Thursday, 9 January 2014

2013 - A Review

Looking back over 2013 and reflecting on all the things it presented, I realise it wasn't the easiest of years nor was it the hardest. At times it challenged me, mostly because of its quietness. Not a lot happened. But I do recognise that even in stillness there is life, that there is also light and hope. One of the things I love the most about having a blog is being able to search through the archives. Memory is a layered and complex living thing. My memory often fails me and so to have a record of the simple, the sad, the happy, the eventful and even the uneventful times and to be able to re-visit and re-live these experiences is, I find, incredibly valuable. Looking back helps me to see how far I've come and how the journey was shaped along the way. It reminds me that nothing is wasted. 

I often discover new things about myself and my thinking when I look back at old posts, sometimes this reflection is simply an exercise of reminders. Like being reminded about procrastination or about ignoring others and following my own path, my cyclical struggles. Sometimes it's the small dreams and hopes that are forgotten along the way. At other times it is remembering the focus of this space, releasing my thoughts and processing life in a way that allows me to breathe. Writing is breathing and breathing is life, that's what this space is for me. 

Sometimes, I hear whispers of another kind that make me dabble in 'ought to's' and other feelings of obligation or work. It was an accomplishment for me in 2013 to allow myself to use this space effectively, to blog only when I wanted to, to write out of my comfort zone when I felt challenged to do so, to not sabotage this place of comfort and surrender.

Here are some of the things that I looked back on with a smile on my face or goosebumps on my skin:

- In January 2013 we had snow! So much fun was had, it really was wonderful to see the kids so excited! I especially love that first pic, that was me taking cover inside the house whilst those boys of mine were about to throw snowballs against the window. My job was to make the hot chocolate and snacks for when they came in cold and wet and tuckered out. I loved seeing hats and gloves lined up on the radiator after hours outdoors. I didn't remember that I was in a bad mood on the day that these photos were taken, see here.

- This was a cold, cold day out in the city. The little one was hitching a ride with Daddy because we had walked his socks off! I really loved reading this blog post where I talk about this little tasmanian devil of mine! He is a spark and he will forever keep me on my toes. He often injures me with his quick flight and recklessness but his enthusiasm and lust for life is magnetic and wonderful and makes the bruises very worthwhile!

- Early in the year when my eldest boy was still growing one of his front teeth and looked hilarious and wonderful and when my youngest boy still had thick, vibrant hair! 2013 was the year that my littlest found a way of keeping his hair out of his mouth and (as he informed me) found something to do when he got bored in the classroom - biting his hair off! He really is a crazy wonderful little guy and every time I want to explode at him for doing another of his crazy destructive, bitey things, I remember that as a kid … I was just the same! 

- Time alone with this guy has been deeply appreciated this year. We celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary in 2013! I talked about us here and here. We think that when it gets to 20 years it's screaming for something special to happen and although we don't know what yet, I'm determined to not let it pass by without some marking of its meaning. I also got to spend new years eve with him all to myself in a local bar drinking lots of european beer which was so much fun!

- In 2013 I put together this jar as a way of storing special moments, a place to note what I am thankful for. I didn't write nearly enough down and definitely hope to do so more often in 2014. Of the few that I did remember to note, my favourites include being thankful for my niece Jessica who sent hubby and I a beautiful note telling us that she loved us and missed us when she didn't see us! Another was being thankful for spending time with my sister and nephew on her last day of maternity leave and lastly I was thankful for my hubby bringing me flowers. The same ones that I carried on my wedding day. These moments big or small are so easily forgotten in the day to day and so special to come upon on a rainy one. 

- Journaling and old photographs took up a big space in my life in 2013. I wrote about journaling here. Anyone that knows me will say that I have long had an interest in biography and the stories of people. My own family history has also long been a great source of interest to me, a fascination really. I often have a desire to be reacquainted with these familiar archives, these jewels that take on new meaning with each new mood and phase that I'm winding my way through. I gathered these and many other old photographs and wrote about them, the people in them, the places, the context. I wrote about my relationship to them, trying to make sense of them here and now. I'm sure there will be more of this in 2014 and one day maybe it will all evolve into a book. Maybe. 

- This is Kizzy. In January last year I said that I would write a story about her. I never did but I did hang her on my wall. The youngest asks me about her all the time. 

- This is Drew. I drew her on my 36th birthday. I come back to her time and time again. I came back to her again in 2013. Like Kizzy, above, she was one of those really quick drawings. The ones you're not precious about that you have no intention of keeping and then something emerges from them and you just know you have more to do, more to say. 2014? It could just be … let's wait and see. 

- I remembered and drew about being 17 and wearing lipstick.

- I talked here about what I was thinking when I painted her and how I was suddenly transported to my beloved Ghana.

- I drew 'Kokyangwuti' poignantly just before turning 38. It is a native american name meaning 'spider woman at middle age'. I birthed her fairly early in the year, only to forget to nurture her. With a renewed sense of ambition for 2014, I looked once again at the meaning of her name and the attributes intended for a person given this name and this is what I found:

'People with this name have a deep inner desire to use their abilities in leadership, and to have personal independence. They would rather focus on large, important issues, and delegate the details. 

People with this name tend to be orderly and dedicated to building their lives on a solid foundation of order and service. They value truth, justice, and discipline, and may be quick tempered with those who do not. Their practical nature makes them good at managing and saving money, and at building things in the material world. Because of their focus on order and practicality, they seem overly cautious and conservative at times.'

I like the idea of Kokyangwuti. So far I'm tending to see myself in all of the less charming aspects of her character but I like to think of her (and Kizzy and Drew) as an alter ego. A work in progress, 'another self'. One braver than I.

- In 2013 I decided it was really time to start drawing more brown people. I faced my fear here and began using paint. I quickly realised that it's hard to paint and especially so when they're paints you've had knocking around for years and years. I was tempted to hide this one as she makes me cringe a little but she does challenge me with an urge to do a better job next time. I hope I remember to buy new paints in 2014.

- I sent my boys homemade valentines last year, see here. I'd like to do it every year or for as long as they will allow!

- I doodled frequently last year and played with text and font and words. There should always be time for this. 

- I played with pretty things.

- I panicked when I had time away from making and worried that I would lose the ability to be creative. Some days, like this one, before climbing into bed I took five minutes and made images from the the scraps I could easily reach from the chaos on my desk. It may not be fine art but it quietened my worried hastily beating heart for a while at least. A small action and a small triumph over artists angst, over procrastination, over busy days, over whatever it is that stops us from getting to the table so to speak. Do a little and often, it seems to help. A message to myself this 2014.

Do a little and often, it seems to help.

- I talked here about making my heart a pair of wings so that it can fly and go to places far away, in my dream world and more. It's about courage, belief in oneself and ones dreams. Belief that strength and vision can lead you along a path that you would never take otherwise. A reminder to keep faith at the core and hope within sight. A reminder for future days, weeks and months.

- There will be more of this work in 2014. More working with family photographs and found images. More focus on my fine art practice and exposure of my work. More ambition with it all and a clearer sense of purpose. 

- More adventures, more getting down on the floor exploring and more getting dirty.

- 2014 equals spending time with my boys,all three of them.  Having family fun with simple things like a blanket and books in the garden. More mama and son dates eating pancakes! 

- 2013 will forever remind me of watching football matches with this precious boy on the laptop. The year we read many, many books together once the littlest was in bed including Return to the Hundred Acre Wood which made me cry. The year that he came back to pilgrims progress and the hobbit and his wimpy kid collection time and time again. The year that he started learning to play guitar and could often be found wearing his headphones listening to The Ramones, The White Stripes, The Jam and the Tron legacy soundtrack. 

- This year, I'd like more photos of me with my boys, even if they're fuzzy and unflattering.

It is very easy each new year to pile on the pressure with setting an abundance of intentions for the future twelve months. This 2014 I hope to free myself from that. There is no new years list, I haven't made one. However, in writing this basic review of 2013, my attention has been drawn closely to the people and the things that make me happiest and it just makes sense to do more of what makes you happy.

Do more of what makes you happy.

For the last two years I have chosen a word to lead me through the year. In 2012 it was 'Nurture'. In 2013 it was 'Do'. This year the word I have chosen is 'Root'. It is a word that suggests growth, a word that conjures the need to be fed and tended regularly, a need for light and the space to stretch and grow and gain strength steadily over time. Drawing richness from the ground up, establishing deeply, implanting firmly.

It takes courage and energy to uproot and break free from the weeds, those weeds stifling your growth and slowly killing your dreams and ambitions. It takes self care and self recognition to acknowledge and tend to the roots that run deep. The ones that remind you of who you are, what your purpose is and where you should be headed. The ones that embed deeply, the ones that show you your route, your path, your true north. I hope I remember to keep fed and watered, to absorb all that I can from the elements around me in order to thrive, to lean into the light so that I can grow and stay vibrant. This is my hope for the remaining 356 days and in fact for all of my days to come.

Wishing You All A Happy 2014!  

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