Winter Hibernation – Looking Back To Look Forward.
“Adopt the pace of Nature: her secret is patience.”
The passing of the shortest day on December 21st (in the northern hemisphere) and the arrival of a new calendar year, symbolically brings hope of better days, especially if you have had an ugly year, or alternatively hope for more of the same, if your life is currently fine. January and February are perfect months for imitating Nature, for resting, for adopting a slower pace, before rushing into anything new. In short it is a great time to hibernate.
There is one thing, however, that I dislike about January and that is the frenzy in the media, social or otherwise, for setting goals for the year ahead and for making resolutions to better yourself. We are urged to plan, for both our professional and personal life, despite the fact that as the Covid pandemic has shown, we have no idea what is going to happen tomorrow, let alone next month.
I do my best to ignore those articles, posts and conversations, but on occasion I just want to shout: “Stop The Train I Want To Get Off”.
Hardwired For Survival.
I don’t enjoy planning, I am made sick by pressure to perform and I have had more than enough heavy responsibilities in the past, to not want to be responsible for anything or anybody ever again. Of course that is unrealistic, we all have responsibilities, large or small, but I have a quiet life and I want and need to keep it that way.
Unfortunately, our mammal brain is hardwired for survival, it holds on to memories of dangerous and negative events, as preparation for future dangerous events, which is why it takes a concerted effort to pause and note all the good things that we have and experience, rather than focusing on what we don’t have. The pandemic forced many people into a slower pace of life and with that came time and space to reflect on the quality of our lives, so January and February are a great opportunity for slowing down before the Spring rush.
In a world obsessed by productivity, gross national product and the supposed necessity of always achieving or having more, we rarely take time to reflect on everything that went well for us the previous year and all that we achieved, there is always something, despite life’s setbacks and calamities.
Taking Stock Of 2021.
Thanks to photographer and artist Cristina Colli and her free resource the Creative Intentions workbook (link below), I take time in January to reflect on the previous year’s positive things. Do not be misled by the title of Cristina’s workbook, it is not only for artists, photographers, writers and so on. We are all creative in our lives, it is an essential part of our human character and the main reason why we can adapt to survive.
Simple things that we do every day are creative. Cooking a meal is the act of creating sustenance and pleasure, whatever job you may have, you are contributing to the creation of a product or a service, by tending to a plant, a person or an animal you are nurturing life.
I first designed the workbook in 2016, and since then it’s become an end-of-the-year ritual that helps me reflect on my creative journey, and give birth to new ideas. In the workbook you will find prompts to look back at your creativity in 2021, explore your heart’s desires, set intentions for 2022, and move forward in your path.
Creative Intentions 2022 Black & White version – ink friendly 🙂
Looking Back On My Year, 2021.
Last year was an important year for my husband and me:
- we moved into our new home in June. A wood frame house inspired by my childhood in the south east of England (Kent) and the two years that we spent in Maryland (USA), designed by us with an architect and built by a small French family business Arteck. The project took two and a half years, from looking for a plot of land to moving into the finished house, a little longer than expected due to the pandemic and bad weather.
- the house move forced us to declutter our possessions after fifteen years in the same place.
And also for me personally:
- the pandemic lockdowns nipped my nascent photography business in the bud.
- after many months of lockdowns and no work, I decided to let go and stop struggling to make a business of commercial photography.
- I decided to realise a childhood dream of dedicating my time to painting, my first creative love, for my own pleasure, no matter the financial outcome.
- I had my Versailles series of photographs exhibited in Barcelona. An exhibition that had been postponed several times, because of the pandemic.
- I created a new website with Aspen Creative Studio to share and promote my love of Art and my painting.
- I sold a painting for the first time to a dear friend and that painting has been selected, just this week, for an online exhibition with Women United Art Movement.
- From December 2020 – 202, I wrote and published twelve essays for Foto Femme United.
The Joy Of Lists.
If someone had asked me at the beginning of this year what had gone well for us in 2021, a part from moving house, I probably would have said “nothing much”. It wasn’t until I sat down to purposefully remember, diary in hand, that I could list all that I did enjoy and achieve in a year, which seemed to have been more trouble than it was worth, on the surface anyway.
Some of my choices last year, were made possible because I am not the main bread winner of the family and I know that that is a great freedom and a privilege. But, I also know that it is never too late to pursue your dreams, one step at a time.
When nothing big, unusual or exciting happens in your life, or alternatively, when your life falls apart, it is easy to forget the small and ephemeral good things that did happen.
Give yourself the gift of a half hour, an hour, in a comfortable chair with a hot drink, pen, paper, diary or calendar and make a list of what made you happy last year, who uplifts you, what you achieved last year in your personal life. Or go a little deeper with Cristina Colli’s workbook.
Take some time to be proud of yourself.
There is more than one life in a Life.
Accentuate The Positive by Johnny Mercer, performed by Anacani & Tanya, from The Lawrence Welk Show 1973, a salute to Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer.
More articles coming soon about recent exhibitions I have visited in Paris and Ile de France (the Greater Paris Area).
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Thank you for visiting,
Creative Intentions 2022 Black & White version – ink friendly 🙂
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