When I think of beauty and happiness, I usually jump right to picturing summer days by the lake, the wind rustling the leaves, waves lapping the shore, the sun on my skin warming my body and my soul. I think of connection with humans, laughing over food, smiling faces.
I don’t immediately think of winter. Even with how much I love it.
It’s harder to notice beauty when you’re lonely or when everything feels like it’s at a standstill. Buried waiting for warmer days. In limbo.
For me, it’s also less obvious that I’m healing when I don’t feel like I have forward momentum. It’s much more noticeable when I’m energized and when things are moving quickly or going better than I expected.
Back in December, I was so bolstered by how well things were going. Buoyed by the support of the community in Bath, a collection selling quickly, and holiday sales from our Merry Little Main Street event. Uplifted by the people who had come into my life and brightened it.
With the onset of the second lockdown, I really felt deflated. I felt like all the momentum I’d been building had been knocked down. I know healing is loopy and not linear, but I still identify slow periods as setbacks.
I felt lonely and sad. I’m sure I’m not alone.
Depression usually flares up for me in January—again I’m sure I’m not alone. This summer baby gets down when there are fewer hours of sunlight, when there is more rain and greyer days.
So, I was expecting it to an extent. But it was bigger this year. Or maybe it just felt that way in comparison.
One of the biggest lessons I am learning in grieving Tyler is that feelings are more powerful when we avoid them. They sit staring at us, threatening to overwhelm us. But felt, held, experienced, they lose that power. These seemingly-unsurvivable feelings suddenly become vulnerable and manageable. They melt into your embrace because they get the attention they need. And then they allow you to move forward, instead of locking you in a standoff.
So, when my lockdown depression/January blahs set in, I tried to let myself feel the feelings. I got sad. I acknowledged that I felt down and deflated. I let myself stay home on days I didn’t feel like being in my studio. I did yoga every day. I went to bed early. I cocooned. I ran less frequently but went further, feeling meditative and embracing nature.
I took my time with things. I stood at the shore of the lake and observed my surroundings. Noticing that even though everything was grey, even though it was quiet, even though it was still, it was beautiful. I let that sink in. I took meaning from acknowledging that a resting world was not waiting until it was in bloom again to be beautiful, it already was.
And that knowledge made room for painting what I saw around me, instead of yearning for pretty summer days. So that when I did feel like painting, I knew where to start.
And I was able to embrace this quiet beauty and get my feelings out on canvas. It was a way to both embrace how I was feeling and find beauty in the stillness.
Ultimately, the lockdown was good for me, for both my creativity and my mental health. I took more time for self-care and healing than I would have if my gallery was open. I even felt sad when it ended, because I was losing this quiet, reflective time. And had to keep my studio clean again.
Out of this inner turmoil, this darker, quieter time, came some paintings I’m really proud of. They’re experimental and different from my other works. And they are full of emotion.
I’m going to be releasing just one a week, sticking with the theme of slowing down and savouring the moment. The paintings will be available every Saturday at 10 a.m. I hope you love them as much as I do and find some comfort in their celebration of the beauty to be found in the stillness.