Looking back at the past year, I really don’t know what to think. I wouldn’t exactly say that it was a bad year for some good things did happen, but all in all it left a sour taste. I was ill several times, and there were quite a few things beyond my control that required too much attention.
Of course, as usual, there have been ups and downs. For a change, there has been no lengthy period of time where I couldn’t be creative at all, which was a good thing. On the other hand, a lot of things that I usually do more of came decidedly short this year and not even half of what I had planned got done—at least it feels like it.
Something always has to give, and since this cannot be work since I have to earn money, there are always cuts in my private life. Which I hate! I shouldn’t think of all the things I could do if I didn’t have to work because that is not an option, but sometimes I just can’t help it.
In a way, 2016 continued to be the year of planning. I added 3 bullet journals to my already quite elaborate planning system: one for creative projects, one for mundane chores to carry around, and one for work.
The one for chores and the one for my 9-5 work really well. I’m not so sure about the one for creative projects yet—I’m not sure whether that has actually made me more productive. It’s hard to measure.
For creative “work,” I still struggle to actually do things once they are on a to-do list. However, I currently find it really useful as a sort of simple diary, success journal, and activity planner. Besides, it’s fun to do as such. 🙂
In general, I was already way better organized for the things that I did do. My July 4th BBQ and my Halloween party food were elaborately planned way ahead of time and I had all my Christmas presents by mid-November. I finally got around to organize my tools and materials. And writing everything down into a Bullet Journal is a huge help as well since I don’t have to keep things in mind anymore.
The Year of Less
I’m still struggling to make my year the “Year of Less.” The idea comes from the podcast Cortex. For me personally, this basically sums up as reserving time and energy for the things that really matter by identifying and getting rid of things that I actually don’t really care about that much.
Most prominently, I have trouble taking my mind off work when I’m not working. This has to stop because it unnecessarily sucks up so much time and energy. It’s a habit that is hard to break, thus it is my number one Resolution for 2017. For if I get this to work, I’m sure it would help to solve a lot of other issues in my life because it would give me more energy and more joie de vivre.
My Blog Came Decidedly Short
Unfortunately, my blog was one of the things that decidedly had to give this year. Although I had planned in last years’ resolutions to keep to 3 posts per month in 2016, there were months were I didn’t post at all and hardly a month where I managed even 2 posts, let alone 3.
Some seasonal posts at least came out during the season (Easter baking, Back to School, some Halloween posts), but others were again late or haven’t come out at all yet (I still haven’t managed to report on the actual Halloween party and dinner, for example).
I’d really like to change that again in 2017 and post more.
Writing in general again came very short this year. While I love writing, it is an activity that I just can’t simply sit down in between a busy day and just do a little. Especially not fiction writing, but even non-fiction writing isn’t something I can do in passing. It has become really difficult for me to fit writing into my life.
However, it is still the hobby I care about the most, so I took some steps to get it back in: I participated in a weekend writing workshop this year and my regular writing group is planning another reading early next year. We’re also discussing to publish an anthology with short stories together. I just have to find a way to write more again, not just for those deadlines but also in general for my own sanity.
What Also Came Short
Actually, a lot of things came short in 2016, most prominently: Creating photo books (I made only 2 in the entire year), bookbinding (the only thing I made were new pages for my DIY calendar), and knitting (I only worked on one scarf that I had already started in 2015 and didn’t even finish this year).
What Didn’t Come Short
When I did have time, it mostly went into course preparations for my class. I still have a lot to learn where efficiency in preparation is concerned, but there has been progress. I also felt more relaxed and found that I’m beginning to get a better feeling for how much material is needed for one lesson. But I still love teaching and really enjoy doing it, even if it takes up so much of my time.
Some new things—as usual—also came in. However, this time a lot of them were rather filling the gap where I couldn’t really have done anything else anyway—except sewing.
New Discoveries: Sewing and Doodling/Coloring
The big winner in 2016 was certainly sewing. I used to have a terrible, unreliable, old sewing machine that made sewing no fun whatsoever, so I hardly ever did it. Now that it finally broke down in May this year, I got a used but much better one that actually makes sewing fun.
So sewing was the one thing I did a lot this year: I made a sofa cover for my old couch, Back to School DIY pencil cases, some gift bags for Christmas, a pair of trousers, my Halloween costume, and my first Halloween pillow. There will certainly be more to come in the next year.
Also, I discovered doodling and coloring as new hobbies. Frustrated with my inability to make acceptable drawings in my bullet journal, I decided to participate in a doodle challenge to practice a little. Since I liked doing this a lot (even though I’m fully aware that I’m not really good at drawing and never will be) and since this was shortly before my favorite holiday ever, Halloween, I even ended up creating a challenge of my own, the Halloween Doodle Challenge.
Then, the new trend of coloring books for grown-ups finally reached me and I gave it a try. I haven’t done much there yet, but I like it and find it very relaxing.
A resolution I made some time ago was to try out at least one new recipe every month since I was always collecting recipes but always making the same, well-known things. It doesn’t always work out, but food has to be made anyway, so it is a little easier to fit that in.
A lot of things came short this year, and some of them things that I deeply care about. This has to change. It made me painfully aware that I have to be much more protective of both my time and energy as well as my health.
All in all, however, there were also some things that I was happy about that I’d like to continue in the next year. I was quite happy about how there was never a longer period of time where I wasn’t creative in 2016, as had always been the case in the previous years, for different reasons. I was always doing something, if not always the things I had planned to be doing.
I was really happy about how organized I often was in the things I did do, preparing difficult or elaborate projects way ahead of time so it wouldn’t get stressful. That I’d really like to take into the new year.
Likewise, my discovery of the Bullet Journal filled a void I was aware of but could not put my finger on. I now have the feeling that my planning and organizing system is—if not perfect and prone to adjustment—at least finally complete and something I can really work with.
Happy New Year to you all and all the best for your creative projects!