It took me a long time, but I finally settled on the word "shed" for my 2013 word of the year. I'm happy to report that this one little word has manifested some pretty significant changes in my day to day, from tiny new habits to big life shifts thus far. Since it's already July and it feels like I am quickly rounding the corner on the waning half of the year, I thought it would be good to check in and acknowledge some of what's changed. This has already been one of those years that I know will be significantly notable when someday looking back at the big picture, like a prominent ring of a tree that had an extraordinarily rich season of extra growth. Here are some of layers I've been shedding to help my life root and bloom:
(Shed: To cause to pour forth. To diffuse or radiate; send forth or impart: shed light. To lose by natural process: a snake shedding its skin. To rid oneself of something not wanted or needed. To lose a natural growth or covering by natural process. To pour forth.)
I stopped using a Planner Pad :: while I loved this well thought out, fancy organizational tool, I realized that year after year I wasn't fully using it. I liked the concept and it made my planning feel important, but it was a container that was simply too big and too stiff for what I truly needed and so moving to a much smaller Moleskine was a much better fit and one of the first things I shed at the top of the year.
Flossing daily :: I know this seems kind of small and silly, but this simple act of self care has become a daily reminder of my commitment to taking better care of myself and standing at the mirror every night, it feels like a pretty remarkable change. I remember hearing an interview with Karen Maezen Miller a while back about how at 40 she began flossing and how this shifted her thinking, and that always stuck with me.
Changing the focus of Wishstudio :: a change that had been brewing for a very long time, I finally shifted the primary focus of my work from other artists to turn the spotlight on my own stories and art. I realized how this was a way of shielding myself from really being seen, so shedding this protective layer has been an absolute game changer for me and my creative life.
Cultivating a good relationship with vulnerability :: something I practice daily, and realize is the only way to operate if I want to be true to who I am and want real forward momentum in my life - I have to learn to make friends with feeling vulnerable from small things like hanging the big "Gone Wishing" sign on my house to bigger leaps like sharing my imperfect and personal truth.
Painting and making creativity a practice :: by shedding a lot of the unnecessary, the space and desire opened right up for me to create more. I've been painting and making things almost daily, something new and infinitely ripe with possibility. I flow through and ground in my work instead of only making things as a means to an end, a practice that has become a vital lifeline to staying inspired and connected to my inner voice and what I want to put out in the world.
Opening up my home :: bringing people together in my home has been an exercise both in emotionally letting people in, as well as becoming more authentically invested and connected to the physical space I live in. Sharing my world with others I've had to shed a lot of my fears of being judged (and not enough), and has actually turned out to be one of the deepest wells of joy and community I have created thus far. I know I've always been meant to bring people together, but bringing them into the fold of my own imperfect life has been surprisingly healing and oh, so magical.
Sharing my work :: this has simply been another avenue of shedding inhibition. Part of it is in natural alignment to painting and creating more authentically, and some of it has been part of the practice of sitting with vulnerability and letting go of attachment to the outcome.
Turning the lens on myself :: I think I've shared about half a dozen or so self portraits this year, which although is a relatively small amount it's far more than the few I have posted in the last several years combined. This little practice of seeing myself is helping me to get more comfortable about being seen by others too. There is so much wisdom in simply meeting myself eye to eye.
Thinking about business differently :: instead of approaching my work as a business, I have found a more organic way to integrate the creative side with the administrative side by simply doing what I love and letting the rest follow. Shedding the idea that business is scary and hard has made it easier for me to believe in my work and simply want to put it out there. Instead of working to create a business, I am creating my best work and taking the next necessary steps to share it, like finally getting my Etsy shop up and running and thinking of workshops I'd love to teach.
Embracing exercise :: it was obvious to me when I chose the word "shed" how it could potentially go in the literal direction of actually shedding unwanted pounds and making peace with my body. While this wasn't my primary focus, because I truly believed that once everything else was more in harmony this might shift as well, all the changes I've made in other realms of self care have been enough to make me want to do better at this as well. My body has been screaming at me for a long time, and I know all the physical upheaval I've gone through thus far has been because I have decided to finally listen. It's been a bit of a wild ride, but I know I am moving in the direction of better health all around.
Keeping a daily gratitude journal :: in January I began writing down what I'm grateful for and acknowledging the abundance in my everyday life. No matter how good or bad the day has been, I have found something to write about. I think just having this as a core practice keeps my focus on the positive, and maybe it is helping me to manifest more of a sense of abundance as opposed to feeling like there is less than enough.
Blogging intuitively and all in one place :: I hemmed and hawed over this for what seems like forever, but since I finally let go of one of my blogs, a Facebook page, and my Hootsuite social media account, writing and sharing from a more in-the-moment and non-administrative place has made it a lot easier and much more authentic. Instead of always trying to create content, now I am simply blogging about what is in the forefront of my life and work. I actually was worried that it would be a lot harder to write unplanned posts, but it turns out that it's so much easier to write with no boundaries or expectations.
Overall, I have been a lot less focused on the judgement of others. Shedding this worry has simply created so much clarity and room for other things in my life. It's not that I feel any less vulnerable or more invincible, it's always a bit scary putting myself out there and it probably always will be, but I feel so much more at peace with those icky feelings and in control of the fear. I know how to ride the waves a bit better and so everything flows a little gentler. Less resistance equals more ease... this is the new practice that has unmistakably taken hold and what's been allowing me to finally, as the definition of the word shed says, to pour forth and be in the flow more.