That’s a Wrap! December RAW NEWS Update
RAW NEWS is proving to be the perfect personal growth framework for me. It’s giving structure to my desire to spend time in the creative areas of reading, art, writing and learning, supported by a foundation of good nutrition, exercise, and self-care.
I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, for the reasons explained in this post, but I do set intentions. Here’s what happened in RAW NEWS in December, along with my intentions. Some of the intentions are for the entire year, but many are just for the next few months. I’m finding that I’m wanting to stay open this year and am enjoying making plans one season at a time.
I did it! I met my 150 book Goodreads goal, plus a couple of extra.
My average book length was 282 pages. The shortest book I read was On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals by Turid Ruugas. A mere 78 pages, with lots of photos, it was helpful when I first rescued Shylah, my far from calm Mexi-mutt.
Longest book prize goes to Greg Illes novel, Mississippi Blood, a brute at 704 pages. Nevertheless, this final volume in the Natchez Burning trilogy held my interest, deserving the 5 star rating that I gave it.
Speaking of ratings, you won’t find any 1 star books on my list. Life’s too short and there are too many wonderful books out there. I found many of them. According to Goodreads, my average book rating was 3.7. Almost one-third of titles read were 5 star books for me.
Of the books I read, David Sedaris’s Me Talk Pretty One Day was the most popular with 798,740 other people also reading it.
Next Year: It’s important to me that I continue to love reading, not that I gallop through books to achieve a self-imposed goal. Nevertheless, I enjoy challenging myself so I’m setting a goal of 155 books for 2018. If that starts to feel like pressure, I can change it.
It sounds silly to talk about learning to play, but that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’ve been working in an art journal using the 21 Secrets course emBody that I mentioned last month. So far, I’ve made paintings or mixed media pieces about my archetypal animals (sea turtles and bears), aspects of myself that I’m happy with, and images that come to mind from creatively visualizing chakras. In the process, I’ve been learning to: relax when creating a mess with paint, trusting that it will work out (and it does); balance my paintings by using colours or shapes in multiple places; layer colours so that under-layers can still be seen, and work with a variety of media in the same piece, such as acrylics and oil pastels and collage.
Next Year: I may take Rod’s “Sculpture for Absolute Beginners” course in the spring, but other than that I’m just going to keep playing. Eventually I’ll want to focus on a set of techniques for a while so I can try to make progress. You can expect, therefore, to see updates focused on watercolour, or collage, or narrative in painting, or drawing. But not yet. Right now my only goal is to have fun.
This month was a combination of bead journaling, art journaling, and what I called standard journaling meaning thoughts about my day, plans, dreams recounted…..
When I reread my written journal, the beads were far and away the most interesting and meaningful writing that I did. They also took the most time and effort to write.
Working in my art journal was a lot of fun. While I can’t imagine doing art journaling in place of written journaling, I found that the art journal added a whole other layer of meaning to my written words.
I wrote weekly blog posts in December, along with comments on other people’s posts. What I didn’t do in December or any other month was other writing, and that bothers me.
Next Year: I will continue to experiment with a variety of journaling forms and will write about my findings.
More important, I’m going to stop talking and thinking about living a writer’s life and will be devoting time every single day to actually doing it! My first priority will be to write a piece about my maternal grandmother. I didn’t really know her so I have interviewed her three daughters and am keen to see what I can uncover through their varied perspectives.
As several of you suggested in your November RAW NEWS comments, December was the worst possible month to be worrying about nutrition or thinking about weight loss. I ate lots of sugar and I gained weight, however, I also did quite a bit of journaling, written and art, about body image and I am feeling positive and motivated.
Next Year: I really believe Eckhart Tolle’s comment – “Get the inside right, and the outside will fall into place.” I know that writing, art and mindfulness are going to help me a great deal in 2018. So there will be no big diets, no elaborate weight loss plans, no obsession about weight or food, period. I’m just going to focus on making small, incremental changes the Kaizen way. I’m also keeping things interesting by experimenting with new dinner recipes.
I continue to love my Pilates Reformer sessions with my trainer. If I could afford it and if she had the time, I’d be doing two sessions a week–they’re that helpful.
Shylah, Toffee and I spend anywhere from an hour to two-and-a-half hours a day outdoors. That has meant an especially good workout the last couple of weeks because the snow has been deep and I don’t own snowshoes. Toffee wears a jacket because her curly hair gets matted with snow. I never thought I’d have a dog that wore clothing (I’m not a fan), but I think she’s adorable! Shylah’s afraid of the coats, but probably doesn’t need one anyway. She runs super fast and seems completely unaffected by the weather. This is huge progress. Remember when she cowered at the slightest breeze and was close to having a heart attack when she stepped on a pinecone?
Next Year: I have a gym adjoining my bedroom, with a great treadmill and all sorts of strength training equipment. I’m embarrassed to admit that I haven’t used any of it in almost a year. While I love to be outdoors and will continue to walk the dogs every day, winter is a perfect time to be on the treadmill. Once I start, it won’t be difficult to sustain the effort. There are television series I allow myself to watch only when I’m on the treadmill. This winter it will be The Newsroom.
Several of the books I read this month were about art making in general, and writing in particular. World Enough & Time and The Art of Slow Writing were about the exact opposite of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Rather than 50,000 words in 30 days, the authors of these books told stories of books taking years of diligent effort.
The other art and writing books were about the fears that stop us from doing our work. The War of Art is a classic in the field; Art & Fear is just as good. When I read these books, I could see the value of NaNoWriMo since one of the ways to conquer fear is to “act as if.”
Next Year: When I wrote my professional books, they each went from conception to print in just under a year. That was partly the nature of the writing and my background in the field, and partly the result of writing marathons. I’ve always wanted the experience of taking time with a piece of work. I’m going to follow the advice of Louise DeSalvo, author of The Art of Slow Writing, and devote the next three months to a thirty-page essay about my grandmother.
In January’s post where I resolved to enjoy more pajama days in 2017, I proclaimed my intention to focus on two words – self-acceptance and savour. I completely, 100% of the time, forget about self-acceptance. Let’s not even talk about the Freudian implications of my memory lapse.
However, I did focus on savouring, which means that every night I recorded two or three things that I’d savoured over the course of the day. There’s lots of similarity between savouring and being grateful. Janis does a really nice job of summarizing what she was grateful for this year in a series of posts that she wrote this month.
Next Year: My word for 2018 is NOTICE. This relates to learning to observe, which I need for both art and writing. It’s also connected to that forgotten self-acceptance focus, as in noticing the way I talk to and think about myself and making changes as needed. At the end of each day, I’ll reflect on my word in my journal by answering the question, “What did I notice today?”
I benefitted this year from a free workbook provided by Susannah Conway. It’s called Unravel Your Year and it’s full of great questions to ask yourself as you reflect on 2017 and plan for 2018. Don’t worry about what she refers to as “monthly love letters.” They’re not monthly. There’s no danger of your inbox being inundated with Conway posts.
I hope your New Year is, as Rainer Maria Rilke wrote, “full of things that have never been.”