Resolved—or at least, intended—for 2015!
There's nothing like a little public accountability to motivate an artist—or any human being. In the spirit of example, I'm sharing my intentions for the following year. Wish me well and slather a little of that on yourself, while you're at it!
I'm now in a pretty much constant practice of looking back to see what happened, what I learned from it, and how things might have gone better (or worse!) had I acted differently. What I've spoken less of since adopting this attitude has been the other outcome of this process: ideas for ways I want to live my life and practice my art moving forward.
So here's a list of things I've noted in the past that sound like good things to adopt in the new year.
1. I will use the phrase "It wasn't for me" to describe things that weren't
Bad karma (and manners) aside, it is just too hard to make art for me to dump on someone else's efforts. Much better is the notion that I am not tuned to the same frequency as the piece in question; for someone else, it might be just the thing.
2. I will write every day
Hands-down, the best thing I did for myself this year was to take on a thing-a-day project. I have a new one planned to coincide with the start of 2015. To follow along, check out the last post of 2014 on communicatrix-dot-com. But really, I'd be just as happy if you took on your own thing-a-day project and told me about it. Here are some tips on starting one, if you're interested.
3. I will note the remarkable
I've been keeping a notebook with me for years now, as well as a handheld electronic device that is pretty useful at capturing whatever I'm wanting to remember in the moment. So it's a little confusing to me why I still find myself sitting down to write and wondering what the hell that idea was that I was sure I'd remember when it first occurred to me. I am hoping that a random suggestion I heard recently will help: to write down in a notebook every remarkable thing I came across. If perspective is everything, hopefully this one will work. "Remarkable!" Who wouldn't want to make note of that?
4. I will only note—not berate—"infractions"
I spent the first five months of 2014 in some of the best health I've ever enjoyed. Then I got sick, and couldn't shake it. And then I got a job, and all hell broke loose. It was bad enough to feel shitty and/or out-of-shape; heaping on stress over something I couldn't control made me feel worse. So I will not pile on. If I'm engaging in a little nefarious activity—holiday treats, the coffee I'm still on—I will not hide it, but neither will I beat myself up for it. Not least of which because I am one of the most contrary cusses I've ever met. The surest way to get me to not do something is to order me to do it. Acceptance, I'm finally beginning to see, does not mean I condone the bad behavior; it makes it easier to get back on track to the "good" one.
5. I will consider Colleen of the Future
I have often joked about my thankfulness for Colleen of the Past's habit of socking away money regularly back in the '80s and '90s. But hearing someone describe her current decision-making process as having Herself of the Present taking care of Herself of the Future was one of those simple reframes that bowled me over (and yes, made it into my "remarkable!" notebook). While I immediately joked that Colleen of the Present was making it hard for Colleen of the Future to fit into her pants, I also realized that this way of thinking might help me to make a lot of healthier decisions that would impact my life and my career moving forward. Whether it's because dissociation makes things more real for me or just because it's a new perspective doesn't matter. What does is living the best life I can give myself—today and tomorrow.
* * * *
Book of the Month:
I thought I'd heard the last word on introversion 10 years ago. I mean, really—after the seminal, 2003 Atlantic essay by Jonathan Rauch, even Susan Cain's excellent TED talk felt like a retread. But after enough of my trusted filters recommended Quiet, Cain's book on the topic, I caved and read it. I'm happy to report that, barring scientific breakthroughs in side-effect-free manipulations to brain chemistry, it's likely to be the actual last word for awhile. Well-researched and well-written, Quiet covers everything the civilian ever wanted to know about introversion from a personal, sociological, historical, and clinical perspective. If you are an introvert, many more things will make sense to you about the way you respond to the world; if you're the parent, lover, or friend of one, or just an extrovert who wants to know more about your quieter counterparts, this is the only book you'll need. It does for introversion what Stuff did for hoarding.