When I was in school, I was the kid all the teachers described as “bright, has potential, but doesn’t apply herself.” They looked at me in disbelief– they knew I was capable, but I chose to rebel, to fight, to resist, to choose NOT to do the work.
I thought I had moved beyond this behaviour, but this year, I realised that some of it still lingers– this fear of living up to my potential.
And frankly, I’m tired of it. I’m still working on it, but I’m tired of it.
So how does one write about a year that is full of complexity, grace, fear, joy, stress, inspiration, let-downs, highs, realisations…?
It’s hard to know where to begin. It’s hard to know how to end. All I can think of doing is sharing a few highlights, and a few things to look forward to in 2019. I don’t know if I’ve fully wrapped my mind around this year– that’s the thing with time. It keeps unraveling in our minds and hearts long after it has passed us by.
How to live in the present, but also reflect on the lessons of the past, is something that I’m still learning to do.
That fearful process otherwise known as writing a grant…
So, I took a little risk.
It was a risk I felt my community needed, and that’s the thing about risks– somehow we can risk, try and fail when we feel that it will be invaluable for others, but when it comes to ourselves, well that’s another matter.
After having conversations with community stakeholders and educators, we identified that York Region was lacking arts programs for South Asian women. My dream has always been to host and facilitate a South Asian Women’s Writing Circle, and so, I decided to apply for my first OAC Arts Education grant to fund it. And, to my own surprise, I got the grant. We planted the seed, and it’ll take root in 2019 (stay tuned).
That little thing called surgery…
I love to be in control. To create magical plans, intentions and ideas. To organise them in images and words. To see them come to fruition. To attempt to accept when they don’t.
I like to know that I can rely on a schedule, a set of dates where I have gigs, workshops, plans in place. Maybe it’s because I freelance, and I’m responsible for my own income. Maybe because I’m human, and let’s face it– we crave being able to control outcomes.
Although I’ve had surgery many times before, it had been 9 years since the last one. My financial situation was less precarious (I was doing my MFA, in a blissful state of writing before being published). I had more security, and less stress. The glory of being 20-something. Not to say that I didn’t have my issues, but they were different than the ones now. Let’s say that I was better at being distracted from my own fears.
This time was different. There was more pressure to recover. There was more pressure to do it “right”. There was more pressure to be “prepared”. While some of this pressure was situational and systemic, it was also mine to own (read more about it here).
I agonised about my pending surgery (THE DAY), and had to keep bringing myself back to the one thing I was in control of: my thoughts. I worked through this with the help of friends, and my teacher. That’s the thing about having a major life event– you find out who is really present for you. I’m lucky to know who my community of support is, and how I can support them.
Take the flame and run with it…
While recovery was slower than expected (ha! what did I expect? life is life), I had something to look forward to every week: the visit of my mentee, Natasha, who wrote a beautiful and nuanced manuscript of poems. We worked on polishing and arranging these gems, and I felt privileged to be part of the process. Every time I saw the glimmer of potential in Natasha’s eyes, I felt a sense of renewed purpose. I was reminded of my responsibility to nurture my own gifts so I could nurture the gifts of others.
I could go on and on, but there were so many more highlights and lows, that it’d be impossible to contain them all. From making nature mandalas for Indian Summer Fest (Vancouver) to writing poems for paintings at the Varley Art Gallery, it has been a year of taking small creative risks.
Tree Garland, Indian Summer Fest
Spiral Mandala, Indian Summer Festival
Lost Daughters, Arc Poetry Magazine
Triple Goddess Performance, Bollywood Monster Mashup
Left to Right: Whitney French (poet), Sheniz Janmohamed (poet), Anik Glaude (curator at Varley Art Gallery), Pushpa Raj Acharya (poet)
End of year rituals…
Before I let go of the year, I like to take time to record and reflect. Susannah Conway’s Find Your Word course and Unravel Your Year workbook have been my favourite tools for the past three years, allowing me to dive deep before coming up for air in the New Year.
I love the idea of switching out objects and books on my shelves to reflect the mood of the season, as recommended by Robyn Griggs in her book, The Wabi Sabi House: The Japanese Art of Imperfect Beauty.
It’s also a time of purging and donating books, clothes and other things that I’ve been holding on to for no particular reason.
Things to look forward to in 2019…
Well, I did it. I launched my PATREON page. If you’ve been enjoying my posts and offerings, please consider supporting my creative work so I can continue to inspire you!
Join me for this Winter Workshop. I promise it’ll be full of creativity and joy.
Continue to watch this space for online offerings (!!), programs, workshops, gigs and some surprises that are still under wraps!
I’ve created a FREE 2019 Intentions downloadable. If you want yours, enter your email address below with the subject line “2019”