Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Long Shadows : 2016 In Review


This morning I walked over hard packed snow to clear my head and get the blood pumping in my veins.  2016 was a year of great highs and many lessons.  Some of them easier to accept than others.
The sun rarely shines here at this time of year, today I tried to absorb that sun, notice it as much as I could and let it's ancient wisdom burn away some confusion that is clinging to me.
Its warmth is not as all encompassing as it was in the South of France this July.  That heat was so intense that it blocked out reflective thoughts.  The sweet relief of floating in the sea after 20 minutes of trekking to our favourite beach in Bandol was a highlight of the year.  That place is deep in my bones now.  Even if I never return, the memory of stitching while listening to the sound of the cicadas and the shift of the trees outside our apartment as the mistral blew will stay with me forever.

Today what struck me about the sun was its long shadows.  The sun sits so low in the sky that the shadows stretch meekly over the land.  That meekness resonates with me.  I felt that often when trying my hand at things this year.  Somehow when I stepped out of the shadows and into the light, letting boldness take over things crashed around me.  The universe knocked me down a notch or two and I'd step back into a meek shadow once again.

The lessons I have learned from this year do not feel concrete.  But I will write them here in case someone else may resonate with them in some way.

1) Laying the foundation of your career means putting yourself out there and waiting.  Results are not instant.  The publication of Imago Mundi Oh West Canada! took over a year to manifest.  And there are several submissions made in 2016 that I am still waiting to hear about.

2) Expect more no's than yes's.  I learned this in Jackie Battenfield's fantastic book The Artist's Guide: How to Make a Living Doing what you Love.  Her point was that you should be getting tons of rejections because that means you are trying.  And the only way to succeed is to keep making the effort.

3) My top lesson of 2016, one that I am still working on and will be for years to come is: Put yourself out there, meet people and make connections.  This is my biggest weakness in terms of my career.  And I need to challenge it, push and mould this part of myself.  I will always be an introvert but the career I desire as an artist will not manifest if I let that part of me call the shots.  So as uncomfortable as I feel in those moments where I am asking for what I want I force myself through that discomfort.  Maybe some day the discomfort will lessen.

2017 is looking good from here.  I have a milestone birthday and I am planning some new and exciting projects.  All will be revealed as the months progress.

Happy New Year...JJ

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