It may seem odd to be doing a “year in review” essay in April, but it took me most of the first quarter of this year to tie up the loose ends of last year, so I decided to make April 1 my own personal New Year’s Day. Thus the past few weeks, I’ve been reviewing last year and planning for this year, and I wanted to share a bit of that with you.
As I reflect back on 2017, I am most proud of two things: (1) at long last I finally built a consistent exercise habit, and (2) I engaged in creative pursuits far more than I have in previous years. I didn’t realize how vital exercising my creativity is to my personal happiness and well-being until last year when I made it a goal to write a blog post once a month and finish six craft projects. From one perspective, I failed in these goals because I only posted nine blog entries and finished three craft projects. But from another perspective I succeeded wildly because in pursuing these goals I rediscovered an important part of myself that had been neglected while trying to meet the more urgent demands of life (you know, things like going to work, paying bills, getting groceries, and keeping commitments to other people). And just because they were fewer in number than the original goals does not make the blogs that I did write and the craft projects that I did complete any less valuable. The blogs of 2017 you’ve already seen, so let me show you my completed craft projects.
This first one was a huge accomplishment. I had started this cross-stitch project as a gift for one of my sisters over 10 years ago. Every so often–usually a month or two before her birthday–I’d start working on it again and then lose my motivation when her birthday came before I finished it. She was understandably skeptical when I told her it would finished in 2017. And as with previous attempts, it was not finished by her birthday, but this time I persisted in working on it after her birthday and presented it her three months later. It felt surreal to have it completed, to see my cross-stitch bag and not have that project waiting in it. It’s the one present I’ve given with strings attached: if she ever decides she doesn’t want it anymore for any reason, she has to give it back to me or to another family member.
My second project was organizing pictures from our last vacation in a Shutterfly album. Since there were well over 100 photos, this was not just a weekend project for me, especially since I am not content to just drop pictures randomly into pregenerated templates. No, for me it’s like putting together a puzzle, trying to determine which pictures look best in what layout. It was tedious at times, but immensely gratifying when it all came together.
My third project was another crocheted Christmas stocking. Originally, it was for my niece AK who was born in 2016, but when her little sister arrived in December 2017, her mom asked if the stocking could be given to my newest niece for her baby pictures. Thus, I will be working on yet another stocking for AK this year.
There were two other streams that I poured my creative juices into last year – not projects so much as artistic practices. After a 12 year (or more) hiatus, I started playing the autoharp again. It was later in the year when I returned to making music, so my current repertoire is Christmas carols, but I’m looking forward to learning other songs this year.
Whereas all my other creative endeavors last year were hobbies I’ve done before, this last one was completely new: Zentangling. I’d been intrigued by Zentangle designs on Pinterest, so when I came across a beginner’s book on the bargain rack at Barnes & Noble, I decided to give it a try.
I’m totally hooked! It’s perfect for evenings when I’m too tired to read or write; family gatherings when everyone’s watching a sports game I’m not really into; and mornings when I don’t have enough time to complete a task but it’s not time to leave yet.
So how about you? Was there anything last year (or in the first months of this year) that ignited new passions or rekindled old ones?