Do you know that feeling when you read a quote or hear a song and the words so eloquently describe exactly how you feel or something you want to say? You can relate to it so much that your breathing unconsciously shortens, a smile spreads across your face and you feel an urgency to share it immediately, as if it’s the ice cream in a root beer float that might disappear if not consumed immediately.

That’s how I felt as I scrolled through my Pinterest boards and discovered a quote I forgot pinning. I could not type, print and mail it fast enough as New Year’s cards. If I could perfectly describe my wishes for my friends – and for everyone – this year, the following quote would be it.

May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful. And don’t forget to make some art – write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.

– Neil Gaiman

New-Years-Card

What I wish the recipients knew is that I have specific hopes and dreams for them that I will be kindly nudging them towards this year, including:

– Pursuing her passion for refurbishing furniture because she can help people with a DIY blog
– Taking advantage of quitting his job to make his long list of ideas realities
– Dating girls he never thought he would because he deserves to be excited
– Growing her real estate business because she has the balls and charisma to do it
– Practicing her photography because she’s able to capture things others cannot
– Ditching the idea that a divorce means she failed when she succeeds at everything within her control
– Realizing that her small startup is actually a big deal
– Giving up his job as a lawyer to live in another country and write
– Continuing to sew because there are so many things she could sell on Etsy
– Inspiring a league of fans with her athletic skills and off-the-field pursuits
– Realizing that his song writing doesn’t need to just be a hobby

Surprise-Yourself-2

Art expands beyond paintings and sculptures. It’s a song, an app, a thoughtful email, a photograph, an event, a blog post, a yoga practice, a video, a recipe, a business. It is anything that did not exist until you. May we treat this year as art. Something that we created. A mark that was left. No matter who you are and where your passions lie.

When I started thinking about this blog post, I decided that I wanted a “Surprise yourself” t-shirt as a wearable reminder for the year. As I created the design in Photoshop and printed it out at my brother’s house, he rolled his eyes. (“Okay, Annie, if you want to puff paint a t-shirt on your day off work, go for it.”) But as I started painting, I realized that my design had a hidden message. Each day when I feel paralyzed by insecurities while working on creative projects, may I keep creating and realize they’re just “Perf.”

Surprise-Yourself---perf

The new year is just like that white t-shirt pre-paint or this blank WordPress text editor I’m currently typing into. It’s only what we make it – and may reveal hidden surprises once we start. Let’s live life this year with the intention of our jaws dropping as we look back at what we made on December 31, 2015.