Like many people, perhaps most, I find the end of the year the perfect time for reflection--for looking back on the past year and looking forward to the next. And like most people, I had the habit of making resolutions each year.
Of course, I'd never keep a resolution. I'd never lose the 70 pounds, become a regular at the gym, write for thirty minutes a day, quit eating sugar, or any of the other promises I'd make to myself. I imagine I could have won money betting against myself. I often used my failure to punish myself. To shame myself. To feel less worthy. All in all, this resolution business was not working for me.
Loyalty Beyond Reason
Corpus Christi, TX
Like this dog who has long survived his stone master but continues to look to him for guidance, I kept expecting this cycle of unrealistic promises and shame to lead me to become a happier more fulfilled human being.
Last year, I broke that cycle. I decided instead to name a theme for the year. 2010, I told myself, was the year of community. I announced my resolution on my previous blog, and I decided that all I would do was keep that goal in mind. Somehow, I would find the tools I needed to grow my community.
Some surprising things came of this, almost immediately. I had recently bought a good camera, and I decided to begin taking photographs. Almost immediately, I started taking myself and my photos seriously. I don't know where this came from. A few months earlier, I would have thought it hubris. But in a very short time, I went from being a regular gal who likes to take photographs to a professional photographer. Just. Like. That.
And having a business has led me to reach out to people I might not normally reach out to. It has led me to go places I wouldn't normally go, to talk to strangers, to ask for email addresses, to insert myself into the conversation. The last few months, I have worked purposefully building an email list. Building a community of people who like images.
Karen Jensen, photographer
Photograph by Tanith Korravai
And I've worked on building community in other ways. I have allowed myself to reach out to people, risked feeling foolish, have worked to be honest and vulnerable with people. I have not built a community of hundreds of people by being vulnerable, but there is a small, strong group of women and men that I can rely upon on a deep level. And there are many others who care, and about whom I care. That feels like community to me.
Some of the lessons of this year have been hard. I've had to let go of a couple relationships that were not healthy in order to make room in my heart, my head, my life for the communities that encourage growth, art, happiness, even serenity. I've never been one to give up on relationships, so this one was hard. But you know what? I managed. And it worked. I've never felt so free and so alive.
McNay Art Institute
San Antonio, TX
2010? It was an awesome year! In many ways, it was the best year of my life. And I find myself eager to find out what is to come.