How to Harvest Your Year

How to Harvest Your Year

We have come to the end of this crazy year 2020. At last. It’s time to take stock, to gather the harvest of the year.

It’s time to acknowledge, celebrate, mourn, forgive, release. The hard and awful, the joyful and blessed, the crazy, stressful, beautiful, boring, all of it. In that way, you clean the slate, let go any baggage that would weigh you down, and make space for new vision, new inspiration. By making a good ending, you pave the way for a good beginning and for a soulful, heart-aligned new year, no matter what happens.

What you do with this time of the gap matters. This is a time of going within and slowing down in the Northern Hemisphere, a time for replenishing, recharging, renewing and taking stock. This time of the turning of the seasons and the start of a new year is an important time.

I invite you to nourish yourself deeply and take time to deeply reflect on 2020 before you start making plans, inviting visions, setting intentions or goals for 2021.

Every month I give my patrons on Patreon a theme and creative suggestions to play with for the month, a way to keep their creativity nourished, inspired and expanding in new directions. (If you’d like to get those, come join me on Patreon here!) Today, I’m sharing with you here the December Creativity Theme and Suggestions—Taking Stock.

Goodbye 2020!

2020 feels, to me, like some awful haunted house ride with spooks and horrors leaping out at you as you reel along around twists and turns and over huge bumps and down slippery inclines, getting splashed and shocked and never able to get your bearings. 

But there were blessings and gifts in it too. There were good things that happened and good things we did. And there were tremendous losses.

It is time to take stock honestly, to honor and celebrate and give thanks for what you did and the blessings that came your way, to release what was awful, disappointing, hard, and to clean the slate to make way for the new.

Gather Your Tools

I invite you this month—and it’s fine if it spills over into the start of next month too—to take stock of your creative life this past year. I invite you take stock of your whole life, but to particularly grant some generous time to your creative life, or to whatever matters most to you, brings you the deepest fulfillment, joy, meaning, grace. Things grow and blossom when we give them loving attention, so even if you think 2020 was an abysmal year creatively and you feel foggy, tired and uninspired right now (as I do!), I invite you to do this.

If you keep a journal, get that out. If you write things in a calendar or log book, get that out. Whatever records your keep, whatever helps you remember, gather those.

Make a quiet time when you have an hour or two to stretch out. Turn off your cell phone and computer. Fix a cup of tea. Get some colored pens and paper. Make a fire in the fireplace or woodstove, if you can, or light a candle. Get cozy.

Reflect, Celebrate, Release

Reflect on this past year in your life.

Make a list—or even better, some kind of beautiful, fanciful, creative chart or drawing or collage—of what you did, what you accomplished, what blessings, steps forward, gains came in your creative life.

Did you get a new guitar? Start out the year writing a lot, even if it fell away at some point? Declutter a space in which you can be creative? Did you take a class online? How did you support, nourish, further your creativity? What did you learn? What blessings came your way?

Celebrate and acknowledge anything and everything you can. Every little step. Every photo-taking walk, every poem written, every ten minutes spent noodling on the piano, every spontaneous dance in the woods. Do something to give thanks for and celebrate all of this—a little happy dance, a prayer, a love letter to yourself and/or the Universe, whatever feels right to you.

Now, on another piece of paper, write down everything you need to release about this year in terms of your creative life. (Again, this is great to do for your life as a whole, as well.)

What was a bummer? What didn’t go as planned? Were there goals, projects, dreams that went off the rails? What was difficult? Perhaps someone criticized something you made. Or you planned to write your memoir but only got to chapter one. Perhaps you were half-way through planning a wonderful concert tour when Covid hit. Get it out of you and on the page.

Now, create a simple ceremony to release it. Really let all this go—just intend to do so fully—so you can start clear in the new year. You don’t want to carry the baggage of disappointments, hurts, frustrations, grief, or self-judgment into the new year.

Maybe, you’ll want to write a song or a rant or make a collage of photographs or other images or create a short dance piece about 2020. But it’s also fine to just empty yourself right now of these things.

Rest in the Gap

And finally, let yourself rest in the gap for a while. Be empty and open. Give yourself down time. Take baths, take walks. Read inspiring literature, listen to great music. Replenish by getting away from screens and doing things that nourish your inner artist and recharge your body, mind, heart and spirit.

Invite the New

Then, start to invite yourself to dream what you would like to create in the new year.

How would you like your creative life to look, feel, be in 2021? What dreams or goals would you love to set in motion or see realized in the coming year?

But do this gently. Allow vision in without reaching or forcing it. Make notes when you get inspired by something and keep those notes where you can find them. This is not carved in stone. You’re playing, welcoming the new, opening to new expression, allowing.

If you really want to jumpstart and nourish your creativity in 2021, consider taking the Artist’s Way with me—an amazing gift to yourself and your life!

I Invite You To Share

If you are willing to share one or more things that you are celebrating in your creative life or your life in general from 2020 in the comments, please do! You can also share one or two things that were hard that you are releasing now. I’d love to hear about your year.

For example, I am celebrating that my book, Fierce Aria, was published this year!!! Whoo! That’s so huge. And I’m releasing that I did not finish a draft, nor a book proposal, for my creativity book (though I did make substantial progress on it)

There’s tons more I can celebrate and plenty more to release. I’ll probably do a year-end post about all that.

For now, tell me about your year.

Enchanted Seattle and the Power of the Extended Artist Date

Enchanted Seattle and the Power of the Extended Artist Date

A week ago, I spent three days in Seattle on what turned out to be an extended artist date. My husband was teaching a two-day program there, so I had the city to explore by myself for two days and then a third day to play there with him.

I was completely enchanted by the city:

  • how green and full of trees and plants it is everywhere, full of beautiful parks to stroll in,
  • full of art, public art everywhere, galleries, theaters, great bookstores, concert halls, museums, and creative happenings,
  • full of cafés, each with its own unique flavor from elegant Parisian to Seattle grunge,
  • delicious chocolatiers, fabulous restaurants of all kinds,
  • public squares with spring-green chairs to sit on and trees branching overhead,
  • beauty and vibrant life, energy, dynamism, creative, unconventional people,
  • and good public transportation.

I was in delight, wandering the city streets, exploring, discovering, following my nose wherever I wanted to go. And, Seattle rewarded me with so much beauty, inspiration, wonder, and good food. Synchronicities abounded to encourage me in my creativity:

  • 2016-10-30-13-51-20sm wonderful, inspiring books on poetry, writing, and artful living found at the Elliott Bay bookstore,
  • a beautiful, astonishingly-right-for-me poem about my name written on the spot for me by a street person, and the moment of soulful connection we shared over it,
  • a show of original art by Miro, Picasso, Chagall, Renoir and others from the Surrealist and early Abstract Expressionist days at a gallery I stumbled on and had all to myself, where I stood agape at the beauty, inspiration, expression and learned important things about my own art-making.

I was lit up.

Even the weird parts—wandering the deserted downtown on Saturday night to get from the light rail to the market to try to find a restaurant that wasn’t full, wandering the surreal back side of the market, up and down steep flights of stairs, oddly void of people except sleeping forms on the street, through the closed-up shops of the market, a landscape straight out of my dream life—where is everybody?—until at last we came upon a little French restaurant tucked away, that Don recognized from earlier visits, and miraculously found a table waiting for us and a scrumptious meal in the crowded, loud, tiny restaurant overlooking the water.


Curious George, my mascot, has sipping chocolate

All of it served to fill me with new images, sensations, impressions, ideas, to open up my five senses so that everything began to look beautiful and vibrant: my backpack on the seat of the train next to me, the reflection in puddles in the gutters, one dried leaf on the brick sidewalk.

The Extended Artist Date

It was one long, extended Artist Date, a date with my artist self in which I let her lead the way. The Artist Date is a concept from The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It is a date you take with yourself alone to do something to inspire, nourish, fill your artistic self. The Artist Date reinvigorates our creativity and ensures that we keep our well filled, so that we have inspiration to draw from when we return to the studio to make our art.

The extended Artist Date, whether it is a day-long excursion, a week in a cabin in the mountains, or a month in a foreign country, is a chance to drop deeply into that artistic self, that creative way of seeing the world and interacting with it, and to listen deeply to what our creative self needs for its nourishment. The extended Artist Date allows us to replenish the depleted storehouses within and reconnect with what truly delights, inspires, intrigues, informs us. The extended Artist Date helps us reawaken, become more alive, and remember or discover who we are, what matters to us, what calls to us.

Chihuly Glass Museum, a must see

Chihuly Glass Museum, a must see

The extended Artist Date also gives us a chance to open to surprise and synchronicity—very important in an ongoing artistic life. Whereas in a shorter Artist Date, we may plan to go to a concert or take a walk in the woods near our house, in an extended Artist Date we are able to explore, discover, follow our whims, not know what all we are going to do, see and experience, but rather open ourselves up to the unknown, the unplanned, to the world in all its wonder, difficulty and grace. And be rewarded by our Muse and the muses of the world.

I encourage you to plan (and take!) an extended Artist Date sometime in the coming month or two. You will need to actually put it in your calendar ahead of time, otherwise other things will tend to always get in the way. Give yourself a full day (or more if you can) to go somewhere that calls to you—the ocean, a city or particular part of the city you want to explore, for a long drive in the mountains.

Pioneer Square, SeattleIt doesn’t have to be expensive. I once had a wonderful Artist Date, spending the day in Sacramento, going to the used record store and bookstore, wandering around window-shopping, writing in my journal in a café, going into galleries and just enjoying the life on the street.

But go alone—it is only when we are alone that we can really deeply tune into ourselves, our own impulses and desires, follow our own rhythms and needs, and listen to the still, small voice within. Let yourself be fully immersed in your environment and follow your inclinations where they want to lead you. Open up your senses and let yourself be nourished by what calls to you. Don’t overthink it. Just follow your heart.

Take out your calendar now and plan it!

To your artistic replenishment,


P.S. To see some more of my photos of Seattle, visit our Facebook page:

Come see me dance!

This Saturday, November 12 at 7 pm, I will be performing a new dance-theater piece, called Boundaries and Borders (and Baggage), which I co-created with two friends, Juliet Lin and Amber Cone. We are performing at the Harvest Moon Dance concert at the Odd Fellows Hall in Nevada City, CA.

Organized by the Nevada County Dance Collective, the evening will feature the work of many choreographers and dancers in a variety of styles. $12. Come join us! For more information:

In my next post, I’ll share a bit about the process of creating the piece we are performing.


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