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A Year for Creativity, Boundaries and Balance

Sara General


As we come to the end of one calendar year and begin to look to a new one, I wholeheartedly declare 2019 as a year devoted to family, storytelling, art, language, and creativity. I’ve just come from a wonderful family vacation to Disney World and Universal Studios in Florida, and I’m overwhelmed by the attention to detail I saw at both Disney World and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I’m especially moved by the power and cohesiveness of our experience at Disney World.

We stayed at the Polynesian Resort (which was gorgeous) and spent time in Epcot (Ione, our eldest daughter wanted to meet Elsa—which we did in Norway), the Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and the Animal Kingdom (where we went on the best adult ride of our trip—Flight of Passage). We watched magical and thoughtful shows, laughed through the sometimes stressful nature of navigating vast crowds, and embraced watching the girls revel in the splendour of seeing familiar stories and characters brought to life.

A picture of our hotel lobby - definitely a gorgeous place!

A picture of our hotel lobby - definitely a gorgeous place!

And while I have no doubt that there’s a commercial driver to the excellence we encountered, we were charmed by the cast members of Disney World and their commitment to creating and fostering the Disney experience. A small and standout example of this was our hostess at the Akershus Banquet Hall in Norway who spoke five languages and shared with us that everyone working at the restaurant was Norwegian.

It was this kind of detail that just absolutely impressed, inspired and made me believe in achieving my own dreams. I walked away from that dining experience thinking—I can absolutely become a speaker of five languages. Of course it’s possible! Story. Language. Art. Creativity. It’s all possible. And more than possible really—it’s necessary.

In a sense, every year of the last five has been devoted to these pursuits. After all, creativity has carried me through all the other types of work I do. But over the past two years, I’ve had to spend most of my time engaged with specific content as I completed various tasks and learned new skills to complete my dissertation. That experience was both engrossing and taxing. I’ve enjoyed learning the skills, but felt many times like I was losing my voice in the writing process—something I never want to experience in school or anywhere else. And there is no denying that this resulted in less time for writing my books and language learning.

But writing, painting, living and healing on paper—this is what I do. This is the place where I feel most centred, calm, alive, and connected. There is strength and power in being in this place—even if it isn’t as regarded as “formal work”, be that doctoral work or career/job work. It’s the place where I can celebrate being Ogwehoweh and work through my personal experiences of colonialism. It’s the way I break cycles, encounter and dismantle ego, acknowledge hard truths, let go, and create original, authentic work that rings true for me. The kind of work I can look at and be happy I spent time doing (even though I’m always learning a new skill or insight that could have improved or strengthened it). There is a tremendous joy that comes from doing creative work and I know I’m not the only person to experience or speak out about this, but it bears repeating—it is an awesome thing to foster and nurture creativity. The kind of work that only you can create. And this year, I plan to devote myself to my creative work, to getting better at the various skills my creative work involves, and bringing new stories into the world.

A little picture I painted of me, Ione and Vivian!

A little picture I painted of me, Ione and Vivian!

This brings me to the last thing our trip helped remind me of: the value and precious nature of time. It was beyond heartening to spend so much uninterrupted time with my children. To be able to be with them every moment of every day, to see their faces as we went on rides or saw new things. To hear them voice their thoughts, feelings and ideas. It reminded me that while there are a lot of things I could do with my time—I know to who and what I most want to give that time to. And so, 2019 will be a time for family, language, story and creativity. A time for voice, healthy boundaries and balance. These are small, humble goals on the grand scale of happenings in our world, (and certainly less specific than I’ve been about goal-setting in the past), but these are the goals that nonetheless feel right and meaningful to me. And with that, I will enter into this new calendar year filled with excitement and gratitude.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful year!