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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24 thoughts

  1. Lize says…
    09/21/2016

    This is so interesting, as yesterday I heard the word Melange for the first time, and then came across it again somewhere completely different that evening. I had to look it up and it means something made up of many different pieces, many strands. It's used in Crocheting for example. For me it somehow fits into this idea of something bigger made up of all the little fragments.

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  2. cruisin_ali says…
    09/21/2016

    You are so thought provoking and this story fragment is no exception. From my perspective, looking in, it seems you have captured the depth of this story. It may not seem whole or complete to you, but it certainly captures an essence of realism and rawness that is perfect. Thank you for constantly sharing your life fragments, your stories, your inspiration. The Story Parks you provide are never-ending and a testament of your storytelling passion. Thank you for passing them on and sharing. I can't tell you just how much my storytelling has evolved and grown simply from your constant support and inspiration. And for that, I thank you.

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  3. JoTeves says…
    09/21/2016

    I really enjoyed reading this, Ali. It certainly made me think about my need to step outside my comfort zone and participate more.

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  4. meredeEnA says…
    09/21/2016

    Oh, yes, this is a familiar conversation with my son and with myself. It does take work, if you're not an extrovert, to participate. Thanks for sharing this thought. It's a good one as I look at a busy day/week/month!

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  5. mtercha says…
    09/21/2016

    This is very meaningful, thank you for this. I ignore entry points, on purpose, because I'm tired, or I'm sick or shy or whatever, and don't want to participate. My life on Green Lane is far safer. It's something I'm trying to work on. This speaks to me as I shared things for the first time in the gallery this week, and I've been working towards participating in other aspects. Reaching out, keeping my eyes open for opportunities to enrich my life. Thanks, Ali. Michelle t

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  6. PatyPerez says…
    09/21/2016

    oh ali! lovely, i've got tears in my eyes! oh entry points, to think about ;)

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  7. Janet_White says…
    09/21/2016

    OOH - Iterate would be a fabulous One Little Word. Not sure if it'll be mine next year or not, but it's a candidate.

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  8. hgauvin says…
    09/21/2016

    Lovely.....

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  9. abambrick says…
    09/21/2016

    Thank you so much for this, Ali. I didn't know I needed it until I started reading, then I got teary eyed as well. So well written and perfect.

    Can you offer the Eleanor Roosevelt quote in your handwriting as a download? That would be awesome.

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  10. carolynhasacat says…
    09/21/2016

    I think it's really important to be reminded of what it's like to be a beginner if we're interested in breakthroughs and mindfulness, which for me, is part of the reason I memory keep. This short article touches on some of those points. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matt-tenney/why-being-a-beginner-is-e_b_9009318.html

    Lovely that you're teaching your son the ongoing importance of this practice.

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  11. PoochPatrol says…
    09/21/2016

    Thank you Ali. As others have stated, tears did come to my eyes as well. Life gets busy and we miss many opportunities or we find ourselves caught up in a cycle of making excuses to not do things and ultimately missing out on learning opportunities, enjoyment and growth. This was a very timely post for me. I will be sharing this with my loved ones. Thanks you again for the thought provoking inspiration. Blessings.

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  12. Roberta says…
    09/21/2016

    Wow! Great post. Thank you.

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  13. sdpeterson says…
    09/21/2016

    Well said Ali. A common refrain in our household is that "we try new things and dare to be uncomfortable" because being uncomfortable often leads to growth... We often all share our stories and the end result (good, bad, so-so) as a family. I think my kids get a kick out of hearing how I was uncomfortable and that I, too, even as an adult have situations where I can grow.

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  14. krista_l_wells says…
    09/21/2016

    Ali, even your 'un-fully formed' blog posts are an inspiration. You have a gift with words indeed. Great post. If only all of my 'draft' posts were as eloquent and well put together! lol.

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  15. ScrappinMyHeartOut says…
    09/21/2016

    Thanks Ali. As a mom of a very high-anxiety teen with Aspergers, this really hit home in many ways. I have learned when to push a little and when to realize that participating is a choice I have to surrender as well, when it's not me who will be the participant. I have learned to accept how someone who doesn't necessarily participate "to my standards" that it doesn't mean they are missing out - it means they are being themselves. I have also learned to be ready when there is something that she comes up with on her own to participate in, and to encourage that with every ounce of enthusiasm I can muster. (LOL, I have also learned that things go hot and cold pretty fast.)It is all such a delicate balance. The meter I use now is that in looking back, my child doesn't regret the things she didn't participate in, at least for the most part. Participation and contentment - she wants all or nothing. That may actually be a strength - it will stop her from keeping a job or relationship that isn't a good fit, for instance. Sometimes it may also break my heart. My prayer is that our kids will find what gives them peace - alone or in a crowd. Amen :)

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  16. chp97 says…
    09/21/2016

    Ali you make me think about perspective, about my voice, my presence in my story and my life. You are just such an awesome creative spark! You inspire me in so many ways, so thank you for sharing so much or yourself with all of us over the years.

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  17. kelsterjean says…
    09/22/2016

    It's funny that I read this post this morning, because I was feeling lots of what you wrote about without even realizing it. My hubby is an amazing volleyball player and I, simply, am not. Not a sports person in the least! Despite that, we still both go to an open gym so we can play together and I have fun because it's something we're doing together. I participate. I often get very discouraged because everyone we play with has a volleyball or sports background, and I do crafts. So naturally, I suck. It's hard to realize when I'm frustrated that I am a beginner and this is not "my thing," but rather my hubby's thing, but I'm TRYING and that's what's important. I'm doing something that is new and different and outside of my comfort zone, and while at times it is frustrating, I am at least trying, and that's something.
    Thank you for your amazing thought-provoking words Ali, as always.

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  18. Hoguec says…
    09/22/2016

    My 20 yr old son just finished week 1 of a semester in England. He almost didn't go. Why? "What if I fail?" That was his response when I asked his main reason for not considering the invitation. We had a long talk about his lifelong first response to new is no. Getting angry at my pushing. The wonderful experiences he would have missed and survival/growth from the less than wonderful. Obviously, he moved toward yes. And now my husband and I have a perfectly fabulous reason to head to England. And Paris. Win-Win!

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  19. crafty_kari says…
    09/22/2016

    thank you ali

    xo

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  20. lindsalita says…
    09/23/2016

    I just read a post on instagram with the same idea, the artist was adding a disclaimer that there was a good idea hidden in there. I told her, I appreciated her bravery, the vulnerability of showing the birth of something greater. Love where you are going with this, not everything has to be polished and complete, heck- we're not either! Thanks as always for blazing the trail with inspiration.

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  21. mjrose says…
    09/30/2016

    Thank you for sharing this and opening up the conversation/thoughts about taking action/moving forward. Some of the ideas you shared here remind me of some of my take away from reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Now I just need time to let it aggregate as I process and connect these ideas together. Anyway, thank you for always sharing and getting our wheels spinning with ideas.

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  22. EricaG0204 says…
    09/30/2016

    This was the perfect read for me this morning. Thank you for sharing this.

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  23. instafollowers says…
    01/12/2017
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  24. thereserbax says…
    02/22/2017

    That’s what I was looking for.Very nice blog indeed,thank you admin
    http://quizbucket.org/quiz/python

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