An Open Letter to 2017

Over the past week, I spent some time thinking about priorities and goals for 2017. I’m excited about all of that (and my new Bullet Journal is ready to roll with action steps for January!), but I don’t want to share that here right now. Instead, I’d like to share an Open Letter that I wrote as a playful look at my thoughts on the year ahead. If you were going to write a letter to 2017, what would it say?

I hope 2017 is treating you well so far!

Dear 2017,

Since this is the first time we’re meeting, I’d like to take a minute to introduce myself: I’m Nicole. I’m a human, and I live on earth. We can chat about more details later if you’d like.

I know you’re new here, so let me be among the first to welcome you. I’m glad you’re here, but I’m also finding it a little hard to believe. Did you arrive more quickly than any of the previous years? In a way, it seems like it. Isn’t time weird?

There were some things I liked about 2016 . . . and some things I didn’t. I imagine it will be the same with you. What are your strengths and weaknesses? If you had to describe yourself in one word, what would it be? What’s your least-pleasant feature? I’m looking forward to learning more about you. I have some other ice-breaker-type questions for you, but I think I’ll save those for another day.

I’ve prepared a brief list of suggestions for you, and you can let me know if you’re willing to cooperate. I hope we’ll become fast friends, but I’m also willing to work around it if you prove to be a little bit more strong-willed. Here’s my list:

  1. Stay around as long as possible. Take your time, allowing your days to feel long and luxurious. Stroll your way through the year, no rush. The slower you move, the more time I’ll have to make memories.
  2. Try to be the kind of year I’ll later come to describe as fun, successful, transformative, the best, or possibly epic. Try to avoid being described as painful, laborious, worst-ever. Definitely do whatever it takes to never be compared to a train wreck.
  3. Here are some things I enjoy, so if you have any say in the matter, please be full of these things: family time, growing friendships, spiritual connection, walks in nature, engaging books, creative projects, work that feels rewarding or worthwhile, good music, laughter, pizza . . . and clarity.
  4. Here are some things I don’t enjoy very much, so if you have any say in the matter, please avoid bringing these my way: arguments, isolation, existential angst or free-floating anxiety, injuries, work that feels tedious or meaningless, grating sounds, bad smells, lima beans . . . and confusion.
  5. Don’t be a meanie.

Ok 2017, my new favorite year, thanks for reading this letter and for your kind attention thus far. I look forward to hanging out with you more sometime soon, like . . . now.


christmaschallenge-fFor a quick final update, I wanted to report that my Christmas Challenge was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed creating daily doodles and seeing the creativity of the other participants! If you’d like to see the results, search the hashtag #12creativedays on Facebook or Instagram. I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!

If you click “Follow”, you’ll be notified each time I post. My regular schedule is a weekly post [usually] every Monday & sometimes I add a mid-week “Collecting Creativity” post about other creative topics. I’d love to share more of my creative adventures with you!

Top 5 Favorite Christmas Songs Countdown (Etc.). . .

IMG_7942.JPGOver the weekend, I toured Winterthur with some friends. Winterthur (pronounced “winter-tour”) is the former estate of Henry Francis du Pont, an avid and eccentric collector. I enjoyed seeing the house with its many beautiful rooms, amazing hand-painted wallpaper, period furniture, and especially several Christmas-themed vignettes with a variety of beautiful Christmas trees (some of them are pictured above).

In my last post, I described my desire to stay focused on a few key values during this Christmas season & I do feel like my “10-ish Questions” have been helping me to stay grounded. How are you feeling about the holiday–any stresses?

In this week’s post, I’m just taking some time (while sipping Trader Joe’s Candy Cane Green Tea) to compile a “Top 5 Favorite Christmas Songs” Countdown, so you can just take a little de-stressing music break if you’d like.

Sidenote: I’m refusing to put on the local radio stations that are playing Christmas music non-stop. I can’t handle, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” or “Dominick the Donkey” just yet, but I have enjoyed listening to a few select songs on my own terms. 🙂 If those two are your favorites, more power to you! 

My Top 5 Favorite Christmas Songs

#5 – Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (There are many good versions of this song, but I’m sharing the Charlie Brown version because the Peanuts Christmas Special is always a fun part of my Christmas traditions.)

#4 – Silent Night (Ok, so this is a pretty country-ified version of it, but how fun is that?! 😉 I’ve always really liked this song at Christmas time. Whenever I hear it, I remember singing it by candlelight at the end of Christmas Eve church services at my Grandparents’ church.)

#3 – It Came Upon a Midnight Clear (There’s not much to say about this. Just a true classic, beautifully performed.)

#2 – What Child Is This? (Hard to compete with the vocals and orchestration on this recording . . . simply beautiful.)

#1 – I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day (Our church Choir performed this a few years ago, and it has been a favorite ever since. I really like the inclusion of a children’s choir, and I also love how honest the lyrics are about desiring peace on earth, especially after a year that has felt a little too frantic in many ways.)

And now it’s your turn: I’d love to hear about (and listen to) some of your favorite Christmas songs. Would you leave a comment & tell me about them?

Have a wonderfully Merry week,

❤ Nicole

Would you like to click “Follow” to be notified each time I post? I promise you’ll never be bombarded with spammy e-mails. My regular schedule is a weekly post [usually] every Monday & sometimes I add a mid-week “Collecting Creativity” post about other creative topics.


Design Principles in Everyday Life #3 – Movement

A special thank you to the subscribers who realized this post didn’t go up on Monday (my regular posting day) and inquired to make sure I was OK — So sweet of you!

I’ve recently been sharing with you about a class called Intro to Design that I took as a freshman art student. In the class we learned 3 basic design principles: Dominance, Balance & Movement, and I’ve been sharing some thoughts about how I see those principles at play in the arts AND in everyday life.

Part 1 discussed the principle of Dominance, and Part 2 was about Balance.

For today, I want to focus on MOVEMENT. 

In art & design, MOVEMENT is the principle that refers to the way objects seem to move or cause your eye to move as you view an image (think of a painting of water rushing around a boat on a stormy ocean). Similar ideas apply in other artistic forms. Think of how you might feel when a song makes you want to move or sway or of the literal movement you see when dancers perform. Skill and knowledge allow artists to use specific tools to create a sense of motion in their work.

In our everyday lives, MOVEMENT can literally refer to physical motion, which is necessary in order to accomplish responsibilities and to keep our bodies working. Movement can also be figurative, as in our desire for a sense of growth, personal expansion, or progress over time. There are times when movement can be easy to make happen and other times when it feels like we have to throw all our effort and weight against something to get even the slightest budge . . . or still get no movement at all.

Here’s a simple example of movement in art:

The well-known painting “Starry Night” (by Vincent Van Gogh) applies a variety of basic techniques to create a sense of motion: swirling lines, diagonals, and a variety of long and short lines follow the flow of motion. Contrasts between dark and light cause your eye to bounce back and forth, up and down, taking in the energy of the scene.

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Here’s a handful of simple, everyday-life examples related to motion:

  • If I work or study at a desk most of the day, sometimes the urge to move will compel me to stand, stretch, or take a walk. I’ll probably need to intentionally add movement to my life, either through time in nature or a structured exercise routine.
  • If I’m in an active career or maybe a parent with young children, my life may sometimes feel non-stop, and I’ll need to learn how to direct my energy of movement for the greatest efficiency (and to allow myself rest when appropriate).
  • If I suffer with a physical illness or disease that limits my ability to move, I may experience the frustration that comes with those limitations and may see negative overall health impacts from the more sedentary situation. Sometimes doctors, medical staff, friends, or family can assist with helping me to get healthy motion into my days.
  • If I’m faced with a personal obstacle, such as a friend or loved one standing in the way of something that I want or need, I may try to exert pressure on that person to make the necessary movement happen, but it’s important that I not attempt to manipulate or deceive this person to get my way–I may need to look for an alternative route or see this as a time to be still and wait.
  • If I’ve been working at the same job for years with no change in responsibilities or opportunity for advancement, I may become restless and desire a change or promotion. Making a move to channel this desire into positive action or probing questions can help me to either find contentment where I am or to take whatever steps may be needed to make a change.

What’s Your Story?

In your creative life and work, how do you use the principle of movement? Do you consider this when you’re painting, illustrating, or in any other creative outlet? If you’d like to learn more about the principle of Movement and ways to apply it artistically, a simple Google search yields dozens of results explaining more.

In your daily life, do you feel a positive sense of motion? Do you have a good amount of physical movement? Too much or too little? Do you feel like something is standing in the way of the progress you’d like to make? Are there wiser habits you can build so you’ll get the movement you need to remain healthy (mentally, physically, spiritually, and otherwise)? If you struggle with getting enough movement in any area of your life, are you willing to admit this to yourself and seek a better path?

I’d love to hear any thoughts about this that you might be willing to share. If you read this & think it might be of value to anyone you know, would you pass it along?

I’m wishing you health, joy, and the ability to keep on moving.

❤ Nicole

Hey there! Would you like to click “Follow” to be notified each time I post? I promise you’ll never be bombarded with spammy e-mails. My regular schedule is a weekly post every Monday & then sometimes I add a mid-week “Collecting Creativity” post about other creative topics.