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We're all doing it. Looking back over the past year. Gratefully. Sadly. With frustrations. Or for some, with joy. A mixed bag. Like mine.

I started here. Looking through my art journal.

In one class, we created a double-page spread of what we'd gift ourselves if we could. Beautiful symbols of what I wished for in my 50th year on earth. (FITTY!)

Then, we carved lines out of vintage books to create a story. The black branches at the bottom were from a hand-carved stamp I made. The little kitten (lower right) was a delicate contribution from a sweet 11 year old friend, reluctant to mess up my pages. (As if.)

This image is so delicious to me -- it's like cake decoration. I could eat it. It's so sweet. The little spots of color peeking out. The big, red "FOUR!" -- an abrupt exclamation, like a golfer's yelp.

And toward the end of last spring, dear new friend, mentor, and co-teacher announced she and her family had decided to move to Oregon. Images of California goodness swamped my mind and pages -- "How could they leave this amazing land!" ALLOW. (Harrumph.) Yes. ALLOW her to go and grow, like my loved ones have allowed me to go and grow.

And then this image (below) stopped me from looking back any further. (I think it's my favorite but don't tell the others.)

See, I clean everyone's palate after every class. I am an artsupplyhoarder: I can't just throw away left-over paint. So I plunk it in my journal. Piles and scrapes and swishes and blobs. Then somehow this solitary reindeer wandered in. Unmoved in a blizzard of color.

Words also jumped out of my thick, messy pages.

Notes reminding me to check out Joe Henry's music for his beautiful lyrics, like, "Prayer is just a laugh unfurled." I bought the whole album.

And other reminders, gifts from my students, woven in...

"Where you stumble, there is treasure."

"Your heart is a chrysalis through which I see colors that reflect my own."

"It seems that we are meant to inhabit and live everything that comes toward us." (John O'Donahue)

'"Be a little deaf" -- advice for love and work.'

"Follow the arrows and that's where you'll find me." (Stefanie Schamber, friend, mentor, co-teacher)

A rough year. I'm still looking back. Finding arrows, treasure, and love. "FOUR!"

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