As this year comes to a close and we dive into a fresh 2024, I have been reflecting on the past 12 months… Specifically, what a year can hold in all of its wonder, confusion, and life! I’m normally not much for resolutions or new years being new beginnings, but this year has held a different story than most and something about it needs a little special attention.
Below are three things that are sticking with me from 2023 that I can’t seem to shake and don’t want to as I step into a new year. You may already be thinking of what your year has held and also may be reminiscing on the learnings, joys, and oh-so-unique moments of that past 12 months as well.
I’m curious, what all you are taking with you from 2023 into 2024? Here are mine!
1)A LESSON FROM A TINY MUSCLE
This past year has had a unique theme. While healing from my knee injury in 2022, one tiny, tough, stubborn little muscle became the key to healing, getting back to the loom, and graduating out of physical therapy… and it also became my unrelenting theme of 2023. This one muscle became both the bane of my existence and the one thing that could make it possible to return to the loom.
The long story is HERE. In short, I had a knee injury in which the pain was so intense and overwhelming to the point that multiple muscles and muscle groups turned off. As most muscles and groups came back online and worked in a normal amount of time, this one muscle took 18 months to turn back on. A year and a half of being away from the loom, having limited mobility, and this darling, singular, thin, and narrow muscle in my leg was keeping me away from so many things that I love.
This muscle has had me puzzled and curious… it has both captured my undivided attention and taunted me with the possibility of working again … The muscle would shake and tremble as I would work it and practice stability and basic movement. Slowly this muscle learned that it was ok to be back, that supports were in place, that there was a whole team already working, ready and waiting for its return.
I have felt for some time now that this muscle is maybe having a little fun with me. Teasing me with some lesson or message. I’ve been pondering what this wisdom could be… Is it that it’s ok to stop and pause when things aren’t aligning? Is it that not every space is made for us, so find the spaces where people are supporting, caring, and invested in you and you in them? Is it that even the tiniest and quietest part of us has a voice and we need to pause and listen? Is it that each of us has our own timeline of learning and personal growth and patience is oh so important for ourselves and for others? Is it that we all just need to go on vacation WAAAYYYY more often and turn our brains off from the grind? Is it that I need a trip to Paris? Do we all just need a trip to Paris?
Whatever the lesson, I am bringing this muscle mystery with me into 2024. I know there is some witty subtext that my body knows that I am slowly awakening to. I feel like I’m constantly being outsmarted and amazed by my body's ability to know what it needs and this is no exception. Just like how this individual muscle was the key to returning to the loom and completing my healing journey… I also feel like it is a punch line to some wisdom that 2024 just may hold.
2) CREATIVITY IS WAY MORE FUN THAN SURVIVAL MODE, AND SOMETIMES BOTH ARE NEEDED
My friends, I think I spent part of 2023 in survival mode. I like to think it was a hopeful survival mode? I’m not exactly sure what it was, but it wasn’t comfortable. Navigating temporary mobility shifts was difficult as I started the year in the peak of my knee injury, but the change in creativity was really what felt off and oh so unfamiliar.
I felt foreign in my own body at times confused by a version of myself that wasn’t flowing with colors, patterns, imagination, and ideas forcing my hands into making. I had lost my natural energy to create. My creativity was completely gone. I had zero interest to sketch, illustrate, sew, build, or even dream up a new color pallet for the loom. It was as if my body and lifeblood needed to pause, be still, and be present. There was this part of me that so deeply missed weaving that it felt like I was on hold or in freeze mode until I could return. Every day I would sit in the evening passing the time by reading, stoking the fire, doing physical therapy, and using whatever ounce of hope I had to invest in the next day hoping that it may be the day my knee and leg start working again.
There was a 3 or 4-month period in which the possibility became real that I may not be able to return to weaving on the Hattersley loom. These were disorienting months. I was desperately trying to face the reality of this potential, honestly experiencing the emotions of sadness, confusion, and anger. Why would so many things fall perfectly in place for becoming this weaver and then not be able to enjoy it and continue my journey? I felt I needed to prepare myself for this potential. What would my creative practice look like without the loom? How would this change my studio, relationships, and financials? I also realized that this would shift and change a very important part of my identity, I was a Hattersley weaver and I wouldn’t be anymore. I talked with fellow artists, hearing advice and picking their brains on new mediums I should try if I had to say goodbye to my first love. Lists were made of new potential hobbies, some new materials were purchased and countless YouTube tutorials were watched in hope of inspiration. Mostly, I was courageously hoping that lightning does strike twice and I was ready to find a new creative home if need be.
Through endless hours of regular physical therapy sessions that started out gentle and evolved into grueling challenges. My body slowly returned to the familiar feeling of walking, moving, and experiencing new strength and stability. With this new normal my creativity started to drop hints, leaving a little trail of crumbs for me to pick up along the way and slowly find my path back to a rich world of inspiration, enthusiasm, joy, and little kid energy bubbling over with ideas.
I am bringing this new spring of inspiration with me in 2024 and I wouldn’t be able to do it without the extremes that 2023 held for my body, my creative practice, and my survival mode kicking in allowing me the space to just get by for a time so that I could come out on the otherside with so much gratitude and a wider love for what I get to do. I would much rather spend all of my time in creative mode AND I deeply respect my bodies ability to know when I need to pause and navigate in survival mode. I am thankful I get to have a fresh start in 2024 with creativity aplenty!
Celebration is important. And I mean IMPORTANT. And feel free to interchange celebration with the words cherishing, honoring, enjoying, harvesting, or anything that includes pausing to mark a moment or occasion!! Any kind of celebration is welcome here!! You may be asking, “Ok, cool, let’s celebrate, sounds fun, but what are we celebrating?” Everything my friend, we are celebrating E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. (See all the drama I added with caps and periods!!!???) E V E R Y T H I N G!!!
You made time to write today. We’re celebrating!
You bought flowers to brighten your home and make you feel special. We’re celebrating!
You turned in a report! It was late! You hated doing it! And it's done! We’re celebrating!!
You washed almost half of the dishes! We’re celebrating!!
You finished washing ALL the dishes! We’re celebrating!!!!!!
Are you finding every excuse to celebrate? Because I'm starting to think life is about finding every excuse to celebrate. Is anyone else noticing this theme?
I am enjoying getting to find small things to celebrate. I am also still celebrating my return to the loom! I am still shocked I get to continue doing this thing that I love! I get to weave magic fabric and work in a medium that gives me light and inspiration for art and for life. I am celebrating in every way I can! There was a colorful scarf release, a champagne celebration with family, and a fresh new journal has been purchased to capture all of my new ideas for coming batches in 2024! It has also been extra special getting to celebrate in community. There is nothing like getting through a difficult time with the support of community AND getting to celebrate with that same community. So, please feel free to pop a bottle of champagne, play a good dance song, or make a cute little smirk, because celebrating is in order!!
Thank you 2023 for being a rough year, a transformational period of discernment, tension, and intention that cleared a path forward. I want this year to be remembered. I don't want to glaze over it and move forward without it because without this pain-filled and irregular year, I would not be the maker I am today. This year was not filled with grace or ease but was filled with a humbling pause with slow, invisible shifts that have allowed for things to reshuffle. Feeling renewed, rejuvenated, curious, and holding so many possibilities lightly while also holding tightly to my hope for the future, I’m willing to dive into a fresh start. With that, thank you 2023. I am so grateful for our time together and must hug you as we part. Drive safe, look for deer, and say hi to your folks for me!
And to dear 2024, we have big shoes to fill! I'm expecting a lot out of us! You better be ready for some shared growth, fierce enthusiasm, gumption, and a very open heart to find more gentleness, joy, and moments of wow. I have some creativity that is not so patiently waiting to play and am hoping to set some joy-filled goals for us to reach together. I have a combined hope and high expectations for a more compassionate, understanding, and a more rooted world both in my heart and for our communities and world.
Cheers my friends!! For making it through 2023 and celebrating our way into 2024!! Wishing you a magical new year!!