It all started with a boy. A boy and a book. A book and a tender heart.
Let me elaborate... about a year and a half ago, I dated a boy. We had a lot in common; he's smart and funny, comes from a good family, and makes music. It was only for about 6 weeks, and it ended because he just didn't like me that much.
Objectively, it wasn't a good fit, and our lives were in different places. As a logical person, this totally makes sense. As a life-long romantic, who was currently a traveling, musical, bliss-sprinkler in the midst of the counter-culture shock of the west, and the first winter I'd had in years (and a pretty rough start in Australia,) it was slightly devastating.
Feeling pretty isolated, and not having internet (part of said rough start) I joined my local library to check my emails, and keep in touch with the wider world.
Libraries are magical universes unto themselves; time stops, things are still, there are limitless stories. All is quiet thanks to the watchful eyes of dowager librarians in lumpy grandpa cardigans.
It is here, in a library, in suburban Melbourne, that I found an American friend who's heart had also been been tender, and open, and bruised, and resilient. All at the same time. His name is Leonard Cohen and his 'Book of Longing' brought me so much.
Reading a book of how someone else felt the same way was inspiring, and inspired me to start creating out of it. It started with a couple little doodles.. they weren't for anyone else but myself.
I think I started drawing them as a roadmap to get back to myself, to gain perspective of my life, what I value, and how to genuinely love myself in the face of isolation, a consumerist society, and the illusion of loneliness.
I'd take pictures of them and read them on the tram or waiting at bus stops, reminding myself that everything is okay and the feeling that it's not, is temporary. I started sharing them with friends who felt similarly, who'd internalized the idea that in any way they just weren't enough. Enough for a boy, enough for a job, enough for themselves.
Sometimes the road we pave for ourselves helps others get to the same destination.
Friends encouraged me to share them, and I decided to launch the ambitious project of posting a new doodle, everyday for the entire year of 2015 on my Instagram.
It's been a pretty great ride so far, and the road that I've started down I now walk with heaps of supporters, friends, and an entire online illustration community.
Today is day 280 out of 365. I've gone through more relationships, friends, jobs, and moments of self-doubt since those first little cartoons. I've come out stronger, my heart confident that I know who I am, and that I'm not only okay, I'm great (hopefully with a sense of irony, humor and a bit of grace!)
Check out my Instagram or website, Norma Jean Loves where you can see my doodles, music, and everything I love.