The life and art lessons I learned from 2015

Wonderful

A page in my ‘Dream Big’ A3 journal

Have you heard the saying ‘Some years ask questions and some years give answers?’

2015 has been a learning and growing year for me. It’s involved some personal epiphanies and transformations as well as some hard decisions.  And along the way, I’ve learned lessons that will follow me into 2016 in the best way – I can feel something great is coming.  And I’m so ready for an amazing year.

life lessons…

be selfish (in a good way).  When you give give give; when you go beyond expectations – not only do people not appreciate it, sometimes they start to expect it. And then you start to feel resentful. Unacknowledged. Taken for granted. Shoved in the corner.  Because you are. It’s a real girl thing, isn’t it?  Putting others first.  So now I’m setting boundaries. Putting my needs first sometimes instead of always last.  Saying no.  And guess what?  The world hasn’t ended.  And I feel like I am living instead of giving everything I had to others with nothing left for myself.  And doing that has given me so much.  I will never, ever go back. Sometimes the world just has to cope without you.

sometimes you need a time out (even when you are a grown up).   For a few years I would get up at 4am to blog (because you are supposed to blog every week according to the experts).  And I would feel like I ‘had to’ do art and read other blogs because that meant you were creative and it would give me something to blog about.  But when you are that busy, it’s busy in a bad way.  And when you are bad kind of busy, you don’t leave room.  Room for new ideas. For listening to what is truly calling to you. For following new paths just to see where they go.  This year I’ve rediscovered that taking time, making that space, can be divine.  Kind of like when you break up with a boyfriend and suddenly you get to know yourself as a person again.  Ahhh… Clarity.  It’s like a renewal isn’t it?

social media is for me (not another expectation to live up to or another chore on the to do list).  I’m pretty new to Facebook. So I’m still figuring it all out but I learned some things this year. Social media is for me. So I refuse to feel obligated to other people. Don’t friend me then ignore me. If you friend me, I’ll cheer for you and leave thoughtful comments. Since you friend-ed me, I kinda figure you’ll do the same.  If not…. See ya.  I am no longer leaving comments out of obligation.  I will never participate in backhanded posts (I know most of you wont share this… Posts yuck!). I’m using social media in a way that is small and tight knit. That is full of cheerleading and genuine comments and kindred spirits only.  No friend collectors allowed.  No people chasing fans with nothing to give in return.  It’s called social for a reason, people.  I’ve gleefully unfriended and unfollowed.  Feels kinda powerful to decide who you want in your circle.

people show up how they can (which isn’t always how you want them to).   I’m an organized person. I’m a person of my word.  I can be a perfectionist and I set really high expectations for my self, for experiences and of other people.  But sometimes people just can’t meet those expectations. They are the person who is always running late or changing their mind. They are parents or don’t have day jobs so they can’t always commit to things the way I can. And sometimes their personality is just really different to mine.  I was letting that get to me.  Then like the song from Frozen… I let it go. I had to accept people are who they are. I could either push people away or I could accept them as they are, while still respecting myself and my own boundaries.  Win-Win.  Ooh, I feel like a grown up.

Art lessons…

practice really does make you better (who knew?)  you really do have to do the work. Which of course, none of us want to hear.  I’ve made some awkward art this year which can be hard when you just wanna be awesome. But every now and then I had a breakthrough. A page I was so crazy proud of.  Discovering elements that I just know are now a part of my signature style and my personal symbology. I cannot tell you the joy I’ve gotten from those moments. The deeper connection it’s given me. Once you have it happen, you crave more.  I will be chasing more of them in 2016.

kindred spirits make you a better artist (and a better person).  This year I’ve had art girl breakfasts by the beach on a Sunday. I’ve done art in the park on a blanket.  On a Monday.  (Art on a work day is a divine indulgence, let me tell you).   And I’ve stayed up until after midnight on a work night talking creativity as we worked in our journals. I’ve had a mentor say words that made me believe my art dreams were not just achievable but challenged me to dream even bigger.  I’ve dreamed out loud with these girls. I’ve messaged them with ideas and breakthroughs and doubts. We’ve cheered each other on. I’m seeing art and creativity so much deeper because of these girls. I’m peeling back layers to find my truth and am a better person for it, as well as a better artist.   I’m feeling more sure in who I am. There is a serenity, a knowing that is so blissful (that’s what Firelight feels like).  And these girls have been such a significant part of that. Seriously – I don’t think I could have done it without them.

stop hiding (that is where the connection is).  This year I’ve pulled away from my teachers and gone on a path to discovering my signature style and my own symbology. It’s easy to hide. Hide in art lessons from your teachers. Hide in replicating what you have already done.  Hiding in repetition and your comfort zone.  But you don’t grow there.  You can’t be fulfilled and hide at the same time. I cannot even explain what it feels like when you connect to your art. To the story, the symbology, the deeper meaning. This year I must have said ‘I can’t just make pretty things anymore’ a million times.  Once you understand how deep art can been, how connected and meaningful it can be, you just cannot hide in the shadows of comfort anymore.  You cannot go back.  You just couldn’t bare it.

learning in a thousand different ways.  My creative view grew so much this year because I grew my list of people to learn from and be influenced by. I did weekend retreats and online workshops.  I bought new art books and mini documentaries. I was determined to figure out my signature style and symbology by looking to my art SHeroes.  Really looking into why I connected to their work.  I did a class with one of my art friends – she taught me and I taught her – which was kinda awesome and crazy and so enlightening.  Highly recommend it.  All of these things have given me deeper influences, clarity on what I wanted more of in my own work and new ways of working.  Transformative.  Truly, truly.

So many people I know had a complicated 2015.  Big lessons.  Awkward beginnings.  Hard endings.  I’m guessing it’s all leading into a year of answers for 2016.  Where all this learning and growing manifests.  Into being in the right place at the right time.  Into a less complicated, more beautiful life.

And into dreams coming true.

Coral xo

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