2019; Slowly finding a new me

Cutting it close on this last day of the year, I do want to say a few words about how this year has been for me. I've been wandering around with snippets of this blog posts wafting along in my head for months now, but I haven't sat down to write it yet. Somehow, though, it doesn't feel right to let this year close before writing this and sending it out into the world.


Last year, 2018, was probably the worst year of my life. Among many things, the worst was that I lost my gran, who was also like my mother, and I felt like my world had been destroyed. During the last months of the year I decided to take time to grieve and let all the implications of having to live my life without her, descend on me. It was a very hard time, but I needed it.
This year, 2019, I started on the path to finding out who I am without her. I learned so much about myself this year, and by now, at the last day of the year, I feel safe saying, that against all my expectations, this was a really good year for me. I grew more as a person than I ever thought possible in just one year. There are quite a few important things that have always tripped me up, that I was finally able to, mostly, unlearn. How about that? I definitely didn't see that coming at the beginning of the year.

In a quick summary, this year was the first year I really committed to a Summer season of several art fairs, which went really great and were a huge confidence booster. I learned to stop wanting approval from people whose approval I really don't need, people who actually hold me back instead of helping me grow. I learned that letting go of these people made room for lovely new people gravitating into my orbit that actually do help me grow. This year was the first year since I had my little art studio, I was able to give it my full time attention, which super paid off. I did several new things I find scary and they turned out quite doable. I butted heads with people who intimidate me and I came out the other side, still intact. I worked on finally, finally, not letting a big chunk of my headspace be taken up by worrying about my weight and learning intuitive eating. And most importantly, I published my first ever children's picture book! My lifelong dream.

I couldn't actually tell you what I'm most proud of or happy with having learned or achieved this year. I just feel so good about all of it together. I took time to heal, I took time to focus on my own path and it made me grow into a person I don't know I could've become if I had still had the safety net of my gran always being there for me. It's as if she transformed from being my anchor to being my wings.
Because, this year has still very much been about my gran. In everything I did, I felt her with me, spiritually cheering me on. In everything I did, I asked myself what would she have wanted for me? Because as I've said before, she was my rock, and my lifelong supporter. She always wanted me to chase my dreams and my talents, she wanted me to do what she hadn't been able to do.
So at the beginning of the year, I made a little altar dedicated to my gran on a little vintage table that I got from her, and most every night I light a cande on it, greet her and talk to her. Sometimes I ask for guidance, sometimes for strength, sometimes I just wish her happy travels, whatever I feel the need to.


The most important clarity I felt was the need to finish and publish my first book. I had been putting it off for so long. I was always getting distracted by people who I thought needed me but didn't, by emergencies, drama and my own jerk brain that told me my energy should not be spent on my childish dreams because they would never come true anyway. Instead my jerk brain made me leak all my energy and time into distractions and situations and sometimes people who just hoovered away my energy. It made me chase other people's potential instead of my own. My gran was always scolding me about putting off writing because she knew it was what I have wanted since childhood. She gave up her childhood dreams and she didn't want me to do that as well. Especially because I actually have so many of the opportunities she didn't get, being born a girl in the class and time that she was.
The story for my book I actually wrote at the end of 2016 and beginning of 2017. I was sad and desperate about the state of the world because of all the political upheaval and I needed to let something out to help me make myself feel better. That is how Bakkerina Bloem (back then written in English and called Bakerina Flour) came to be. But this year I finally went back to her, I revised and rewrote and edited the story so many times, I can't count them anymore. I outlined the illustrations to accompany the story and just started on them. I found a small publishing company in the Spring and worked all through the Summer (while also doing several art fairs and making stock for those) to get all the illustrations done in time for the 1st of September deadline. And by now, Bakkerina has gotten her own wings and flown into the world and made quite a few people smile already. It's a feeling I can't even describe. There are no words to express how much that means to me.


My other artwork, however, also got a lot of attention this year. I decided to go to a number of art fairs this Summer season, and against my expectations, I LOVED going to them. I loved talking to people about my art and people actually being interested. It was super tiring and energising at the same time. The compliments I got about my work, made my head swim. I was absolutely sure that my work would be a bit too weird for this region I live in. But the amount of people who totally loved my work, and the amount of people who bought and took home pieces, flabbergasted me! As I said, that was a huge confidence boost for me this year. I felt like I finally got the validation that it's worthwhile what I do. That I could bring some happiness to people with what I do and make. There were people who got emotional interacting with my work, which gave me a very profound feeling of gratitude for the creativity I've been given. It's defnitely not self sustainable yet, financially, but after this year I finally am really hopeful that it will be some day. Maybe even sooner rather than later.


By now dreams are popping up which before this year I would've dismissed for being too outlandish. But now I feel like if I work hard for them, I might be able to make them come true. There are so many plans swimming in my head that I feel like I need to sit down at some point this coming month and write them all down and sift out what is doable for this next coming year and what requires more time and building up of skills. There are some things that I don't want to reveal just yet, some because I don't want to jinx them (yes, I am a bit superstitious) and some because I'm not sure yet how they will pan out. But I can tell you that a new book is in the works. I am hoping to get it published this coming year, 2020, but I can't make any promises ;-)
I want to do at least the same art fairs that I did this year, maybe a few more. And I want to work on some new designs, because I think it's boring if my stall has the exact same things on it each year. But, never fear, I definitely picked up what goodies were most popular this year, and I will certainly be making more.


I hope you all had a good year in 2019, and if not, I hope you get the time to heal from whatever it was that hurt you this year. And I wish you all, from the bottom of my heart, the happiest of new years, with lots of love, good food, travel, growth, laughter and glitter, whether literal of figurative.
So, bring on 2020!

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