Note: There’s a special gift for you at the bottom of this post. If you’re in a hurry, scroll down to download it (for free). Or read on first…
Earlier this week one of my Igniters — an up-and-coming powerhouse and luminary who is building an incredible new creative business — shared with me that it was working with me that inspired her to finally follow her own dreams.
I was humbled, not to mention tickled pink (as my grandmother used to say). What she’s created since we started working together is nothing short of astounding, and when we got off the phone, my smile was about a mile wide.
Ripples in a pond: less than two years ago I was inspired in much the same way by Chris Guillebeau.
(Note: When you consider who you touch with your work or passion project, remember that your impact doesn’t stop with them. Just sayin’… )
Chris continues to be an inspiration and hero for me. Last year I was impressed with his practice of doing an Annual Review at the end of each year, enough to do a brief, two–part version of my own. It was fun to re-read those posts again this week, and see how far I’ve come.
Today I’m sharing the “brag sheet” section from my own 2011 Annual Review: a look at what I created / what I accomplished / what I’m just plain proud of from 2011.
Let’s start with…
My three words for 2011 were Reach, Abundance and Serenity, and although I had totally forgotten that I’d even named 2011 with three words, it was validating to see that I actually made progress in each:
Reach: I definitely increased my audience size, which is awesome! Though unfortunately I don’t have data from the start of 2010, between March and now I’ve almost tripled my number of blog subscribers. Yay!
To all of you who signed up, thank you! I don’t take it lightly that you trust me enough to want my blog posts in your inbox. (And if you haven’t already signed up, there’s a handy form for just that purpose at the upper right.)
Abundance: Although I didn’t manage to eliminate my enormous mountain of debt, I dramatically lowered my stress level, saved a bunch of money, and shortened my pay-off timetable with a 0% loan from the Hebrew Free Loan Association (what a wonderful organization!) and a well-timed balance transfer that brought all of my remaining debt down from 10.24-13% to 2.99% total (including the balance transfer fee!) in one fell swoop. Yes!
That, dear reader, is a major abundance achievement!
Serenity: I’ll admit that taking “chill time” for myself is an area where I could use a whole lot of improvement. (One of my core strengths from Strengthsfinder 2.0 is “Achieve,” and we “Achievers” do like to work hard!) The truth is, where my sweetie is content to surf the internet for hours, I’m happiest when I’m producing something of value.
Still, chill time is an important part of an abundant life, and I am making some progress, including the institution of Date Night with me and my sweetie this year.
Now let’s move on to…
The Long List: What I Created in 2011
Here’s how I lived a creative life this year, divided into three general categories from my core words above. (All links are set to open in a new window, just fyi.)
Creative (and other) Abundance
♥ In February, after at least a decade of not making art to feed my own soul, I was inspired by an interview I did with Michele Théberge to establish a 15-minutes-a-day practice (and challenge on the blog). Although I’m not always 100% on my game, I maintain 15 minutes a day as my personal target, and I’ve made more art this year than in the previous ten combined.
♥ I established a fun, less-pressured style of making art — more intuitive and spontaneous than my previous M.O., with more humane expectations — which helped me bust through Resistance.
♥ Thanks to my new art practice, I created close to 200 finished pieces of art this year! (Hint: I would never argue that quantity is the necessary metric, but if you keep your works on the small side it does become possible to produce more. :))
♥ I attended two music camps (yay music camp!) — Jazz Camp West in June (where I gave my most popular performance to date of My Ukulele (Might Just Be The Best Love I’ve Ever Had), and California Coast Music Camp in July, where I debuted my newest song, Eye Candy.
♥ I wrote melodies to a couple of other songs-in-the-works, and a 3rd verse of lyrics to the jazz standard, Makin’ Whoopee.
♥ Despite a complete and utter lack of hustling for gigs, I still managed to land a decent handful of them this year, including 3 solo performances with my ukulele, and a few well-paying restaurant and private party gigs. Yay!
♥ I also lucked into a free 4-hour recording session in a professional recording studio (watch for a solo CD of 7 original songs sometime in 2012, after I’ve gotten them mixed and mastered.)
♥ Then there was the surreal television appearance.
♥ I got an iPhone! Squeeeeeee!
♥ I discovered the joys of thrifting, and thrifted my way to a new wardrobe for pennies on the dollar.
♥ I used 750words.com every day in November to establish a “Write Ride” practice (writing every day for an hour while riding my exercise bike).
♥ After more than a full year of healing from my knee dislocation and consequent surgery last November, I’m back in yoga doing almost everything I did before the accident.
Reach – Including Business-y Stuff
♥ In April I created my ArtSpark newsletter, as a way to both share my art with the world, and add a layer of accountability to my art practice (and WOW did it work!)
♥ I attended two amazing biz/blog-related events in Portland (and developed a serious crush on that city in the process): the first annual World Domination Summit in early June (catch my cameo in the video on the home page exactly 3 minutes in) and Profit Catalyst a few weeks later.
♥ I teamed up with the brilliant Cory Huff from The Abundant Artist to co-create ArtEmpowers.Me, our online community and course for artists who want to deprogram the starving artist mindset and learn to build a thriving business from their art.
♥ I maintained a schedule of just over 2 posts a week to add 119 posts (and counting) to this blog
♥ …which I totally redesigned back in June, btw!
♥ …and which includes more than 25 new videos from 2011.
♥ I self-published my first “real” book: Melissa Dinwiddie • 100 ArtSparks, a showcase of the art I made in the Creative Sandbox this year.
♥ I ran my first three Creative Ignition Circles, and they ROCKED! The changes that these igniters made in just two months was nothing short of spectacular.
♥ Running the Circles inspired me to launch the Creative Ignition Club, my online community (with monthly phone calls and Playshops) where warm-hearted creatives come to get fired up.
♥ …and the Creative Ignition Kit — a toolbox to help you stick with a daily creative commitment for 30 days (and which comes with Creative Ignition Club membership).
♥ I teamed up with Michelle Nickolaisen to create the Day of Genius, our virtual retreat on January 8, with guest presentations by Carrie Hensley (Yoga for Relaxation and Inspiration), Cynthia Englett (Eating for Energy, Pleasure and Happiness), and Farnoosh Brock (Super Invigoration: Getting More Awake & Aware). (And yes, tickets are still available through December 31.)
♥ I got started on a couple of other joint venture projects that you’ll be hearing more about in 2012. (Stay tuned!)
♥ I said no to the good in favor of the great when I quit a very time-consuming project that I liked, but which was keeping me from being able to put as much energy as I wanted into what I loved. (Yay me!)
♥ I learned to throw a football.
♥ I let myself take more naps.
♥ I let myself read just for fun.
♥ Thanks to my sweetie, I got away on a few delightful getaways, where I totally unplugged. (!)
♥ As I mentioned above, I established a weekly Date Night with my sweetie.
(Yeah, the Serenity column is rather sparse… I’ll keep working on it…)
My goal when I started this blog was to create the life I really, really want. Not a “second best” life. Not a “good enough” life.
The fully creative, thriving, abundant life of my most heartfelt dreams.
Here’s the beautiful thing: though many of my dreams and goals have yet to come to fruition, in the very act of pursuing the life I really, really want, I’m already living it.
Day-to-day, it’s all too easy to get hung up on the distance between where you are now and where you want to be. When you shift your focus and look back to see how far you’ve come, though, everything is bathed in an entirely new light.
If you haven’t yet made your own “brag sheet” of what you accomplished in 2011, I encourage you to give it a try. Then let me know what gems you revealed!
To that end, I have a free worksheet to get you going — part of the pre-event workbook for the Day of Genius, a virtual retreat on January 8, that I’m co-producing with Michelle Nickolaisen of Let’s Radiate and Bombchelle and some special guests.
Download the Wins & Accomplishments Worksheet now. Then share your insights here or over on the LACL Facebook page.
And come back in a few days for the next piece (and another free worksheet)!
PS — Pssst! Know someone who might benefit from seeing this today? Pass it on!