I had a hard time waking up and getting out of bed this morning. Traditionally, Winter has been a difficult time for me and my mental health challenge. The light, or lack thereof does something mysterious and alchemical to my brain and heart.
This year, though I prepared.
I bought a ton of spring bulbs to force in my studio. Right now, I have paper whiltes blooming their hearts out. and Ive pulled out a few hyacinth bulbs to start tomorrow. I bought 2 huge bouquets of Asian lillies yesterday and put one of them in the studio last night. I hung up twinkle lights, I cleaned and prepared the space to be as cozy and as comfortable as I need it to be. I have music, I have candles, I have my journal, I have various objects of ritual and comfort.
As I was getting my breakfast ready this morning, I started thinking over the past year, how it has been for me, and tried to look at the really good things that happened.
It was a year of risk, and I am stupid proud of that. Despite a battle with depression and chronic health that I wasn’t sure I would get through, I pushed on. I leapt and created, planned and executed my first ever Survivor Shrine Workshops which have been a percolating dream for a number of years that even in the best times seemed full of overwhelm and impossibility. But I did it, and I was so blown away by the response and the connections I made with it. It was a relief to me that it resonated so much with so many others. I created the Resilient Heart project, and asked for participation and again was blown away with the response and support I received. I made several pieces that are really important to me, work that told me what I needed to do next. I had a solo show, I learned so much about how I feel about the “art world” (another post for another day), and I sold more work this year than any previous year…and connected with many of the folks that purchased my work on deep and personal levels.
Its strange to look at that list and know (and still feel a bit of a depression hangover) that I did all of it despite being depressed.
And here is what I figured out. I went to the the thing that makes me feel most alive; creating. I was blessed with so many new people in my life that believed in me, and nudged me to work and to create and to dare to imagine the “what if’s”. As much as I could, I put myself in the world in scenarios where I would be inspired. I embroidered, I read, I drank a lot of tea. I also cried, said NO a lot more to things that made me feel bad, let myself lay on the floor, hugged my dog A LOT, had temper tantrums, slept too much, and felt like dying. I was afraid I would fail.
Don’t get me wrong, there was quite a bit of failing. But the failing was buffered by the soft arms of support of the people around me, by my chosen family, by my dog and husband, by grace.
So, this is the first year in many years where I find myself on the Winter Solstice not in a depression. I am making plans, I am working daily in my studio, I am creating. I am also cooking a lot (which has become one of my favorite things to do), embroidering, reading, and trying to take care of myself in gentle ways. I am still saying NO…and I am getting much better at it.
I took a course this week from my friend Amy Walsh of The Bureau of Tactical Imagination on Creative Confidence* and I am beginning to explore for myself what this work that I do is. I’ve decided that one thing i really hope that i can do more of is to be a catalyst for others to celebrate their own resilience. And once again, I find myself back at one of my core beliefs…that we are all survivors. Let me say that again.
We are all Survivors.
We survive every day in a world that is often not kind, we survive negative people, we survive divorce, we survive illness (chronic or otherwise), we survive heartbreak, humiliation, loss, high school, our families, etc.
And I am resilient. I am a survivor, too.
So I wanted to come here on the Winter Solstice, and tell you the light will be returning. I want you to know that I believe in your beautiful resilience, that I believe in your creativity. And that I am so very grateful for you.
The light will be returning.
*Amy Walsh is an UH-mazingly brilliant visionary. She was my client but became my friend. She often offers really cool free workshops through her business. Please check her out. You can find out all about her here, including links to social media.