I think 2016 is going down as my year of introspection, transformation and growth. A year of shedding the old and moulding what I want to be my new.
My word for 2016 was ‘explore’ where my intention was to explore different artistic mediums and find what inspired and challenged me the most, then develop this to see where it led me. I had absolutely no intention of exploring my inner self which is exactly what happened. It hasn’t been the easiest path to follow, quite confronting and emotionally tiring at times, but I suppose that is to be expected when you undertake something like this. Or in my case, when life has decided I needed to undertake this whether I’m on board or not.
On a personal level, I have reached an age where I am more comfortable in my own skin, where my focus is starting to turn inwards instead worrying what image I am projecting out to others. I’ve reached an age where I am more conscious of my place upon the earth and am enjoying interacting more with nature. I’ve also reached an age where I do not consider the act of focusing my time and energy on my own beliefs and happiness as being selfish and unproductive, no matter how unconventional my opinions may be. You can read a little more about this here.
So this year I have been exploring; exploring my wellbeing; exploring my connection to nature; exploring my beliefs and spirituality; and most importantly, exploring the idea of being content to stand in my own true self, accepting without worrying whether I am conforming to the norm or not. And I am ok with that. The more often I stand confidently in my own skin, the easier it is for me to live a life that is more meaningful for me.
Ok, zen moment over.
I’ve spent the first half of the year grappling with how I can grow my business, worrying over what I was going to paint until I was so filled with stress and panic that no ideas came at all. The more they didn’t come, the more I worried and despaired I would never get anything done. Then I wrote a blog post on cultivating creativity so over the latter half of the year I have been consciously aware of how I am or am not bringing creativity into my daily life. Instead of being so hard on myself for not performing to my own high standards, I’ve been giving myself a break and encouraging my efforts at doing something, no matter how small, on a daily basis. So what have I been up to?
- Gardening – we’ve planted some fruit trees, herbs, flowers and succulents. I even now have a plant on my day job desk which brightens up my ‘bunker’. I’m still on my ‘L’ plates but I haven’t killed anything yet.
- Artist Dates – I’ve been taking my camera on a couple of outings which has been great fun. I have a few more lined up over the Christmas break and into the New Year.
- Walking – I love taking the dog for a walk and simply enjoying the quiet, peacefulness of my community in the early morning. There is nothing better than starting your day connecting with the outdoors and saying ‘Good Morning’ to a complete stranger, who quickly becomes a stranger no more when you see them every morning. I had stopped doing this for months during the year and it wasn’t until I started again that I felt the benefits, both physically and mentally.
- Podcasts – love them! These are my new favourite thing. I listen to them whenever I am driving in my car. It is the best way to come home from work, especially after a busy, hectic day. I can literally feel myself relax as I’m listening so that when I get home, I am fully present and no negative work ‘energy’ remains.
- Reading – I’ve been reading a multitude of books on different topics ranging from art, business, spirituality and fiction. If it grabs my interest, then it’s downloaded to my Kindle.
I’ve discovered that inspiration has a great sense of humour. The moment I embraced the above ideas and stopped worrying about what I wasn’t doing or what I thought I should be doing, I started to just relax and enjoy myself. No pressure because I simply gave myself permission to stop and take a breath. When I released myself from the pressure to produce work and to go find something else that was fun to do in the meantime, inspiration came knocking at my door and I was in such a better frame of mind to open up and let it in.
I am learning that inspiration has a life force all its own, and it wants to be manifested, either by myself or someone else who will take what it offers and run with it. If I don’t take hold an idea when it comes knocking, then it won’t hang around forever waiting for me to get my shit together. So that is what I am doing, taking hold of inspiration when it pays me a visit and working with it, for the pure enjoyment of creativity and not worrying about the outcome.
I have been inspired to start a new project which I am totally excited about. It has kept me up at night and excited to start my day. I’m still getting my details together but will share it in the next couple of weeks once I’ve got it finalised.
I’ve also got my sketchbook out for the first time in months. That’s a promising sign.
So in summary, I am feeling more excited by my life and more at peace with myself than I have in a very long time. I still have a way to go but I know I am on the right path and doing what I am meant to do. I heard a quote the other day which said, “Be a verb, not a noun” and I intend to ‘verb’ my little heart out. Instead of focusing my energy on being an artist, I will instead work on making art because that is what brings me joy and by doing art, I will become an artist by default won’t I.