goodbye, 2014, a year of realizations

In some ways I have a hard time believing that it's already the end of the year, but when I look back at everything that has happened since January 31, 2013, I guess it's believable that 365 days really have gone by.

Anne Butera in a Portfolio Tunic at the farm

For the past couple years I have chosen a Word of the Year. For me these words are about intention and focus. Words are powerful. Words are magical. It's not always an easy task to narrow it down to a single perfect word for an entire year. In 2013 my word was Bloom, a beautiful word which ended up fitting wonderfully with all of the blooming I did in my life throughout that year.

watercolor rose and word bloom with palette and brushes

When I spent time last December and early January trying to find my word for 2014 I made a list of many options, none of which were quite as beautiful or poetic as Bloom, but all of which were strong, meaningful words. I knew the intention I was after; I just needed to find the right word to encapsulate that intention. I ended up choosing Realize. It's kind of a strange word to set as a word for the year, but it felt right.

realize v.*

1. a. to bring into concrete existence: ACCOMPLISH
b. to cause to seem real: make appear real

2. a. to convert into actual money
b. to bring or get by sale, investment, or effort

3. to conceive vividly as real: be fully aware of

What I most wanted for the year was accomplishment. That the definition included wording about money was a bonus. (Money's not something we're supposed to talk about. As artists we're not supposed to say, This year I want to be able to support myself with my art... but isn't that an important goal for any artist? I know, the topic is much too big to get into right now and it's not my intention for this post so I'll move on). The word seemed to perfectly align with my goals. Even the third definition, though it wasn't one I contemplated much, would work as an intention for the year. Isn't it all about dreams and dreaming?

four leaf clover

What's interesting to me is that although I did have plenty of accomplishments during the year, what ended up being the most important aspect of my word was the last definition, the definition that means UNDERSTAND. Understanding is so much more important than accomplishment. Or at least, let's say you can't have accomplishments without first having understanding.

In my journal at the end of last December I wrote: Here I am on the cusp of 2014, ready to plunge into this next adventure, ready to become who and what I truly want to be. Through and through -- artist, writer, crafter. Leaping, soaring over fears & doubts.

A beautiful thought, no? Things didn't quite work that way, at least not immediately. I had a hard time getting started. I met with a lot of resistance. Felt a bit defeated at times and generally lacked focus. It reminds me of this comic by Brian Gordon. When I saw it on Facebook in October I laughed out loud but also thought, yes. This work of being an artist is just that. Work. It's not just dreaming and magic (and beauty and joy). I came across the same idea in a marketing book I was looking at recently:

"You cannot be a dreamer and think everything is going to happen magically just because your artwork is fantastic. You actually have to get out there and do something."
                              -- Constance Smith, from Art Marketing 101

I'm not saying 2014 was a bad year by any means or that the other aspects of the meaning of Realize didn't happen to some degree or another, but what strikes me now is that overall it was, truly, a year of realization, a year of understanding ( I shared some of those realizations in this post and this one, too). Understanding is powerful. It might not be flashy or glamorous, but it is important. No, it is crucial. There's grace and beauty in it, too.

a tiny strawberry

Here are a few of the year's realizations:
  • I need to put the business of my art first. If I don't take it seriously, no one else will, either.
  • I need a schedule, a calendar and written tasks and goals.
  • I am directly responsible for my own success -- it's not about waiting to be "discovered".
  • Never give up. Giving up is the only sure way to fail.
  • I am on the right path and I need to keep going.
  • Doubts and fears are part of the process but I cannot let them stop me from moving forward.
  • It's ok to let go of goals/dreams/ideas that aren't aligned with what I truly want. Sometimes what we want is only what we think we should want, not what we truly want.

nasturtiums in a glass vase on a doily in the sun

If 2013's flower was a rose, 2014's would have to be a bouquet of nasturtiums. They were abundant in my garden and I fell in love with them over and over again. I may have missed my roses, but nasturtiums were my constant companions (and featured in quite a few paintings).

I am so grateful for this beautiful year of discovery and understanding of art and joy and accomplishment. Let me leave you with this:

Thank you to each of you for joining me on this journey. For reading my words and for sharing your encouragement with me this year. It means so much to me. Here's to a wonderful 2015 for us all!

*definition from Merriam-Webster online


  1. So much wisdom and understanding in your post, Anne. Thank you for sharing. You are such a talented and inspiring person, so glad to know you. Best wishes to you!!!

    1. Thank you, Aga! I'm so glad to know you, too. Wishing you wonderful things in 2015!

  2. Happy New Year to you Anne. That is a wonderful photo of you standing by the tree! I look forward to reading your posts throughout 2015. :-)

    1. Happy New Year, Simone! I'm hoping it's fabulous for you! So happy to have you along on my journey and be accompanying you on yours, too!

  3. So much insight, Anne. Definitely a productive year! I'm always inspired by you.
    Wishing you everything good in 2015 - love your flipigram at the end of your post! xo

    1. Thank you, Judy! You know how much I value your friendship. Wishing you a wonderful year!

  4. I love your list of the year's realizations, Anne. Anyone (like me, for example!) can find encouragement from what you've shared. The last one is particularly poignant for me. Thanks for sharing this excellent post. Hugs, Nancy

    1. Thank you, Nancy! So happy to have "met" you! I'm looking forward to your adventures in 2015 and wishing you the best!

  5. You are on a roll, girl, and have found your voice. 2015 is filled with possibility! Looking forward to seeing it unfold. xo

    1. Thank you so much, Karen! It's been wonderful having you along on my journey and it's been such a joy to be a part of yours as well. Wishing you all the best in 2015!

  6. Thank you Anne. That was a very insightful and meaningful round up with lots of nuggets for us all to take in. Wishing you all the best for 2015 and beyond. xo

    1. Thank you, Dana! Wishing you a wonderful year as well! So excited for what we'll both be up to in 2015!

  7. Yes! Love this post. And I agree with Nancy, the last one was my favorite. It's OK to let go!


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