In the last few months of 2023, after many lonely years of undertaking various personal and professional battles alone (including the custom apparel venture), I began to see a change taking place in my life: the emergence of a supportive, creative community sprouting up all around me. I won’t dwell here on why this happened when it happened. There could be so many reasons. Many of us got to see how lonely we actually were during Covid – how much of the community in our lives had come from our jobs. Perhaps in the years after Covid we started investing in other types of community and it just takes a bit of time to take hold. But for whatever reason, I started to really feel the benefits of community last fall. Not a remote – online community but an in person community that takes place on the side walks, in art classes, at a coffee shop, at community stitch night, in shared studios. All of the sudden, community was everywhere and I began to marvel at how vital it is, how it can help us overcome anything. How it should be treated like air, or water, or food – something that is not negotiable in our daily lives if we want to be a happy healthy human.

In the past week, as I reflected on how much my life has changed for the better as a result of community, in spite of all the usual challenges in my life holding constant (grief, financial insecurity, student loans etc.), I am increasingly seeing community as the solution to problems I have struggled with for many years – perfectionism, or creating a consistent creative practice for instance. Twice in the past week have I sought community as the solution to both.

For example, working on my Great Aunt Joan’s custom blouse pattern – at the final, very challenging step of “walking” the sleeve to the armhole – the process by which you slowly and tediously match millimeter by millimeter the two pieces to make sure that they are the same measurements. When they inevitably are not because you’ve changed the armhole pattern, you need to correct the sleeve and redo the process of “walking” the sleeve to the armhole ad nauseam until they align. I can get so out of my mind frustrated with this process that I lose the ability to see clearly – for the impatient this seems to be some sort of mind torture. When I found myself spiraling I stopped myself and thought – how about we try finishing this tomorrow when my studio mate is here? I can share with her what I am doing and ask for her support to cheer me on to get to the end. And that is exactly what I did. And it worked. Knowing that Jessica (studio mate) was there supporting me in the other room, I finished this process within minutes. Not being alone with my intense thoughts about this process (Blasted! I’m too impatient for pattern making! I knew it!) changed everything.

And so – on the 31st – as I thought about the things I tried and failed at creatively in 2023 – most notably – a drawing practice, I thought about how to use the power of community to overcome my struggle with establishing a daily drawing practice. When two new friends mentioned that they also struggled with a drawing practice I suggested that we commit to texting each other each day in January with something small we’ve sketched that day. So far, in spite of really really not wanting to do this yesterday (REALLY, REALLY not wanting to do it 🙂 – I successfully shared a barely legible sketch of a gnome to my new friends via text. And I got their texts just as I was heading to bed. It felt good. It felt like we can overcome so much in the realm of creativity as a community. There is so much more I want to say here so I may need to divide this into a few posts. There is definitely something interesting happening in Princeton, WV in the realm of creative healing – so many mostly part time artists coming together to finally overcome obstacles to creating. And it has me thinking that creative healing is best done in a community, similar to recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.

So I intend to write more about this this year. I am cheering you on through your creative endeavors. It is my prayer for people everywhere this year that their community of support blossoms and allows them to tackle the most pernicious thorns that separate them from their dreams.

Go, fight, win.