How it all started…

It’s 2013 and I’m having dinner with my best friend at our current favorite restaurant in New Orleans. I had recently told my therapist that I want to be an artist. Like, for a job. To my surprise she didn’t laugh or, as the next door neighbor did, scoff and say, yes, but how will you make money? Instead she said, get an accountability person, someone you trust and respect. Tell her your plans and bounce your ideas off her. Pick someone who will check in, who will help you to follow through. 

So it’s our first artist-accountability meeting over paella and sangria, and I pour my little aching artist heart out to my friend turned business coach, and we formulate a plan. We have notebooks. I show her some terrible work I am unabashedly proud of. She does not recoil, although I know she knows I’ve got a lot of work to do. I speak to her with excitement in my voice– an excitement she has not heard from me in quite a while. I probably spill my drink and don’t care.

A few months later, it’s April 2014, and the 31 in 31 is born, although back then it was just 30 in 30. I do 30 paintings in 30 days for the entire month of April as my grand entrance into the world of art. By day two I’m afraid to post and certain (rightfully) that no one will notice if I don’t. I post anyway, reminding myself it’s not about any one day or the masses of people that are not eagerly awaiting my contribution; it’s about the process, the start, the inertia I hope with every fiber of my being I can build. I tell myself that even if there is not a soul in the world who would care if I do not follow through, I care. And for the first time that I can remember, I chose myself. 

It was a lot of by-the-seat-of-my pants energy after that. Countless randomly-timed 30 in 30s transformed into one 31 in 31 every year, every January, and eventually a little community formed as I invited others to join me in the practice of creating one thing, every day for 31 days. The group has had poets, writers, painters, yogis, musicians, cooks, photographers, doodlers, and just about anything else that requires intention, focus, practice. Unlike a new year’s resolution, the 31 has not been about necessarily adding something to your life, but about digging deep to discover or uncover what is already there. It’s about honoring your ability, your call even, to create out of the richness of your beautiful and unique spirit. Yes, yours. 

So, in a very rare and probably unrepeatable move for me, I’m going to invite you now, i.e. before Halloween even, to join me January 1st in a process I can say without hyperbole has without a doubt changed my life

Will you join me?

Is there some creative process you’ve always wanted to make space for? Are you a painter who doesn’t paint, a writer who doesn’t write, a cartoonist who doesn’t cartoon? Do you long to take a walk every day? Touch your toes? Write a novel? Do you have a practice already but long for community? Do you just like compliments? 

The 31 can be your accountability partner. 

Signing up for the 31 will give you a supportive space to post your 31 day practice. No one will judge you if you don’t hit all 31 days, but we will absolutely celebrate every day that you show up. 

How it works

First of all, it’s free. If you think you’d like to join, enter your email below. You’ll get some encouraging emails as January approaches, and then one each day during the practice. You’ll be asked to join the private facebook group where participants can share their work. Feel free to dive right in, or join just observe (for now). There’s no one way to 31.

Please let me know what questions you have below. If the question is “is this for me?” the answer is most likely yes. But I’m happy to reiterate it as many times as you need. 

Want to see my 31 from last year? You can check it out here.

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Written by Denise Hopkins

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