovery was scary and painful and exhausting, but I refused to give up.
I still refuse to give up, and this blog is one of the ways I am encouraging drawup, so to speak. The DrawDown Project got its start in 2013 when I was musing ways to make positive strides in the upcoming year. The most obvious manifestation of my personal drawdown is the one that stares me daily in the mirror: poor physical condition. What if, instead of hating my reflection and the loss of life control it implied, I turned drawdown into a positive? I could deplete unhealthiness by shedding excess pounds, conquering poor fitness and/or reclaiming my ragingly rotten body image. Then came a genuine thrill of excitement: what if I also incorporated art? I could record the journey: literally putting drawings down on paper to make the process real and accountable in a way numbers on a scale or hours on the treadmill could not.
The idea consumed me. I decided to make daily self-portraits, and I began on January 15, 2014. For two months, I was successful. Then life—pushy, bushy, gooshy time-hog that it is—elbowed me off track.
Although my first attempt derailed, I remain determined to see DrawDown through. One year after my last post, I am picking up where I left off. Well… almost…. Although I continue to bolster my health and the health of my art practice by drawing daily self-portraits, I am expanding upon my initial inspiration. This project has the potential to move beyond one person’s day-to-day physicality to become a conversation about states of being. I welcome you to join that conversation or, if you prefer, to start one of your own.
For practical information about DrawDown, continue reading the DrawDown Project Parameters.