I keep thinking of a book I read as a child: Higglety Pigglety Pop or There Must Be More To Life by Maurice Sendak. In the book there is a dog that has everything that should make a dog happy: a good home, food, warmth. Yet the dog feels something is missing. She feels she is not living up to all she could be. That is what I feel.
I often think, “there must be more to life” and it isn’t because my life is bad. My life is great. I am blessed by a loving, helpful, funny, intelligent, handsome man. I have three fun, quirky, energetic, smart, and healthy children. I have a core group of truly amazing friends and extended family. I have a job I love that challenges me. The blessings go on and on (and involve lots of adjectives). However, I know I could be more. I could do more and live more. I could create more. There is more potential in me and my life than I am living up to.
So, inspired by Gretchen Ruben’s The Happiness Project, I decided to develop my own year long plan. I have borrowed goals from Ruben’s project that applied to me (remember birthdays, go to bed earlier, one sentence journal, etc). My project, however, is to increase my creative engagement in a variety of forms (being eclectic as I am:). Mine is The Creative Life Project.
I’ve probably bitten off more than I can chew. That’s part of Being Ren. But I feel inspired to try. Also, the new month=new goals format allows for monthly fresh starts. Ruben continued many of her goals month to month. I will have a core set of goals that will continue but the rest are separate. If one month doesn’t happen for one reason or the other, I’ll just begin again the next month. Any months I don’t get to this year, I can carry into next year.
Now, I know the idea of goals has taken a dive in popularity lately. However, my goals aren’t guilt or pressure laden. They are suggestions for the direction the month could go – simply sources of inspiration I want to try following as life permits.
Here’s the year outline:
January: Preparation, Organization, and Creativity Jump Start
January’s goals will help me enhance my creative space and time.
February: Creativity and Health
February’s goals will help me increase my energy and feel more positive about myself which will (hopefully) translate into more energy and desire to create.
March: Mindful Creativity
Mindfulness is something I am curious about. Besides traditional (guided) meditation, I am also going to try some creative outlets that I find meditative in nature.
April: Creative with Words: Poetry
I love poetry so I am very excited to spend a month indulging in poetic pursuits. The poets I am choosing are all Canadian because home base seemed like a good place to start. I’ll be reading long standing faves of mine, spoken word poets I want to check out, and some selections off CBC’s best poetry books of 2015 to try someone new. Along side studying the poetry of others, I will use daily prompts to write my own.
May: Play and Create
The plan here is to get my hands dirty while experimenting with painting styles. I will need photos and magazines for this month’s tasks. Besides creating my own art I will also study painters whose work touches something in my heart.
June: Creative with Words: Picture Books
The plan this month is to really get into a picture book (PB) frame of mind. As I am part of a PB critique group, every month I work on PBs. That work isn’t technically on my goal list (it includes monthly critiquing of others’ stories and submission of my own story 4 times a year). This month is separate and during it I am going to immerse myself in PBs and give them greater focus.
July: Embrace Failure and Create: Ugly is Growth
I often go safe and try to create pretty things over challenging myself and taking artistic risks. Yet I’ve read many artists who have said that to get to the good stuff, you need to go through the bad stuff. So this month I am going to go ugly and abstract so I am not concerned with trying to create something specific. It will be the visual arts version of write shitty drafts except this time it will be create shitty pieces of art (and have fun with it).
August: Creative with Words: Short Essays on Life
I love to write and this month I am going to switch gears from a picture book direction to working on my writing skills with a different focus. I will record memories and write about everyday life while reading Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones. The book will be my guide.
September: Creativity and Community
I don’t have many friends who like to dabble in the arts that I do. I would love to find my artistic “tribe”. In writing, I have my critique group who are my kindred spirits in that area of my life. I am so thankful for that group. I would love to have a similar group for my visual arts and would prefer it be with local people so we could get together and craft. My dream would be to host monthly creative arts nights – for scrapbookers, painters, collagers, maybe even a musician (I know, I’m such a new age hippy). This month is for sending out feelers for like minded people.
October: Courageous Creativity
This month is to continue on along a similar line to September’s goals. In fact, I am keeping this month light as I feel the goals from September will take a bit longer to set up than just a month. Although September’s focus was Creativity and Community, those goals from September all require(d) some major courage from me. I find it extremely hard to reach out to people in person and yet I crave connection with others. So I will continue unfinished September goals and have added two other goals that will require courage as well. I can do this!
November: Gratitude and Creativity
I am grateful for my family. I like to recognize this gratitude creatively with photos. Therefore, this month I am coming to creativity from a different angle. My photos are a disorganized mess which makes them hard to access. I will organize them and create backups so that I do not have a heart attack at the thought of something happening to my computer. Then I will create objects with them that will be great keepsakes in the years to come.
December: Make up Month (of any month missed or a collection of favoured tasks)
Life never goes as smoothly as I hope so I am including a make up month as I am sure things will come up to throw me off my best intentions. If by some miracle I am wrong, however, I can always just pick my favourite tasks for the year and do them again this month.
If you got to this point, thanks for the dedication in reading such a long post. Later this week I will share the details of my January plan which I’m already halfway through. So far, so good!