It’s the end of the year, that time when so many people look back and try to tally up their accomplishments and keep score about what they did or didn’t do and then make resolutions or big plans to guilt themselves into doing even more in the coming year.
If that sounds harsh I apologize.
But I realized that in the past I’ve looked at the end of the year as a good time to beat myself up for all the things I didn’t do. Not a very healthy attitude and it certainly never made me feel good. So this year I decided to do something different. I didn’t add up all my numbers of followers and likes and comments. I didn’t beat myself up for all the comments I didn’t reply to (well not much. I am still me.) I didn’t stack up all my unfinished projects and call myself a slacker.
Instead I decided to look back at all the work I had done throughout the year and all the people I had touched and see how that made me feel. Because that’s what art is all about, chasing a feeling.
And don’t we all want to chase the good feelings and not the bad ones?
Now let’s be honest. I DID look at the numbers.
But instead of thinking why aren’t they higher, I celebrated because my YouTube channel had grown so much over the year. And maybe I had a little Sally Field moment when I thought, “you like me, you really like me.” (Young people might have to Google that.) I gave myself a high five for the fact that people enjoy coming to my weekly livestreams and hanging out with me while I do one French knot after the other. We chat while I work and we laugh, oh how we laugh.
I LOVE the monthly Zoom with Me sessions. It allows me to get to know some folks a little better as we meet in a small group, face-to-face. And our Creative Circle (which is the name of my Facebook group but is the name I apply to all the creatives I meet online and in person) continues to grow and support one another no matter what their creative journey.
That made for quite a year.
Oh, and I sold some art.
Recently I made a YouTube video that showed a lot of the work that I had done throughout the year. (You can watch it here:From ART STUDIO to Real Life: What I LEARNED This Year) I made it because I wanted to evaluate my artistic growth. And when I did, I’ll be honest, I was stunned.
Why is it so hard for us to give ourselves credit for the good things we’ve done?
As I pulled photos for the video I could see my evolution from a nervous stitcher to a brave artist. I don’t know where the first idea came to create a Wildscape but I know it’s the first time I actually saw a picture of a finished piece of art in my head. After over 10 years of playing around various artsy things I feel like I am finally creating the art from my heart. The art I am meant to create.
And how freaking cool is that?
Are you doing the work your heart is most calling you to do?
We have to experiment. We have to try all the things we are drawn to because that’s the only way we can eliminate stuff that doesn’t work for us and then lean into the stuff that gets us really excited. Because that excitement, that passion for whatever you are called to do, carries forward into the work. The energy flows from your fingertips into the art and eventually, into the heart of the viewer.
Creating a Wildscape excites me. Hearing someone tell me that they want to shrink down and walk through the landscape, that excites me. Having somebody say that they’re inspired to go try to do it themselves that excites me.
What excites you? Are you leaning into that? If not, why not?
All my life I think my biggest wish was to feel seen and heard. If I dived back into it with a bunch more therapy, I could probably say some (most?) of that traces back to never knowing my dad, and knowing that he never saw me. He never heard me. And he never wanted to.
I was a shy introverted kid who really wanted to matter somewhere. But here’s the thing I finally figured out. I think maybe I’ve been mattering for a lot longer than I ever gave myself credit for.
Whoa, what a concept. That pretty much tips my idea of my own self-worth on its head and, true confession, I’m having a bit of trouble accepting it.
It’s hard to let go of that heavy weight around my shoulders where I feel like I need to do more because I’m not doing enough. But I’m ready to set that burden down alongside the road. I’m ready to say yeah, this is it. I AM seen. I AM heard.
So I’m going to be brave and ask myself a scary question.
Does this mean I am already a success?
And I am not going to hesitate when I step into my light and shout YES!
If you are giving yourself an end of the year review, I hope you are kind to yourself. Don’t look at what went wrong or was left undone. Don’t compare your output to anyone else. Don’t “should” on yourself because that is just going to make you feel bad.
Instead, count every moment of your creative efforts and creative connections as a win. Think about what success means to you. Perhaps you, like me, have been looking at it wrong, or sideways, and perhaps you need to give yourself a little more credit for all you do and for all the lives you touch.
Your creative work matters. Just because.