Finally, I have caught up with life after the chaos of an unforgettable Shanghai Christmas and New Year…phew! That went fast…almost too fast, and now it’s student assessment time at AIVA…straight back to it, although I never actually stopped. I think people forget about those who have to carry on and work through the festive period…so to them, I raise my hot mug of peppermint tea. I seem to be raising peppermint tea to a lot lately! Also, I wish all my readers a very healthy and happy new year – xīn nián kuài lè 新年快乐! Wishing you prosperity every year – nián nián yǒu yú 年年有馀! All the standard Mandarin phrases are coming out today. Somehow, it is nearly time for me to jump on a plane and take a trip back home to the UK for a few weeks during Chinese Hew Year and I can’t believe how quickly it has come around…but before I head back West I thought I’d share with you my top 5 for 2012, my new year’s resolutions as I look ahead to 2012. In some respects, they are not just for the coming year but are to be a way of life…Rachel’s life.
1. To have more (self-)belief
This is something I try to work on every single year…to have belief in myself, in all that I do, and to rightfully think I am good at the many endeavours I put my heart and soul into…to have a positive mental attitude about me, myself and I…and to never lose faith in mankind as that’s when you lose faith in the future. People have the ability to surprise you every single day, to make you smile and make you believe that anything and everything is possible in life. By thinking positively, I believe positive things come and just happen…self-belief is the key to the door of opportunity.
“It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not.” – Denis Waitley
2. To eat well no matter what the cost
It’s true, you are what you eat…and when I say eat “well” I don’t mean, huge, over-sized meals as if I am trying to bulk up, I mean healthily and as eco-friendly as possible…though that’s quite hard in China as it comes at a cost. Since living in Shanghai, I have been easily distracted from my usual eating routine and habits and therefore, consumed a mountain of different foods that haven’t been very kind to my body. In turn, I have had realised that you shouldn’t change your ways just because you are in a different country. In the UK, I was very strict with my diet due to my health and thus, my body worked a lot better (well, to some degree). However, in China I haven’t engaged in the same process of selecting, preparing, cooking and baking my food and it definitely shows. Why pay for organic vegetables and spend hours cooking when you can buy a full meal made in minutes for the same price? It’s difficult. So in reality, I need to select and cook my food…China shouldn’t be selecting it for me…so I’ll be using Shanghai’s Slow Food map to destruction this year…organic food boxes, regular visits to the wet markets and really healthy and wholesome cooking ahoy.
3. To get back to artistic practice
Throughout my artistic career, the scales of art practice versus art theory occasionally become imbalanced…there are times when I write more than I make, though I think that happens with most creative types. More recently, due to being immersed in PhD land, a world of words, curating and teaching, I have become more caught up in writing, arts management and administration, where my artistic practice has been severely neglected. So at the end of 2011, I thought I’d make a head start on this resolution and start to engage with my practice again…a sketchpad has begun and I signed up to take part in the fourth ‘Book Art Object’, an international book arts project. I’ll keep you updated as to how it develops…and what else I start to think about…
To have the ability to say no To be selective
I know this might sound a bit strange as a new year’s resolution should be positive right? “No” is such a negative word so that’s why I crossed out the first attempt at number 4 and rephrased it. Most people would probably say they need to be able to say yes more, to be a “yes man” as such…but I have the opposite problem. I seem to say yes to almost everything, when actually I should be more selective about what I agree to…I almost have a fear of missing out. I sometimes feel that my life happens without me knowing about it, without me being in control of it, so in 2012 I need to become more conscious of the decisions I make so that I can appreciate and enjoy all these experiences a lot more.
5. To invest in exercise
I’m starting to train…so I need to invest in some good sports equipment…running shoes, spinning shoes, ballet clothing and other exercise attire such as a thermal running hat and appropriate running gloves. It’s not just for fun anymore (well, ballet and cycling the city are)…I have goals I want to achieve. On my life list is running a marathon, so I thought it was about time I got into training. In 2012-13 I aim to do a half marathon, and then after that (after the completion of my PhD, which will give me more time to tread concrete) I want to complete a full marathon…I’m not sure where or in which city yet. I am currently running in a pair of Adidas cross-training trainers that I bought in New Jersey, USA, at the beginning of 2008 for $20. They are fine for an average a gym workout but for long-haul runs, which I am now investing in, they are causing my feet more trouble than you can think. I also wear a pair of black Quiksilver woolen gloves to keep my hands warm…really not good when for sweaty palms as they are not breathable at all, so they are degrading fast. I am managing to run about 6 miles about 4 times a week…trying to push myself a little further each week. I reckon resolutions 1 and 2 are going to be instrumental in the development of this one…let’s see what happens. Bring it 2012…