Friday, January 1, 2016

Connections... tyiing up loose ends at year's end





My word of the year for 2015 was Connections or connect.
I learned a lot, not all of it what I expected. 

Contemplating the meaning behind the word "Connection" has changed me. 

By choosing that word, I began to notice the large and small connections that make up my life. I chose to really see them this year and think about their value. 
Because I was aware of this I took more risks in reaching out to others. I was aware they might reject my attempts, and was able to cope when they did. 

I was also able to rejo8ice when they reached back to me. 
I noticed the fleeting small moments too. The passing connections between myself and strangers for instance. In those moments were opportunities to connect just as in long-term relationships. 

I have come to understand the phrase, there's no place like home to reflect my relationship with my darling husband Drew. It's not a physical place, home, it's the sense of belonging, understanding and acceptance found in our union. 

I would love to share some of what I learned this year, these are some of the highlights and examples of connections...


Blogging has brought too many fine connections to list. I have formed relationships that are real and valuable. I have received and sent gifts to these new friends.

From joining weekly link parties I have gotten to know a community of like-minded makers. We laugh, and comment on each other’s work and I feel less alone out here because of it. To you all, thank you for connecting with me. I love you. 
I have initiated and participated in several artistic projects with individuals this year. One was sharing some hand-printed poppy fabric, one was interpreting the concept of Rock Wall, one was using silks. I have noted inspirations going back and forth between us, all of us better for the sharing. 
InkTober led me to drawing again. A sketch a day, sharing it here, lead to a shared project between Carol and myself. Now sketch buddies, we share the prompts and our drawings with each other.  It’s so good to have a safe person to show less than perfect work. Trust is built that way. 
 
Protect, teach, love are the goals of any parent
I write longhand letters to my girlhood friend Lane. She wanted to do this instead of emails and calls. It harkens back to a slower time, one of personal contact. She has touched the letter and thought about what to write as have I. We are trying to reconnect after life intervened. She knows my past like no other. 
I admit that even as an extrovert, I embrace the solitary life of an artist working alone at home. However… it can be lonely too. I asked the Universe for a good  local friend to share experiences with.  I am happy to say there are several people stepping into that space now. It takes time to build good friend trust, as well as like-mindedness, humor, joy, a willingness to be real, sharing of interests, and a bit of magic.   How lucky am I to have found friends, both long distance and local .Distance does not stop us from the kind of sharing that makes for a relationship. 
I am sure, there are more events that I meant to keep track of but didn’t. My style is to jot down notes, lose them, and wonder why I am not organized. 
My husband asked what I hoped to learn this year. I guess I hoped by choosing this word I would have lots of meaningful connections appear. As per usual there was much more to be learned, lessons both gentle and difficult.  When you choose a word of the year, you must be prepared for all permutations of it, and I shudder to remember the year I chose self esteem. The universe kicked my spirit that year! But I learned. And grew. 

* I can make small talk, but focused on real connections this year. As time went by I began to fine tune my definition of the word and what I wanted from it. I no longer have much patience with pretense, so I learned to put my efforts into relationships that held more meaning for me. 
*   I learned  not all connections are  good or healthy. It’s not always easy to tell which is which, either.
·         Some connections can and should be changed.  I found myself in the position of having to move beyond a few this year as well as make new ones. Letting go is not easy for me, and not trivial. It does not always mean forever either. Connections can change, become closer or more distant, go away and return anew. While I knew that mentally, it was brought home this year. 
*  That being said, there are people I want to re-connect with in the coming year. I reached out to some already, and know that although relationships may change they can grow and continue. There is always hope. 
 
Peace
*  Connections can be between people, as well as between people and their pets, their environment, their bodies, their work, their spirits, and more. It is a bond of sorts. Some strong some tenuous. I read many books on life after death this year, and spiritual connections took on new meaning. 
*The Book of Forgiving, written by Desmond Tutu and his daughter changed my life. 
I did not want to read it. I was drawn to it at the library in a strong way and I rebelled. Forgiving those who seriously hurt us, ( who take no responsibility for that) seemed beyond me. It seemed like saying the acts were okay.The steps are simple yet hard to achieve. Honoring oneself as a survivor, understanding and acceptance are keys. 
Redesigning a relationship, or releasing the relationship is your final step.

 I experienced a transformation of sorts, but I realize it’s a process and I will continue to make sense of it over time. I learned so much from reading this book. I recommend it to everyone.
*     It came to me this year, on a walk where I was contemplating the connection with a horrible neighbor, (not all connections are good) that just about all the problems in the world stem from fear. It may be hidden in anger or hate but it starts as fear. If we can see that, and respond to another’s fear instead of their ugly behavior maybe we can heal. 

* Connecting can happen in an instant, meaningful interactions can happen even between strangers. I have had magical serendipitous moments all year. I made the effort to speak to a person if I felt drawn to them, opening the door to a moment. The most astounding day was when I ran into another dog walker that I've met before but never really spoken to much. She and I made a decision to be real on this day. We discovered so much in common, and my hope is it turns into a friendship. I came home energized and surprised by the interaction.
*      I learned that you can become more connected to one’s self. For me this came in the form of acceptance. There are many things I would like to change and improve about myself. This year I realized there are also many things of value about myself, and I decided to form a real connection with me too. See the positives as well as the needs improvements. Accept the frailties of emotion and body as part of life. Treat myself more like I would a friend. 
*     I connected with my work more this year. Making just what interested me, and stretching to experience more creativity. I went to galleries, talked about process with others, interviewed other artists. I hope next year to write several articles in an effort to connect with a large audience. In speaking to groups, and teaching what I know, there is a connection formed with others. It’s not easy to prepare for that but it’s so rewarding.I love it!

*  I re-connected with my love of writing and painting this year. Drawing each day taught me to see in a new way. 
* I learned a lot that must remain private. Not everything should be spoken aloud. Some of the most profound experiences are quiet.
*   I did not send out the connection project quilts as I expected to do. I am not abandoning the project, I delayed it until I feel the time is right to release them. Until I feel comfortable letting them go. 
*      I have long believed we are all connected. Reading the book of forgiveness brought that home as well. We cannot afford to pretend that we aren’t. We may not relate to some people, may actively not like some people, may be rejected by some people, but we remain connected by a silver thread. 
* I will be bringing this word into the next year with a couple of projects. One is with a young woman adopted by our neighbors, brought here from another country in her teens, and is blind. I will be doing a project with her this year so I hope you stay tuned. 

As in other years, the previous words continue to resonate and mingle in new ways. Over the years, I have explored the words self esteem, joy, happiness, release and others. They all stay with me, and mingle as if they are at a party. They become a part of me. 

I have tried to compress a year’s experience into one post and am sure I have missed important details but you get the drift. I have not chosen a word yet for 2016 but I will. It’s been an important process for me the last 10 years or so. I hope you also choose one, and are open to all the word brings you. Be brave! Be open! 
Please consider that connection with others, including me, as the gift that it is. I hope to continue my connection with you all this year.Love, LeeAnna

24 comments:

  1. it is a gift to know such great people like you. I hope 2016 brings peace to all of us... and more good news than bad ...

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  2. Thank you for this post (and all your other posts too!) LeAnna! I faithfully read your blog, always enjoying your artistic explorations but especially enjoying your love for and relationship with Cole. Your reflections today so resonated with me that I found I had to write you, something I have, obviously, neglected to do in the past, despite often tremendously enjoying your post. Thank you. Thank you so much.

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    1. oh Laura thank you. If I had an email addy I would respond to thank you personally. Stay in touch. LeeAnna

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  3. What a great read LeeAnna!
    I'll read it again, this time with a coffee!
    I hope we stay connected for years to come!
    I'm very curious for your chosen word for 2016!
    Take care,
    Joanne

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  4. What a great read LeeAnna!
    I'll read it again, this time with a coffee!
    I hope we stay connected for years to come!
    I'm very curious for your chosen word for 2016!
    Take care,
    Joanne

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  5. Sounds like 2015 was quite a year. Good luck with all of your endeavors in 2016!

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  6. That forgiveness thing is hard. I am not good at it but when I see people like Nelson Mandella and others that can forgive sucth huge transgressions, my little ones ..... Well I should learn to forgive more. Great post

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  7. A long blog post, and I have to come back to you to read more. But I will stay connected with you in 2016, too. You give me so much inspiration and laughter, and great smiles. When my mood is bad, I just look at your cows,or your flamingoes, and you should know the rest. I'm so glad I met you, and I love having a piece of you right in front of me when I sew. Thanks you, Lee Anna.

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  8. Thanks, Lee Anna for all of your posts this year and this final year one, too. Keep up the good work. You are always an inspiration!

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  9. Lovely post Leeanna, Happy new year, and a good concept to carry over into another year. Here's to connections! Cheers!

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  10. What a lovely, thoughtful post. It sounds as though you really lived the word. S

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  11. Very thought provoking post. We should all remember to slow down and really connect with people and things in our lives.

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  12. Happy New Year, LeeAnna. What a beautiful, wise post. Thank you.

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  13. omigosh Lee Anna... what a wonderful, wonderful post!!! Thank you so much for sharing!!!! My heart is full! Still working to choose the right word for me... so many to choose from. Wishing you many new connections this year and thanks for the book recommendation... going to read this one for sure!! Hugs

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  14. Thank you for a wonderful post. You are so generous with sharing yourself. Your connections resonate with so many others...you are the stone that causes the ripple in the water that spreads to the world. Thanks!

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  15. I too enjoyed reading your post. I especially found peace when you wrote: Forgiving those who seriously hurt us, ( who take no responsibility for that) seemed beyond me. It seemed like saying the acts were okay. Redesigning a relationship, or releasing the relationship is your final step. I have thought this about forgiveness too....but found that we can forgive....and let go...that is was in the final step of letting go that gave me peace. I also agree that most the hatred in the world is resounding from fear. My word for 2016 is Fabulous....as in...more forward and be fabulous. Happy New Year!!

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  16. Wonderful post Lee Anna! I too try and see and enjoy the little moments each day and point them out to my kids. I doubt there are many 6+7 year olds that will say ' look at the beautiful colors in the sky in the morning' or find the trains and elephants in the clouds. Enjoying the little things in life make for a happy person. Looking forward to seeing your creativity in 2016.

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  17. Happy Holidays to you and yours, your blog has inspired me and the Off the Wall link has opened new ways of seeing fabric arts. Your happy cows and fancy flamingos make me smile, your bold use of color and pattern are wonderful! Keep up the good work, Sincerely, Amy

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  18. I so loved reading this post LeeAnna! I think I will read it again as there's so much wisdom there. It reminds me of an author I love SARK, very inspirational. Looking forward to hearing your word for 2016 and how you incorporate it into your life and work :)

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  19. LeeAnna what a wonderful post, I am just heading to the kitchen to make a cup of tea and come back and read it again. Inspirational words and thoughts, and ideas! Thank you for sharing with us..

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  20. It is so easy for me to hole up in my house and not connect with anyone (except hubby). That makes for a really small world. Sounds like you really lived your word this past year and also learned a lot. I love the sharing you do on your blog and have so much fun reading about your work. Thanks for all the inspiration you've given me. I look forward to a fun and productive 2016!

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  21. Thanks for sharing your candid and inspiring post. It inspires me to make more connections. I look forward to reading your posts in the coming year.

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  22. What a great post. So thoughtful. Definitely worth the second read! Thank you for sharing your journey.

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  23. Sam and I are so grateful for connecting with you and Cole! Keep up the great artwork and blog; we love it! Hugs and puppy kisses.

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