Saturday, December 18, 2010

New Year's Collaboration

Often, when we think about the end of the year, we simultaneously think ahead to a new year and what we might want to create in the future.

At the beginning of 2010, I took a class with Alyson Stanfield, of The Blast Off course was a fabulous way to begin the new year and led me in a variety of new directions, the likes of which I never imagined. My classmates and I created plans which spanned the entire year and during the last week, I've been going over them to see which intentions came to fruition and which shriveled on the vine.

This process got me thinking. I liked the concreteness of goals and dates, but it occurred to me that I was missing another piece. It came to me when I was reading Gretchen Miller's fantastic post on her altered New Year books. You can check them out here.

Gretchen focused on qualities she wanted to bring into her life in the course of 2010. Words like "balance," "transition," and "sustain" called out to me.

These words spoke to the qualities that often underlay my resolutions; aspects I miss while hurrying to get to the results (e.g.: exercise more,  communicate more carefully, spend more time in the studio...)I forget to savor the experience, which eventually leads to my feeling of accomplishment, once I achieve my goals.

If, however, I focus on the underlying feeling of my goal, I may find that there is more than one way to get there.
In that spirit, I decided to cut to the quick and locate some words for myself. Not hard to do, because they were the feelings I most often find myself lacking.
I decided to start the process while I was at work and pitched the idea to a teen, who had been moved off the pediatric floor and was feeling bored and lonely.

Her disease causes her a great deal of pain and she has a reputation for being a bit ornery.I went in with the sheer enthusiasm I felt for the project, but was still surprised when she agreed.We worked on our pages side by side, giving each other suggestions and checking in on the progress of the television program she enjoyed watching.

We met each day this week and by the end, I'd compiled the six qualities I want to focus on.

My favorite one so far is "forgive." There are
many ways in which I "miss the mark." But most of the time, I haven't--its me wanting more of me than I can give. Thus, forgiveness.

Today, my teenage patient was asleep. It's raining hard outside and the dark gloom is conducive to sleep. We didn't have a chance to put our books together. It's o.k. We'll try again Monday.

In the meantime, I'd love to hear some words that you might be thinking of for the New Year. What are your favorites?


  1. Beautiful collages and I love this topic. You are so right - when I set goals, there is a certain "feeling" I imagine I will have upon completion. Focusing on a "quality" feels very organic and soothing instead of forced with the pressure of an end result. A couple of words for me this year, confidence and one of yours - forgive. Keep us posted on how your patient is doing. This sounds like a very healing exercise.

  2. such important goals to have-- and the words in the collages will lead to better feeling--and health.

  3. I enlarged all the words and like the Forgive collage the best...I like that ladder on one letter "going up" is certainly a forgiving and a positive concept. And this one best exemplifies your art I think. The art of yours I like so much.
    Words for me this new year? Carry on! Go Forth!
    Continue! Strive! Florish! I am laughing now.
    I had not given this any thought before reading your post. But those are what I hope to achieve in the days, weeks, months, ahead! They all asure me I will be here. ;-)))

  4. Oh, I love this idea! Hmm. I am thinking my words are... YES!, ACT, and CREATE. Might have to think a little more on this one.

  5. Hannah what a wonderful idea!!! What qualities do we wish to cultivate in our lives...when we work in this way, the other "resolutions" will likel resolve themselves!

  6. RELAX is my big one... rest, love, joy, laugh, communicate... there's so many! i love your idea of working with the teenager on this project. thanks for sharing. peace, jennifer

  7. Thanks Diane-I like what you say about a quality being organic and soothing. My patient is doing well and added new words over the weekend. We're working on the covers now.

    Lynn--Those are indeed words to live by--and I can imagine you laughing as you think of them!

    Claudine, those words make a great sequence, a call to art action...

  8. Donna--Thank you--I'm already noticing a difference using these words...

    Laura--I think so--and by focusing on the feeling, we're able to see a variety of ways of arriving there.

    Jennifer--I'm with you on RELAX:)

  9. Dear Hannah,
    i wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
    Best Regards from Berlin

  10. Happy New Year fast approaching!!
    This is a wonderful post and I love seeing your collage and reading the story of you and your teen sitting side by side healing a scene.

    The words that comes to my mind for my year ahead are 'flow-er and flourish....I too took Alyson's 'Blast Off' class during the summer and it really is a grand boost isn't it.

    Which brings me to one of my gratitudes of 2010: meeting you and your beauuiful Art/Life in Blog are on my list of the 10 most influencial people I met this year. I look forward to a cuppa tea one day :-)

  11. Rolf--wishing you a wonderful New Year too!

    Donna, I am moved by your comment. I don't think I've ever been on any sort of list other than my own. You've made my day and touched my heart.