Yes, I am nearby declaring 2014 as my “renaissance year.” Dramatic, maybe, but after spending too much time over the past few years freaking out about the future, stressing about our present and harking on the past, it is time for an actual new year, viewed through new eyes.
I actually had a very difficult time coming up with a title for this life revelation. I thought about calling it my “working on” series, as I want to start sharing on the blog the current things in which I am focusing on, or even “carpe diem 2014” because these things will reflect how I am letting my little heart run wild with whatever it wishes to run wild with (except Ryan Gosling and more mason jars, as I think Matt might object) but I think calling it my “renaissance year” actually fit the bill quite perfectly. Not only because by definition, (other than the actual historical connotation, which was my favorite period of time to learn about in social studies) “renaissance” means “a period of new growth or activity,” but also because I’ve always had a hard time spelling it correctly. So I figure writing it over and over again throughout the year will really help with that. :)
As I mentioned in my 2014 post, instead of making hard set, “official” resolutions this year, I am choosing to simply explore myself and the world around me, allowing my gut to lead the way. I’m not choosing what I think I should accomplish this year and then forcing myself into it under that pretense. Because, sometimes what you think you really, really want to do – or should do – doesn’t happen because it is not the right time for it to happen. Not because you chose to not make it happen. This then leads to resolutions that you just end up feeling guilty about, which leads you to feel down about yourself, which leads you to regret how you spent your year. And, as one of my hilarious friends recently exclaimed last week, “ain’t nobody got time for that!”
For instance, I really, really have wanted to dive back into the Italian language again. I would love nothing more than to speak it fluently and to travel to Italy and not have people know that I’m actually an “American-Italian” the second I open my mouth. (This happened to me every day when I studied there in college. I blended right in until I attempted to casually ask for something in Italian. “Ah, si, Americana! What are you looking for?” Hrmph.) I want to visit my cousins in Sicily and not have to run to the translating dictionary every time we have something significant or insignificant to say.
However, this very dear resolution of mine has sat on my list for 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013… è molto male. I kept it on the list even after I failed to do it year after year because I really did think, “This is the year. I’m going to go to an Italian class and I’m really going to learn it!”
I started despising this resolution because it only reminded me how I’ve failed to accomplish it over and over again. I’d get that heart-sunk, gosh-what-the-heck-am-i-doing-with-my-life, why-can’t-i-just-figure-it-out-and-commit-to-something feeling. Which instantly causes me to revert to a small child, whimpering on the kitchen floor with a box of Cheerios. It’s not a good look.
Turns out, learning Italian just wasn’t in the cards for me. Not in 2010, not in 2011, not in 2012, not in 2013 and, while I’m not going to rule anything out just yet, I don’t know if I see it happening in 2014. Not because I don’t want it to happen – I really, really do – but there are a few other things I would also like to do, see, learn, explore. And these other things are a bit more pertinent to me at this stage in my life than learning Italian is. Because really – I’m not going to Italy anytime soon. Which is really tough for me to admit, because I would love to freaking go to Italy tomorrow, but let’s be honest…the closest I’m getting to my home country this year is the bottle of imported balsamic vinegar sitting in our cupboard.
Plus, who the hell am I going to speak Italian with when I get home from whatever Italian classes I was going to take? I have a husband that, for the first few months of this blog, thought the title of it was pronounced “see-yo mama.” (Yes, I’m serious. Don’t let his Italian last name fool you, people.)
Takeaway: There are no unrealistic resolutions, just unrealistic timing. We can all have running lists of things we want to learn, places we want to go, books we want to read, recipes we want to try, mason jar crafts we want to make (am I right?) but we need to allow ourselves the time and patience to pursue these opportunities, no matter what they are, when the time is right and when your heart is 100 percent in it. As my very wise brother Dave once told me, “always go with the flow but make your own moves along the way.”
So I am diving heart first into 2014, baby. My renaissance year!
With just a month into the year and this new mentality, I have already revisited my long-term resolution to “revive my art-loving, charcoal-drawing, acrylic-painting self.” I knew she was in there somewhere, probably painting my organs with whatever colors she has left on her palette because she absolutely hates to waste paint. I had basically abandoned that part of myself after college, at first relishing a bit in the break from all things scheduled and graded, but then eventually lost touch with it as things like grad school, a full-time job, a big move to DC and a wedding took over my days, months and years. Then we moved, and although I insisted on taking my easel and huge plastic tub of art supplies, I let them collect dust in three different apartments. And when I did break them out, I would get so frustrated at my rusty skill set. Before I allowed myself the time to ease back into my craft, I would hastily gather everything up and put it back in the corner of our room. I knew I was doing myself a huge injustice, but at the time, I wasn’t mentally ready to dive back in. And while I would like to kick my old self in the ass for letting so much time and energy slip through my discouraged thoughts, I know that for whatever reason, I wasn’t ready. The timing was not right.
But, things have started to change around here (and my “here” I mean in my crazy brain). I let go of a lot of excess baggage – you know, negative thoughts, anxious worries about my future, panic attacks about how “old” I’m getting – and I was ready to get back to the basic things that make me happy. And as fate should have it, I found a figure drawing class that meets weekly a few blocks from our apartment, for only $5 a session. I actually discovered this class at least six months ago, but I was too preoccupied with training for two marathons and planning two family holiday trips to check it out. But after running the Disney marathon a few weeks ago, I faced a reality in which I couldn’t run or work out for a few days – a reality in which I’ve always wished for but could never fully handle without any guilt – which gave me the perfect opportunity to focus on the creative endeavors I have pushed aside.
As I gathered my materials and walked into the building where the class was held, I was really nervous at first. But when I stepped into the artist studio – dimly lit walls covered with sketches and paintings, an old table filled with random snacks (and wine!) and a small wooden doorframe that led into another room lined with chairs filled with young art students, old professionals and random artsy types, my heart just about exploded. I felt my blood run through my veins in a way that I haven’t felt in a very, very long time. It was like I re-entered a world that had always came the most natural to me since I was a child. And right then and there, I swore to myself I would never leave this place again! Well, I would physically leave the figure drawing studio (that would get really weird, really weird fast) but mentally, I would never again leave my post in the art world.
I have been going now for three weeks in a row, every Wednesday, and now they even added a Saturday class. I hit a rough patch last week, as I could not draw any poses right or any limbs proportional. I started getting really self-conscious (ironic seeing that there is a naked girl in the middle of a crowded room with 20 sets of eyes locked on her for 20 minutes at a time and I’m the one feeling self-conscious) because you sit so close to one another that you naturally look at your neighbor’s drawings and compliment them. And obviously, I happened to be sitting next to the next Rembrandt. But I took a deep breath and exhaled all negativity out of my head. You’re in it for the long haul this time, Izzo. Head up, charcoal down.
I’ll keep sharing my drawings/thoughts here, along with any other bit of inspiration that takes hold of me this year. Hopefully I can inspire you to also let go of any rusty “resolutions” on your shelf and instead follow your heart to what truly makes you happiest. Renaissance yo’ self!