Best of 2009

I wanted to take time today to say goodbye to the old year, wish it well and send it on its way. Luckily for me, Gwen Bell had a good idea. In a way that seems typical of her, she decided to share it, wildly and freely. 31 days in December. 31 prompts to reflect on and celebrate the best bits of 2009. Although I've only posted sporadically this month, here and on Twitter, I'm going to run through the prompts and share what comes to mind.

Best Trip - I'm not sure I could choose. We went to the Isle of Wight with our best friends and our godchildren, to stay in an incredible tin tabernacle decorated in a quirky vintage style. Nova Scotia with family though I would trade anything for, so if I could only choose one, it would have to be that.

Best Restaurant Moment - here

Best Article - I read Oprah magazine and I find a lot of wise advice in there, but nothing particularly springs to mind. I have bookmarked plenty of blog posts and articles online too. The one article that actually affects my decisions on a weekly basis and that I have quoted to everyone in my inner circle though is here at the PEak Condition Project. I'm not going to summarise it, just go read it. Then think about that Starbucks...

Best Book - I suspect that some of my #best09 items are just things that have happened in the last few months, and this is definitely one of those. I am reading "Under the Dome" by Stephen King and I seem to bring it into every conversation, so it would have to be up there. On reflection though, I would have to go with "The Year of the Flood" by Margaret Atwood. She plays "what if" with so many of the western world's current misguided behaviours and comes up with something mindblowing.

Best Night Out - V Festival. Saw some great bands and laughed a lot. Snow Patrol headlining in place of Oasis were a highlight, but The Killers rocked too. Neither of us were feeling that great, so three nights camping shouldn't have done us any good at all. It worked though, all the better for being a last minute thing. Alaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!!!

Best Workshop - here

Blog Find of the Year - The blogs that bring me the most joy, I've been reading for a while. New to me this year has been Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project. I'm always bookmarking her articles to savour and share. Check it out.

Moment of Peace - here

Best Challenge - Stepping into my boss' shoes to cover her maternity leave was certainly a challenge, and to my great surprise, I loved it. I wouldn't want to do her job full-time, but it has caused me to rethink my commitment to working part-time and has led to other opportunities. The art courses I finished and began in 2009 (foundation year in art and design - finished - and professional practice for artists - begun) have challenged me regularly to learn, work and create in a group situation which is not my comfort zone; to take my artwork seriously; and to make authentic work, when I have been regularly tempted to make insincere work to avoid putting myself out there.

Album of the Year - I can't stop listening to "When I Pretend to Fall" by The Long Winters. I don't know what's up with that. It's lasted longer than most of my music obsessions in terms of constant play.

Best Place - The. Coolest. Place. Ever. The Mission on the Isle of Wight. No witty stories, the pictures say it all.

New Food - Dim sum. Seriously, somehow I missed out on this one. My friend was making a big fuss about it last year and the one place we could get it, it just wasn't good. What did I expect from a place in a food court opposite the cinema? Then I went to Ping Pong and tried baked, fried, steamed and dessert dimsum. Woo! Call me converted.

The Best Change I Made Where I Live? I tidied it all up before I went away for Christmas and when I came home, there it was. Still tidy and all ready for a big New Year's spring clean and mega-de-cluttering. The studio however, that's still a mess, I just shut the door on it. But that's next.

Best Rush - I get all rushed up all the time. Live music. Making art. For me, rush is very close to flow. Don't laugh now, but the latest best rush was playing Rock Band with friends. In a week when I couldn't spare the time, I stopped anyway and remembered that the difficulty of coordinating eyes and fingers and keeping it musical is a fail-proof recipe for laughter and f l o w. Much needed and much appreciated, that night especially.

Best Packaging - Not in a sitting on the shelf kind of way, but I found out about Furoshiki, traditional Japanese wrapping with fabric squares. Very elegant and clever, and less wasteful. I wrapped several of my Christmas presents this way, and will be on the look out for good fabric to collect for the future.

Right, enough, it is crazy o'clock and I must go to sleep. More tomorrow, I'm enjoying this.