This time of year gets me thinking, What is next? I feel the seasonal pull of the cold weather to start reflecting on what was good this past year and what to focus on for the next year. Maybe this is the calm before the busy holiday season. Thanksgiving in the US is one week away. Honestly, I used to feel all the chatter on the internet about slowing down and doing a mental retreat to refocus at the end of the year was not necessary or just not for me. I have learned these past several years that focus and attention are my greatest tools to accomplish what I want to in my life.
Focus and attention demands you to figure out what few things are important for you to do. Otherwise, you can get lost in the weeds trying to accomplish too much and then you actually accomplish very little.
My experience has shown that after I have a very established habit, only then can I add on a new habit. I started with creating a daily fabric art square in 2015. I added a website and weekly Studio Notes blog articles in January 2016. I started creating a music playlist based on each 25 day art series in February 2016. I started providing a monthly wallpaper photo of one of my daily squares for phones and computers in September 2016.
The real question is do I have any room left for another focus or another new habit? What is the tipping point of too much when the old established habits get more and more difficult to do? I may be near that point. So these are the things I will be thinking about over the next few weeks.
What habits do I want to maintain from this year and continue in 2017? What habits, if any, do I want to add in 2017? And what habits do I want to let go of?
These are not simple questions because it all ties into the very big questions of what do I want to do and why do I want to do it and how can I do it.
I asked myself, what do I want to do? I want to keep making art.
Why do I want to do this? I need to create to make all the ideas in my head tangible in my art. I enjoy the intellectual challenge of the design work and the physical challenge of the fabric art assembly.
How can I do it? Simply said, I want to be able to continue funding my art practice by selling my art, as well as inspiring others to create more art through my writing and teaching.
Habits I want to continue...
Create every day
I need to think about my current framework for creating every day. I make a 6 inch fabric art square every day. Is this the way I want to continue creating every day? My instincts say yes but this is something I will be thinking about over the next month.
Write every week
I write and post an article in my blog Studio Notes every Tuesday and I email it to my email subscribers every Wednesday at 6 AM. This has been my biggest challenge in 2016 to write an article anywhere between 800 and 1200 words every week. It takes up a lot of my time to come up with ideas, to draft the article, to format the article on my website, and keep up with all the technical details of my Squarespace website and my mail chimp email service. Again, I want to continue doing this but maybe the format would change. I might change the focus to be more about my art practice and write shorter articles. I want to be able to continue doing this but I feel the writing has taken a toll on me completing as many of the large 25 day pieces as I would like to. I have had some technical difficulties with my walking foot on my new machine that has frustrated me beyond belief. However, being busy with the weekly blog articles has made it easy for me to divert my attention from solving my technical problem and coming up with innovative ideas on how to finish the 25 day pieces.
I know this will take some time to solve because I would like to experiment in making my final 25 day pieces without the inner cotton batting. My goal is to streamline the assembly and completion of the 25 Day pieces to allow me to focus more on the design work which is my favorite part.
Regular Mindfulness practices
I use my time creating my daily square as a creative practice, but really it's a meditative practice. When I'm in my studio, all the other issues fall away as I turn on my iron and sewing machine. This is the main reason I create every day. However, I would like to be more consistent in exploring other ways to step out of time and be more present in the moment. I've used the Headspace app to meditate daily but have been inconsistent lately. I would like to continue to do this daily. Last week, I went to a Qui Gong class and really enjoyed the moving meditation. This is something I want to explore further and create new habits based on a mindful approach to my daily life.
What habits do you do that bring you joy?
What habits are you ready to let go?
This may be the perfect time to start thinking about these issues because pretty soon all the end of the year festivities will be clamoring for your attention and your time.
Reach out if you have any comments or questions.