"List ten beautiful, amazing, breathtaking experiences you want to have THIS YEAR with your art," my friend and story coach Elora wrote on the wall of our writing community's Facebook group last Monday. As I watched the women in our group start to brave the vulnerability that comes with speaking your desires and dreams out loud and post their lists of ten, I sat with my heart pounding and wrestling itself, hands frozen over the keys, barely breathing.
"I'll be back. I have to think about this...I can't answer this yet." That was my response.
I couldn't answer right away because I was too afraid and unsure of how big I should dream for the next 12 months. To break through fear's paralysis, I pulled out the Life Menu I hadcreated at Lime Retreats last month and looked over the things I had written, at the light words that had emerged as themes on that list.
I re-read notes I've been jotting down as I read my way through Desire Map and reminded myself how I want to feel as I go about my life as a writer, artist, advocate, and mother. I sat in my living room after tucking the boys in their beds and meditated on new horizons as I stared at this painting above our TV.
I had my answer by the end of the week, but I didn't sit down and write them out until yesterday. In the end, I decided dreaming big and wild with some wouldn't hurt anything. Writing them out, however was another, scarier matter. My hands shook and Doubt shouted all kinds of not so nice things as I wrote out each one in my art journal. Afterwards I jumped on the computer, pulled up Facebook and wrote my response on the group thread:
"Ok. Here goes:
1. Finish writing my memoir.
2. Launch Kintsukuroi Women's website/blog and self-publish the KW anthology for women of color living with mental illness. 3. Hold an art show or exhibit my work at a local street fair.
4. Paint 100 canvases.
6. Enhance what I offer in my Etsy shop or find a more comprehensive selling platform that affords me the chance to offer more of my artwork on products and make a bit more money.
7. Pitch a conference idea for creatives/writers/artists to BlogHer or some other media entity.
8. Become fully rooted in my identity as a writer, artist and activist.
9. Lead an art journaling or painting class w/a humanitarian organization in Africa, South America, or Asia that empowers girls and women. Help them find the beauty in brokenness through artistic expression.
10. Begin writing a web series pilot that focuses on a black woman navigating mental illness and motherhood and pitch it to Issa Rae's creative content startup."
There they are. Ten beautiful, amazing, breathtaking experiences I want to have with my art & words between now and the end of December 2015. I want to inspire, empower, connect to and equip others as well as create art that provokes, moves, and enlightens myself and others in some way, on some level.
Will they happen? Who knows. Perhaps some will, others perhaps not, but what if it's less about accomplishing all ten and more about learning to dream and live intently, driven by "goals with soul" as Danielle LaPorte describes it in Desire Map. As long as I'm focused on the WHY I want to do those things and find ways that allow me to live the Why out loud, I don't think it'll matter so much if any of these exact things happen as I wrote them out...and that's completely ok.
It's less about exactness and completion and more about embodiment and purposeful living, for me.
Here's to THAT in the coming months.