We are staying home these holidays and I cannot tuck myself away quickly enough. I love this time of year and I am getting ready to slow down, reflect, recharge and refill the well. I look forward to long, unplanned days with my children without having to be anywhere or do anything and warm nights spent up too late reading and watching, with sleep-ins that compensate.
I am taking some time to get ready to stay home though. Is that a normal thing to do?
I am loading up with my summer reading material, stocking up on writing and drawing journals, clearing out the house/cupboards/drawers in preparation for spending time at home without that nagging feeling following me around, beginning new creative projects with my children that we can dip in and out of easily without any level of expertise so we can really just enjoy learning something new for fun. We will be indulging in slower living for as much of the summer break as we can. I am only planning to leave the house if it will inspire our imaginations, feed our souls (or stomachs) or help us feel grounded. This time is precious and I see it as an important way of setting ourselves up well for the year ahead.
So as things start to slow down I am taking a moment, taking a breath, and reflecting on all that has happened in the year gone by. What I have learnt, who influenced and inspired me and what I want more of moving forward.
Here are some of my 2017 highlights and recommendations.
I hope they inspire you to share some of yours in the comments below.
Top 3 personal highlights of 2017.
1. Finally deciding to get a new puppy after 6 years without a dog in our lives. It took me a long time to get over the loss, and work load, of my beautiful 16 year old Molly dog, who was like my first child, but Mabel has reminded my heart how special it is to have that bond. She is naughty and spirited and brings so much joy and laughter to our family. And at last the kids can take this off their wish list!
2. European travel was a major event this year though the trip was challenging in many ways. It was tiring in the lead up. I had to have everything ready for my exhibition before I left as the show was mounted 2 days after my return, and we packed a lot in whilst we were away. So, after opening night I fell in a heap, overwhelmed by exhaustion for weeks to follow. With all of that said however, one cannot travel to new places and remain unchanged by the experience. I find travel really wakes me up and makes me feel more alive in the moment. The trip provided so much inspiration and stimulation of the senses. There were the charming canals of Venice and the quintessential Art Biennale, the stunning streetscapes of Amsterdam, the vast street art and counter-culture of Berlin and then there was Paris….food, art, fashion, design, and so much more. The real highlight however is making memories as a family. We have many stories to tell and make us laugh.
3. Mounting a solo show this year was personally gratifying. I loved having concentrated time in the studio and getting into the flow over an extended period of time. I loved building a large body of work again, allowing me to fully explore my ideas and thoughts. As a result I have forged wonderful new relationships and exciting new opportunities have presented themselves which will unfold in the new year. (More on that to come)
I have been surrounded with wonderful resources, mentors, teachers, and voices who have also added a richness to my year.
Top 3 podcasts of 2017
- ‘Ladies we need to talk’ with Yumi Stynes, in particular the episode on metal load was fantastic. Every woman and mother should have a listen.
- ‘Alone: A Love Story’ is Michelle Parise’s memoir A beautifully told story of love, marriage, parenthood and infidelity. I devoured the whole series in one hit whilst working in the studio but it would be great for a long road trip.
- ‘The Slow Home Podcast’ by Brooke McAlary is a look into living more intentionally with practical steps, great interviews and lots of honest imperfection. (The theme music alone lulls me into a feeling of gentleness).
Top 3 books of 2017
- ‘After’ by Nikki Gemmell. She began the writing of this book the day she found out that her mother had ended her own life. It tells of the difficult relationship she had with her mother and the way she battles to come to terms with her grief. It is beautifully written and raw, and thoroughly compelling.
- ‘Love Warrior’ by Glennon Doyle. A self-described Christian mummy blogger whose brave story tells of her hidden addictions and marriage breakdown. It is told with incredible honesty and insight which made it a gripping read.
- Wayne Dyer’s books. I have read so many this year that I can’t single one out but I find it helpful to have on my bedside table to read last thing at night or first thing in the morning. A snippet of his wisdom to start or end the day helps me recalibrate on a regular basis. He makes the world feel like a safe place again during wobbly moments.
Top 3 books on my summer reading list
- ‘Tribe Of Mentors’ by Tim Ferriss. His new book which I am excited to dip into. Tim Ferriss asks over 100 experts for life advice.
- ‘Chasing Slow: Courage To Journey Off The Beaten Path’ by Erin Loechner. Through a series of struggles following much success the author turns away from fame and frenzy to surrender it all, and to veer right into grace.
- ‘Insomniac City: New York, Oliver, and Me’ by Bill Hayes. I read an excerpt of this book in The New York Times and I have been looking forward to having time for this one. Bill Hayes was Oliver Sacks partner for six years before the neurologist succumbed to cancer in 2015, aged 82. It reads like a love letter.
Plus a bonus…
- ‘I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t)’ by Brene Brown. I love her but haven’t read this early book which seems more memoir. She talks about in on the Design Matters Podcast
Well, that’s me just about done for the year. I would love to hear your 2017 highlights and recommendations.
Have a beautiful holiday season, be kind to yourself, surround yourself with those you love and do things that inspire you.
I look forward to catching up on the other side.