What can I make? What can I give away?

Gone, making someone else happy.

Gone, making someone else happy.

You know how everyone keeps saying that they won’t be one bit sad to say goodbye to 2016?

I agree completely – except that I can’t say that I’m all that confident that 2017 is going to be much better.

There. I said it. Might as well get the negativity and pessimism out of the way first. The past year undoubtably held many lovely moments, triumphs small and large. Hell, I can even think of some of them right now. I got kittens (a mixed blessing). I renovated the bathroom. I bought, and hung, new art. I joined a choir. I went to Saskatoon. I wrote some things (although very few of them were blog posts, and that’s fine; this blog, and the blogosphere in general, are shifting — really, have already shifted — and I have some ideas about all of that but no grief). I got a new tattoo. I did some good work for some good clients. I made a quilt with Isaac. I played guitar while Rowan sang. More times than I can count, I was awed and stunned by my friends’ capacity for love and for their generosity of spirit. And I guess it’s a good sign that I keep thinking of good things to add to this list.

But 2016 was also hard, on a global level in ways that we all know about, and personally in ways that simply aren’t blog-worthy. Or, at least, bloggable. 2016 was a year in which I leaned, heavily, on my friends’ (and my family’s) love and generosity of spirit, humbled by my need for it. 2016 has been journal entries and conversations, long walks and self-care and self-care and self-care and self-care and breathing when people ask me if I’m doing self-care. 2016 has been about radical acceptance (working on it) and glimpses, moments of clarity.

One such moment came only a couple of days ago: that the way I will survive 2017 and beyond will come down to two things, the constants in my thread of lovely moments. I will thrive to whatever extent I can by virtue of generosity and creativity. In 2017, I will live well by making stuff and giving stuff away, sometimes in the most literal sense possible (cookies, money), sometimes metaphorically or metaphysically (words, space, songs, time, ideas, the benefit of the doubt, intention, by not acting when I’m tempted to). Generosity and creativity. Maybe that’s a version of “love not fear,” and that’s fine, too, with a bit more direction: any time at all, but especially when things are hard, what can I make? What can I give away?

Over the weekend, I got out a stash of quilting fabric that had been gifted to me, looked up patterns online for inspiration. I found bits of it.

I cast half a row of stitches onto a knitting needle, with the faint hope that I might be able to knit just a tiny, tiny bit each day — and felt my shoulders twinge. And I decided to accept, once and for all, the fact that I really, truly, cannot knit any more — and then I gave away All The Yarn, as well as my grandmother’s groovy knitting bag, stocked with a couple dozen sets of needles and gauges and more. Now there is space where there once was yarn, and instead of grief I feel relief, veins of pleasure.

I balanced my chequebook and checked on incoming invoices and responded to any niggling doubts about my own solvency by donating to Syrian refugees, buying grocery gift cards for teenagers. I made gift bags for the kids’ teachers. I bought some presents. Giving, I feel, doesn’t always come easily to me. It’s a skill I need to hone, a practice I need to make more prevalent in my life. I’m going to try. Even if it’s because I somehow sense that I’m going to need to get better at it in order to, well, live better.

What can I make? What can I give away? Let that be my mantra for 2017. Let’s gather up everything, all of it, especially the hard stuff, and make art of it, or despite it. Let’s gather up anything good and share it. It’s just a theory; I’m only just putting words to it as I write this. I’m going to put it into practice, and we will see what happens.