Embrace the blankness

blank slate
Enticing blankness, beckoning. / Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

New year, new opportunities

By Ellen Margulies

When is a blank canvas, a blank screen or a blank piece of paper a good thing? When it’s a blank slate, as in when it’s a metaphor for erasing all the emotional clutter you’ve been collecting and starting anew.

That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to throw out everything you’ve collected. Figuratively and literally, some things have a place in the “for keeps” pile. But the little shot of mental freshness you get by starting over should not be underestimated.

I’m staying away from anything too resolution-y, because I don’t know how useful those really are. (Unless your resolution is to break any resolutions you make by three days in…) But I do like the ritual of examining the year that’s passing and looking ahead to see what your life might have room for in the coming year. I am particularly interested in exploring the ways in which  our lives can be enhanced by creativity, and using this blog as a way to share those explorations. I’ve already signed up with co-blogger Laura for a book-making class later in the year, and I will probably sign up for an art class or two. I may delve into something completely different for me, like cooking. You can Google “adult enrichment classes” or “community education” and whatever town you live in to get some ideas, or you can look for the usual suspects, like supply stores, community colleges and entrepreneur centers, if you have specific ideas in mind. In Nashville, some of my favorite places to take classes are:

Plaza Art

The Skillery

Nashville Community Education

University School of Nashville

Watkins College of Art and Design

Admittedly, I’ve gotten most of these ideas from Laura. It’s always nice to have someone in your corner egging you on to be more creative, though, right? It gives your creativity a kick in the butt. I write for a living, so I certainly understand the frustration of the cursor blinking accusingly in the upper right-hand corner of the screen, but I have also learned over the years (and decades, and centuries, and millennia…) to just start.

It’s not like you can’t go back and re-do your beginning, and that’s true of most projects. Maybe not, you know, cutting crown moulding for your rec room ceiling, but generally speaking. I’ve gotten to the point where I find the blankness of the page or canvas to be a good thing, an exciting thing, a door opening up onto… who knows what.

I decided to make a fresh start with one of my would-be bulletin boards, just in time for a new year. I’d bought a card/photo holder a few years ago when I was looking for a place to hang some hand-blown glass ornaments I bought in Romania. I hung the ornaments with different colored ribbons, but the little wire curlicues on the rod were too irresistibly empty. Over time I began to wedge photographs, postcards, drawings, save-the-dates, thank-you notes and Christmas cards in there.

See your Christmas card up there? If not, maybe you should’ve sent me one, you thoughtless bastard. / Photo by Ellen Margulies

As you can see, it was full to bristling with mementoes.

So, I pulled them all out.

Fresh start for a fresh year. Feel free to send me a card, drawing or photo to help me fill it up again! 1717 Forrest Ave., Nashville, TN 37206/ Photo by Ellen Margulies

Some will be recycled, others will be scrapbooked (a.k.a. thrown into a pile in a shoebox until I can get around to scrapbooking later). And you know what? I couldn’t believe how good it felt to have that fresh, blank “canvas,” as it were, gracing my wall. Just think of all the things I can fill it with.

I can’t wait.


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