2011: Reflecting With Gratitude

Before I look ahead to 2012, I want to reflect on the things in 2011 for which I am most grateful.

1. My health. At the risk of sounding clichéd, without health, nothing else matters. More than one friend has faced or is facing a major health challenge, and so I think it is particularly important to recognize and appreciate my own reasonably good health. Were I to attach a goal to this, it would be to be more proactive in enhancing the health I am so lucky to enjoy.

2. My family and friends. A few years ago I had let my life get so out of balance that I had left very little room for relationships with the people who should have mattered most. I’ve been working hard on this one for the past few years, and I’m so grateful for the wonderful people I get to hang out with.

First, my husband, who puts up (mostly patiently) with my crazy ideas and pie in the sky projects. Then my family — the one I was born with and the one I married into.  I had a chance this summer to reconnect with my aunts, uncles and cousins on my dad’s side – many of whom I had not seen in decades. What an amazing gift, and an experience I hope won’t have to wait decades to repeat.

I am also grateful for the amazing group of women I like to call generation ex because we all share a former employer. They are smart, beautiful, generous and wickedly funny! Our monthly dinners are always a blast.

Of course, there are wonderful men and women outside of this group, too. People who believe in my talents even when I have doubts. People who make me laugh, make me think, and make me roar with laughter. I sometimes have to pinch myself to think that people I respect and admire so greatly also think well of me. Wow.

This year I also became a member of Maria Killam’s society of True Colour Experts. The charming, creative women who make up this private on line group of designers, decorators and colour specialists share their advice and experience freely, usually with a healthy dose of humour on the side! (Yup, laughter is a theme for me — it’s therapeutic and good exercise, too.)

I hope I have given the wonderful people in my life at least close to as much as they have given me.

3. The opportunity and ability to study and learn. In April, I will graduate as a certified interior decorator. I’ve always been interested in taking things and spaces from ugly to pretty, and studying residential decorating is unleashing my creative juices in a new way. I love having the opportunity to immerse myself in this passion and to build a place for it in my life.

In 2011, I also furthered my design education with an intensive colour consulting course with the immensely talented Maria Killam. I am so grateful that she brought her True Colour Expert workshop to Toronto where I could save a bit of money by staying with family. I learned a lot about how to identify and work with the undertones of complex neutrals, and I’m thrilled to be able to apply this knowledge as part of the foundation of my colour consulting practice.

4. A fabulous vacation in the sun. We just got back from Palm Springs, CA, where we enjoyed seven days of clear skies, sunshine and warm temperatures surrounded by mountains and palm trees. We ate well. We hot tubbed. We shopped. One of us golfed while the other shopped some more. We met interesting people. Did I mention we ate well?

We saw a lot of obvious wealth in Palm Springs, but also many signs of how hard the economic downturn has hit the area. Entire shopping malls and large commercial buildings sat empty; restaurants and stores were closed. So I am grateful for the vacation itself, and for having the resources to take it. We are  not rich by a long shot, but we are careful with our spending. We don’t take a trip like this for granted, and I appreciated every day of it.

5. Journals, mind maps, vision boards and more. While reading The Artist’s Way, I started writing in a journal as many mornings as I could manage – usually 2 or 3 pages at least. While I’m still not doing it every day, journalling has become quite a regular practice that helps me focus my thinking and jumpstart my creativity. I find myself thinking in journal entries sometimes. It helps me to be more self aware, which is generally a good thing. It reminds me to be grateful. It lets me express my fears and anxieties in a safe place, but, also helps dim them simply by putting them out where I can see them as harmless little words on a page. Mind maps and vision boards are new tools that I’m still learning to apply, but the concepts excite me, and are more tools I am grateful to know about and to be learning how to use.

This was a year of growth and change. And while many of the changes weren’t planned, they are exciting and full of promise. I can’t wait to see how 2012 unfolds.

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