recently I had a friend tell me that she is no longer calling them "goals," but intentions. because, yes, I'm giving up goals for 2016. well, plans at least. so much of 2014 & 2015 were made up of plans. plans to move. how. when. where. and over again: three more times. plans to find a job, down to the last day I'd be able to pay rent without one. projects planned down to the wire so I could get paid for those as well. trips planned around time off from work and when the funds were available. (okay, that last part will carry over, nevermind.)
but, instead of planning and goals, or even intentions, I'm focusing the coming year on things I personally enjoy and things I personally feel like I need to do for myself to stay positive and healthy. I am lucky (knock on wood) that the start of the year will find me already moved in to my new place, and a job that I have been at for almost a year (mid-Jan!). but all the other stuff is where I want to focus - some of these are things I just picked up in the past year and hope to continue, some are things I've done all along and can't live without.
when I started headstands six months ago I kind of did it on a whim. I wondered if I could do it because it looked interesting and challenging. I researched a bit with youtube videos what it was about, what parts of the body were used, and decided I could accept that challenge. my first attempts were awful. with little to no upper body strength and very little core strength and having never spent any time upside down (I didn't even like to be the kid hanging from the monkey bars) I knew it would be a weird and tough thing to learn. but, what I found was I actually enjoyed the challenge. I practiced every day, against the wall at first, and within about a month I was away from the wall. what I was gaining alongside the feeling of a challenge accepted and met, was gratitude from my body. thankyou for using me for something different. thankyou for creating something for us to get energetic about. thankyou for taking your time and learning me and how I work. thankyou for choosing your practices thoughtfully (once you decided you liked it). it seems like a strange thing to get hooked on, but its taken a strange level of discipline, just like anything else I suppose, to get good at it. the outcome: more upper body strength, core & abs! and just the concept of focus. when I'm on my mat in my studio or outside on a blanket or in the middle of the woods on a jacket, as soon as I get prepped to get upside down, nothing else matters for a few minutes.
I know that a lot of people do headstands and yoga. a lot. but my goals (there's that word again) for it are personal and simple (in concept, not in practice) - cradled headstand into forearm stand with head up and facing out. why? because that personal challenge speaks to me. having found it, I encourage you to find what speaks to YOU. maybe its not yoga related at all. maybe its not being upside down that's your thing. maybe its more like you want to run longer than a mile at a time, or ten miles at a time. whatever it is. figure out what works for your body and challenge it. I've never been athletic. I've never set physical strength goals for myself or spent time at a gym. I'm not a climber, a runner, or a biker. but what I do love is being upside down.
I've dusted off a paper journal. this is something I try to start at the beginning of every year and fail miserably at. mostly because online blogging has become so much quicker and easier and oddly gratifying. but, this year I'm hoping to get elbow deep back into paper and pen for myself. this may mean less frequent online blog posts like this one, maybe more quick little snipits on facebook. when I was in my teens and twenties, I would blow through at least one journal/notebook a month. it was crazy how fast I filled the pages. I brought them everywhere with me in my bag or purse, I would write on the shuttle bus into town on my way to work, I would write in cafes and coffee shops, I would write on my lunchbreaks and at night after dinner. point is, I made time to do it.
yesterday morning I woke up out of a fitful sleep at 2am and wrote until 3:45am. it was a slow process with unfocused eyes and I felt lucky I could even form sentences at that hour. but I woke up with so much on my mind that I knew if I didn't put it out somewhere I'd never get back to sleep. for me, writing is all the stuff that doesn't come out when I quilt. its all the stuff that can't manifest itself into colors or shapes yet. its stuff I think about that needs a voice or a body of its own. memories, ideas, thoughts. when I was younger I wrote poems. now I just write everything.
I'm enjoying the concept of writing more for myself and less for the world. I still want to be able to share my story and what I'm doing and why and how, I know that there are lots of people who have enjoyed following along and who have either learned from what I've been up to or know someone they can forward it along to. and that's very gratifying. its nice to be inspiring. but now that I'm past the launching pad part of my journey out here and a whole year has gone by and I have figured out some of the big things, I can feel myself settling. and for me, that comes with a feeling of wanting to hide away a bit. that the things I have now are more personal and less functional. and honestly I feel like I'm spread a little too thin. either too much social media, which is partly my fault because I love it so much, or too many people asking too many things that I sometimes just don't want to answer. so. if you see less of me, this is why. and its something I'm going to have to try hard at.
something I don't have to try at that has been with me as long as writing, if not longer, is quilting. if you've ever read my blog before, or my facebook, or my instagram, then you know. quilting is like breathing for me. even when I have projects piled up and not enough time to do them, its how I see the world. its how I feel relationships. its how I process information. its how I project who I am. and I am grateful everyday for a practice and a passion that I can rely on for all of those things. I recently put out the call for help for fabric, and the quilting community responded overwhelmingly (like, really, you guys where am I going to store all this fabric?!). it really reinforced to me why I do it. there is so much love for art and for craft out there, so many people doing similar things in such different ways. and so many people wanting you to succeed at what brings you joy. how incredible is that?!
to be able to throw my contributions out into the mix is so rewarding, even when things don't sell as fast as I'd like - for me, even at my poorest, its not about the money entirely. I will hold on to that last little bit of creative spark, even if I've been given all of the design plans and fabrics to work with. sometimes its just the process of putting the fabrics through the machine, when it can't be anything else. heading into another year, I'm leaving behind a year of 15 quilt finishes (2 minis, 13 large), and I'd like to meet or exceed that number. but mostly I just want to take the inspiration I've pulled from places I've been and things I've seen and felt, and create. easy peasy.
I don't meditate, but I think hiking is as close as I get. I choose, for the most part, early morning empty trails. unseasonal trails. spots that maybe aren't as popular. because I like the quiet. I could walk twenty miles happily without passing another person. I like to take my time (unless I'm hiking Thumb Butte, which is uphill on the way up and downhill on the way down and takes no time at all and I like to see how fast I can do it and maybe loop around a second time). hiking has become important for me: to get outside and get active. to stay engaged, similarly to headstands, with myself. so many mornings I've laid in bed and thought about what a great morning it is for a hike, and literally pull myself up and out to go. its about not giving in to a comfy cozy bed cave. its about the feeling when I'm done and get in the car to drive home and my legs are tired and I'm ready for a big-man's breakfast. its about the views I often see on these trails. if I could convince myself to go every weekend, I would. but I think its more reasonable to say every two weeks. at least to start. ;)
I'm collecting lists of places I want to hike locally, either again or for the first time. if you've been in and around the northern AZ area, send me your favorites! any hidden spots, bonus points.
the one I knew ya'll were waiting for. I mean, I'd rather eat ramen for the rest of my life than not take trips right now. but here's the reality of it: funds are low. even with moving to a cheaper place I'll be breaking even mostly. there will be some months where there will be extra, and there will be some funds coming in from quilts. there is a jar on my bedside full of coins and a few one dollar bills. that is where my trip money will come from... not just get in the car and go on one tank of gas type daytrips, but weekend trips to Joshua Tree. anywhere i might need to fly to. thankfully, the list of big trips for the coming year is small. no trips back to Maine on the horizon (so if you want to see me, you'll just have to come here!).
but, I do want to get out to J Tree as often as I can. honestly, if I camp and bring food, I can do it for about a hundred bucks worth of gas and fees. do I want to do it that way alone all the time?, not necessarily, but I suppose I would get used to it VS those adorably cushy little airbnb cabins I like to stay in. those cost so much more money... I'll have til spring to think about it, since its a little bit chilly out there in the desert overnight for my taste right now. but yes. I want to camp more. lets camp!
but for me, solo travel, like so many other things I've listed above, is about personal challenge. it feels good. when I get to my destination and see whatever it is that I want to see (daytrip or otherwise), its rewarding. to get the photos and experience the area. J Tree always feels like going home, every time; less about the challenge and more about the comfort, the drive is easy for me and I'm familiar with the town. its more just about being okay alone.
which I think we have all determined I certainly am.
so maybe I'll see you along the way somewhere this year. once I figure out where I want to go...
you can see I have my work ahead of me. things to stick to, things to pick back up. but all of it with good intentions and positive results. I'm looking forward to not so much even feeling a change, because I know it will be pretty gradual, but when this next year is up looking back on what I've accomplished. so different than this year I'm putting behind me in so many ways, but still the same me with the same values and hopes.
if you want to see positive change, you have to make positive change. and I guess that's my only "plan."