I noticed the invitation post and Carolyn Rubenstein’s Reverb11 page in time. However, this month Life kind of kept me from sitting down for long enough and penning down my thoughts. About anything.
I actually meant to split this blog post into a 2-3 part series. My Monday blog post never got written. So today, I sat here #amwriting my whole Reverb11 blog post, relaxing while taking a look back on the year I’m almost waving goodbye to.
Here’s what 2011 looked like on my life’s stage.
To encapsulate the year 2011 into just one word, I’d have to say it was: surprising. And even though I could very well describe my past (at least) five years with this adjective (and also with: challenging), looking back, it feels like 2011 was the very definition of the word surprising.
Imagining it’s a year from today, I’d like the word that encapsulates 2012 to also be surprising. Because, even if some of the surprises aren’t pleasant, there is something so wonderful, so remarkable about having an unpredictable year. I’m learning to accept unpredictability.
One piece of writing I am most proud of from 2011 is my blog post, Writing away a piece of my soul. This blog post differs from others by being prompted by a single question, being written in under an hour and coming from deep soul writing, somewhere beyond my conscious thought process usually writes blog posts from.
As far as flash fiction goes, I am most proud of “Overwriting memories” which I’ve posted on my blog in August. A wistful piece, prompted when looking through pictures of my trip for a future article about Paris, noticing a couple in the Eiffel Tower that I inadvertently captured.
I can’t seem to recall anything I could specifically mention here about what my high points and low points were as I reflect back on the happenings of 2011.
My year in review – I’m leaning towards stating that low points have been more present in the Winter (both at the beginning of the year and this month) as I was under quite a bit of stress. Small moments of happiness would qualify as high points, which have been scattered all throughout the year.
My standards of beauty have only grown stronger, rather than shifted in the past year. I’m still an adept of less is more and I think beauty comes from deep within.
Just like there is a way you can tell writers, artisans, and all creative-type people have invested so much of their time and soul into every single one of their creation.
“Bird by bird”, by Anne Lamott was my favorite book that I’ve read this year.
However, since I have the option to list more, I’ve really enjoyed: “Time at the top”, by Edward Ormondroyd, “Haiku – Through a lense” by Kevin J. Mackey and “Writing down your soul”, by Janet Conner.
Also, in case you’re wondering, here’s my GoodReads shelf of overall, “Absolutely loved them” books.
Not worrying would help a lot in adding ease to 2012. Much easier said than done of course… but I will try.
“The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The meaning of life is to give your gift away.” (David Viscott)
Giving brings so much joy! My gift to give is probably a default setting of love and humor; wrapped nicely into the packaging of a writer and tied up with a sparkly ribbon of creativity.
We often learn about our limits the hard way. Some limits I’m noticing are not only the self-imposed, but the ones imposed by non-creative people around me who seem to think my writing, crafting, etc. are a waste of time or that they can be done in five minutes or less.
I’m doing my best to overcome the limits they/these situations set, as well as trying not to limit myself from anything I’d like to do or realize.
If I was a superhero, being able to choose my superpower at will would be my power.
Or to give one concrete example: invisibility would come in handy, especially for having some uninterrupted writing/reading time.
My soul food, some of the activities which are essential nutrients for my soul’s well-being, are:
– Writing. Reading. Crafting. Walking. Taking photos. Cooking and baking. Traveling. Blogging. Clearing clutter. Playing with my pets. Being/talking/e-mailing with loved ones. Creative outlets.
The one thing that I am most looking forward to in 2012 is: traveling.
Don’t know where yet, if I’ll be traveling by my self or with someone, if it’ll be near or far. But I like the anticipation behind this. I will be traveling at least a little bit, and I can’t wait!
(Somewhere with a beach would be perfect though!)
It’s easy to focus on our mistakes—to reflect with 20/20 hindsight and berate ourselves for what went wrong. I’m most aware of the mistake of focusing on my mistakes and second-guessing myself over the past year.
One positive lesson from this mistake is how I need to keep my Inner Critic in check. I can actively use this lesson moving forward by writing more letters from time to time, making sure I’m aware of when I’m focusing on mistakes too much and second guessing myself, so that I can stop and focus on the positive instead.
My family, boyfriend and closest friends rank highest on the list of things I love the most in this world, plus my pets, and a lot of things (per se) that I own which I’m quite fond of.
Listing everything would take too long, but you can check some of them out if you look through my Facebook Albums.
To name some of what I’ve done well the past year, they would be a mix of little and big stuff.
Like fulfilling around 12 wedding favor orders and an uncountable amount of regular orders (via my crafting business), reaching my goal of reading 23 books in 2011, writing more poetry, keeping in touch with friends (even if not always answering e-mails right away), walking a lot, starting to get the hang of “Manual” mode on my camera, cooking/baking even closer to a professional level (Chef-approved/awed recipes), blogging regularly, etc.
Looking back now, I marvel at these things, especially at the little stuff which brought just as much joy as the big stuff. I should start celebrating the positives more and check in with myself every once in a while making sure I’m not focusing on the negatives unnecessarily!
The fear of the unknown is something I’d like to overcome in 2012. I’m on the right track, as I’ve been pushing myself over boundaries, accepting the unknown and creating my own path more freely and courageously than I have in previous years, but it still needs work.
The easiest way to overcome fear is to confront it. Rather than brainstorming reasons to avoid my “fear,” I’ll work on shifting my attention more and more to the reasons for confronting my fear.
My whole year has been a constant experience of major and minor life transitions. My life has changed considerably from what it looked like in 2010.
A transition regarding death stands out as the sharpest thorn. My year was intimidating, shocking, mournful and gloomy. But it has also been enjoyable, remarkable, surprising and astonishing in many other ways.
I am still working through so much of what happened this year. And I know my life will continue changing. Guess I’ll just have to wait and see how major or minor the life changes of 2012 will be, being gentle to myself and allowing myself to have bad days without bringing myself further down.
Three things which make me feel the most blissed out are:
writing, reading and traveling.
I’m not entirely sure how to invite more of these into my 2012, but I will do my best to take some time for myself, to prioritize these activities, instead of focusing more on everyone else around me and let myself experience the bliss these things bring with.
Reflecting on the ordinary moments that bring me joy, some ordinary sparkling moments that I’d like to relish in the coming year are:
the sun setting, waves washing the shore and breaking on the rocks, having conversations with pets, noticing the beauty in imperfection, taking photographs, falling snow, art, light, clients’ faces lighting up when receiving their orders, friends’/family’s faces light up from a just-because gift/card/kiss/etc.
For me, a joyful life is composed of those moments of pure joy and happiness when even though I have no idea where I am because the road I’m on doesn’t appear on any map, I’m still able to enjoy the surrounding view of mountains and snow and fog.
It is all about being present and mindful of these moments which I wish I could keep forever and not let go of. It’s rarely perfect and almost always requires a leap into the unknown.
It’s leaping – and trusting that the net will appear.
In 2011 I have discovered the lovely new online community over at Milliver’s Travels and Fear of Writing. It brings me so much joy to be a staff travel writer for MT, occasionally guest post and take part as many times as I can in FoW’s 10K Days.
I’m also very happy to be an associate editor of FridayFlashDotOrg, the new website of the #fridayflash writer’s community, to be in charge of writing and posting the NewsFlash there every Tuesday and also Facebook coordinating.
And last but not least, I am very much in love with my little community of readers on my blog. (Thank you, you are the best!)
I feel most safe, most free to be myself on the beach. Even though I’ve only been on a beach a few times.
That is the space which is in a continuous change, just like myself, and it’s where I noticed that I have let down my guard and truly opened my heart to all possibilities.
To add a spark of mischief into my life I’m thinking of placing higher value on a playful and anything-is-possible frame of mind. 2011 was good enough in this department, but I’m looking forward to taking it a step further in 2012 and consciously remind myself to do so.
I consider every day magic in my life present in more ways than one. I consider it magic when sometimes, when it’s least expected, it works the other way around and words, characters, books, songs, places, objects, people, feelings, dreams, happenings… Life – choose me. (more detailed blog post on this topic coming up soon)
To name just one of the most creative things I did in 2011, it was writing an e-mail to a friend of mine when I had no internet connection (but have promised a reply).
I’ve handwritten it while the little girl I babysit was having breakfast, watching cartoons and constantly talking to me. The letter grew four pages long. At night, I took pictures and sent them along as an e-mail attachment. My friend loved the creativity behind this reply.
I know I’ll use my creativity very much creatively in 2012 as well. I’m not a writer, artisan, and overall creative-type person for nothing ;-)
One positive thing that surprised me in 2011 was being able to travel to Paris. It has been in the back of my mind for such a long time and it was truly the best of surprises!
Now I can’t wait to visit again and see/taste/live the rest of what I’d like to experience there.
One ritual I’d really like to introduce into my life would be: scheduled writing time. Given that I have a flexible and unpredictable work schedule, it’s not too easy. But I’d like to work on perfecting this.
I had a few other ones as well, but the one crazy and wild dream that was born in 2011 is my hosting a year-long Seasonal Photo Challenge. I suppose I’m getting better at leaping and trusting that the net will appear.
I really wanted a way to become more present and take more pictures during holidays, as well as on a regular basis.
My thought for December was: “Holidays, they remind us of the way we should act each day, but don’t. Let’s get into the holiday spirit and appreciate more the beauty all around us throughout December.” (If you like my idea, you should visit the link and join in. I’d love to hear from you and see your photos!)
If I could eliminate one word from my vocabulary, from my brain forever, it would be: someday.
I think many will agree with me on “someday’s” negative connotation when we plan out future. While I’m not completely immune to using this word, I also realize how “someday” can be like a shadow hanging over my head, especially when there is no indication in the present of having/doing/experiencing what I’d plan for that “someday”. Which is why I do my best to live in the now.
What questions did I ask in 2011? One significant question was: is it better to know something for sure, or not to know?
I’m still unsure of the answer. Maybe the only good enough answer is that – just like a rollercoaster ride, you can not (ever) fully imagine the ups and downs of knowing the answer.
And there are no two roller coasters the same.
A major thing in 2012 that I will say No to is: putting everyone/everything else around me first.
I’m guilty of still doing this, even though I’m getting better at saying No.
What I will say Yes to in 2012 that I didn’t say yes to in 2011 is probably going to be: pacing myself.
My past year has been way too much of a rush, especially December with the holidays and all, so and right now I just want to pause and fully enjoy 2012 and all its possibilities.