The Habit of Attention

Sitting here in the overwhelm that seems to be my life these days, I flip through my sketchbook to begin drawing on a blank page.  This is the last drawing entered in my Handbook Journal, drawn last Tuesday at Baptist Hospital waiting for my dear mom to come out of surgery for breast cancer.

What caught my eye (and my breath) as I looked at my drawing, was the word “Attention” on the sign they had propped up on the desk ledge.  I’m sure the sign was something medical in nature, or pertaining to the waiting room area, but I saw it just now, in my drawing, and it reminded me why I do this thing of making drawings in a little book.

Drawing my life, no matter what’s going on, causes me to pay attention.  It’s a bit like a magnifying glass, this pen to paper activity.  It causes me to see what I could not otherwise.  It allows me to remember, to focus, to bring all my faculties to bear in a moment…or two or three.

The moments that this drawing represents for me was a wonderful time with my dad while we waited anxiously for news about mom.  We talked of being teachers, and being artists, and all the difficulties and pitfalls of the two callings.  We talked of life, the past and the future…all while I drew the present.  My dad likes to draw as well.  He says what he likes about it, is that if you draw that little plant there (referring to the plastic one above) you’ll forever remember where it was, what day it was, and what was happening that day.  For myself, I was drawn to the fabric weaving on the wall there…gorgeous color for an otherwise bleak sort of day.

And then the word, “Attention”.  Even in tenuous times, where we’re uncertain of the future, we hear a voice whispering to us, “Pay Attention here.  Look there.  Focus on this little patch of color instead of the vast unknown.”  I’m trying to heed that little voice these days.  Continuing a habit of attention will go far in helping me walk through the days of awaiting a pathology report, of packing up my first-born for college and moving her in, of preparing for the start of teaching school and of my other two kids starting school, etc.

My sketchbook=a magnifying glass.  I like that.


*Oh, and did you know that you can click on the drawing to enlarge it so you can see the word “attention” better? Kinda like a  magnifying glass, eh?

0 thoughts on “The Habit of Attention

    • jenpedwards says:

      Thank you Nancy! She is recovering well. Results will be in Wednesday this week, so we are hopeful for good news.

  1. says:

    I so agree with you – each drawing/painting memorializes the day I drew it. I am so sorry for what you and your family must be going through. Cancer seems to be everywhere – in my experience it strikes the most wonderful and vibrant people among us. I wish you and your family well – and especially, of course, your mother – in these difficult times.

    • jenpedwards says:

      Thanks so much Dan! This is actually my mom’s third type of cancer…first melanoma, then ovarian, and now breast cancer. I know it sounds crazy, but it seems like with each one, she glows brighter and more vibrant. Go figure.

  2. Sandra says:

    Oh dear, I hope that your mom is doing well and that the nasty cancer was caught. Glad that you and your Dad could get grounded by drawing. Hugs.

    • jenpedwards says:

      Thank you Sandra! We await results of the pathology report on Wednesday. Thank you for visiting and taking time to comment.

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