I regret little, but in looking back I am disappointed at my not participating in a reflection project for 2011. That year was so excruciating and painful and joyful and liberating and full that it is very much a blur of change. I should have recorded some part of it - though a peek into my December Daily 2011 will certainly give an indication to why the project did not get completed!

I enjoyed participating in reverb10 which resulted in a beautiful blog, a wonderful keepsake album and a collection of incredible memories - fully recorded. For 2010, I will always remember where I was and where I was planning on going. I want to go through that same exercise again for 2012. This past year was equally worth remembering.

Not that I have an abundance of time this year, but I do have a great desire, so that will have to do! I have curated a number of prompts from many resources. Those I've selected can be found below as well as a few of my own, they have each been attributed as best I can.

31 December 2012

day thirty one | moving forward

prompt: moving forward

Close your eyes and imagine yourself on January 1, 2014. Where do you want to be - in your heart, in your soul, in the world? (Author: Me)

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It's late afternoon, no doubt I'll be relaxing in my living room:

lounging on the couch with a book in hand
wearing a new black duster sweater, preferably cashmere
in a smaller size - it starts with a 1!
with a blazing fire warming the room
a football game is on the tv in the background, the volume turned low
texts will come in from the kids, just checking in because they want to
I'll be cautioning them to be careful as the roads are slick with snow
a homemade tortiƩre is baking in the oven
a fresh multigrain baguette will be ready to slice 
and a salad awaiting dressing is in a bowl on the counter
the final draft of my book will be sitting on the coffee table
a friend will ask me if I want to join him for a glass of wine
and I will

THAT is exactly where I want to be on January 1, 2014.

day thirty | year in review

prompt: year in review

As you reflect back on the happenings of 2012, what are your high points and what are your low points? What do you notice as you look back on the year as a whole? (Author: Carolyn Rubenstein)

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As a whole, I was the recipient of many lessons this year. I am grateful for so much ...

being settled in my own thoughts, 
and loved by those whom I love, 
and comfortable in my surroundings if not yet my own skin, 
and curious about things and people around me, 
and accepting of things I can't change, 
and aware of the agendas of others,
and open to new ideas and opportunities, 
and trusting my intuition and instincts, far too long repressed,
and determination to do the right - if hard - things, 
and discerning of those people and things I invite into my life, 
and honest to those who deserve it, 
and judgmental of things that threaten, 
and brave enough to face my fears, 
and surrounding myself with kindness and respect,
and dreams that bring clarity and insight.

Onward to embracing more patience, attempting more spontaneity, holding my tongue when the argument is not worth the effort, no longer apologizing for listening to the music I like or watching the movies I enjoy - indeed, no longer avoiding the things in life that brings me joy for fear of ridicule.

This year was the year I returned to me. This version is older and slower but a smarter and kinder, too. I think I like this version, though I do have to work on a few things to encourage contentment and improve my fitness.

day twenty nine | view

prompt: view

Imagine that you can view yourself from above. Watch carefully. What are you doing? What are you trying to accomplish? As objectively as possible, are you going in the right direction? (Author: Me)

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For this prompt, I think I'll engage my inner critic and unleash it, a little bit.

Dear Lee,

As I watch you, from high on my perch up above your beloved bookshelves in the living room, I see you wearing that awful black sweater, sitting at your desk working on your computer. Always at your desk. Always working on your computer. What keeps you so busy? It's not like you're being paid to write, it's not a job, you're not doing anything important. The chair isn't even comfortable!

From here I can see many piles of paper and magazines; magazines and paper. Why are they in piles? Are you keeping them, throwing them out, filing? You keep wanting to live in an uncluttered environment and yet you keep bringing in clutter. Paper, paper, everywhere there is paper.

From here I can see your sneakers. Unworn in what, three or four days? How are you going to take off that disgusting weight if you don't move more? The kids are on holiday and that's no excuse, you have to get up from the desk and lace up those sneakers and move. Go out the front door.

From here I can see rows of books, piles of them in no particular order, just waiting to be read. What are you waiting for? They won't read themselves. You keep buying them but never read them. What a waste.
From here I can see your camera. When was the last time you used the DSLR? Captured more than a simple snapshot?

From here I can see dirty dishes in the sink. It's nice to see that you've finally started eating breakfast but you have to clean up after yourself.

Get it together, woman! 
Frustrated beyond belief,
Your inner critic

Dear Inner Critic,

I am doing the best I can with what I have where I am right now. I am saddened but undeterred by all the criticisms. I am going in the right direction. It will all come in time. I live in hope.

Peace and patience,

day twenty eight | space

prompt: space

We all surround ourselves with the things we love. A few favourite things - a blanket, a lamp, a piece of art, a chair, a lovey - something inanimate that brings us happiness. What do you have in your personal space that brings about happiness? What is the story attached to it that has it in your sacred space? (Author: Me)

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As corny as it sounds, as long as I have my kids around I'm surrounded with all of the things I love. But, there are a few inanimate pieces in my space that bring me contentment and joy. 

One of the great benefits of divorce, particularly separation from a collector (er, hoarder) is the freedom from the encumbrance of stuff. Not that I don't collect things: books, scrapbook supplies and white bathroom towels immediately come to mind, but the scale is very different. Now that our space is reduced to one-third of what it was, I can only have things I like, and those things I don't like - or that are proving impractical - are quickly being removed or replaced.  

My home is slowly evolving into a space I love. The paint colour is a soothing gray with a hint of blue accented with caramel gold and chocolate brown. The furniture is stylish and comfortable, not an easy combination, with additions of throws and pillows. Books line shelves and my new project is to purge them and keep only those books that are well-loved and will be shared. I hope that all of the big expenses are over and now I can focus on simply stripping things back to be only things I love and use.

To choose one thing that brings me most joy in my home, I would have to choose my  bookshelves. Really. They were custom made years ago. The detailing is classic, very simple and symmetrical and covered in a dark, espresso stain. They are huge and deep and hold my beloved books, journals, scrapbooks, framed photos, souvenirs, television (mostly used for music) and artwork. I think I'd be content to live somewhere with my cast iron skillet, a white bath towel, a new bed and my filled bookshelves, though I really wouldn't want to strip things down quite that far!

When it came time to divide the house contents, there were very few things I felt I needed to have for me and the kids. In hindsight the bulk of the "good" stuff was left behind, but the reality is that I got all of the things that make me happy.

30 December 2012

day twenty seven | compliment

prompt: compliment

What is the greatest compliment you could give? Are you worthy of the same praise? (Author: Me)

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When I wrote this prompt, I knew it would be a difficult one for me to answer. I have great admiration for a number of people, but more often do not give voice to that admiration. I don't want to come across as overly interested (aka, nosey!). I have consciously made an effort through this past year to tell people what I feel about them or their behaviour in the most positive way possible. Next year it's my hope that I'll be giving compliments all over the place!

I think the greatest thing I can say to some one is:

"Wow, you left it all out there, didn't you? Well done!" 

Be it on a page, on a canvas, on a stage, on a court, I most admire when people are courageous enough to lay themselves bare. The closest this year was Claire's Chapel Speech. She dug deep and came out with one of the greatest orations I've ever had the privilege to witness. To have such insight and sense of self at sixteen is something to be admired. I hope she is able to hold onto it forever. I'm so ridiculously proud that she has learned such wonderful lessons, and that she chose the perfect venue to express them to her greatest friends and critics. 

(the speech starts at 3:50)

To Claire, I say "wow, you left it all out there, didn't you? Well done!"

I have not had the same courage. I do in fits and starts and some of the elements are there but nothing consistent. I have a massive laundry list of things that have to be started and finished before I can focus on anything other than raising my children. I'm not looking for the stars to align or for circumstances to be perfect in any way, I'm just looking to jump off the wheel for enough time to regroup and figure out what it is I really want to do.

I mean, I love what I do now, but I have a sense, becoming more intense with each passing day, that there is so much more for me to accomplish. There will be an opportunity for me to gather my courage and embrace my vulnerability and lay myself bare in some manner I haven't even considered. In preparation, I am going to do something I've never done before: wait.

I am impatient by nature but I think it's time for me to be quiet, to not push, to have a sense of destination but not to create it frame by frame but enjoy the revelation as opposed to the creation. Maybe then I'll be able to say to myself "wow, you left it all out there, didn't you? Well done!"