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Fresh Starts

For many years I have thought that the Lunar New Year which usually falls in late January or early February is a better time for us to reassess our intentions and directions for the new year. How can we expect to have the inspiration for thoughtful reflection just one week after Christmas, just a few days before the Galette des Rois get-togethers (a French tradition we keep at our house), at a time when we are sometimes still out of town with family and friends, and after the exciting, though tiring, rush of all of the weeks of pre-holiday traditions of baking, making, decorating, not to mention the busiest time of the year for small retailers? Wouldn't it be nice to have a few weeks back in a more regular routine before asking ourselves to think about our year to come?

So for this reason, I do not rush myself into things in a new year of making. For many days I look through the inspirational images that I have collected over the years, I look through last years journal and sketchbooks, thinking about old ideas that still resonate with me or could be integrated into new, fresh ideas. I draw without a goal, and I sit and write and think. This may seem like a luxury, and in many ways it is, but I have come to understand that this is an integral part of my process. Reflecting and reassessing at this time of the year is my "in" to getting back to work with a renewed sense of what my making priorities are. I don't think I could ever make or do all of the things on my list of potential ideas and objects, so there is no way around having to choose which ideas to pursue and which to put on hold. This process of drawing and writing and winnowing gives me a direction for the months and the year before me.

Inevitably, as I feel like I have a better idea where I want the new year to take me, or rather where I want to take myself and my ideas in the new year, I start to notice the bright red banners in Chinatown and see the red and gold envelopes in the stationary shops. And I think each year, Yes, the end of January would be a better time to think about the new year and time for a fresh start. As it is, I feel like I can never "hit the ground running" on the first Monday of January. I always feel "late" in having a new year plan. Thankfully I have finally accepted that this is the best rhythm for my making, and that it's better to find a rhythm that works than try to squeeze into one that society tells me is the way to do it. Granted, if I had a job with a boss or worked for a company who helped dictate my work direction I would most likely "hit the ground running" at work that first Monday of the year, but inevitably I would still need to take more time to assess my personal projects and plans for the months to come.

As I draw and write and plan my way into this new year, though already fraught with worries outside the bubble of my studio, I am also thinking of sending out well wishes to you. May this be a resilient, creative, healthy year for you and for all of your loved ones and everyone else we share this planet with!

Happy New Year, and Happy Lunar New Year!

Top images are part of my drawing and planning days in Jan. 2022.

I took the bottom 2 photographs in late Jan. 2022 in Toronto's Chinatown.


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