Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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My 2014 Word of the Year-Transform

Most years I choose a word to guide me through the year. Sometimes the word is a good choice. Sometimes not so much.  The process for choosing a word isn’t terribly scientific.  I’ve used Christine Kane’s approach to chose a word. I chosen from random words that pop in my head.

This year I was guided by a more spiritual-intuitive process from Christine Valters Paintner of Abbey of the Arts. This was a 12-day mini-retreat which included daily emails that provided a daily practice to help you contemplate potential words. What was different with this process, for me, is that it wasn’t about ME CHOOSING a word. Rather, it was about a word CHOOSING ME.

There is a difference.

When we choose a word, we’re looking and striving for THE word. We want it to be perfect. We obsess. Our little noggins say “this is the word that I want.”

When we allow time for a word to choose us, we, hopefully, let go of ego and let our intuition guide the process. We must let go of expectations (the perfect word) and listen to what stirs internally. Words that excite. Words that make us uncomfortable. Words that call us to grow.

So, for 12 days, I paid attention to words & phrases that appeared frequently in readings. I wrote down words that resonated with me. Words that made me uncomfortable. I made note of synchronicities.

At first, I thought my word would be “possibilities” or “possible” as in “With you all things are possible.” After surviving several losses over the past 18 months, I was feeling that in 2014 anything is possible, both good and not so good.

Then I paid more attention to other words that appeared and resonated with me. And the one word that appeared over and over was transform.

Transform means to change markedly the form or appearance of; to change the nature, function or condition of. It comes from the Old French “transformer” and Latin “transformare.” The prefix trans means “across.” So trans-form would be taking the normal mode of behavior “across” into a whole new form.

The word is quite fitting. During that 18 month period with one loss after the other, I started to question many things, from the meaning of life to the meaning of my work. I turned inward and gradually began working on my spiritual development. I thought more about what really makes me happy in life.

Now that we have started a new year, it truly is a time of new beginnings. It may sound cliche but I think of the caterpillar who cocoons and turns into a butterfly. Much work is being done internally in that cocoon. And when the butterfly emerges a wonderful transformation has occurred.

I feel I am gradually emerging from my cocoon. I have made changes in my business plan for 2014, such as not doing any art shows and closing my ArtFire Online Studio account. I’m looking forward to spending more time on personal & spiritual development. And I’m gradually starting to paint again.

So here is to 2014. A year to transform. A year of transformation.

Hanging Around in Sedona

Hanging Around in Sedona

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2011 Word of the Year Review: Thoughts on Being Big

Last year I chose the word “Big” to guide me through 2011. You can read how I chose that particular word here.

I had to re-read the post as a reminder of what lead me to choose the word. Ironically, I didn’t mention the one thing that I thought was the driving force behind this word choice. That would’ve been developing my business plan in 2010 and diving into teaching polymer clay mixed media workshops. I remember having grand thoughts of teaching several workshops in 2011.

The Year Begins

January 2011 was a BIG month in terms of events that marketed my art. I get where my head was at back then. I was also embarking on a new series of artwork that was manifested by my health issues. I did have BIG ideas.

So did Mother Nature. Winter in Massachusetts was BIG in 2011. So big that it took a toll on our roof which led to ice dams, leaking, and water damage. That meant moving in and out of my studio several times throughout the year because of damage and then repairs. These were BIG challenges I had not envisioned. I had to cancel my spring workshop given the state of the studio.

I progressed on my new series of artwork, Glimmer of Hope for a little while (here, here, and here.) Then I think I got too close to the work. Using a health issue to create art is nothing new. However, it can also bring up lots of dirt and emotions. The deeper I went, the less I wanted to see. So I stopped creating these sculptural pieces.

At the end of March I had surgery. Another BIG event that corrected the BIG problem. I left behind the sculptural pieces and started experimenting with encaustic medium and creating abstract pieces like this. Two BIG changes here for me to work with a new medium and play with shapes.

The next couple of months I flopped around. Not a lot of blogging. Still experimenting with art.

A Mid-Year Wake Up

With June fast approaching and a trip to La Cascade in France on the horizon, I decided, with some encouragement, to commit to a new series of artwork that would be inspired by our trip.

Before we even left the country I notified my customers and collectors of my plans to create this new series. I had no idea how many pieces would be made or what exactly the pieces would look like. I only knew I was going to make a new series using ATC encaustic boards as my substrate.

Now this was being BIG. When we returned I chose the date for my open studio where I would debut the new series. Then I worked backwards determining how many pieces I would make and how many pieces I could create per week, when I had to send out postcards and e-newsletters with updates on my progress. This was an entirely new experience for me.

On September 25, I debuted Snapshots & Memories from Languedoc-Roussillon. The series had 15 pieces in it; 3 of which have since sold. You can see the entire series in this video on my YouTube Channel.

I finally felt like I was having the BIG year I originally envisioned.

More Big-ness

Coming off the success of the Languedoc-Roussillon series, I decided to return to sculpting and created my next series of artwork called Ornimals: Animal sculpted ornaments that capture the humor & joy of life expressed by our pets.

With this series I made an active decision to focus only on animals. This was a BIG challenge for me because my artwork has been a bit scattershot over the past couple of years. However the focus on one topic, animals, has paid off. The Ornimals made their debut at a holiday art/craft show in October. By the end of the holiday show season, I had sold 23 Ornimals.

When I decided to create the Ornimals, I also decided to donate a portion of my total sales to Baypath Humane Society of Hopkinton. At the end of December I made that donation in the amount of $65.00. It was a great feeling.

In writing these words, I see the year was, indeed, a BIG year on many fronts. Perhaps it wasn’t the BIG I intended, however, it still turned out fine. I survived challenges that were out of my control. And I survived the challenges that I gave myself. I’ve also realized that although I choose a word to guide me each year, I don’t always stop to think about the word throughout the year. After the way 2011 started, I’d pretty much given up on having a BIG year. What I didn’t really consider is that the intention of the word can change. So I didn’t have a trumpets blaring and confetti falling BIG kind of year. But I did have a glittery, hand clapping BIG kind of year.

And I’m fine with that.


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It is the month of December and that means many people are blogging about goals and planning for 2010. Here are some blog posts on these very topics that I enjoyed this past week:

Itchy Goals

I loved Sarah Marie Lacy’s revelation on why goals make her itch. It is wonderful when we have these a-ha moments. Does the thought of setting goals make you itch? Read Sarah’s story here.

Consistent Creativity & Productivity

When I read Charlie Gilkey’s post on what he calls our “engagement threshold” and how this impacts our ability to be creative on a consistent basis, I felt like he was describing exactly what I go through. You know, the time it takes us to make meaningful progress on anything and how we don’t make progress because we don’t have enough time to “get into it.”

This is a great post for anyone who feels they just don’t have the time to start a project or to continue a project because of limited time. Read it here.

Strategic Planning for Creative Types

Lisa Sonora-Beam, author of The Creative Entrepreneur shares her plan for creating a very personal strategic planner. I agree with Lisa that most planners found in stores are boring. And if the planner is boring (basic brown anyone?), will you really be drawn to it and use it? In this post, Lisa shares the first in a several week series on creating your own planner, including writing prompts to assist you in thinking about goals, intentions, and/or plans for 2010. Read Lisa’s post here

Celebrate Your 2009 Accomplishments

December is the month when many people look back at what they accomplished during the year. Often we know we did stuff but we end up saying to ourselves “What did I do this year?” as if we can’t recall a darn thing.

Alyson Stanfield, author of I’d Rather Be in the Studio, offers some wonderful prompts to get you thinking and reflecting on this past year. I started this practice after taking Alyson’s Blast Off class online. I created a document in Word and each month I type in everything I did that month, big and small. It is a great way to review the year and say “Wow! I did all that?!” Read Alyson’s post here

Take Time to Pause

Finally, in the rush-rush hubbub of this season, Kathyrn Antyr of True North Arts reminds us that it is essential to take a break during all the craziness. When we take time to pause, in the words of Pema Chodron, we create “a momentary contrast between being completely self-absorbed and being awake and present.”

Kathryn was inspired to reflect on pausing and prayer as part of an art day and the season of Advent. Her post also includes some wonderful prayer inspired activities such as making prayer beads, a prayer journal and a prayer box. Take some time to pause and read Kathyrn’s post here.

And remember to pause not only this month, during the rush-rush and hubbub, but everyday.


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Resolutions, Goals and Intentions

Resolutions
I mentioned yesterday that I don’t make New Year’s resolutions anymore.  It was like making a promise to myself that I couldn’t keep.  And when I didn’t keep it, I usually berated myself (“loser.”)  And what good does that do?

In Christine Kane’s post on making resolutions, she writes about a ritual she started a few years ago; choosing a word (or words) to guide her throughout the year.  By choosing a word to guide her throughout the year, Christine put herself right into the BE mode.  What a brilliant idea! Christine provides a list of words as possible choices.  I’ve narrowed down my words to Gratitude, Acceptance, and Clarity.  What I like about this approach is that you can use your word(s) to silence your inner critic and to guide you throughout the year when you hit those rough patches.

Do you have a word or words to guide you throughout this year?

Goals
While I don’t make resolutions, I do find goal setting throughout the year to be beneficial.  However, setting goals did not come easy for me.  I think it is partly due to the fact that I’ve always strolled along in life doing what was expected of me and not giving much thought to what I really wanted.  It is hard to sit down and really think about what you want for yourself without it feeling selfish.  This also ties in to my being a “giver” and less of a “receiver.”  I now realize that by setting goals for myself, I am giving to myself and receiving a personal blessing.

Does that sound strange?

Sometimes, setting goals is easy; it is like listing your favorite foods.  The first five or so flow from your pen and you think “piece of cake” and then you hit this wall and you really have to get quiet and think hard.  You might have to get up, walk away from the list, and come back at another time.  You might think you’re being silly.  I want to do what????

Those really big, outrageous goals are also known as Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG; Thanks to Alyson Stanfield for that term.)  Those are the goals where you reach for the stars and think of something you’d love to do (and which you may attain someday.)

My BHAG is to take voice lessons, or to at least learn to sing better.  I love to sing along with my favorite tunes.  My sister-in-law and her family are all talented singers and it is so inspiring.  I don’t plan to give a concert.  I would like to at least carry a better tune and feel confident with my voice.

Intentions
Along with setting goals, there is a lot of discussion about intent or setting an intention.  Andrea Hess recently discussed the idea of replacing goals with intentions on her blog.  I’m not sure I completely agree with this proposition though it is interesting.

I started to learn about intentions last year when reading the Law of Attraction.  (I’m having a fuzzy memory about being told to set an intent during catechism and religious studies classes.  I’m not remembering, however, any explanation for why we were to do this.)  Setting an intent can help you clarify what you want in your day and in your life.  It feels positive; something that you want, expect, and deserve.

It may be a matter of semantics, trying to distinguish between a goal and an intent.  Goals are much more structured to me with lots of little steps along the way.  Intentions are positive statements that feel good and impose less pressure than a goal.  Both require thought and quiet time to discover what you really want and need.


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Clearing Out for a New Year

In the past, I found the beginning of a new year to be both exciting and sad.  It was sad because the holiday season was ending and often with it the joyous attitude of many people.  It was exciting because the year was new and full of opportunity.

Entering into 2008 I feel no sadness; only excitement and opportunity.  I look forward to removing the holiday decorations because it feels like I’m clearing out the old to welcome the new.  The weight of the holiday season is being lifted in anticipation of new ventures, new opportunities, new possibilities.

Throughout the year and especially during this past month, I’ve spent time cleaning out closets and drawers in our house.  We have a standing rule: If you haven’t used it or worn it in two years, it gets donated.  I love donating knowing that what I no longer need, use, or want, can find new life with someone else.  I’ve been blessed with many “things” in my life and over time many of those “things” lose their luster for me.  It is a sign of my changing as a person; a change in decorating taste, a change in color preference,  a change in attitude that tells me I want to make life better for someone else and that I no longer need “stuff” to feel worthy.  We have a great community organization nearby.  WHEAT Community Services provides services to families in our area, runs a food pantry, a community cafe, and a thrift store and collaborates with other community agencies.  What impressed me most about WHEAT was knowing that my donations support people in my surrounding area.  It is not uncommon to drop off items for donation to WHEAT and have them set aside something specific for a certain family with an immediate need.  They know their clients by name and what they need.

And it isn’t just material things that I’m clearing from my life.  I’ve made new friends, re-established past friendships, grown stronger in current friendships and “released” other people and commitments from my life.  I’m listening to that inner voice and learning to pay more attention to it.  Organization is also rearing its head.  Rolling carts in the studio to hold materials and tools previously stacked on tables and shelving to get stuff off the floor.  Baskets and containers in the kitchen and bathroom to consolidate body condiments and display goodies.

I no longer make resolutions.  I never kept them and always questioned why we made resolutions to do something that we should probably be doing all year round anyways.  And if I decided I was going to do something, why should I wait until the beginning of a new year to do it?  Christine Kane has a great approach to making resolutions on her blog.  She refers to traditional resolutions as the DO-HAVE-BE model where we typically get stuck in the DO mode.  Instead, Christine recommends a BE-DO-HAVE model where we begin changing our lives on the BE level which in turn makes the DO and HAVE levels easier to attain.

One thing I did decide to do this year was to participate in Christine’s Great Big Dreams e-Seminar.  It started this week and I’m already contemplating future blog posts based on what I’m learning and experiencing.  It is another way in which I’m clearing out and being clear for the new year.

How are you clearing out for the new year?