So, here we are at the end of another year and typical discussions concerning resolutions have begun. I have heard people say that waiting for a new year to make a change means we weren’t truly committed to the change to begin with. If we were, then we would have started the resolution the day it occurred to us that it needed doing. Waiting for a new year is just a delaying tactic. My solution to this (very) legitimate argument was to think about some of my personal “already in progress” goals I came up with this year…ideas and areas of improvement which I have been and want to continue pursuing and working on.
These goals are mostly centered around the idea of taking responsibility for the state of my life...I cannot change the past, the way others think and feel about me, or the direction of the wind for that matter. I can, however, enrich my life and make positive changes that increase personal fulfilment. So, here goes...my eight personal “in progress” goals for 2019…
1. Continue to Make Art
“Art isn’t something you need an outside license or a paycheck to pursue. It’s a way of life. It’s a way of adding up what you feel and where you’ve been and what you fear and what you can imagine. It’s a way of seeing your life through a lens that makes everything — good and bad, confusing and clarifying, uplifting and depressing — valuable.”
The other day, I was purchasing some acrylic paints from an arts and crafts store. The clerk asked me if I was an artist, and I stumbled on my answer. I wanted to say yes but didn’t know if I really deserved the title. Then I realized it doesn’t matter…if it feels like I make art, then I am an artist…and it feels good. Whether I am painting dogs with wings on skimboards, taking photos of my kids in abandoned asylums, or writing some silly essay about New Year’s resolutions, I know it’s one of the best feelings in the world. The truth is no one person out there gets to decide for all of us what is worthy enough to be called art and what isn’t. Art is subjective…as the saying goes “One person’s trash is another person’s creative masterpiece.” I plan to continue making art…lots of art…try different mediums, explore different perspectives and, while I’m at it, continue to work on not feeling like an imposter and embracing myself as an artist.
2. See More Real Art
“Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
Nothing carries you away, allows your imagination to take off, and clears your mind like visiting art galleries. Art makes you think, takes you places and allows you to experience emotions you may have not felt before. It can make you laugh, cry, or even scream. I love how artists have the ability to surprise, delight, and, sometimes, shock. Also, being around art, in the company of creative people, and seeing endless possibilities when it comes to personal expression makes me feel more creative. I agree with those who believe there's a direct connection between the lack of arts education in schools these days and the fact that society has become so snarky, cynical, angry, scattered and far too often, wretched. We've lost our way...especially these last couple years. However, we can try to reconnect to ourselves. Seeing more art and visiting more art galleries may not be the end all, but it certainly could carve a pathway back to wholeness.
3. Start a Photography and Art Blog
“Art is standing with one hand extended into the universe and one hand extended into the world, and letting ourselves be a conduit for passing energy.”
I have always felt the quote above from Albert Einstein should begin with “creating and sharing...” but I love it regardless…Sharing my art and photography has always been difficult for me when there isn’t an obvious purpose. I take photos quite often for my local SPCA and happily share them on social media …they are put out there to help save lives. I think a photography blog could help encourage me to move past this notion that there should be a purpose and share more of myself. It could also inspire me to get out of stale ruts I often find myself in and grow as a photographer and artist. Having my own medium for showcasing my photos, I hope will naturally encourage me to want to create and share something new and exciting as often as I can. Blogs are also a medium created to tell stories and share experiences. I believe learning to tell stories with photos and paintings is one of the best ways to improve photography and art…a skill I would like to continue to develop. It’s the invisible narrative that accompanies each work of art that can capture people’s interest and emotions.
4. Clear the Clutter (just some of the clutter!)
“If a person's belongings are a reflection of her mind, then I am a person of many ‘multitudes’”
I often have a feeling that I should get my living space under control, but also often feel I don’t have the time or energy. This leaves me feeling guilty which, of course, further contributes to the multitude of stress my crazy life brings. I have three teenagers that add to the mess daily and let’s face it, trying to get a teenager to clean up after themselves is like trying to thread a needle the size of a hair follicle. I do agree that mindfulness comes from the state of my psyche, not the amount of clothes in my closet or clutter around my house and I cannot live life through the condition of my house and stuff…(something I tell myself daily when I come home from work to find the house in shambles.) I also believe, however, that it’s important to find a balance that limits stress but, also won’t make me feel like I’m living in a hospital operating room. Clearing some of the clutter…the stuff we no longer use…isn’t always easy (especially when some of that stuff has some sentimental value) but I need to make an effort to do it more often...for the sake of my sanity!
5. Trust my Gut Instincts
“Trust your vibes…Energy doesn’t lie!”
Simply put, I don’t do this enough. Going with your gut might seem crude and primitive to many, but it can, in most cases, lead to better decisions. I can’t even count the number of times I have allowed myself to pursue certain relationships, or made decisions while ignoring that voice inside my head that was telling me “No!”…”This relationship will cause pain!”…”This choice you want to make is not a good idea!”…”This person you want to love has too many demons!” How many times have you looked back after finally getting out of a toxic situation and realized that you knew from the start that getting involved was a mistake? Sometimes, I think we ignore those voices because our dreams of how things should be cloud the way things actually are. I know I have stood there in the past allowing people I cared deeply about use me as a punching bag to help release their deep seeded pain and self-hatred. I refused to listen to that inner voice that kept telling me to walk away…that I deserved better…that I can’t fix people with love. Instead I chose to feel compassion for their pain and ignore my own. I saw signs of trouble early on but chose to turn a blind eye. I have a friend who has said many times “Sandi, you saw the paintings blink.” He’s referring to that scene in Black Swan when Nina’s psyche is starting to decline. She looks at her mother’s paintings and sees them blinking…a warning of what was to come or a sign that things were not right. This year I am promising myself that I will work harder to trust my gut instincts in life and love…in other words, I will no longer ignore the blinking paintings.
6. Learn to Take More Risks
“Pearls don’t lie on the seashore. If you want one, you must dive for it.”
When we have been through many painful and challenging situations in life we have a stronger, innate urge to play it safe and avoid uncertainty. The truth is, in order to get the rewards that we want in life, we have to be willing to take risks. Pain is inevitable…failure is inevitable…avoiding it keeps us in a safe little box but, what we miss out on in life by keeping ourselves locked away is immeasurable. Continuing to increase that willingness to accept the various possible outcomes which come with taking risks is one of my goals this year…slowing down my mind and taking the time to ask myself “What's the best thing that could happen if I take a particular risk?” “What's the worst outcome?” “What's the best thing that could happen if I don't take the risk, and what's the worst possible result?” If the positives exceed the negatives and the benefits of action outweigh inaction, then it's time to take the plunge after all, to love and to live takes risk.
7. Develop an Attitude of Gratitude
“The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.”
With some encouragement from my son, I recently started getting those Hello Fresh meal kits delivered to my house each week. One or two nights a week, we all (kids and I) work together to make each of the meals. I can’t even tell you how much fun it has been for all of us and there have been moments where we are all laughing, and I think to myself “How lucky am I to have these amazing human beings in my life?” When life gets challenging, it’s easy to lose sight of how many wonderful things we have that make our lives rich and beautiful. Have you ever stood in front of someone you love and felt invisible…inconspicuous? You could see that they were so focused on what they didn’t have, they were not able to see what was right there in front of them? How many times have we made important people in our lives feel the same way? I am sure I have more times than I can count. Although it is difficult sometimes to avoid getting consumed with life’s challenges, we should all work harder at cultivating gratitude everyday… connecting with our inner selves and feeling grateful for everything that we have in our lives…our health, our loved ones, our pets, our homes, our talents, our jobs, our experiences. Need to work hard on reminding myself of how very rich my life is every day.
8. Rewrite my Personal Narrative
“We must carefully cultivate the voice that speaks to us because an internal voice is the ultimate narrator of our charming and delightful personal story or the documentarian of our tragic and disgraceful plotlines.”
I been reading a lot of articles and books about shame and the role it plays in defining our lives…who we are and how we fit in. Thinking about my past and present, I can see that my shame has, at times, kept me fixated on things I cannot change, on a future I cannot predict, on my past failures and unwise choices. It sings a song that serves as a constant reminder of my struggles in life including my failed marriage, my financial limitations, my aging body, mistakes I have made as a parent, and poor choices I have made in love. The list goes on and on. It’s a song that never ends with a chorus that stings and an overarching message of “You are inadequate and broken.” I read an article recently where the writer stated the following in regard to shame and negative personal narratives:“It’s okay to be in debt and worried. It’s okay to feel lonely and lost. It’s okay to feel tired of trying. It’s okay to want more and wonder how to get it. You’re just a human, this is how we feel a lot. It’s not irregular or aberrant to feel despair. This is part of survival. Your shame is forming your despair into a merciless story about your worth. Don’t let it do that. Build something else from your shame instead.”This is probably my most important goal and one I have been working on for a while. It’s not easy to change a mindset that has been in place for so many years but, I owe it to myself to keep trying. I plan to continue working on rewriting that endless song of shame and change the lyrics...cultivate narratives that make me feel whole, strong, more alive, and fully able to contribute positively to a world that continues to struggle, while I still can. Life is short...to short to waste time beating ourselves up over past mistakes. I am human...in many ways flawed but, I can choose to replace broken with beautiful. Ultimately, it’s my choice. If you have made it this far, thank you for taking the time to read. Sharing is hard…very hard and not something that comes easy for me. I truly hope this year will be a year full of love, peace, and progress for all of us. So, what are your goals for the new year?