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The Little Bird That Could

Back in early May, 2 months into the coronavirus quarantine here in Oregon, I tried my hand at a paper mâché project. I was thinking of leading a class on the subject at some point and figured I’d better brush up on the process (the last project I made was back in 2013, before my youngest son was born). I went in unsure of what exactly I’d be creating, but as I taped bits and pieces of cardboard together, a bird started to take shape, so I went with it. Throughout the early quarantine months I had trouble sleeping and was often up in the early hours of the day and many of them were spent adding layers of sticky newspaper strips to this guy. A little while after he was dry and I was thinking of how I might want to paint him, things started to fall apart for me. I stopped getting up early, in fact I had a hard time waking up at all, and found myself sleeping later and later and still waking exhausted. I lost interest not only in painting my bird, but in doing anything other than fulfilling the most basic needs of my family and to be honest I wasn’t even meeting those some days. I lost my inspiration and drive and went into the strangest summer of our lives exhausted, burnt out, and extremely sad.

I’ve dealt with depression most of my life, but this was different. This time I couldn’t rely on the coping strategies I’d developed over the years. Strategies that involve forcing myself out and around people, getting involved in the community, going on impromptu field trips with the family, all of that was off the table. The Gray period I was in lingered on and on while my paper mâché bird sat alone and unpainted on a shelf.

I’m so grateful to share that I’m on the other side of that now and finally feel somewhat like myself again. I’ve rediscovered my inspiration and have begun to create again and yesterday, 7 months after I finished him, I picked up the bird I’d made and started to paint. I’m not entirely sure exactly what we’ll do with this big green goofy looking bird now that it’s finally done, but I love the journey that he represents.

There’s been a lot of talk about physical health this year, but mental health has taken a major hit for many people as well and it’s important to talk about that too. Things can get really bad sometimes, but if you give it enough time, they really will get better! I promise you!! I hope that anyone feeling low or going through what I went through can remember that and work to believe it. Everyone suffers creative burnout sometimes and that's ok, you will get it back! We can get through this, we will get through this, and we’ll all be so much stronger on the other side <3

P.s.- I found the perfect spot for Hank (named for a daddy longlegs my mom was emotionally attached to that died around the same time he was finished) He even got into the Christmas spirit!

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