Questions and Answers about the Year in Silence

What do you expect to accomplish from your "Year of Silence"?
This is a question I have thought long and hard on, exploring thoroughly.  There are different areas I expect to gain insight, during and upon completing the "year of silence".  I will do my best to write about each area.
  • Pay attention better - I've noticed in many conversations, people rarely want to listen to the other person.  Time is spent waiting for a break in what the other person is saying so their 2 cents can be added.  While the other person is talking their mind is calculating how to jump in and get their point across.  Or they don't even wait and just jump right in!  I am guilty of this.  My plan is to sharpen my listening skills.  Since I will be dealing with the hearing population who talk...I am forced to be the listener.  I will not use verbal words and the people in my daily life do not know sign language.  Although I will use non-verbals to indicate my acknowledgement of what is being said, I will not be able to interrupt with my own take on the conversation. In essence, "I'm all ears"!

  • Become a better observer -  I want to improve my skills of "seeing".  Since the amount of time and energy used to talk will diminish considerably, I will re-direct energy to become better at noticing subtle differences visually.  When people talk they use lots of non-verbal language to communicate.  These non-verbals can add tremendous insight into the feelings of the person talking.  Instead of just hearing what someone says I want to sharpen my skills at picking up these visual ques.  I plan to notice things visually is in the area of body language as well as in the art world.  Like the subtle color changes in light at dusk.  Mood can be created by the use of these subtle color changes. This will lead to a greater appreciation of science and nature as it relates to the creation of art.   I want to take the time to notice the lilies of the to speak.  Using close examination will help improve my painting skills. I want to see with my eyes...not what I think I see.

  • Improve artistic expression - One of my goals is to translate what I see into visual expression through my art.  My desire is to think and map out how to capture the essence of my it person, place or thing...or non-object.  So during the "year of silence" one of the challenges I have set for myself is to sketch often. Sketch what I see.  Sketch what I am thinking.  Sketch my responses.  Sketch when I don't feel like it...sketch, sketch, sketch!  Like any muscle you want to tone, you need to work it out. No pain, no gain!   I want to increase the speed by which I sketch as well.  To reduce my subject to the bare essentials.  Economy of line yet capture the essence. (Picasso is my inspiration here...)

  • Breakdown pride - I am placing myself in a very vulnerable position.  Exposing my actions and what I think to a wide audience subjecting my thoughts to all sorts of criticism. Positive and Negative.  I won't be able to over-talk or push my view in a conversation.  My time will be spent listening and processing.  I hope to gain a broader sense of my place in the grand scheme of things.  To embrace humanity and enhance my view of the "big picture".  There is room for everyone.  The mind/spirit is eternal (infinite).  The flesh is carnal (finite).

  • Deepen my spirituality - One of my hopes is to increase my time in meditation.  I want to quiet the mind and be still... through art production.  I anticipate long hours of  "thinking".  However when I am creating something else happens to me.  I loose myself in the moment, as if I no longer possess a shape or form. I no longer register time and space.  Some people sit quietly to enter this state of being.  Some call it meditation and some call it prayer.  Whatever the title or label, what I do know....this is when I am most at peace.  I feel close to my Creator.  God created me this way and I am able to connect with Him during my own process of creation. Whenever I come out from "doing art" I feel rejuvenated, refreshed, and ready to handle whatever life brings.  My lack of creation has left me broken.

  • Become fearless - One of things that has happened to me over the past few years is I have become fearful.  As I have stated before when I am not creating I am in my most weakest state. (its just how I'm made) So I am not doing well right now.  So during my "year of silence" my focus will be to create, to battle the fictitious fears my mind has clung to.  Some of them being:  fear of authority, fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of not following societal norms (and if anyone KNOWS me, they know following the norm was never my thang).  The paradox being that through my vulnerability I become fearless!

  • Change my paradigm -  I feel my artwork is too constrained.  I have mental blocks I need to overcome.  When I approach the beginning of a piece my mind gets in the way.  I need a new way of "seeing".  Where sketching, drawing, painting...creating should flow, it becomes a chore.  Its my mind placing unrealistic expectations crippling my ability to just create.  I learn a tremendous amount from my twins, both avid sketchers.  It comes so easy to them because they are in tune with their freedom, not yet tainted by man's judgment. There is no judgment.  From mind to hand the ideas flow. Whatever the mark was intentional.  Its a beautiful dance between what the mind thinks and what the body does. I want the heart of a child to come through in the process of my work. think like a child!

  • Gain self-control - Staying in the moment will allow me to keep my feelings in check. The tendency to obsess about the past or future will be diminished while creating.  The moment you are in is where real change happens.  I can not touch the past or the future, but I can control the exact moment I am in.  It is my choice how I respond to any given stimuli.   Creating will be the vehicle of focus.  I want to cherish the gift of free will.  Everything is permissible, but everything is not beneficial.  Realizing my free will and freedom I am responsible for my actions.

  • TRANSFORM -  By not speaking for a year I will create a climate of change. This is something new and exciting for me, however, I am certain to be challenged to no end.  Frustration is sure to set in thereby forcing me to respond.  I plan to focus that energy to respond through my art instead of verbally.  The process and the journey become paramount.  I have a natural tendency towards problem solving.  There will be many areas to solve.  Especially, how to take my daily frustrations and transform them into visual images?  My hope is to learn something about myself in order to loose myself and thus begin transformation!

  • LOVE - All in all, I want to strip things down to their most essential parts, including myself.  To get to what really matters.  If I do that in my art then it will become a natural state of being for me.  God gave me a gift I intend to cherish and share with others.   GIVE LOVE!  It is then, that I am at my strongest! 

How will you communicate with your 8 year old twins? What about your mother responsibilities?

It is my philosophy that children are more accepting and resilient than we give them credit for.  I would rather my children know who I am intimately than to live of life of "appearance" or status quo.  So....they will know me as I truly am and what my existence is really about. My mission in life right now is to get back in touch with the artist within.  They will take the journey with me. My responsibilities include being real with my children, providing them with a safe loving environment to flourish in.  That will not change.  Currently I am taking sign language classes.  I share the knowledge I learn with my children.  They are excited to learn and share the experience with me.  We play many sign language games together.  There are also times I refrain from talking at home and only use sign language and body language to communicate.  We will even go out to eat at a restaurant and I only sign to my children.  They always know what I want to say and have no problem understanding me. My babies know and love me and accept me for who I am......It is a beautiful feeling!

Isn't NOT talking for a year a mockery to the Deaf Community?

I was having a conversation with someone about why would I not talk for a year.  Another person not involved in the conversation said that for me not to talk for a year is a mockery towards the Deaf Community.  I think that knowledge is key.  Mind you this person is completely entitled to their opinion, however I would have respected the comment more had the person actually had a conversation with me about what my intentions were. Their opinion was that I need to consider people who can not talk and that since I was born with the ability to talk I should use it.  I did not rebut the comment at the time.  I felt more offended and misunderstood.  I went away and thought long and hard about my decision. 

I am not mocking the Deaf Community. I have had a connection with sign language since I was in high school.  I had to learn limited sign because I was in a play.  The production was "Kids on the Block".  It was a puppetry play.  Each character had a disability.  My character was Mandy and she had spina bifita.  She was deaf and and had a hard time talking so she had to learn sign language.  I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and loved sign language.  That was setting the stage for thing to to speak.  I firmly believe we can communicate more effectively if we pay attention to visual cues during our conversations.  Talking can end up being mere chatter.  We can tend to use the same trigger words and the true meaning behind what we want to communicate gets lost.

My decision to stop the chatter is for a very specific reason that has real meaning for my life. I want to become a better communicator.  The visual world is my comfort and joy and I want to effectively take the concepts from my mind and translate them in a visual dialogue. On canvas. So I will use my whole body as a tool for learning how to communicate better.  And along the way I pray I learn something new...something exciting...something phenomenal about another language. Another culture. My hope is to immerse myself into someone else's world and learn a thing or two. All the while respecting their culture not making a mockery of it.


  1. hmmm...well I have to say I am impressed with your thoroughness in approaching your "year of silence". It will be a challenge for sure but one that seems like would benefit more than just you. I tend to over talk all the time in an effort to be heard or because of insecurities. A year is a long time but maybe in making the goal lengthy it becomes more serious and you will integrate yourself more fully in the speechless world. Sort of like learning another language by immersion. I would love to see you in person to experience your journey first hand. You are a ship in uncharted waters, their will be a lot of naysayers but you are a strong willed person with much courage, I believe you will learn great things from this.
    Maybe it's our age but I to have felt the need to reassess myself and have embarked on a journey to live more and worry less, to think more before reacting and to take a deep breath whenever I feel overwhelmed. I wish you luck in your endeavor, old friend, you are an inspiration and I love you!
    Lisa :)

  2. You were always original and unique. After reading everything on this page, I now understand why your doing this. I think they should put an article in the paper about you, that would be awesome. Even as a kid you always marched to the beat of a different drum. I do think this experience will enlighten you. A lot of the issues you adressed up there pertain to me too, I sure can use some self improvement myself. I got a question though, what about work, can you do a job without talking to your superiors? I love you and I'm with you all the way on this one. I want you to be a worldwide famous artist.

    your brother Mike:)

  3. Michelle you overwhelm me with your deep and thoughtful wisdom. You have obviously did your homework on your proposal and I, as your older brother, support it with all my heart... with love, understanding and communication.

    Love you, Ed

  4. Thanks for your details response regarding your expectations during your year of silence. You mentioned some interesting points. What would be most intereting is to see an artpiece including all those characteristics: Pay attention, transform, love etc.