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.

TTYL,
Nicole


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!

Creating Silence

Roses.png

A few of you may have noticed that I didn’t write a blog post last week. To be honest, I was dealing with a mix of not feeling well and a good bit of anxiety about recent events, so I decided that silence and self-care were more important than sticking to my blog posting schedule. 

The photo above shows some flowers I purchased mid-week. I took this picture of them in front of a framed print I love that shows a girl who’s gazing at the night sky. (Sidenote: Do you ever buy yourself flowers? Do you think it’s frivolous? Sometimes, when my mind is most preoccupied, their intricate beauty helps to unravel me and reminds me that they were created by a Divine Genius who’s bigger than my worries.)


On Wednesday, I went for a long walk in my neighborhood. It had rained, so it was grey and there were damp, colorful leaves dotting the sidewalks and piled in heaps along the curbs. The scent of after-rain autumn and the coolness of the air were soul-charging.

In the hour I was out, I saw only a handful of other humans and, for the most part, heard nothing but the sound of my own breath, my own moving feet.

During my walk, I thought about the recent election and the turmoil that followed. I thought about friends and family, some of whom are celebrating and some of whom are grieving (both about the election and about other things). I thought about work responsibilities, some of which I’m conquering and some of which feel messy. And for part of the walk, I thought about basically nothing, just looked at houses and cars and trees and felt thankful for the chance to just be . . . thankful for my safe, quiet neighborhood . . . thankful for legs that will move me.

I realized the quiet thinking time was a luxury. Sometimes it’s difficult to find silence, and sometimes it feels impossible to make time (or choose to take time) to disconnect and receive, but it’s so important. I think it’s crucial to allow our brains time to filter and file. I think silence is often the bearer of inspiration and clarity about things that would be elusive if we bury them with chatter. I think God speaks most often in a still, small voice.

In a recent blog post, I shared a study about principles of creativity, and I can’t help but think about how many of those aspects of creativity (such as, thinking and evaluation) would be impossible if we refused to sometimes make room for silence, how little we can get done if we never really listen [Related: Become a More Creative Listener in 30 Minutes or Less].

I know some people may feel they have too much silence in their lives already. If that’s you, this note isn’t for you. If you’re like me and find silence a little elusive but realize it could be an important boost to your creativity and well-being, keep trying.

A Few Final Thoughts About Creating Silence:

  • Make time for it. Find pockets in your busy day to take silence breaks. Schedule it if you have to.
  • Make space for it. Set aside a quiet room, closet, walking spot, or if you have to, get equipment like earplugs.
  • Make it a priority. Balance with your other responsibilities, but when you’re making a choice between silence and unproductive clatter, exercise the discipline to choose silence.
  • Enjoy it. If it makes you uncomfortable, ask yourself why and be brave enough to sit with it for a while.

Wishing you some [inspiring] silence this week,
❤ Nicole


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Find Your Own Adventure

Anyone who’s known me for any length of time will probably tell you that “adventurous” isn’t one of the top adjectives they’d use to describe me (and I can understand why) . . . but I want to let you in on a little secret:

I DO see myself as an adventurer (a curious observer, a try-er, a dare-er), and I’m working on acquainting with that part of me more and more.

I always want to live the kind of life that doesn’t shy away.

The daring part of me has done some wild things (I believe this is spurred on by Divine inspiration) . . . things like moving halfway across the country at seventeen because I felt surprisingly “called” to attend college in the Midwest (just one random example) . . . but my bravery has also often taken a backseat at times when I’ve allowed fear to suppress inspiration . . .

When I was younger, certain experiences resulted in my adopting some labels for myself like “not-athletic” or “uncoordinated” or “limited” . . .  I felt different and other when I compared myself to peers for whom physical activity and adventures (particularly “naturey” ones) seemed to come more naturally.

It’s true: I get sun-burned easily, bugs love to bite me, and I’ve never been in great shape. When I was younger, I was very shy and sensitive in ways I didn’t really understand (ways that I now see as awareness and empathy but at the time felt like weakness). I’ve had chronic illness and stubborn injuries trip me up . . . but I refuse to be defeated by any of these factors because I believe my life isn’t limited by them.


Along with undertaking some new creative projects in 2016, I’ve been continuing the process of pushing past some of my labels in a variety of ways, so tonight I just want to share one of those “pushing past” steps with you . . .

While walking with some friends during our beach trip at the end of July, I decided I wanted to form a small walking group for women who don’t necessarily see themselves as “hikers” but still want to go out into nature, visit places they might not usually think to go, and walk around to see what they can see. So far, we’ve only had 2 outings for our little group. Both have been successful in different ways, and I’m excited for more.

Tonight, we visited Columcille Megalith Park and had the opportunity to view some of the beautiful stones and structures at the park. The things we observed there were rather unique, and I had a mix of a feeling amazed at the structures as well as amused by the question of why people choose to put such collections together.

And beyond any thoughts about the site itself, I felt glad to be . . . just doing it. There was no voice nagging me with nonsense like: “But girls like you can’t do things like this . . . ” or “Well, what if you can’t keep up?” The nagging voice is silenced because I’ve chosen (in faith) to claim all the adventures that are possible for me.

What adventure is waiting for you if you will choose it?

Maybe yours isn’t an adventure in nature.

Maybe it’s a project you’ve been putting off undertaking (or completing) or a relationship you’ve been neglecting to nourish. It could be one of a million things.

Whatever it is, would you tell me about it?


Nicole

 

Click “Follow” if you’d like to be notified each time I post. My regular schedule is a weekly post every Monday – usually in the morning, although this one is coming in late in the day:) & sometimes I do a mid-week “Collecting Creativity” post where I share other creative topics.