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2011~2012: Review, Celebrate, Plan

My New Year’s Eve ritual is to review my goals for the past year, see how things panned out, and make note of the year’s highlights (both in successes and unexpected challenges). Then I take some time to carefully think through my goals for the coming year. Because I am a nerd and a planning freak, I love, love, love this ritual.

Due to an unusually crazy schedule, I haven’t been able to do my annual review until this morning. I’d like to share the process with you. While it is fun to share the successes, it is equally humbling to share the oversights. This will be a long post, broken into two parts, so feel free to skim the boring bits. This post is Review & Celebrate. Next week I’ll follow up with the 2012 planning post.

2011 goals review

Focus on creative practice

  • Submit five pieces for publication (almost—hit 4)
  • Finish novel, ~80K words/3K words per week Jan-May (no)
  • Paint a large format painting (no)
  • Create a piece for “nest” Creative Every Day challenge (yes)
  • Blog at least one per week @ Studio Mothers (no)
  • Maintain Project Life binder all year (yes)

Launch coaching business

  • Complete CCA coaching certification (yes)
  • Develop business and marketing plan (yes)
  • Enact marketing plan (partial)

Focus on personal restoration and spiritual practice

  • Sit daily (not daily, but solid for most of the year)
  • Daily journaling (90%)
  • Read A Year with Rumi every day (yes)
  • Read 50 books (yes — on the nose!)
  • Create regular time for blog & magazine reading (no)
  • Develop strategies to handle stress better (hmmm…..)
  • Enjoy social media without it being an interruption (good progress here)
  • Stick to the good schedules I have developed (mostly!)

Enjoy family time

  • Consciously strengthen relationships with each child (not measurable, but yes)
  • Spend more one-on-one time with each child (did not do nearly what I wanted to here)
  • Develop “block time” card stack (activities/project deck) (yes, not complete)
  • Do at least one art project each week with Aidan and Liam (no — only sporadic)
  • Create outdoor living/play space in spring (yes)
  • Eat in dining room more regularly (no — dog started peeing in dining room, so I have to keep it gated off, which makes it inconvenient for week-night meals)

Recommit to good health

  • Increase intake of raw foods (yes)
  • Consume 4-5 green protein smoothies each week (no)
  • Take vitamins, minerals, supplements, and iron every day (almost 100%)
  • Avoid sugar and wheat (on and off)
  • Exercise 3x per week (was derailed by broken foot that took 6 months to heal, but made up for that in the second half of the year by developing regular yoga practice)

Improve financial stability

  • Work smarter (day job) to increase billable hours (yes)
  • Reduce debt (no — actually increased it instead)
  • Set up automatic savings (no)

2011 personal adventures, successes, and challenges


  • Broke my foot by falling on my own garage stairs. It took six months until my ortho gave me the all-clear for high-impact exercise.
  • Began first class for coaching certification.


  • Launched monthly newsletter, The Creative Times.
  • Joined RAW New England (Random Art Workshops).


  • Published nonfiction essay in Wild Apples journal; read at launch party at Hill-Stead Museum.
  • Liam became completely toilet trained, ending 15 total years of diapering!!! (This may have been the highlight of the year, actually.)
  • Fabulous trip to Costa Rica with husband.




  • Co-led successful workshop (via Minerva Project collaboration).


  • Participated in Art Every Day Month.
  • Guest blog post at Bliss Habits.
  • Husband began 2.5-month stint of unemployment. While this had deleterious effect on financial situation, it was awesome to have him around, and he put in extra time with Aidan and Liam while I worked like a madwoman.


  • Signed lease and LLC papers for brick-and-mortar studio!
  • Husband received excellent job offer from a company he’s excited about.
  • Little Finn joined the family (don’t worry — he’s a kitten, not baby #6!).
  • Finished last requirements for coaching certification.

What all these bullet points tell me

2011 was unusually full of personal and professional successes. Working on my certification and launching two new businesses (coaching and Open Studio) added considerably to the to-do list and my general stress level. I had some success in counterbalancing that weight through meditation, yoga practice, journaling lots of reading, and creative work. In the realm of the “self,” I have to say that this year was significant. I didn’t do all of the creative work I’d intended to, but I did a lot of other, wonderful, unexpected things instead.

At the same time, I did not do nearly as much on the family front as I wanted to. I really started missing my kids as the year came to a close — time spent just hanging out a home, nowhere to go, board games and art projects and reading aloud. There wasn’t enough of that. We had too many days when I felt like I was just dragging my younger kids from one thing to the next. I didn’t invest in the extra one-on-one time with each child that was part of my original goals list.

This brings me to my plans for 2012. I’ll get to those in my next post.

In the meantime, what does your overview of 2011 look like? Will you share your top 10 successes?


Jodi: My 2011 Goals — in Polaroids

I am not a “New Year’s resolutions” maker. If I want to change or accomplish something, I just do it. It seems foolish to wait until a certain date to make changes that you could, if you wanted to badly enough, make right now. But, I do look at the turn of the year as an opportunity to reflect on what I’m doing right (house clean, kids fed, husband smiley) and those things that I’m slacking off at (me time, my career, my outlets, my, my, my…). So, being a photographer who is obsessed with all things photographic, I decided to do things a little different this year. I recently discovered Jamie Ridler and her dreamboards and I really like that they put a picture to an idea. To me this makes it more real, so I borrowed this line of thinking and put my own spin on it!

I have a variety of cameras. My Canon 7D, my Minolta-35 mm, 120 medium formats, and 620 film cams. I also have a great collection of actual Polaroid cameras. They are probably my favorite of all of my ‘vintage’ cameras as they give me instant gratification (not to mention the amazing 70’s feel). So this year I set my main 2011 goals and then photographed them with my Polaroid Spectra 1200.

I recently made the difficult decision to close down my current daycare business in hopes of starting fresh with a photography business. 2011 for me is a completely fresh start and with that comes all new goals that could be set. My primary goal is to get my business established and generating some income. The first picture shows a small portion of my camera gear that is itching to be used in my new business. They also represent the vast amount of stuff that is piling up due to the fact that I don’t have a dedicated space.

Goal #1

Open my Photo Studio -- maybe 1/4 of my photo gear.

My second goal is tied to the first. I have always loved to dabble with paint, pastels, chalk, and all things crafty. I recently discovered that I have the desire to make my own textures and possibly artwork that incorporates my photos. I haven’t exactly narrowed this down — it’s a work in progress for now. All I do know is that I have two easels, sketch pads, watercolor canvases, and more paint, pencils, and chalk than one person probably needs. And they are homeless. They are currently piled up on my tiny desk in my room beside my littlest’s crib. My husband is always banging into them. He’s not very happy about this.

Goal #2

Create an Art Space -- it's piling up!

My third goal may be the one I’m looking most forward to. I am a caregiver by nature. I have run a daycare for 7 years and I have four kids. Before the daycare I was/am still a Certified Personal Trainer (ultimate career where you coddle people — exhausting) and I tried once during the 7 years to go back to work. I found work at the Red Cross doing personal care. In short, most of my adult life has involved me taking care of everyone around me. This year I solemnly vow to make more ‘me time’ and, here’s the kicker, not feel guilty that I could be doing something else. My picture shows my fave Aeropostale slippers and many Lush bath bombs that are unused. One is from Christmas last year! Yuck!

Goal #3

Make more 'me time' -- some of these bathbombs are from last Christmas!

Finally, I have always been a voracious reader. Between my cookbooks piling up in the kitchen, novels on my bedstand, photography and writing books in my office, aka the kitchen table, almost every corner of my home has a pile of books. The problem is that when I finally get the kids to bed, usually by 8, I still seem to have a million things left to do, whether for the current day or to get a jump on tomorrow. By the time I finally get up to bed, my favorite place to read, I fall asleep. I have to give myself permission to leave things for the next day and give myself that extra time to read.

Goal #4

Read more! I would love to finish any one of these!

I am hopeful. All the goals I have set are attainable — or I will make them attainable. I want my own business, I deserve more ‘me time,’ and I need to have a creative outlet — artwork and reading. I have posted the Polaroids on my bulletin board in my kitchen. I will look at them every day and when I accomplish that particular goal I will remove the Polaroid and tuck it away. I may even replace it with a new one!

2011, here I come!

Good luck with your 2011 goals — I’d love to hear about them!


Creative resolutions, one week later?



Happy New Year, Creative Mamas!

I hope that everyone had a fabulous holiday and New Year’s celebration. The new year is always full of promise and optimism, isn’t it?

With the turning of the calendar, we mark our second anniversary here at Studio Mothers (formerly Creative Construction). It is deeply rewarding to see how our community has strengthened and grown over time. LOVE. IT.

If you haven’t joined our new Facebook page, please do. This new page replaces our old Facebook “group,” as the page functionality is much more user-friendly. We’ll be sharing lots of tidbits to keep you inspired and motivated.

I look forward to another year of sharing our successes and challenges, drawing strength from our shared experiences to blend motherhood and creativity as happily as possible. Each year the kids get a little bit older, and it gets a little bit easier. The demands of motherhood never dissipate completely, of course — even my 19-year-old needs mothering — but as we have observed here on many occasions, caring for very young children requires a level of utter self-sacrifice constant nurturing and vigilance that is often incompatible with creating art. For those of us who are still in those trenches, the passing of each year makes a big difference.

Your stories and support have kept me going through my own periods of difficulty. It is such a comfort to know that we are all, in many ways, in the same boat. To that end, as always, if you would ever like to cross-post a related item from your personal blog, just let me know. We love cross-posts.

Lastly, has anyone made any New Year’s resolutions on the creative front? I made one of my own — a big one. I’m going to finish my novel by May 31. I realize that this feat won’t be nearly as impressive as writing a 50,000-word novel in a single month (congrats to all of our NaNoWriMo winners!), but this book is probably going be closer to 80,000 words, and I wanted to target a pace that I can maintain. I’m at 23,500 right now. I’m in that groove where I’m thinking about the book all the time, even when I’m not working on it — and it’s not hard to get my butt in the chair and actually produce because I WANT to be writing. I’m not wasting all my time thinking about how I SHOULD be writing and the procrastinating my time into nothingness. (This relief I owe in part to abandoning my goal of being “literary.” It is what it is.) I do plan to make use of the Monday Page 2010, and I hope you will as well!

I’m also getting much better about surrendering myself to the present moment, even when that moment isn’t exactly what I “want” it to be. (This is big progress for a Type-A-Control-Freak-Virgo like myself.) I’m starting to see that this peaceful current is available to me at any time, if I just remember to plug into it. Ah….that’s more like it.

How about you? What’s on deck for 2010? What will make this year the best one yet?

[Image courtesy Smithi1 under a Creative Commons license.]

Kelly: The Dream Takes Shape: Part I

Happy Shacks 2Cross posted from my blog…since I think I’m the only one here not participating in NaNo! [Editor’s note: Thanks, Kelly!]

I was catching up with some Facebook friends last week and my blogging and art friend Carmen shared, “Having an article and blog feature in this issue of Artful Blogging is a dream come true! What’s on your list of dreams?” I shared with you one of my dreams in my Purple Cottage post.   Then I told you I’d be checking out a piece of property I’ve been watching for quite a while in this post. I’ve admitted here before that I haven’t totally bought into the whole “universe bringing you what you desire” concept just yet, but some little things here and there have been leading me more towards believing that, and my little visit to check out this property was a big knock on the head! I’ve known the property since college; it’s been unoccupied for at least 15 years. In that 15 years, it’s also never been for sale. So, guess what? The first time I go over to seriously take a look at it? Yep, big For Sale sign right up front.  Here are a few pictures.

Happy Shacks 1Walking around the property, I was able to really think through my dream, standing right there…right where it could actually happen. There are 10 small cottages and two small-house type structures on about 3.5 acres with 700’ waterfront footage and two docks with 16 boat slips, and then another 4 acres of undeveloped land across the street. All the structures, as well as the docks, are in good solid shape; they just need some TLC and cosmetic enhancements. So what would I do with it? The cottages would remain just as they were initially meant to be used, for lodging. They are all about efficiency size, though I’d put double queens in each for bedding to allow for more flexibility. I’d renovate one of the larger buildings into a classroom/workshop space and the other into a café/gallery space with “front office” facilities. I’d use the facility as a whole for all-inclusive art retreats, wellness retreats, and corporate team-building retreats. While the cottages are not being used for retreats, the facility would essentially be a B&B, targeting couples and/or corporate bigwigs looking for a unique, peaceful getaway.  We’d have charter fishing services available for both the retreat attendees (thinking bored husbands/boyfriends here) and B & B guests. We’d subdivide the property across the street so it remains deeded separately from the “business” property since that’s where we’d build our houses.

Happy Shacks 3I have a close friend I’ve been thinking this through with. Kath has been a high level exec with Coca-Cola since we graduated from college and is ready to escape from the corporate world. We are the perfect team for this. I have the retreat planning, leadership, team-building, and art background, and she has the wellness, business and corporate contacts background. Our husbands would handle the excursions, dining and general maintenance aspects. She also has twin boys who would grow up having the hots for my twin redheads.  🙂

Happy Shacks 4So back to Madame Universe and her connection to the property and my current employment. As I was driving over to see the property, I got the call to schedule my final interview for my position of choice. Then, boom. The next morning, there’s this big For Sale sign staring me in the face. My dream, right there ready to happen. That was a Friday; my interview was scheduled for first thing Monday morning. Interesting timing, don’t you think?   When I didn’t get the offer for the campus I wanted, that For Sale sign popped back into my head. Maybe that was part of my message that a new job was not the right thing for me right now. I’ve always been one to follow my gut, and once my top choice was off the table, I knew I needed to stay where I was.

Happy Shacks 5So what’s next? What’s next is to just keep the dream alive while we work through the possibilities. The property is currently listed for $1.6 million, but given the economy, the amount of time it’s been sitting there, the fact the most others interested in it would probably be knocking down what’s there and starting from scratch, and what I’ve learned from others who have property in the area, I think we could get them down under $1 million. So we’ll see what happens. Initially I hesitated sharing my thoughts with you here, because once you put it out there, it’s out there, right? But then I realized that if you don’t share your dreams with others, how can they help you get there? This particular piece of property may work out, and it may not, but it’s made me realize that I can do this…if not with this property, then with another. For now, though, baby steps. Still working out the details on my first baby steps, but I’ll share those with you soon! In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on my initial plan.

Kelly: Finding Time for Balance

cps1So I’ve been thinking more about this whole New Year’s Resolution thing, and I’ve come down to one thing: balance. That’s my word for the year. I must find balance. I must find a way to balance time with my family, with time to expand my creative endeavors, with time to work, with time to exercise, with time to eat right, with time to somewhere in there find and keep my sanity (and as DH just reminded me, time to finish repainting every room in the house). Though if we won the lottery, I could get rid of the “time to work” need and then have more time for the others! There’s a thought, however fleeting, since I rarely have time to even remember to buy a lottery ticket.

This picture truly nails my issue when it comes to the creative endeavors part of the challenge. My two favorite art magazines are Cloth Paper Scissors and Somerset Studio. When I first stumbled across Cloth Paper Scissors, I loved it so much I had to go online and order all the back issues. I’ve been methodically reading through them at night before I go to bed (unless I’m too absorbed in whatever book I happen to be reading…which is another thing I must squeeze in time for). See all those little sticky notes peeking out of all these Cloth Paper Scissors issues? Well those are all the projects I’d like to play around with. And this is just in CPS. I have a similar stack for Somerset Studio. I haven’t really shared much of my mixed-media playing around on my blog but I’ll start doing that more this year, too. Sharing. And while I’m at it, I’ll also be sharing more photographs as I already mentioned here. My blogging friend Karen Faulkner suggested a great resolution would be to capture at least one beautiful photo a day. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to find time for that? And that involves remembering to find the time to always keep a camera with me, perhaps attached to my hip, with a hot pink cord for a dash of color.

So there you have it. In a recent comment on Cathy’s Promises, Promises post, Kathryn said she calls them “Dreams, Hopes, Wishes, and Aspirations.” I like that much better than resolution, don’t you? So my official Dream, Hope, Wish and Aspiration for 2009 is to find balance (and find time to call my sister once a week). Care to join me?

Cathy: Double Whammy

Original art by SBM

Original art by SBM

Everyone is thinking resolutions, new beginnings, new projects, etc at this time of year. On news programs and morning shows, they obsess about it for weeks leading to and long after the big ball drop in Times Square. Everywhere you turn, a neighbor, the grocery clerk, your mechanic, discusses options and fall offs for this and all prior New Year’s. I have the extra special honor of having my birthday in the same week, so I get a double whammy.

I’m putting all this resolution stuff to bed. This weekend I heard an interesting take on viewing birthdays as a new beginning and a turning point for putting hope into action, optimism into more than just dreams. Rather than just the pointing out: yes I survived another one. Oh boy, yep! I reached 43 big ones! With a new baby here, still can’t believe how I pulled that one off, but I have another still gestating — my manuscript.

I admit, in this past crazy holiday time, including up to two weeks prior, with all in the house sick in various states, myself included, I mostly mulled the manuscript in the back – or fore — of my mind. Not much writing got done while coughing, snuffling, caring for coughing and snuffling, prepping for all three holidays, guests, travelling, and so on. Nevermind the two solid weeks of Winter Break! In my own schooling or in my years working in public schools have I ever had a two solid weeks’ worth of vacation. Finally I’m beginning to feel like life might settle back down.

Honey baked the cake. Yum!

Honey baked the cake. Yum!

And then rolls up my birthday, like a big old tail finned red Cadillac. That’s right, my birthday is an American model. I don’t think we have many of my particular vintage Japanese models floating around here. I’m certainly not a compact model anymore, either, though I was often noted for being so until recently.

Anyway, I felt really creaky and crummy yesterday, and my dear dh who is a bit of a grumbler himself, managed to take something I said personally, though that wasn’t where I was going. We have this particular communication defect pretty often, it goes both ways. Well, this time, as crummy as I felt, I said, after I wrote an inflammatory note, blew up, cried, and bemoaned, that I do not want to live this way anymore. I will not try to be the solitary cheerleader in the family of grumblers. I will do my best not to grumble myself. And if anyone around here grumbles, I’m throwing a sock at their head.

My main really good Life Philosophy is that while it may be hard, it may be challenging, at some times more so than others, the bottom line on Life is that it is Good. Life is an Adventure. Life is Beautiful, Everywhere, All Around Us, Everyday. This year in particular, after a couple of rough crabby ones, with some pretty incredible joys, I am going to return to living mine as such — especially in writing. But I’m also going to buy that camping equipment before summer, and get these kids out into the world and Mother Nature. Get out and stare up at the stars while the campfire burns, smoke and pollen in our eyes, up our noses, and bugs, too.

Isn’t that, right there, whether you’re a writer, artist, or accountant, what life is all about? No computers, no TV, no handheld video games. It’s you, your family, the night and stars, and by day fishing, even if you catch a dagblasted empty hook, or just walking along a beachy, or woodsy trail. Then I’m going off-path. Not that I was ever one much for staying on it. Especially looking back at all the above mixed metaphors and winding tangents just since the first paragraph here.

Cathy: Promises, promises

Every year on January 1st (or I should face it, at least before or in February), I write down a wish and a resolution or promise for the New Year. The wish is meant to be big, seemingly impossible, the resolution is meant for real work on self. I light a candle, and get my reluctant family in on the act. We burn the old after reading them, and write the new. They can be kept to oneself or shared, but they must be written down. I prefer to share. K prefers to keep secret. Being who I am, I usually peek at his sometime in the first week, when he’s not around. Over the years, I’ve had some very pleasant surprises unfold in my sneakiness — my favorite is the year I read “be a better big brother to S.” We place the new resolutions and wishes under the candle, blow it out and keep them there for the year, until the next round. That’s when we see if we kept promises, met resolutions and if a million dollars showed up in the mailbox. One year the wish was a house, and we got this one that year! Burning the slips of paper is a good way to not hold onto/feel guilty about what you didn’t meet, and to start fresh again. Making a ritual of your intentions gives them more heft, too.

Just making one resolution and writing it down, makes it more plausible to actually meet it. It’s too easy to make a bunch of promises and then blow them off. Mine for 2008 was/is “to be a more involved mother and wife.” I like to think that was easily met, especially after bedrest pregnancy ended. I’ve made individual time with each boy on a pretty regular basis — not in a regimented manner like “Yes, I will go to a café with K every Saturday… I will play a game with S on Tuesdays.” I hold, love, and appreciate Baby C almost constantly. My husband and I can still work on making us time a priority, but I think it’s miles away from last year’s and earlier this year’s frantic yells from my bed for my latest ‘need’ and his frantic running to and fro to help me or get the boys to help him do so. I am very appreciative of him for having put up with me in such a state. I’m so glad it’s over and I can show that to him now. Not that I’m great at doing so, but I’m trying. After all, I made a promise I intend to keep. Maybe I’ll continue this resolution into 2009, but I’d really like to make another. I’m still thinking what I’d like to focus on next. Maybe it’s actively appreciating what is great about my life: my family, my creativity and its actual production of late, and taking better care of myself. Maybe instead of wishing for a million dollars, I’ll wish for a bestselling novel. The one I’m working on will be finished by February. I better get cracking on this resolution. There’s room for improvement in every area of my life. I really need to narrow this down.

New Year’s resolutions?

landscapeNew Year’s Eve is a wonderful excuse for taking stock in where you’re at. What were the highlights of the past year? The challenges? Have you redefined yourself in small ways — or big ones? Where do you want to go in 2009? Are there a few things on your “someday” list that you could turn into reality in the near future?

I like to come up with a list of goals for the new year. Some are measurable (train for — and run in — a half marathon in June; lose ten pounds; finish my book) and others are more nebulous (keep working toward living in the moment and letting go of stress). I haven’t completed my list yet — I’ll save that for Thursday evening. But I’m thinking things through.

Here are a few interesting ideas, if you’re working on your own resolutions.

Resolutions for writers
Resolutions for artists
Resolutions for photographers
Resolutions for quilters
Resolutions for bloggers
Resolutions for mothers

You might also want to consider creating a vision board that illustrates your goals — or mindsets — for the coming year. Having a graphic representation in view might be just the thing to keep you focused as the weeks progress.

And if, like me, you’re working toward enjoying the present moment more, here’s a lovely blog post from Anna Johnson about bathtime as meditation.

How about you?

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