Redefining a year

Last January, when I wrote in my journal about my year to come, 2011, I envisioned it as a year of “persistence.” That was the word I used to frame my goals and dreams for 2011.

And here’s what I think about that now, having just lived through and experienced 2011 for real:

Wow, lame. That vision for my year was about as shortsighted as I’ve ever gotten in the history of my dreaming life. It’s kind of pathetic just how shortsighted that was, actually.

Does a year that looked kind of like the photo below, seem to you like a year well-defined by the word "persistence?"
Christmas in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Okay, I live an ocean away from home. This has had many challenges associated with it that I suppose are what narrowly led me to think last year on the word “persistence.” After all, persistence isn’t a bad thing. It’s a good thing. Right?

And when I look back on the last year, I’d probably be glossing over stuff if I didn’t acknowledge aspects of my year that were at least somewhat suited towards a goal of “persistence,” even if any of my hardships abroad were roses and daisies in comparison to real heart-break or tragedy in life.

Like, I did miss my friends, family, community and support networks back home; I missed them a lot. Or, I've hated filling out customs or visa paperwork that asks for my “occupation,” and for logistical reasons I sometimes feel I can’t write “artist,” as I wish to, but instead write “housewife,” which makes me kind of cringe — and more to the point, this action kind of sums up insecurities that I can be prone towards when I'm not at my best, that I've definitely persisted through at times this year. Also I suppose there's more petty things, like the tireless traffic here, the sweltering heat here, the barely-usable sidewalks here and other various whiny issues that sometimes make me sigh. Or there's also always rejections. Those suck. So, yes, I can acknowledge these sorts of things and note that I did “persist” through them. 
Hmm, next time I whine about traffic in KL, remind me about Ha Noi, Vietnam...
And, yes. I can and probably should acknowledge the more positive side of my original goals of “persistence” too, the parts that I wrote and dreamed about at the beginning of the year. In other words, I can and probably should acknowledge that I met goals and kept promises to myself that I made for last year:

I persisted with my biggest dream of writing and illustrating for children. I overcame some submission and perfectionism issues (or at least faced them and handled them admirably, I think). I kept up habits and practices that generally make my life happy and good (yoga, gratitude, blogging, drawing and writing regularly). I persisted with my art even when I felt worlds away from home and community and assurances of success.

All well and good, yes, and I’m happy to reflect that I did do all of those things. I met some specific benchmarks, exceeded others and I did “persist.”

BUT… WHAT THE HECK?

Kayaking in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam with my son, Oscar.
 What about all the crazy huge momentous fantastic adventures I took this past year?
Both in travel and in my work? 
And what about the huge potential for all the amazing wow that I started the year with? Did I just not see it? Was I only focusing on what I could improve, and not how I could thrive? 

 Amid reviewing whether I met my goals or not this past year, those adventures sat like the elephant (the friendly one that you’ve always wanted to ride who is just waiting for you to hop on) in the room. How could I have barely touched upon dreaming of the wow that real life would deliver when I visioned for myself a year of simple persistence last year?
Riding an elephant in Chang Mai, Thailand.
This past year I went to Sri Lanka, Bangkok, The Perhentian Islands, Melacca, Krabi, Penang, Sarawak, Los Angeles, Western Australia, Chang Mai, Cameron Highlands, Cambodia, Hong Kong and Vietnam. And I went to all of these places with a super adventurous fun husband and kid in tow. And I LOVED LOVED LOVED the experiences we had. I also explored favorite places all around KL and ate tons of interesting and delicious food here and saw amazing things within my own city and fell in love with so many aspects of Malaysia.

I played with my child and showed him the world from a unique viewpoint. I fostered his learning and growing and own budding wanderlust. I listened to my husband and took many dates with him and explored lots of interesting topics of conversation that several years ago I would have never imagined I would have time to discuss (or read about) with a kid around the house.

Enjoying the view in Hong Kong
 And, huge pat-on-the-back-for me, I read 101 books in 2011! (And no, that does not include picture books).

And, on the art front: I submitted my art the amount of times I had hoped to, I made many, many, new art samples I’m very proud of, I kicked butt with some collage challenges I decided to face, I explored new ideas and methods for drawing, I explored new ideas in writing, I wrote several new picture books that definitely broke me out of a previous mould I had been working in, and perhaps, most stunningly to myself… I began and nearly finished writing an entire mid-grade fiction novel in the course of the last two months of the year… (hey, that’s the first I’ve admitted that here! Ta-da! Still working on finishing it ­– hopefully before I move home two months from now, wish me luck!)

Does the word “persist” describe a year of prolific and fantastic adventures? Does the word “persist” describe a year traveling the world with my family? Does the word “persist" describe a year of dancing with my muse and creating some of my favorite art I’ve ever made? Does the word “persist” describe the exciting and thrilling risks I took with my own work, especially with writing, this past year?

My husband, "flying" in Nha Trang, Vietnam
 Hardly.

“Persist,” is a small part of last year, sure. But I think it might be useful to come up with a better, more-encompassing word (or words). A new name for my last year.

2011 was not the year of persistence for me, even if I did persist. It’s been a year of wow with my family and my muse. I want to acknowledge and have gratitude for this fantastic unforgettable, incredibly wonderful year by finding a good new name for it. So how about two words:

HUMONGOUS EXPLORE.
Christmas, Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
 2011 was the year of HUMONGOUS EXPLORE.

Amen.

Happy New Year! Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam


So what about 2012?
What kind of vision do you have for the coming year?
Maybe you can make room, at least a little, for some humongous explore? I dare you.

Or maybe fate has something else in mind, just perfect for you, waiting behind a spot where you too, are selling yourself short.

Anyway, here’s what I’m aiming for this coming year:
I’m thinking and hoping that 2012 will be the year of 
BRINGING IT ALL ON HOME!

From a descent into Vancouver International Airport, near my home in Bellingham, Washington.
Cheers to manifesting!
Cheers to the possibilities!