*** I wrote this post at the turn of the new year…and then I sat on it for a while. It contains some personal notes, some Animal Tales notes and a whole lot of gratitude. Now that I am finished with my self-imposed social media sabbatical I am coming back to this post as a great place to share my thoughts and hopes for 2018. ***
I rarely find myself at a loss for words, but as 2017 came to a close I found a certain amount of contentment in the fact that everything seems to be wrapping itself up nicely, and that I was filled with so much gratitude that the only words I had were, "Thank you."
And a lot of this feeling comes down to you and the support and encouragement you've given me: thank you. Thank you for reading this. Thank you for supporting handmade; it's an amazing community to be part of.
2017 was a big year for me for some reasons that you probably already know (the newest additions to the Animal Tales), and some that you probably don’t because they are a bit personal and can make me feel a bit uncomfortable.
I don’t talk about it much, but I started the Animal Tales five years ago I was, unknowingly, sliding into a really deep dark depression. I didn’t understand what was happening at the time, it was like some clouds started gathering slowly and over time I lost all perspective on how dark it had gotten.
When I was in the thick of it, I still didn’t understand. I couldn’t see anything clearly. It lasted just under 5 years. For those keeping count that would be the last 5 years I’ve been working on the Animal Tales.
The Animal Tales have kept me company and most importantly kept me curious. Looking back I can see how much they helped me get through that time. Which at the time was my only goal: just to make it to the next day (which is, according to popular rumor, a magical destination where will always be better than today…however rumors are often misinformed.)
I found a lot of comfort in creating these bite-sized stories that made fun of the life lessons I’d learned. Looking back now, I can see my brain was trying to puzzle somethings out. It was trying to find reasons for life, for loss, and for the lessons we learn. Most importantly I was trying to understand how to actually process grief…something that I’d been running from for over a decade.
With hindsight being 20/20 and all, I can see what I was doing: my creative work has always very much been a reflection of where I am in my life. And during this time I was creating the stories I wanted to hear, cards for those in-between moments in life that are often under-acknowledged, but create the stitches that hold our timelines together.
Anyway, the short and breezy version of this story is that for almost 5 years life was hard… so hard and so dark. During that time I felt my daily accomplishments amounted to keeping the dogs alive. (I’m quite serious, every day I would look into their eyes and think, “well I can’t be doing that badly they’re still here and love me.”) Generally though, I felt completely hopeless; like I was always swimming upstream, failing around making a scene while just trying to stay afloat.
But the same way that storm came in is the same way it left: slowly and unremarkably.
About a year and a half ago I was sitting on the porch and the sun came out (which if you live in Upstate NY you know that while we aren’t devoid of sunshine it is a luxury item) and I felt this deep sense of contentment and freedom to breathe. I very clearly remember thinking, “It’s the first time I’ve seen the sun in a while, the storm must’ve moved on.” And in an instant I had this clarity how awful the last few years had been, but I also felt like my personal clouds were breaking up and moving on. At least I could see the horizon and navigate towards it.
About 9 months ago I wrote a post very specifically about my experience with that period of depression. And then I never posted it because…well, I guess I was embarrassed or I was so thrilled to move past the clouds that I didn’t want to risk jinxing myself and beckoning them back to me. I know I feel an element of humiliation in all of this. But I am determined not to bring that emotional baggage with me through 2018.
Life can be hard, and it can be wonderful. And I am feeling super positive moving through 2018. Already this year I have some big wins and can feel momentum beginning to carry me through the 2018 Animal Tales and some new projects I have on the horizon.
And I feel so grateful and dare I say it almost peaceful.
I will tell you more about the wins and the projects next time. I write, and I promise I will be better about being in touch.
Thank you for reading this. Thank you for your support. And thank you for all you do in this world.
May 2018 be full of delights of all sizes for all of us.