31 December 2011

On Choosing a Word for 2012

I've chosen my word for 2012. I don't do resolutions, so to speak, but instead choose words that work as my overarching theme for the year ahead. In the past I've chosen things like Say Yes!, Creative Personal Growth, Mindfulness, and Bliss. I find these words are kinder than resolutions and can lead to amazing things.

Last year I chose Serious Art as my word. I chose the word with the best of intentions. This is what I wrote at the time.
For 2011 my theme is Serious Art, which means approaching art in a deliberate and contemplative way and making sure that it becomes part of my daily routine (regardless of how hectic life seems). I'm developing a course of study for the year, for lack of a better term.
I detailed a list of seven bullet points that I wanted to achieve over the year. As I looked back over the year, I realized that I didn't achieve my lofty goals. And I know why.

Serious Art was way too serious. It connected with my traits of competitiveness, thoroughness, procrastination, and perfectionism. I had it all planned out: I would read so many pages a week, create so many pieces a month, connect with so many artists a season. Every step was planned. Every lesson was scheduled. Art would become a second job that I would take seriously.

Which is exactly why I had problems. It didn't exactly fail: I did create nine pieces in a series of nine-patches, I kept an art journal through most of the year, and I took a week-long workshop with Fran Skiles that was absolutely amazing.,

But at the same time, my approach to being serious about art kept me from really creating art. Why? Because my competitive, perfectionist, and procrastinating voices would say "Hey, wait a minute! You're not doing it the right way. You have to be serious about this." Because if I wasn't being serious about my art, then what was the point?

Enough of that.

So as I was thinking about my word for 2012, only one word popped into my head.


As soon as I thought it, I felt a great sense of relief. I knew right then that IMPERFECT is my word for 2012.

Imperfect is messy and fun. It can be beautiful. It requires acceptance (and if I can't accept something, well then that is imperfect too). It's about releasing ridiculously high standards. It's about creating with abandon, giving with joy, and offering myself without shame. Imperfect is liberation.

I've been living this word for the past week and have already noticed changes. For years, my rule has been to have a spotlessly clean house by New Year's Eve. So that has meant the week between Christmas and New Year's has been full of decluttering, vacuuming, dusting, washing floors, and other household chores. But this year that seemed really boring to me. Our house is in pretty good shape generally. And I had so many other fun things that I wanted to do.

So with imperfect in mind, I started asking myself questions. Where did that rule come from? I realized that I created it myself and had carved it into my mind as something that had to be. Did I need to keep it this year? I decided that "No, I don't need to wear myself out cleaning house this year." So I didn't clean. I tidied a bit and kept up with basic chores, but we didn't tear out the closets looking for hidden clutter and we didn't pull out the mop and buckets.

And you know what? Here we are at New Year's Eve and my house isn't spotless and I feel fine. The world has not come to an end!

And I've taken imperfect into the studio. For the past couple days I have played with gesso and watercolor crayons and paint pens and acrylic paints and stencils and stamps to bring an imperfect vibe into my art. I don't want my art to be neat and tidy and perfect. I want it to sing, to be alive, to vibrate with energy. I want it to be full of joy. I want to create it with abandon. And I want to be able to share it without worrying whether it lives up to some standard.

This is a stretch for me. It is more comfortable to be perfect. Because if I am not perfect, then I have an excuse for not showing up. Well, it wasn't going to be perfect anyway, so why bother.

But if the goal is to be imperfect, then I can create with abandon and share without shame.

So without further adieu, may I present to you my first piece of intentionally imperfect art.

I wish you an imperfect New Year, full of messiness and fun and joy and liberation. Step out and create!


La MaƱosa said...

Wow, what a great word! I agree, it is a relief to think about creating when the goal is not perfection but imperfection. I think I'll have to take a page out of your book this year!

Love the leaves--they are vibrant and joyful just as you intended. :)

Kimberly Davis said...

Thanks Misty. I am really loving this word so far. Not just for creating, but for life in general. It's about acceptance and implicit forgiveness. Way easier this way!

Betsy Whitman said...

I love the idea of choosing a word of the year in lieu of making resolutions. Resolutions always brings to mind "should," one of the most unproductive words in the English language. But choosing a word as a guiding principle evokes opportunity, daring, and fun. Already I'm noodling on what that word will be for me this year and discovering that it's a very thoughtful exercise! Thanks, Kim.

Kimberly Davis said...

Thanks Betsy. I hope you have a fabulous 2012! Cheers,Kim