Release. Refine. Passion. | Welcome to 2019

Do you have a word for 2019?

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I’ve always been into New Year’s and “resolutions” or as I prefer to call them “affirmations”. I relish the chance to reflect and renew my mindset. I recognize that you don’t have to do this at the beginning of a New Year, and thus, I also take time on my birthday to review the previous year and check in with myself to learn how I’ve changed (or not) over the last 12 months. I find it important to allow an ending and completion of one phase before starting anew. As humans, we so often avoid endings; however, accepting the end of something and saying goodbye is good, healthy and required.

That being said, I truly did not want to say goodbye to 2018. Last year was fantastic for me personally. I grew as an artist, photographer and entrepreneur. I started caring for my body and taking space from work in a new way that I’d never previously allowed myself. I began a spiritual practice and grew into my feminine side and even found a women’s circle to connect with, which was healing, inspiring and vital for me at this point in my life. I traveled to my favorite places (New Orleans and Utah) and had my work included in two museum exhibitions. It was a good year. I’m thankful and grateful <3 Thank you, 2018!

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I follow a lot of writers, artists, and individuals who share ideas for personal growth and exploration. I’m someone who will always seek to better themselves and I will never stop growing. “I will never be satisfied.” Honestly, I’ve come to accept and love that part of myself and see it as a gift rather than a negative trait.

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In recent years, I’ve come across the idea of finding a word for your year. (Or allowing a word to find you.) I find this immensely helpful as I tend to have an overactive mind, and thus, my brain, goals, dreams and tasks tend to cycle very quickly. Having a word or mantra to come back to grounds me. Over the last year or so, I’ve had several phrases that have helped keep me going especially when I’m feeling self-conscious, low in confidence, sad or even exhausted.

In 2017, I was stuck on the phrase “Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast,” especially after rushing caused me to perform less than stellar on several shoots. 2018’s words were (generally) “Create” and “Intention”. Thus, at the end of 2018, I really started to listen for what I’d like to welcome into my world in 2019. Three words came into my awareness, the first of which was:

Release

2019-01-04_0002.jpg‹‹I hold so much tension, anticipation and emotion. As someone who is future-driven, empathetic and keenly aware of my surroundings, I tend to hold onto things. (No shit!) Thus, when “Release” came to me, everything in my being said “ahhhh”.

For me, “Release” hits home on several levels. Very literally, I’d like to release some shit that I just don’t need anymore in 2019. I’ve struggled for a long time with the idea of stability, security and needing to know the outcome to something before taking action. I’ve encountered a lot of obstacles in my life and my tendency towards “expect the worst and hope for the best” was more of a fundamental truth than a “tendency” for many years. What I’ve learned though is that true abundance doesn’t happen to you when you expect a lack of love and luck. (Shout out to my dear friend Jessica Maceda for helping me shift this mindset!) What you expect is definitely what you perceive and what you perceive is what’s true (for you).

Another aspect of release is a softening. As a go-getter (and a byproduct of an “expect the worst” mindset), I tend to push… hard. I always thought that if you want something to work for you, then you have to manifest it into existence through force. Well, I will say that the sweetest things in life come through the exact opposite of that. Thus, I’d like to learn to receive more in 2019 through releasing my firm grasp on getting what I want. To practice patience and allow the unfolding of things to happen as they will. I don’t want to rush or push. Just try to find the beauty in whatever unfolds and be amazed by the opportunities that lie within that unfolding. Which brings me to my next word:

Refine

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2018 was awesome. I feel like I’m on a pretty good track. I’d like to refine what I’m already doing well and hone my skills more in 2019. This word came to me through an end of year project that I kept putting off.

As you can tell already, I’m a recreator. I adore the symbolism of a Phoenix burning out and rising again from the ashes (see the painting below). I had BIG plans to redo my professional website before the end of the year. New = better, right? As the end of the year approached though, I just could not find the inspiration, motivation or desire to start again from scratch. My partner Jason asked, “what’s wrong with your current site? It looks great.” It was at that moment that I realized that the answer to my problem wasn’t my lack of inspiration. Rather that my current site needed some tweaks, updates and a face-lift.

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I have a tendency towards tearing shit down and rebuilding from the ground up. I’ve done this several times throughout my — once when I moved to New Orleans at 20 and again when I left my ex-husband and my subsequent move to the NC High Country at 30. (Watch out 40! Ha!) Through those experiences, however, I learned that true growth comes when you grow “up”. As in, once you have a stable base, then you can work on higher skills and the finer things. If you’re constantly changing your foundation, it’s hard to really fine-tune the details. This year I want to get better at the things I’m already good at. I also want to develop some of my talents that I haven’t made enough time for in the past — painting and music. Which brings me to my third word:

Passion

2019-01-04_0001.jpg(Photo taken by the Wayfaring Wanderer)

This last word really came in at the last moment. It’s also probably inspired by the show “Mozart in the Jungle”, which we’ve been binging for the last week or so. In this show, the main character and maestro Rodrigo De Souza talks about wanting his players to play with “the blood” (i.e. passion). I’m half Italian and a Louisianian at my core. “The blood” and living a life full of passion was what I ran away from at 20 because it scared the shit out of me. It meant putting myself in the spotlight, showing my talents to the world and exposing myself to potentially volatile relationships. At 20, I could not cope with any of those circumstances without spontaneously combusting.

However at 33, I’ve leveled up a bit. I live a little more moderately and the foundation is set compared to my 20’s when I had no idea who I was. I spent the majority of my 20’s rejecting a life of passion, which ultimately caused my major burnout and rebirth at 28-30. I’ve learned and accepted that I am an artist. The time for being an architect or engineer has passed and even if I could have chosen those paths, they wouldn’t have fulfilled me. I think I would have wound up here anyway. I’m ready to embrace a more creative lifestyle. I’m ready and stable enough to invite passion (which to me is equal to the creative energy that flows through you when you make art or play an instrument or any instance where you allow for true self expression) into my daily life. I’m ready to allow it to flow through me an into the world.

There you have it, folks. Release, Refine, Passion. These are my three words for the year. Maybe they are meant to be more of a mantra like… “Release and refine with passion.” Either way, I feel like at any given time I can lean into one of these words and feel safe. If I’m ever in doubt about a decision, I can consult one of these parts of self to see what really resonates for me. So 2019, let’s do this.

Do you have a word or phrase for 2019? Do you want to pick one now? Want to talk through ideas? Looking to collaborate with a fellow artist and musician this year? You know where to find me 🙂

~Ashley

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  1. I love your word choices. All great ideals to strive for. Looking forward to seeing what unfolds for you this new year!

    As you and I have discussed several times this week we we’ve hung out, I’m still in the process of finding my word(s) for the year but I’m leaning toward F L O W + E X P A N D at the moment. 

    Thanks for the shout out! 🀗 Glad to know I’m (mostly) a good influence on you! 😘

  2. Carlton says:

    Hi there! Such a nice article, thank you!

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