San Francisco, California, January 2021
Two years ago, we decided to see what would happen if we started paying attention to some of the silly, messy, mundane moments in our daily lives that usually slip away unnoticed. Our project, which we called Today I Noticed, had three simple rules: Notice something, write about it using “Today I noticed” as a prompt, and then create a sketch to go with it. We called each entry a “TIN” (Today I Noticed). The act of creating a TIN was “TINing.”
We both relished the idea of having a new creative outlet and a daily opportunity to be more present. So, guided by our prompt, we started paying attention. We tuned in, listened in, homed in, and zeroed in … to, well, everything.
We quickly discovered that TINing helped us slow down and appreciate the little moments that make up our days. As we paid attention to what we saw, felt, heard, tasted, touched, and thought, our senses woke up to a richer, more nuanced world. The more we noticed, the more we noticed—and the more we noticed ourselves noticing. (Turns out that’s where the real magic happens.)
We’d taken up a new kind of mindfulness practice, and frankly, it was addictive.
Today I Noticed became a chronicle of our everyday lives, and we started sharing our TINs on Instagram (@today.i.noticed). Then everyday life got slugged, slammed, and sucker-punched by the coronavirus. Now, we’re capturing, documenting, and recording our impressions of daily pandemic life.
Hello, lockdowns, shutdowns, masks, and grim statistics that change by the hour. Gidday, endless Zoom calls, exhausting parenting decisions, and obsessive hand washing. We’re living in a world we’re still figuring out how to navigate. But one thing hasn’t changed: There are endless things to notice and appreciate every single day.
Today, 10 months after the coronavirus first emerged, life here in the United States is scarier, more confusing, and more frustrating than ever. Of course, the pandemic is just one of multiple crises we’ve been trying to cope with. George Floyd was murdered, sparking protests and outrage against oppression, racism, and hate. Raging wildfires filled our California skies with smoke and ash. Throw in a deeply divided country led by an incompetent president, and it’s been simply overwhelming.
Which makes us even more thankful for Today I Noticed. Creating TINs helps us calm the thoughts and emotions that constantly spin and swirl inside our heads. Sitting down to create a TIN is a wholly right-brain experience, one that feels totally relaxing yet energizing and engaging. The crushing weight of the world lifts, leaving only paper, pens, paint, and a quiet buzz that must be inspiration. It feels like this moment, or even this second, is the only instant that exists, or matters.
Today I Noticed offers a break from the anxious uncertainty of this new world. Our mindfulness practice helps us remember that, amidst the darkness, there are still many bright moments to relish. As soon as you start looking for them, you find they’re all around you—and then they’re yours for the noticing.
Start Your Noticing Practice Today
TINing in 4 easy steps
- Start paying attention to the little moments—thoughts, feelings, observations—as you go through your day. Nothing is too “small” to notice and appreciate.
- On a piece of paper, starting with the words, “Today I noticed,” write about your observation with a sentence or two.
- Add a drawing or some kind of mark illustrate your TIN. Remember, everyone is an artist in their own unique way. Plus, it can be fun to figure out how to visually represent something.
- Look at your brilliant creation! (If you tag us on Instagram (@today.i.noticed), we’d love to see it.) Congratulations. You’ve officially embarked on a noticing adventure!
Willow Older and Deborah Huber are the cofounders of a mindfulness practice called Today I Noticed (https://www.instagram.com/today.i.noticed/).
Willow grew up in Dunedin, New Zealand, and is an internationally published writer and professional editor. She’s a self-taught artist (www.cheekykiwicreations.com) who runs her own editorial services business (www.willowolder.com) in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Deborah is a writer and digital product-design specialist who lives a couple blocks from Willow. They particularly love noticing things when hiking through the redwood forests with their beloved black dogs.
Follow Today I Noticed on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/today.i.noticed/