It’s been one wild year and after Covid I thought maybe, just maybe, this year would offer a bit of a respite from the last two. As it turns out, I am a “late processor” and tend in the direction of “deal with what is happening in the moment” and then realize the effects after, sometimes long after, the hardship. I have talked with several people lately that relate. Maybe you do too?
As I look through my calendar and my photos and prep for my Annual Planning I wanted to share some more personal parts of this past year with you…
— The year started with a bang, chasing snow down to Chestertown, where they got dumped on. This is so rare and it was wonderful to hang out with Mom. John and I love winter and we really love snow.
— I had a dream come true, teaching a workshop to a friend on North Captiva Island. This was the first time I traveled to teach cyanotype and it was so special. Way back before I started Atwater Designs, I knew I wanted to travel and experience different flora by creating collections in faraway lands. It felt incredible to actually do the thing I had dreamt of.
— Later in the month I sat next to Janey from JaneWin on an airplane which turned into a collaboration with her for their Spring line!
— I started experimenting with my work on different objects as I learned more about licensing my art from Juliet Meeks. How fun are these?
— After being invited to have a booth for a few months at Kennett worKS in 2019 (which turned into 2 years!) I moved out of my space to make room for other parts of my business. It was sad, but needed.
— I launched my Cyanotype Creation Kits (for the last time!) – stay tuned, might be offering something slightly different this Spring.
— I created a dream project of a “Wall of Minis” for a client of Good Bones Design! Graham is a dream to work with and I love her style. Hoping for an install photo at some point to show you.
— My seed packet design was featured in Uppercase Magazine!
— We celebrated John’s 40th birthday in style (we rented a Tesla for the day from Turo!)
— I launched my new website, blog and Shopify shop. Big changes from Squarespace but so much room to grow, which was my intention from the beginning. I am in love with this new site and I couldn’t be more grateful for Sarah Ann who worked magic!
— Traveled to Greece! A life-long dream that resulted in feelings of “I could totally live here!” Oh no. The last day in Greece we got a call from my Mom saying Dad was likely in his last days or weeks and that it was good timing that we were coming home. I’ll never forget where we were in Athens. We were on a small street, stopped in mid-sentence, feeling all the feelings rushing in. That moment was the one I had been anticipating for years as Dad’s health had failed.
Dad, my Papa, my beloved soulmate, passed on the most beautiful June day – June 5, 2022 around 8am. It was crisp and clear, not humid at all and there was a breeze. We had all been with him for a few days, watching him fade from this life to what lies beyond. I have no doubt that he is in heaven. Dad had been declining for several years from dementia and spent his final 11 months in a care facility. I have been scared of death my whole life. More specially, of my father’s death. He is my person. The greatest gift he gave me was his decline. He aged and transitioned and he showed me the cycle of life, right up close. He showed me that it was okay and that it wasn’t scary at all but rather beautiful in its own way. I held his hand in his last hours and whispered how much I loved him and what a perfect father he had been to me. “There is no one like you, Papa.”
Much like the aftermath of Covid, I feel the absence of him more acutely in the past few months than at first. I know that next year will carry with it a lot more processing, but I am overwhelmed by his love. It seems to pour into my life and my heart with abundance since he passed. I carry him with me in new ways.
At the end of June I spent a week in an Artist Residency at Warwick Furnace Farm where I was surrounded by nature, history and family. I felt Papa the whole week and thought on some level that he had planned this. I couldn’t have orchestrated it better myself. It had to have been his grand plan. There seems to be this major divide in my year – before Papa passed and after. I know this divide will likely be one I will feel for the rest of my life – all the things that happened before his death and all that came after. So many things have resulted in a way that I just can’t seem to explain.
Through it all there have been constants that help me get through the tough days: the days where I feel sad or lost or unsure. John has been there with me through all of it, offering his support and encouragement, his love and steadiness. I often wonder what life would be without him and I don’t like that thought much. Nature is the foundation upon which each and every day is built. I walk, I think, I process. I feel the emotions that coincide with life and let them be felt. I know I would cripple at life’s ups and downs without the steady routine of walking and seeing nature’s seasons ebb and flow, being my greatest teacher to keep going. As I looked through photos I see nature over and over and over. The only things as steady are my work and my family, friends and community. Steadfast, loving and encouraging, John and I looked back this Christmas at how lucky we are to have such love in our lives. We are dedicated to our community and we are fortunate to have that kind of dedication returned to us.
If I have learned anything at all this year it is that two opposing truths can live inside of us at the same time. We can feel both happy and sad simultaneously. I am full of love and hope and gratitude, while grieving the death of one of the most important people in my life. My art and business can be fruitful and fill me with purpose, while the rest of life feels out of balance. My friendships and my family offer love and support when I don’t feel able to give it to myself. Knowing these inherently contradictory thoughts and feelings can be experienced at the same time helps my heart to rest and give thanks for it all.
July – December coming tomorrow.
Until then, xoxo Sarah