Let’s be honest. This year has been shitty and uncertain for so many of us.
It’s been a year of heavy hearts, deflated hopes, financial challenges, unrealized dreams. (tweet this!)
This year was a strange year for me- a year of rare opportunities which I am very grateful for, and challenges I’d rather not experience again.
It was a year of loss:
This was the year we lost many rare, gifted artists. Too many to count. Too many to fathom. A gaping hole waiting to be filled with artists who are still reeling from the loss, who are discouraged by pop packaging and obsession with airbrushed art within the entertainment industry.
I lost one of my favourite poets and one of my first mentors, Rishma Dunlop, to cancer.
I also had to say goodbye to Beit Zatoun House, the community space that housed many events, including both of my book launches. It was a safe space for many of us, and it will be replaced by a condo complex.
It was a year of upheaval:
This is the year we sold our family home, moving our belongings to a lovely place with less room for old memories.
Racism and xenophobia in Western politics, eruptions of violence around the world (and here at home), the canlit debacle, and the Syria crisis (an understatement) dominated our minds, screens and hearts. It was a tough year to process, and we’re still waiting for the other shoe to drop.
In the midst of this chaos, I found myself difficult questions about my creative path, and whether what I’ve been doing for 10 years still serves and challenges me (stay tuned on that front).
It was a year of missed opportunities:
This year, I had to struggle for consistent work.
Opportunities kept slipping out of my fingers, potential partnerships never developed, and gigs that were guaranteed..were..not..so..guaranteed.
I was confident that my relationships with venues and organizations in 2015 would carry through to 2016, but I was sorely mistaken.
This was also the year of my worst workshop experience. ever. Let’s not talk about that.
It was a year of blessings:
This was the year I visited Nova Scotia with my dad and sister, deepened partnerships with organizations I’ve worked for in the past, and learned how to let go and re-evaluate what I do and what I want from life.
It was the year I seized the opportunities I did have.
I worked with dancers, musicians, arts educators and fellow authors, and I am grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to learn, share, grow and collaborate. It was the year I recited poetry to welcome new Canadians, had my story and photo in the Globe & Mail, attended almost every day of the International Festival of Authors, reconnected with classmates at my 10 year reunion, sat on an arts grant jury, made mandalas at the Art Gallery of Mississauga, had my poems tucked into pockets across the country and graduated from with the Mentor Artist-Educator Certificate from the Royal Conservatory of Music.
I taught more than I performed.
I was braver in creating my own content, launching the Ghazal Project in April, experimenting with mixed media and recording my first youtube video.
And to top it all off, I had food, shelter, water, family, and my health.
Indeed, it was a year of blessings.
As we head into 2017, my heart is leaning toward a life of supporting others through their creative journeys, rather than being at centre stage.
I’m no longer interested in being the only one in front of a mic.
I want to stand with other artists, weaving our voices and narratives together to create meaning.
I’m working through Susannah Conway’s “Unravel Your Year” workbook, and encourage you to do it too.
I’m SO READY TO SAY…YELL…SCREAM…
Happy Holidays, friends.
Share your intentions for 2017 in the comments. Let’s be optimistic together.