And just like that, it’s a new year. Happy New Year everyone!
I started posts in November and December, but they didn’t seem to go anywhere. Words felt inadequate and there were already so many in the world, most of them conveying news I could barely comprehend. When I tried to write, my thoughts would wander off the page and into wilderness or image, taking refuge.
This tendency really ramped up when I signed up for an eight-week drawing class at Pratt Fine Arts Center. I had never taken any kind of formal art class and while I expected to be terrified, I just…wasn’t. I was excited. My buddy Ed also took it and we’d meet up every Friday morning to spend three hours intensively examining various subjects and trying to faithfully replicate them as we learned about contours, movement, shading, scale and perspective. I absolutely loved the class and our teacher, Robin Walker, looked forward to it every week and even when the subject matter of the day was not to my liking (self-portraits TWICE, ugh), enjoyed the process and most of the time, the outcome.
Which was a rarity for me. I’ve struggled mightily with creative endeavors, wanting so badly to produce something good and always being disappointed. I would try to remind myself that it takes time to get good at things, and I shouldn’t quit after one attempt, but instead I’d just get discouraged and give up. I don’t know what finally changed – maybe the realization that I don’t have as much time in my life to waste on giving up on myself – but I seem to have arrived at a place where I’m willing to work at things, grapple with the challenges, quiet the inner judgment, and acknowledge my progress when I improve.
I also realized my right brain was finally getting a chance to run things. And I liked being in that space. It’s so different from the constant bullying left-brain which wants to make lists, cross things off, categorize and tell stories (often times unkind ones about what a piece of crap I am) and just be its practical, get-shit-done, self. Which we need, of course, if bills are to get paid and chores done and groceries restocked. But we also need time to just be, to ease up on the daily planning and achieving mode.
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
What’s interesting for me this past year is that I actually did use a weekly planner for the first time in…ever? My only recollection of using one is that I’d get all excited at the possibilities, use it for a month or two, and then forget about it. But at the end of 2016, which was exceedingly hard for hubby and me, I just knew I needed to do some things I’d been putting off. Things at the house, things for my physical and emotional well-being, things that weren’t just about hubby’s medical issues. Widening my perspective to include our relationships, our community, our planet. Our future.
I came upon The Inner Guide Planner. It’s a weekly goal planner at its core, but it’s also a journal, a place to store memories, ideas, accomplishments. There are prompts each month and week to set your intentions, note things you’re grateful for, jot down quotes and reflections, and gentle reminders to let others know you appreciate them. It helped me stay mindful of the present while also keeping track of the things I wanted to achieve. I can now look back at 2017 and see what I got done (finished a rug, had a path installed in the yard, #resisted), things I pondered, events I went to, books I read, and areas to continue focus on in 2018. Because of course I didn’t do 100 percent of the things I set out to do, but I can also see that I did a bunch of stuff I didn’t plan on doing. Like taking a drawing class, or writing 10,000 words during NaNoWriMo.
This planner helped me be more deliberate in getting the important stuff done, but also seeing there was room for spontaneity. My left brain had the structure it needed, which meant my right brain got some room to play. Planning under the influence of the right brain is a combination I love and my new planner is on its way. An aspiration for 2018 is to dance more – hey, the body needs some time, too, right? I hope you have good things planned for the new year, and that other interesting opportunities will present themselves as well.