What a crazy year and a half it's been. It's interesting to have a set period of time to look back on and really absorb and recognize the changes, growth, challenges, and accomplishments. Often we do and think and assess and do and do and do without stopping to analyze or take in what has happened over a particular period of time. Sometimes this happens at the turn of the year, a looking back and a looking forward as it may be. But I don't think we generally really take the time to itemize our accomplishments, be they physical things, emotional things, or other things.
As we gradually come out of this long series of lockdowns and restrictions, and a drastically changed way of life and connecting, (and who knows what changes and restrictions the autumn will bring) I am thinking about all that has happened to me. It seems like a good time to assess everything since mid-March 2020-- all of the habits that have changed, all of the things I missed (and didn't miss), all of the books I have read, all of the things I have made, all of the ideas I have generated, all of the ways to reflect on a set period of time. Mid Sept. will be one and a half years since the pandemic has imposed itself and the usual day to day was interrupted, in Toronto that is. When I think about this year and a half, here are a few of the things that come to mind:
My favorite thing of this whole routine disruption is how I talked to my grandmother every day for the last many months of her life. She passed away last Oct., but my daily talks with her became a welcome routine for both of us. She told me stories from her childhood in the Midwest, we remembered some of the fun adventures we went on together when I was a child, and I shared what my own children were up to here in Toronto. In all of my adult life with regular trips to visit and weekly calls to her, I never felt this kind of daily chit-chatty, all-topics-on-the-table connection with her. It was an absolute gift that I had all of those conversations with her. I don't even know how many times we laughed about how coffee is best when it's really hot and how even in a rehab facility you wouldn't think that it'd be so hard to make that happen.
Another of my favorite activities in the first several months of the pandemic were woodworking. I made a wooden bench with my then 13 year old, now 14 year old, and it turned out so well, that we then we made 2 deck chairs with arms. It's always great to have a collaborative project and we laughed and worked through mis-cuts, extra trips back to the lumber yard for yet another 2x4, and then the pleasure of the finished product. They are fantastic and we use them every day!
I have also established regular zoom chats with a couple of old artist friends who live far away. I could have easily done this a decade ago, but somehow the idea of needing to bring ourselves more regularly together in long conversations was a new inspiration. Having a monthly date creates some continuity and so on-going discussions about making and thinking can develop. It's been sustaining to have these conversations and show-and-tells when other in-person, indoor meet ups were impossible.
After the initial "reassessing my priorities" thinking, I started making ceramics again. I soon found myself in a groove and have made and fired many kiln-fuls of objects. I pushed my ceramic brooch design with "fringed" edges and developed a series of vases and dishes using the same technique. I love the results and will continue to make more in this series.
Some of the other things that are part of my year and a half itemizing:
-baking more than ever
-developing new jewelry designs (more to come on this topic)
-going on ever-longer walks from home
-a regular home yoga practice
-discovering new parks and green spaces within the city that I never explored before
-holding up holiday traditions even with the restrictions of not traveling
And a new favorite silly family rule:
On occasion I will buy a cake from a bakery, and this doesn't happen too frequently since I love baking, but if we're having a store-made cake for dessert, it must be eaten with chopsticks!