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In my mind, calligraphy has always been an art that wasn’t “for me”. I’ve never been very fond of my own handwriting and certainly never considered hand-lettering to be something that I’d one day enjoy doing, just for fun. But so many women really love it. It’s all the rage to learn to label your pantry baskets, create cute little inspirational signs, and even your hand-letter your own holiday cards. But I value efficiency so highly.
I couldn’t even imagine setting down to hand-letter address my Christmas cards.
Last night I was talking with my friend Holly about our upcoming girls night out which is, of course, a modern calligraphy hand-lettering class. I laughed as I explained, that I really feel like I’m learning to letter, and I like it! It’s especially funny because I thought I was just doing this one because other people love it so much. I adore Molly, she’s hilarious and fun. She has an incredible story to share, and she’s a talented lettering workshop teacher. It was a no-brainer to bring her in.
But I wasn’t counting myself as an aspiring student.
In fact, when we had a little hiccup with the baking process changing the colors of the paint on the mugs and that mystery fell to me to solve, I thought, “No biggie, I’ve got this!” But I wasn’t fully thinking through what all “this” would entail. I ordered three different sets of paint markers, opened and primed them. I cleaned the glass mug with the alcohol wipe and got to work. My plan was to use some basic colors of each pack to quickly write the brand name of the pen, bake them, compare them, and move on.
What I didn’t expect what to begin to enjoy the process.
You see, when Molly came to my house that day so we could make a little video of her teaching me to letter, I was so surprised to find that I actually really enjoyed it. The process made sense to me. I wasn’t “good” at it, but it was like I suddenly understood how it worked. The mystery was unveiled. So when I busted out all the paint pens to test out the colors, I enjoyed writing with them. It was fun to try to think through which stroked where the downstrokes that I needed to “double down” on. While the writing still wasn’t really that good, it was better. Best of all? I noticed that while I was working on the mugs, I’d completely stopped stressing about my to-do list for the day.
Just as Molly promised, the lettering process is cathartic.
You simply can’t worry about all the other things happening around you while you’re focused on the downstroke of an r. It’s a calming practice that causes you to shift your thinking to an entirely different place, a creative, beautiful place. And Molly promises that, unlike going to the gym, which can take months to see improvement, with modern calligraphy, you see results every time you practice.
I’ll add to that, that you feel results as well.
It’s like picking up that pen puts everything else running through your mind on the back burner to simmer. Really. It moves the word and the letters to the front of your focus and releases the pressure on everything else. Once you try it, you’ll see. It’s not something I can easily explain. But I know this:
“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”
In lettering, and in life, new experiences stretch us to become new people. Learning to letter might not change your life. But I can promise that learning a new skill that allows you to mentally make space to breathe, will stretch your mind in a beautiful way. It can bring you moments of peace and clarity in the middle of chaos.
But new experiences require you to choose.
You have to choose the stretch beyond what’s comfortable.
Stretch beyond your expectations of the outcome.
Try something new this week.
You might just be pleasantly surprised like I was.
You may never go back.
to more love,