It's that time: diet fads are monopolozing the TV screen, gym memberships are skyrocketing, social media is overflowing with new year resolution updates...and something isn't sitting quite right with me. Something about the word "resolution" just sounds so....well, resolute. Finalized, unwavering, and daunting. So often we bite off more than we can chew as we set these single-minded declarations to ourselves, which often leads to disappointment. I think it's fun to challenge yourself- hey, self improvement is great- but I'd rather do it my own time rather than jumping on the bandwagon this year.
I recently attended a workshop with Flora Bowley and felt so inspired by her process of creating affirmation cards. Affirmations are statements said with confidence about a percieved truth. She gave each student a card of encouragement (mine was PLAY!) and encouraged all of us to create our own deck.
Affirmations are powerful because they can wire your mind into believing the stated comment. Instead of identifying all the things I should work on this year, I've closely examined all the things that really worked for me last year. From there, I came up with a deck of affirmation cards that I will have on display as friendly reminders throughout the year.
Here's a closer look at my cards and why I chose them.
1.) When things are going well, it's so easy to establish "routine mode" and default to what you know works. To be honest, there's nothing wrong with the fundamental of that- I've made some of my greatest discoveries by repeating an act over and over. But there comes a point when you just need to step outside of your box and expose your soul to something new. For me, that means changing up my teaching curriculum, experimenting with new techniques in the art studio, cooking different recipes, painting my wall an unconventional color...just to name a few. Flora Bowley told me that if you aren't making a new personal discovery within each new painting, the painting isn't complete. If you don't continue to discover you don't grow...and discovering requires stepping outside that box.
2. Be patient with my middle school students when it's last period and everyone's riled up and ready to get home. Don't get frusterated when my puppy starts to tear up my new pillow. Set high personal goals, but don't pressure yourself and celebrate miniature achievements. Aim high, but keep expectations low. Exterminate that inner-critic. Love people and know that they aren't perfect. Practice gratitude and remember how insanely lucky I am and completely fulfilled I feel. Allow that warm fuzzy feeling serve as fuel to steer me towards constant patience with myself and even more patience with others. I've found that I'm just happier with this state of mind.
3. We are made to be different and magically unique and sometimes I need ot remember that my solution to a problem may not always look the same as someone else’s solution. I’ve often compared myself to those I admire to try to improve certain qualities about myself. There’s nothing wrong with using someone else’s solution as inpsiration, but there’s a fine line between emulating and imitating. In 2015, I want to stop comparing and focus on the things that make me different. These are my greatest weapons.
4.) 2014 taught me so much about the importance of connecting with others and I firmly believe that we are put here on this Earth to collaborate with one another. I labeled myself as an introvert my whole life and have felt myself morphing, changing, and sneaking out of my hermit crab shell these past few years. Making connections and forcing myself to become vulnerable has let in a certain energy into my life that I never really knew existed. I look forward to collaborating with other artists this year and creating some transformational artwork.
5.) Perhaps more than anything, 2014 has reminded me that leaps of faith are my friend. Taking big risks and saying “YES” has proved beneficial in a BIG way this year. I decided to opt out of teaching summer camps (a scary financial risk) so that I could create artwork to sell at art festival. This paid off immensely and allowed me to grow. Last November, I impulsively signed up for a Flora Bowley workshop in Portland, OR, that was not only out of my price range, but also out of my comfort zone. I hardly ever travel alone and I had never traveled further west than Illinois. But I challenged myself to try new food, lodge in a guest house with a family I'd never met (Gasp! Strangers!) let new people/friends in, and make bold moves with my art. I found myself waking up early every morning to navigate the quiet streets of Portland, my heart fluttering at the sensation of this new adventure. In 2015, I'm going to keep leaping.
Wishing you the happiest 2015 and sending happy vibes your way! Maybe you'll even create some affirmation cards of your own. :)