Monday, March 21, 2022

Don’t Forget to Feed Your Soul!


I love working at home. I love my studio, I love my computer setup, I love the short walk to the kitchen to get coffee or make myself a smoothie. I have two dogs at my feet, and a cat who comes in to check on me regularly. I feel very blessed.

Under the influence of these lovely working conditions, the impulse to stay at home and work is strong, and this feeling has only been nurtured by the pandemic. But life needs balance, and I’ve slowly come to realize recently that I need to get out of my studio more!


The other morning as I was eating my breakfast and getting ready for another work day, I suddenly felt overwhelmed with anxiety. I had recently lost a longtime dog companion. I had also recently recovered from a mild case of covid, and during my isolation my work had piled up. I hadn’t been outside for a week. And then there were the newspaper headlines.


My solution that day? I went to the zoo. I shut down my computer and headed out with my daughter and my 6-month-old grandchild.


We saw animals. Wonderful, beautiful creatures from all over the world. But we also saw people. People from all over the world! Not only is my city incredibly diverse, but a zoo is a tourist destination. I heard at least four languages being spoken that day. 


My mental camera clicked all day long. There were families, and people of all ages — Grandparents, adults, babies — and lots of kids. Big kids and little kids. Kids with hats; kids eating popcorn; skipping, running and toddling kids; kids being carried, kids in strollers, and one kid who shrieked in alarm when a François’ Langur monkey jumped off a tree trunk and landed right in front of him, on the other side of the glass. It was so refreshing to be actually experiencing what I love to draw! All the animals and all the people looked so beautiful to me. Even the kid crying in the parking lot looked beautiful. 


My point is, it was a totally inspiring day. I’m not trying to say that one trip to the zoo erased all my anxiety! But I was infused with such a feeling of connection to the earth and humanity that for a little while the anxiety floated away as I allowed myself to be fully present. It felt like I had experienced the fullness of life on that wonderful breezy sunny day. It fed my soul. (And I must say that being in the company of my daughter and her baby helped a lot!)


So, this post is a reminder for myself, as much as it is for you! For those of you who are like me, and have spent the last couple of years fully immersed in a digital and/or indoor world, don’t forget to go outside. Take the breaks you need to feed your soul! Experience the things you love. Don’t wait to feel better, don’t wait for an anxiety attack! Get out there with an open heart — good feelings and inspiration will follow. And if venturing out into the (dare I say) post-pandemic world stresses you out, remember that it’s OK to take it slow; even a walk around the block or trip to the store can be a source of joy, if you let it. Your soul — and your art — will thank you.


Molly with her Grandchild enjoying the flamingos, and François Langur Monkeys 

at the zoo. Photos by Sydney Moffat



Molly Ruttan is an author/illustrator of children’s books. Her titles include The Stray, (Nancy Paulsen Books 2020) and Something Wild (Nancy Paulsen Books, forthcoming in 2023) and is the illustrator of I am a Thief! by Abigail Rayner (NorthSouth Books, 2019), Violet and the Crumbs: A Gluten-Free Adventure by Abigail Rayner (North South Books, April 2022), and The Yowlers by Stacy Lynn Carroll (Nancy Paulsen Books, forthcoming in 2024). Molly holds a BFA from the Cooper Union School of Art and has raised three kids. She is a Grandma, a twin, a drummer, loves music and delights in all forms of creativity and life. She is represented by Rachel Orr at Prospect Agency, Find her online at IG: @mollyillo; Tw: @molly_ruttan; FB: Molly Ruttan & Molly Ruttan Illustration.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this reminder, Molly! So much good advice here. Like you, I've been getting way too used to cocooning inside and just working.