Just like the rest of the world, it has now been over a year since our sleepy resort town on Flathead Lake and the Flathead Indian Reservation was changed abruptly by a pandemic. Like the rest of the nation, our community lay nearly dormant for over a year; terrorized by a virus – COVID-19. A year of social distancing, mask wearing, hand washing and pandemic stress took over our lives. A year of arguing about protocols, missing our friends and family, avoiding social gatherings intertwined with intense political, social, mental and physical strife. A year of historic loss that challenged the very soul of our country, attacking and in some cases taking the lives of its most vulnerable. A year of patience and breath-holding, anxiety and fear.
But if survival was the ultimate goal, here in “The Last Best Place” and across the country we survived by listening to the science, wearing our masks and getting vaccinated when it was finally available. But for those who did their best and still lost loved ones – I am deeply sorry and forever hold you close in my heart. Those losses remain unimaginable for the rest of us who remained healthy and whole. We are grateful that we survived without severe loss. Selfishness and closemindeness foolishly protects some from understanding, compassion and empathy. But none of us can truly escape, even amidst the denial of science and reality. Our minds and bodies know deep down about the toll this pandemic has taken. Now, as we begin to raise our heads again above the water and the fray, we mourn and comfort and reminisce and see healing hope on the horizon.
How can we all begin to live again? Retake control of our lives? deal with the fear? You know you have been asking that question, even though you may not say it out loud. For me, and for many of you (even if you don’t realize it) creativity, the arts, rediscovering your passions is the easiest place to begin healing. Cultivating an inspired, artistic life is my daily, weekly, yearly goal. During this entire pandemic year, no matter what the days news, or the world’s heartache, my art practice was my “go-to” healing place. Journaling, drawing, painting, learning new processes and practicing art in new realms has helped me to maintain a positive outlook. Now it will be my vehicle to healing and new discoveries.
The next Blog post you read will be about everything I have been doing to make this last year’s challenges productive in my own life personally and professionally. But for now, I think the segway between the past and the present is just this – be open to grace. Be open to possibilities. Be open to what the world has to offer. Quit wasting time living in the past and embrace today. Who am I today? What do I need and want? How can I be my best self? Being a yearling is a great way to start.
Be a yearling?
So let’s get to living again. Get your vaccination. Listen to science. Ask your curious questions of your trusted medical professional, not the internet. Continue to do what is necessary on this road to recovery. But live! I am going to take what I have learned this past year and continue to apply it to my daily life. Embrace change. Embrace knowledge, not conspiracy. Be grateful. Be humble. Continue to consider others, and be kind to others and yourself. Be a good neighbor. Continue to support your local community as you have for these 14 long months. Be full of grace. But most importantly be a yearling. Be open to all that this new world has to offer.
Yes – pretend you are a beginner in this world – a yearling. Full of surprise and excitement at everything and everyone. Full of passion and curiosity about the world. Because this IS a new world we are living in. Forever changed by a pandemic, we will all be seeing each other and the world anew. Fight it if you like, but there is no going back to “normal” or “before” or “last year.” It is a waste of time to do so. This is a new era for us all.
We can choose to embrace change and opportunities or we can live in the past. Either way, rather than fight the flood of negativity, why not embraced the possibilities? Be a yearling. Even though some of the horses above are yearlings, some have a few years to their names. I choose to believe, like me, they remember what is was like to be new. Much like the Velveteen Rabbit, we can all choose to be new, real, reborn. We can be passionate again. Be curious. Be new again. That is MY game plan. Be a new me. Be the me that has fought for life and love this year. Honor those who lost so much by celebrating all that I have. Be an ally for others. Put my whole, authentic self out there in my art, my new design challenges, but most of all in my words and deeds.
Cheers to 2021 and beyond,