Friday, January 19, 2024

2024: My Year to Keep Going!

Even if you only have 60 seconds for a gesture drawing, take them!

Happy 2024, everyone. A whole new twelve months to explore, create, and discover an entirely new set of favorite whatevers.

I can't believe it's been a full year since I shared the most difficult post I have ever written: My Year of Letting Go when I wrote about losing my husband. In that post I talked about how much he would have wanted me to build a good life, not only for 2023, but for every day of my future. One year later, I hope I have made him proud:

  • I sold our business.
  • I sold his car restoration projects--one of them all the way to Germany!
  • Sold my daily driver. (Had to. The thing blew up on me.)
  • Filed the last business taxes ever. (Can't say I have too many regrets about this one. Tax preparation was often the worst part of any year.)
  • Dealt with every scrap of sadmin, from closing bank accounts to setting up my own cable and internet accounts.
  • Found and joined an amazing grief group centering on support rather than therapy (which I didn't want).
  • Made a focused and joyful effort to participate in adventures with friends at least once a month.
  • Sold a painting for the first time! Thank you Twitter Art Exhibit (recently renamed Postcard Art Exhibit). The 2023 show was for the benefit of Canadian Native Youth, a cause I really appreciated.
  • I completed Camp NaNoWriMo--50K words.
  • Took part in Inktober--31 inky sketches.
  • Nearly completed NaNoWriMo--43K words I can't wait to edit.
  • Learned to make breakfast at last. (Whoever knew toast could be so difficult??)
  • I blogged. Eight times!

It was a lot to do and there were many days I had no idea how I could do any of it, but not a minute was wasted, not a second lost. If I had to list what I've come away with, it would be:

1. "Stay Creative Every Day" is still one of the most important goals I believe worth having. Daily painting, drawing, journaling, and writing will always give my days structure. meaning, and purpose.

2. Don't worry about the how. Rather than worry, just sit down, stay in place (tea and chocolate helps), and start doing something--anything! Before you know it, you've done something good.

3. Don't worry about sequence. If Chapter One seems overwhelming, write Chapter Thirty-three. If you can't think of what you want to paint, throw some color on paper anyway. If you have to write a business email, just say what you want to say in the worst possible way in a draft and send it later when you're ready to fix your grammar. The point is, just begin at any point in the narrative; go where your steps or the mood takes you.

4. Go fast. Write fast, draw fast--at least in the beginning when you're resistant to starting. Set a timer if it encourages you to speed up and get going.

5. When you're tired, rest. As much as I want to build Rome in a day, I've had to acknowledge both physical and mental exhaustion more often than not. I tend to be impatient about lots of things anyway, including healing from grief, yet some of my most productive ideas have come from forced stoppage, allowing myself to rest, read, and yes, even sleep!

Something that came into my possession last year was a pen with the words "Take More Risks!" printed on the side. At first I thought it was silly, but as the year went on, I began to consider the message more seriously. I'm not exactly prone to do things like jump off tall buildings or even run with scissors, but there are definitely areas I could dive into on a deeper level, such as offering more artwork for sale, or submitting my writing to places I always thought too difficult or edgy to approach. I'm excited to at least try some new things in 2024 and I hope you will be too. 

So glad I risked sending this to TAE '23 . . .

 Tip of the Day: As an exercise for the year, try creating your own set of inspirational challenges designed just for you. For instance, instead of following along with NaNoWriMo because "it's there," think outside the box and try "April is Collage Month" or "Found Poetry Month" in August because that's your cat's birthday. Write your ideas down in a calendar or a planner and start brainstorming how you can use the year to "take more risks" and see how far you can go.