Wednesday, January 2, 2019

2019's Blank Pages to Fill -- with Bravissimo's Galore. . .

I tend not to make resolutions at New Year's, preferring to adjust goals and aspirations more often. I have used the occasion several times to resolve once again "to want what I have" [rather than wanting more].  And the resolution I will make today is perhaps somewhat similar.  . .

Back in November, I sat on a bench not far from where a section of the Tiber empties into the sea,  where fishers tie up their boats and repair their equipment, not far from the marina that hosts a variety of pleasure craft. . . I'd been walking, had shopped a bit, and stopped already for un cappuccino e un cornetto, but before heading over the pedestrian bridge and back to my daughter's, I sat down on a bench to try sketching the busy, working waterfront along the canal.

I got frustrated quite quickly, realizing that I hadn't taken long enough to sort out proportions and perspectives and ratios -- Why hadn't I foreshortened the sidewalk and road more? Why had I left so little room for the boats? And how had I managed to put those stanchions there, while drawing the boat that should have been opposite way over there?

But I remembered that perseverance has served me, in the past, in surprising and pleasing ways, so I followed the inner voices that suggested I add sense-making details where I could (while ignoring the inner voices chastising my haste and sloppiness). And bit by bit, while I could still see the faults of the representation easily enough, I could also see a sketch emerge that was capturing something of what it meant to me to be there, to sit there, to look, and to put the lines on the page.

I got immersed in the scene, in other words, completely caught up in sketching it onto the page. So immersed that I was thoroughly startled to hear, from somewhere over my left shoulder, a resounding "Bravissimo!" -- Let me transcribe for you what I've written about the encounter in the lower right corner of the sketch, above: "Bravissimo! says a 70-ish woman in a grey cardigan, who I hadn't realized was looking over my shoulders - she rejected my dismissal of my work [I was stammering out the approximate Italian for I'm not very good; I'm just learning] and said it was Esatto" --- and she gestured across the canal at the scene I'd been trying to capture, and then waved her hand at my sketched page, repeating E Esatto! Bravissimo!

So my New Year's resolution, such as it will be this year, is to remember that voice, and to heed its encouragement, and to echo it on my own behalf. I'm going to try my very best to grant myself as many "Bravissimo"s as I can, this year. I'm going to try to say them loud enough and often enough that all my Mean Inner Critics are forced to take a step backward, perhaps even to hush for a while. . .

What do you think? It's a good resolution, no? Would you like to borrow it?

In case you're interested, back in January, I began 2018 in Italy, also in Lazio. A few weeks before that, in December 2017, I sketched the scene just to the left of the one in the top photo/sketch -- that's the Coast Guard building you see across the water,  and one of the coast guard boats in front of it. . . Bravissimo, right? To be clear, the Bravissimo I'm exclaiming here is not intended to solicit your praise, i.e., I'm not fishing your compliments. What I'm doing and what I'm going to try to keep doing is honouring the effort I make and to honour my own courage and creativity and slowly improving skills. Yes, it's about the Process for me, but it's also okay for me to be pleased with the results of the process and to tell myself so, as often as I can. Self-Care, if you will  . . .

Now tell me, have you made any resolutions for the New Year? Whether yes, or no, let me take this opportunity to wish you Tanti Auguri di Buon Anno (Happy New Year -- or roughly, Many Wishes for a Good Year, but don't take my word for it, my Italian is very limited). . . and to start your year off with a great big Bravissimo! (or Bravissima!, I suppose?)

And in case you're looking for something to read in the New Year, I've just posted my list of Books Read in 2018 over on my Reading Blog. Comments about that list are welcome either here or there.



25 comments:

  1. I think that's a great resolution. (Lisa from Amid Privilege came up with an equally good one.) I am being called on to change so fundamentally, based on what's transpired over the past 6 months (or 3 years, if you want to go back a way), that I can't find the merit in a discrete resolution, just for myself, this year. It's like every thing I do is a resolution these days (not that this thrills me).

    I did come up with something though - it came to me out of the blue about a week ago, so I'm calling it a NY resolution for the purposes of this comment: I will not apologize to anyone for the imperfectness of my living space and I'm not going to act like a lunatic cleaning before people come over because (so they tell me, credibly) my house is entirely clean enough. When peeps come over, I'm not sweeping up the empty dishes and kitchen chaos 5 seconds after eating. I'm going to come to terms with moments of mess and rest amid them.

    Also - I seem to be on a roll all of a sudden :-): I've been doing a lot of work on my noise sensitivity (misphonia) because, well, I live in downtown Toronto and the renters across the street can be party assholes. Hilariously, I knew when 2019 began - not because I was clinking a glass of cava, but because I heard them counting down (all 100 of them in a second floor flat) from my cozy bed. This is a resolution, which has been in process for a while, but I'm taking all the gold stars I can get here., I will continue using meditation and CBT to let go of the extreme anger that I feel (the transmuted powerlessness) when I cannot control sounds around me. Sound/emotion synesthesia is a blessing that can get out of hand fast when you live an urban life. Happy 2019, Frances. I hope your year is wonderful.

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  2. BTW, this comment is from Kristin - my kid messed with my computer and I have no idea why I'm coming up as "Unknown". K

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    1. First of all, I hadn't realized you suffered from noise sensitivity so -- that can be a horrendous bear to live with, I know.
      Like you, I tend not to make discrete NY resolutions, but I think attitude adjustments and goals are always worthwhile -- and determining not to apologise for a home that's not perfectly clean and ordered calls for a big Bravissimo! I hope that 2019 brings better health and greater tranquility. xo

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  3. No specific resolutions for me except to walk more and eat moderately...I just published my new years post and popped over to catch up on your blog posts...its been a busy time this season with little time for blog reading and writing and I am looking forward to some slower days.

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    1. It has been busy! Nice to slow down a bit now and take stock. . . And plan some exciting travel as well, I see from your post. . .

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  4. I've been having such trouble posting comments , both here and on your reading blog- this is my third attempt!) I just wanted to wish you Happy New Year Year; I hope to see lots more sketches and reading lists in 2019. Bravissimo and thank you for both!
    Frances in Sidney

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    1. Thank you for persisting, Frances! It's always good to hear from you. . .

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  5. My goals for 2019 are to get a chunk of my finances in order, and to reinstate healthier eating habits.

    Both will be process goals, rather than outcome goals; I find focusing on the process takes the wind out of failure’s sails for me.

    Your sketch looks great!

    Pearl in Vancouver
    (katieross1967)

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    1. It's always smart to steer failure into the doldrums, and a focus on process rather than on outcome is a good way to do that. All the best for getting those processes lined up in 2019.

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  6. Bravissimo indeed. It’s good to hear from others in praise of what we do. So easy to put ourselves down. I look forward to your ever improving sketches throughout 2019, wherever you might be. As for me, no real resolutions other than striving to make our world a better place. Last year’s resolution of plastic reduction continues. Maybe a little less red meat in my diet. Here’s wishing you and yours a good 2019. B x

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  7. I think it splendid. Triumphant, instead of caustic. My inner watch-child, always on the alert for danger, needs to pipe down. I'll try speaking Italian to it. Basta! might do it. I wish you luck.

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    1. Oh, I am the same way about possible dangers -- it can be a very useful voice, that one, but can also be an annoyance to others and a health risk (danger!!) to myself. So Bravissimo! to your Basta!

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  8. Why is it that the 'mean girl' is often us and we are the main target? Cultural conditioning that leaves us unable to simply enjoy our creations for themselves and not hold them to some mythical standard? It isn't great art---so what!! Think of how much more meaningful your sketches are to you than say a Caravaggio painting. So I add my bravissimo to silencing the mean girl whenever possible. I'm not one to make resolutions either, but I've tried in recent months, whenever possible, to respond positively (though I am no one's definition of a Pollyanna) and not negatively when dealing with others. And if you think that is easy, keep in mind I live near DC...the virtual seat of negativity.

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    1. Thank you for the encouragement, Mary. I will add your imagined voice to the mix I hear calling out Bravissimo to me.
      And in turn I applaud your efforts to respond positively whenever possible, especially in the context. . .

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  9. Oh... I love that idea Frances. I am a big fan of cheering on and cherishing process. We are all so focused on the end product. I remember a friend saying to her husband when she'd attempted a new recipe, with disastrous results... "I know it isn't that great but don't you love that hint of raspberry?" So I'm going to look for a hint of raspberry in everything. Ha.
    P.S. I'm excited about your IG account dedicated to books you're reading.
    P.P.S. Happy New Year.

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    1. Brilliant! Bravissimo for the hint of raspberry! Rose-coloured spectacles for the win!
      p.s. me too ;-)
      p.p.s. thank you! you too!

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  10. Bravissimo, I love it:)
    No official resolutions this year for me - I am still trying to follow my directive from a few years ago “enjoy the moment”....not always easy for me as a control enthusiast;)
    All the best for 2019!
    Suz from Vancouver

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    1. "Enjoy the moment" is completely in the spirit of "Want What I Have" and "Bravissimo" and many of the other direction-setting phrases I'm reading here. Now let's do this, right? 2019 is ON!

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  11. No great resolutions here, but a small change I made in December when I realised that I was using as many as four different journals (one for knitting projacts, one for an equivalent of Five Things Friday, a sketch book and a notebook which worked as a portable to-do-list), none of which was being kept up with any regularity. Not to mention occasional morning pages and the odd travel journal. Now I pulled them all together into one journal. I did not even buy a new notebook but took one that is half empty still and turned over a page. (Four pages, to be more exact, to be filled later with a retrospective table of contents). It occurred to me that putting all my activities into one book might help me feel less torn between many different options. (I may even manage to keep track of the books I read...)
    My Inner Critic specialises in telling me that I am wasting my time. Whatever I engage in, she insists on listing the things I should much rather be doing. Hopefully, pulling things together on paper will help to calm her down.
    Your lovely sketch reminds me of an essay I just read, about the way Ostia changed when it stopped being a port, and how its sucessor Portus (which is now Fiumicino) went the same way a few centuries later. And how what we see as decay from today's point of view, was lived presence for the people of the time while they were giving up certain neighbourhoods or putting buildings to different uses. So many things that have passed on the shores of the Tiber.
    I'd recommend that book on historical Italian landscapes, but unfortunately it is in German.
    I wish you a very happy 2019.

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    1. Good start to 2019 -- and in resisting the Inner Critic's nonsense.
      So interesting about the changes in Ostia and its environs -- and something of what we're living here in our neighbourhood as an industrial neighbourhood becomes increasingly residential and gentrified. Interesting to me, as well, is how much the long picture reveals itself when one has lived in an area for 65 years -- just reveals in glimpses, of course, but still.
      Re your journal efficiency, I just read a long-ish post by Kate Devies (brilliant knitting designer) about her process -- she's doing a series on journalling for creativity/design.https://katedaviesdesigns.com/2018/12/24/journal-organisation-for-the-disorganised/

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    2. That is the text which gave me the idea of leaving some blank pages to put in a table of contents later. Such a simple and helpful trick!

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  12. All hail the interior Bravissima!

    In my case I think I have to raise the bar on where I think Bravissimas are needed, if that makes sense. To become more content with "it was a day," rather than, "great job!"

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    1. There's something similar in this idea, I think, or it's even the same thing from a different angle. I've tended only to applaud my efforts when they're manifest in a big achievement -- Great Job! When sometimes it's just the perseverance, and there is actually a trace of in results that are better than I'd recognized (if not a "great job!" Is that something of what you mean?

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  13. Bravissima to all of us! Oh, if only we could accept the imperfection and enjoy the process. This is something I'm working on, continually. Often, I find myself deprecating any compliment or positive word, in part, I think, due to being raised with the fear of the sin of pride. How false it is to diminish oneself rather than embrace with enthusiasm the inclinations and talents, however small, we are given.

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we?

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