Back in the winter of 2011, when John finally convinced me to do this 365 project, I told him then that I’d do it on one condition: No blog.
At the time, the thought of putting myself out there for everyone to see – all my failures, my successes, my bad hair days, my overbearingly neurotic days, all my goals, my fears, my everything – freaked me right out. It may not seem like it now, but John and I are pretty low-key, private people. We’re not the type to start blogs and document our lives. (John barely uses Facebook.)
But John was absolutely right when he said to me: Laura, we need this blog; we need it to keep us organized and accountable. (I hate it when he’s right.)
So often we say we’re going to do things, we tell people in passing, and then hope they forget when we eventually fail to follow through. I have news for you: People don’t forget.
Ultimately, having this blog forced us to stick with this project to the very end. It also forced us to be diligent with our craft. As creative professionals, there was an added pressure to produce good content. I feel we achieved this on most days, but some days we definitely did not. Some days I didn’t want to write a single word. Some days John got lazy and left the camera at home. We all have our off days, and that’s ok. What’s more important is sticking with something and getting it done.
THINGS WE LEARNED:
Life moves fast. Take a risk.
If we’ve learned anything from this project, it’s that life moves fast. Really fast! A year can go by in an instant, by the time you realize that everything you “said” you’d do hasn’t come to pass. We like to believe that it’s “fear” that holds us back. I disagree. I think fear is just a concept. It’s an excuse we’ve created for ourselves to squash our potential. It’s not fear that holds us back, it’s CHOICE. The choice to NOT do something. It’s as simple as that. If you say you’re going do something, and then don’t do it, it’s probably because you really didn’t want to do it in the first place.
Failure is healthy.
We also learned that once we abolished “fear” as an excuse – once we realized that it’s in our realm to get things done, that we have a choice in the matter – the prospect of accomplishing our goals became much more realistic. We could start taking risks without worrying about fear or failure.
Samuel Beckett once said: “To be an artist is to fail, as no other dare fail… failure is his world.” This year we learned to embrace failure. We learned that it’s OK to weave a shitty basket, or make clumpy yogurt, or swamp our canoe. The truth is, no one gives a shit if you fail. Not really. People will, however, care if you succeed. People want you to succeed.
It takes a tribe to accomplish big goals.
Sometimes we forget that we’re a community of people. We forget that we have friends and family and colleagues who support us. In most cases, people will help you if you ask for their support. People will lend a hand (or even a backhoe!) to help you build that 10-ft snowman. Friends will be there if you ask them to help you build an exploding volcano (sure they were drunk, but still!). The important thing is asking. You have to make the effort. You have to take the chance. You have to take the risk. Goals, more often than not, are a collaborative effort.
If you put goodness out there, goodness will come back.
When we first started this project, I felt uncomfortable because I thought it was going to be all about us. (I’m not a showy kind of person.) But as the project progressed, we quickly realized that this project was about people more than anything. Bringing people together. Provoking people to think about their own lives and their own goals.
Over the year we’ve received some amazing emails from strangers, from friends, from old high-schoolmates we haven’t talked to in years, who tell us that our project has inspired them; some have even gone on to start their own personal quests, which I think is incredible.
It’s a humbling thing to know that you’ve affected someone else’s life. When this happens, I call that art. If this were an art conference, I might go into some conceptual speech about the importance of creating projects that blur the boundaries between art and life, that challenge people to reflect on those philosophical questions that they don’t get a chance to ask themselves often – but this isn’t an art conference (so I’ll stop and save these thoughts for later).
We never anticipated that this project would strike a chord with other people, although we had hoped it would. I’m still dumbfounded by the press this project has managed to attract. Once the Toronto Star article came out on January 1st, the radio and TV interviews followed. The attention has been overwhelming, and we remain thankful for being able to share this project with others on a mass scale.
Obviously, a huge round of thank-you’s are in order. I have to thank our family (our Moms and Dads and Liz & Dave especially) and our friends, for their support and encouragement, and for sharing their knowledge and skills with us. We couldn’t have done this without your generosity.
Also, thanks to all our anonymous readers who left us comments, sent us emails, and those who just tapped into the project once in awhile. Also, thanks to those reporters out there who picked up this story and shared it with the public.
Finally, thanks to John, my partner in crime. My ultimate best friend. Thank you for believing in me, for believe in us. For picking me up when I was down, or stressed, or frantic, or neurotic and overbearing. Thanks for being my #1 inspiration in life, in art, and love. (I can’t wait to marry you.)
People have asked, what’s next for us? Well, I think John and I will return to living semi-normal lives for awhile. That said, we’ve always got different creative projects on the go through Labspace Studio (they often involve lots of people). The next one we’ll be launching at the end of the month; it won’t be about “us” specifically, but it will be awesome none the less. And who knows, maybe we’ll start up a new blog at some point? Maybe we’ll blog about our around-the-world honeymoon this fall? Or running a nomadic business together?
If you’re interested in staying connected with us (which I hope you will), I encourage you to follow Labspace Studio (our creative agency) on Twitter and Facebook. You can also follow my personal Twitter account for Laura-only ramblings. (John’s not a Twitter guy).
So that’s it. It’s been an epic year for us. We feel blessed. Moving forward, I know we’ll continue to operate with the same amount of tenacity and openness to risk as 2012 (albeit at a slower place).
We leave you with our wrap-up video of the entire year. Music by Canadian singer-songwriter, Serena Ryder.
Laura Mendes & John Loerchner
If any publishers or producers or editors out there want to discuss the idea of publishing a 365 book, or movie, or anything of the sort, get in touch. We’ll call it: GET OFF YER ASS AND GIVE ‘ER!
(I jest, but not really.) 😉