My father talks a lot about our Circle of Influence. He reminds me about it every time I get overwhelmed with the state of the world. I have been sucked into a state of worry and anxiety over what is going to happen now, to the world, to Mexico, to immigrants, to refugees, to minorities, to the environment. Oh la la… how to do anything?
I started the year by doing the Year Compass. I’d done it at the end 2015 with a lot of focus and devotion but this year I did it half-heartedly. I wasn’t motivated, I questioned everything. The only thing I thought hard about was my word of the year.
At first I thought about “contentment”. I thought I couldn’t go through 2017 feeling dissatisfied and sad when in reality I’m extremely fortunate. I should be content with what I have, where I live, what I do…but then another word floated through my mind: R E L E A S E…
This one felt right, this one could mean so many good things.
2015 and 2016 was a year of uncertainty and search and at the same time it was a long period of “striving”. I was trying to learn everything in two very different fields: Web Development and Visual Arts. I consumed a lot of content and I made a lot of things, from Clip Art to Surface Pattern, to Watercolor. I tried Food Illustration, Portraits, Abstract, etc. And at the same time I was trying to keep up with web technologies, WordPress, etc. Jobwise I was sailing adrift.
I’d be working on sites which I had badly quoted or with clients who wanted illustration work for a fraction of my time and effort. I applied for jobs in many different fields but having a less than stellar written French I couldn’t get my foot in the door. By the end of 2016 I was burned out and quite sad.
I had a lot of half-done projects, a Trello Board of hundreds of ideas and I’d acquired more skills than if I’d done a BA in graphic design. But I had no clear direction or goal. I’d failed to get a job I thought I had in my pocket and I was getting more and more desperate because I couldn’t keep up with changing web tech.
But I looked around my office/studio and felt so lucky: I had all the necessary supplies to make the art I wanted, I had improved my drawings skills so much and I had time. TIME. I just had to release all those things that I sort of wanted to do and just be honest:
What makes your heart flutter? What is that thing that always stops you in your tracks? What is the art that makes you feel vs. the art that looks flashy (and profitable)?
R E L E A S E
The things you are doing because you think you should.
The Trello Board full of ideas that won’t get done because you’re actually doing other things.
The beautiful paper you’re ‘saving’
Books that promised you the magical “how to”
The body from the seated position into its own space.
And so many other things.
Writing the word over and over.
I had a few days of alone time in January. My husband went on a trip for nine days and I stayed home with my pup. Our house is very quiet so I carried my iPad around and put videos on the background. At one point I re-joined Skillshare and I did the Monoline Lettering class, it was such a meditative project. I decided to letter the word Release every month of this year in a different style.
If you want to choose a word, listen to Elise Gets Crafty’s episode on choosing a word for the year. I love the idea that you “explore and examine” the word overtime. It’s never a to-do thing.
Here is January.