Before I write another word, I want to say thank you.
I could not have made it thru this year without the support from my family, friends, and devoted clients. Without festivals in 2020, it was especially challenging to do business. Nearly all of my sales were to repeat customers — and that truly means the world to me. Thank you for thinking of me this year, for thinking of small businesses, for shopping local. I am truly grateful to each & every one of you. I am wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas & a Happy Healthy New Year.
• • •
LOOKING BACK AT 2020
This past year has been very difficult for everyone. Personally, I’ve felt off-center for most of 2020. Ideologically, I’ve vacillated between thinking humans need to fight this pandemic with everything we’ve got and believing that the planet is sick and tired of us and doing its best to purge itself of us. (I still lean toward the latter.) As a person who was profoundly injured by a pharmaceutical product that was (up until recently) generally considered “safe,” I am ambivalent about this vaccine that has been developed in WarpSpeed. I’ve watched our government unravel under a deeply flawed leader, and I have ached with the realization that 50% of our country embraces his racist vitriol. I’ve leaned into terribly uncomfortable situations and tried to hold oppositional worldviews in the same headspace.
Sometimes I’ve done this well; other times, I’ve failed miserably.
I HAD PLANS, Y’ALL.
At the end of 2019, I was feeling confident & optimistic & planned to acquire new gallery space, participate in more festivals/shows, to network with more people professionally and socially, maybe even allow myself to date again.
I THOUGHT 2020 WAS GOING TO BRING CLARITY.
Unfortunately, the pandemic did not allow me to achieve many of the goals that I set for myself at the end of December last year.
However, I pivoted quickly & created new intellectual & professional challenges for myself.
SO WHAT DID I DO?
Like everyone else, I took my life online.
I TOOK MY MEMOIR WRITING CLASSES ONLINE.
I bought a monthly membership to ZOOM. Being able to continue with the women in my Intro Memoir Writing & my Advanced Memoir Writing Classes provided me with some sense of normalcy. Tuesdays & Thursdays became anchor days, and I looked forward to checking in with everyone, hearing about how everyone was handling the big (and not always pleasant) changes in their lives.
I TOOK MY ART CLASSES ONLINE.
After two failed attempts, I created a functional overhead camera setup and I started teaching art classes online, too.
When I ran out of acrylic paint in early April, I started playing with watercolors, showing up every day for nearly three months to paint LIVE on Facebook. As it turned out, a bunch of people joined me to paint in real time every day — and LOTS of people tuned into to watch at their leisure because they found watching me paint relaxing and entertaining. I ran monthly contests, sending free prints to people who created art that moved me the most.
I rounded out 2020 teaching two individual art classes each day & offering group classes once a month. I learned how to create successful Facebook Events, and I plan to do more of this in 2021.
This year, in addition to selling my work via my website, I started selling my work LIVE via Facebook and ZOOM. Much gratitude there to my friend Tricia Campbell for helping me to facilitate a successful holiday season. I was surprised by how much actually sold, especially before Black Friday. I will definitely do more of this in 2021, for Valentine’s Day…and I have a super cool, very fun idea percolating! More on that in 2021.
I PLUGGED IN TO COMMUNITY.
Once I figured out that things were going to be okay for me financially, I worked on creating some kind of social life for myself.
In April 2020, when we were all locked down, I set up a Facebook Group for people from my high school. We had several meetings where a bunch of us checked in & caught up. My friend Kim Colby Luber and I co-hosted an interactive game for members of my high school graduating class of 1985 to play together; we played a few other games, and then a few other members from the class took over, which I appreciated. The group is still there, and I know that if necessary, it wouldn’t take much to resurrect activity there.
I feebly attended a few online exercise groups and checked in with a local divorce group via ZOOM even less frequently. After spending five hours a day teaching online, it didn’t feel great to sit in front of a screen for very long, but I did my best.
I TOOK CARE OF MY PHYSICAL HEALTH
I ate well.
I slept well.
And I scheduled that stupid knee surgery that I’d been postponing. At six weeks out, I’m walking two miles a day before it starts to ache a bit. Hopefully, it’ll be even better in another two months.
I TOOK CARE OF MY MENTAL HEALTH
In the ideal world, I process challenging things by sitting close to someone, talking things out face-to-face, and hugging it out. COVID has forced me to manage my own sadness.
I learned how to do this during benzo withdrawal and my subsequent divorce, so it SUCKED to have to move into what feels like solitary confinement yet again. I’d only just acquired a few people to whom I can turn when I am struggling. Suddenly, COVID made it so those people would no longer let me in.
I am eternally grateful to my father and a few close friends in different time zones who allowed me to call or text them whenever I needed to do so.
I LET SOME THINGS GO
I’d hoped to play my drums more.
It didn’t happen.
I hoped to complete my memoir in 2020.
It didn’t happen.
I just didn’t have the mental energy to work on something so emotional with everything being so dang emotional all day long.
Also, I spent too much of 2020 hoping that a certain person would come around and care about me the way I cared for him. After chasing him for way too long, I’ve finally realized he’s not my person. When someone cares about you and your feelings, they want to see you. They want to talk to you. They don’t ghost you; they don’t make you a last priority. This has been a painful realization – and I’ve learned that sometimes people’s actions do not always align with their words, and I need to pay attention both. (You’d think I’d know this by now, but I seem to be in the “slow class” when it comes to healthy relationships.) At least I see this clearly now, and I will exercise more caution before allowing myself to get attached to the wrong person in the future.
MY YEAR IN NUMBERS
Each year, I like to reflect on different areas of my life. Most of these things are subjective, but I also like to look at the numbers, too. After all, numbers don’t lie. Blue reflects numbers that were up from last year; Red represents numbers that were down from last year.
8,667 – combined followers on all social media outlets
1,587 – people on my mailing list
384 – unique pieces of artwork sold this year
160 – unique client sales
30 –people I spoke with who are healing from an iatrogenic brain injury
90 – individual art classes taught
100 – number of ornaments sold
19 – Best selling print image DON’T LOOK BACK, FLOWER FACE
2 – number of shows/festivals in which I participated*
(PS: I didn’t really participate, but my work was represented. Much gratitude to Stephanie Rober Sheedy for bringing my work to Naples, New York; to Lauren Hirsch for showing my work during her holiday pop-up shows at Lauren Hirsch Custom Framing & Original Art in Naples, New York; and to Erika Sorbello for carrying my work at her amazing Gallery Salon in Rochester, New York.
1 – speaking engagement via ZOOM
0 – number of first dates I went on
SO WHAT’S NEXT?
I’m not sure.
But that’ll be the topic of my first post in 2020.
I definitely need to do some hard thinking on how I want my life to look and feel moving forward. Changes definitely need to be made, so the questions are:
- What kinds of things can I change realistically, given that COVID restrictions will continue for some time and the future is uncertain?
- Also, how can I continue to thrive personally & professionally in this extremely challenging climate & culture.
I am curious to know how y’all are doing. What has worked for you this year? What has gone to shit? Please share your thoughts here or on Facebook or via DM. It helps me to read your words, and — if you post publicly — chances, are your words will help someone else, too.
PS: Artwork in this post is still available. Please inquire if you are interested in purchasing.