We’ve had our ups. We’ve had our down. We’ve had everything in between. So tonight I want to say thank you. I’ve decide that having a attitude of gratitude will serve me well as we head into 2017. I’m putting off my disgust, disappointment, and yucky-yucks. I’ve acknowledged them, talked to dear friends about them, and am choosing to learn from you and grow. For from this valley, I will rise. You cannot keep me down. Tonight, I set my intention on the beauty ready to unfurl in 2017 because of the weeding, pruning, and trials of 2016. I leave you all with this remembrance of the year and a hope for the coming new year.
2016, you showed me I could take impossible risks. I think sometimes we are more super hero than we realize. We summon strength from hidden depths. The last 12 months have taught me I could dig deeper for will power, grace, and tenacity even in not-so-great circumstances. Such is this life we’re all living. I have faced my own giants. I’ve taken more risks. I jumped into the work of being and doing and creating. I chose to purposefully respond in the opposite spirit when faced with ugliness. I tried my best to practice kindness toward myself and others. I am still learning to see people as made in the Image of God especially when their actions defy my desire to believe this truth. It is not easy.
Yes, it’s been that kind of riding roughshod, in your face, get-knocked-down-but-get-back-up kind of year. It wasn’t all sunshine and roses. But for the grace of God, I’m still standing. And it’s also what I’m saying more yes to – fearless living. I have learned throughout this year, it is in the walking through the valley, through the hurt, through the pain, and through the discomfort that I gain strength, diligence, and increased faith and hope.
I’d like to leave you with twelve things that have stuck with me this year from each month.
- January – Break the give a dam. Yes, you have to break off those things that hinder you from living your divine calling and purpose. It wasn’t easy to hear those words, but I can tell you I was break dams left and right. Ask my friends, they can tell ya. Alls I can say is that something you must break down the barrier within yourself that holds you back.
- February – We are so worth loving and nurturing our lives with kindness and compassion. Our lives are precious and beautiful. Art is a way to express ourselves and what we seek for our lives. For me it’s another way of seeing and imagining. I do this in art journaling and gluebook. Sometimes they turn out prophetic. Other times that are affirming and life giving. All in all, I’d say take more time to play, discover, stop and start doing – no more waiting if you already waited long enough, and create!
- March – Process and progress go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other. Start. Begin. Do. Whatever it is you’ve been meaning to do for ages but can’t for whatever reason, well, get into action. Plan. Do, and Grow. You have to start somewhere, everyone does. We don’t just wake up successful or prosperous. It comes as we go – step by step faithing it all the way. This was the month I also reflected on the Extravagance of God.
- April – We can do what we think we cannot do when we show up and then keep showing up. Being consistent and constant are ways we become what we wish in our actions and deeds. Doing the 100 Day project helped me engaging in practicing art and weaving it with words. It allowed me to also envision more ways to share on this website – more on that later in January. What I’ve come to know is this – we have to show up. We have to listen to our gut. We have to quit those things that are robbing us of life and purpose, and choose to be our whole selves. Be steadfast, and you’ll find you an do impossible things one step at a time.
- May – You gotta know when to quit. Plan for it. Stay accountable. Launch when ready and land. Sometimes this is seriously arduous work especially if it’s lifestyle or career related, but you gotta do you. You gotta listen to your soul. You gotta pay attention to what God is whisper deep inside your heart. Listen. He will lead you rightly. Resolve to do what’s beating in your heart to do. Grow it. Nurture it. Share it. The world needs your voice and story as only you can give it. So get out there and run with it.
- June – Each of us is created to do good work. Seriously, it’s true. You have a divine gift you were already born with. Have you seen it? Are you growing it? No indictment here, just an invitation to look within and unearth you be and what your truly meant to do in this world. We only have this one life. Let’s live them well! And I want to encourage you to remember that you are extraordinary – you really are. This was also the month I talked about race, prejudice, and discrimination over at the Mudroom Blog – what an honor!
- July – I can do impossible things like be an Art Teacher with the Dream Campaign in Savanna, Georgia. They serve at risk youth hard core. Morgan and Glenn are some of the most dedicated, real life people I know and love. It was an honor to serve them and invest in the lives of the young folks they serve. That was the most awesome experience. I learned I am more than just one thing. I have multiple gifts with multiple expressions. I think we all do, and that’s pretty cool.
- August – Do not give in. Do not give up. Do not quit. There is beauty to be found in the struggle. The battlefield of life can feel like a dreadfully lonely place, but we don’t have to walk alone. Community matters. Staying connected matters. Praying through and holding on to faith matters. Moving forward in tough times can be hard, but worth it.
- September – Sometimes you have to be here. Be here. Be rooted. Be planted. Be grounded. Be where you are even when the ground you’re planted isn’t where you really want to be. Learn to BE anyway. God will show up and walk with you. You’ll never walk alone when you belong to Him. Sometimes those valleys become launching places. This was the month I was published over at Altarwork – a Christian based faith in the arts organization showing artists, poets, writers, and musicians. What an honor!
- October – I can do things with consistency when I set my intention, and it also works better if I plan it out. I know this may sound strange coming from an educator, but I don’t always plan for life the way I plan for student success. I want to apply those same principles to my own life. I’m worth it, and I will continue to affirm faith, hope, and love in all I do. This was the month I wrote a 31 Days of Affirmation series. It helped me stay focused on positive uplifting things even when my life was wonky. Affirm hope friends. It matters. We can be productive in not-so-ideal circumstance.
- November – When we are hard press on every side, we are not without hope. I have found so much grace in very thin places – I’ll write more on that later, but when you’re in the throes of a trial you must hold on to faith, speak with faith, and tell the mountains to move. Let’s just say this was the month stuff was hitting the fan every where for everyone. I have some words of hope on that stuff too here, here, here, and finally here – I guess I was on a roll.
- December – Risk is nothing to fear nor sideline. As we go, the road appears. Every step deeper in builds our faith and ability to do what we once though was impossible. For me it included opening an Etsy Shop – The Art of Affirmation and customized my mixed media art. I never would have dreamed that for myself; however, I cultivated a practice of art making through out the year. Cultivation matters when you want to leap. Keep tilling the ground of your dreams, and you’ll begin to see the integration of your life.
Last year my one word was three: rest, recalibrate, cultivate. Funnily enough, I did all three throughout the year and sometimes without intention. I think sometimes that’s how one word(s) works, it fleshes itself out through you soul to fingertips as you engage your life, hope, dreams, and people you love. It becomes evident almost with you realizing it’s taking shape in you. For this upcoming 2017 year, I have a new word, YES, I’ll write more on that later, but I’ll say this – it found me; I didn’t find it. It came to me while I was in the middle of something else. Isn’t that just like life? Showing up and inserting itself when you least expect it to, but I’m also going to keep rest because I could always use a little more of it.
Final thoughts and a call to action for 2017:
God is always calling out (speaking) life and impossibility. He is far beyond what I can see or sometime imagine. He doesn’t stop there. He sees to it that the good work He calls forth is completed in me and you. He’s good that way. And I want to do the same in my own life – speak faith and call those things that be not as though they were. This is not woo. It is activating faith. Living faith and others practicing faith. I believe we’ll see and experience more miracle in our ordinary everyday as we pray, believe, and act in faith. What are you calling forth or reaching for in 2017? Where do you need to see a change? Believe for it. Pray it out. Speak faith. Tell your mountains it’s time for them to move. You can also sign up for my newsletter. It’ll be a compilation of faith, hope, encouragement. Sign up at http://eepurl.com/5wD8n