I can’t pretend that I don’t like discussions about New Year’s Resolutions; it’s about the only time of year where my love of reflection and self-analysis chimes in with what the rest of our culture seems to be talking about. I love that it is a space to reflect on the world as it is and has been, and the world that we wish to see. There’s just something about the way the whole conversation is mediated that makes it feel too narrow. I always wonder why we are afforded such limited space in our culture for this kind of reflection – there’s a day, maybe even a week before we are returned to a life of action – the unending news cycle, the hectic work life, the pressures that consume our time, money and effort. I’m not really sure what to do about this, other than to consider enabling a better balance between reflection and action in my own life, and, specifically to reflect on where my ‘personal’ actions are tied up in the social and political, to consider what supports the status quo and what can bring small but beautiful change.
I think a key part of resolutions does involve taking that look back, and I’ve really enjoyed reading a few other bloggers takes on their past year. Like Franca from Oranges and Apples sharing her thoughts on her personal style evolution in 2011, including moving away from the lure of ‘conventionally pretty’. Or round-ups, whether that’s Jeannette’s yummy recipes from Everybody Likes Sandwiches or Debi’s gorgeous sewing projects on My Happy Sewing Place; both showing what they can be more than proud of in the last year of blogging.
Looking back, I see 2011 as a year that I became more confident about considering myself a ‘creative’ person, rather than someone who ‘just dabbled’. Creative expression has become something really important to be, and I’m recognising that I get crabby if I don’t have some kind of way of exploring and creating. Yet, looking back, I can see very erratic behaviour in my blogging and my creative habits. There are months where I’m posting almost every day and feeling free to bake, sew and write. And then there are months where I don’t blog, bake or sew – I end up just looking at endless recipes and patterns and fabrics and never get round to doing anything. True, there are ups and downs in life that inevitably shape my creative habits, but I am constantly reminded that creativity and inspiration are practices, not something that comes to you at a moments notice when you feel like it. Also, if I’ve recognised that making and creating is good for my mental health and sense of being-in-the-world, then it isn’t exactly great self-care to have these great gaps where I do nothing – including not taking in inspiration. Reflecting on this, I’ve realised two of the major blocks I have to both self-care and regular creative expression: permission and responsibility.
Going forward, then, I’m thinking about how I want to use ‘permission’ and ‘responsibility’ to shape my 2012.
Permission, namely giving myself more of it, is important because I tend to be held back by saying ‘that’s not for me’, based on a fear of being ridiculed or a guilt about being self-centred. This is permission to play, and to take life with a pinch of salt; it’s permission to know that I don’t need a reason for every thing I do. In practice, this means wearing more red lipstick, playing with personal style in fashion and in photography, and making things that I’ve always considered too extravagant (I have a list). I’m also going to give myself permission to blog more personally and stop being afraid of judgement or trolling.
Responsibility seems like an important flip side of permission, because there’s no point in letting yourself do something if you don’t also take charge of making it happen. I guess it’s called self-care for a reason. I need to stop waiting around for opportunities to fall in to my lap and start making them happen for myself. This means booking that massage or that place on a conference; planning those big projects that I’ve been hoping someone else will do and then inviting others to join in. It also means that I’ll be either writing, sewing, baking or photographing every day as a way of taking charge of being more balanced, and getting better at these things. I’ll also draft a proper blogging schedule for myself so that I can be less sporadic; which also means taking responsibility for giving myself days off!
So, what about you? What are you giving yourself permission to do or create? What are you taking responsibility for making happen?