2020! Definitely a year we’d like to forget. From a world-wide pandemic to the ongoing racial injustices, the horrific wildfires this summer to an ugly, country-splitting election. So much pain, sickness, sadness, death and suffering.
But with all despair there is also light and love, it’s just sometimes hard to see. As a "forever optimist" I have spent some time reflecting back on the year and thinking about all the silver linings that make me smile and fill my heart. I'd thought I'd share my Top 10! (not in any order)
Silver Linings: a sign of hope in an unfortunate or gloomy situation; a bright prospect:
1. The Great Pause
This is something most of us felt whether we wanted to or not. With the early onset of Covid-19, we were looking at our neighbors in the East and Europe with heavy hearts, and then in shock as we began a "shelter-in-place" that went across the States. The virus does not discriminate and soon all countries were affected.
This new SIP was as if we hit the Pause button. Staying indoors, online grocery shopping, online schools and remote work. Without the hustle and bustle of life, carpooling, social events, sporting events, errands and commuting, things started to slow down. Life became still for a while. Cities turned into ghost-towns, roads opened up, air pollution improved, and we all found out we had a little more time on our hands. Home projects started, more family dinners with discussions and conversations, new hobbies were made (baking anyone?), pets became happier and amazing innovations were figured out for how to live in this modern pandemic. I would bet that in our lifetimes we will probably never again have an opportunity to have all this “time/stillness/quiet” and it something that I am grateful for. #silverlining2020
2. My Creative Community
One of the best things I did in 2020 was create a Facebook Community. I wanted to make a space where we could come together, share and encourage one another. I believe every one us is creative in some way or another and has gifts to bring to the table. And as long as we kept the group about creativity, art and inspiration I knew it would be amazing.
Finding a community is more important now than ever before. I know that some of the members in our group are alone and feeling anxious through this pandemic, but art, kindness and support have been able to lift spirits and spread hope. Many virtual friendships have been made through our weekly Saturday morning Lives and daily postings from the group. It has been such a joy and heart fill for me this year.
If you are looking for a community for inspiration, fun and creativity then we’d love to have you join in! Check us out: Andrea Garvey Creative Community
3. Family Time
Did you know I am the Queen in my family? Surrounded my boys who are all taller than me now. Teenagers, hubby and a male dog. Lots of testosterone, wrestling, hormones, dirty laundry, messy rooms and all that good stuff. But at the top of the list of “Silver Linings 2020” would be spending a most of time with them.
Instead of figuring out meal times between the busy sports game and practice schedule we were able to sit down, enjoy a dinner and conversation (even if I am bored with cooking the same things, do most of the prep and clean up), I will take the quick 20 minute sit down dinner every night with the family as a true blessing! Many good discussions and check-ins were made along with an incredible amount of laughter as well.
Some other favorite family moments; ebiking around town, hiking and day trips to the Big Sur, countless card games of Shropshire rummy (I still have not won since our trip to Barbados last year) and waking up my boys each morning with a cup of tea (I know, I know, but I love to do it!). #silverlinings2020
4. Launching my online art courses!
For 2020 I had a goal to create an online art course, and was given an incredible opportunity to release one for Jeanne Oliver’s site in early Spring. I created and produced my first course, “Colorful Joy” throughout the months of January and February. Teaching myself the how to’s and technical aspects of producing a 4 hour video course with multiples lessons was not easy. But when I completed “Colorful Joy” I was really proud of myself as I knew it would be a great class for students.
Then boom! The pandemic hit us all like a brick wall in March and by the time my course was scheduled to release mid-April people were losing their jobs, anxious about life and everything else that was changing because of Covid-19, and anxiety levels were at an all-time high. However, as the world was adapting quickly, people were looking for ways to be inspired and creative and it didn't take long before we all knew that online classes would become an amazing outlet and affordable option for many.
With the success from my first course, I dove right into the next one that would sell directly from my website called “The Whimsical Elephant”. Inspired by my love of elephants and colorful mark making with acrylic paints I made this 4 hour online art course which launched in October.
What I learned from creating these courses and teaching through an online community is that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE sharing my art and encouraging others to find that creative spark and joy that I know art can bring.
Now the floodgates are open and I am creating 4 new courses in 2021, as well as guest teaching for the upcoming Life Book and will be teaching Zoom art classes this winter for an even more virtual experience. #silverlinings2020
5. Walks with Scout
The neighborhood never seemed so active as it did this year! With most of us in lockdown early on, and now again, the one place to get some air is to just walk outside and keep going for about 30 minutes. Doing this daily I was able to see all the beautiful gardens as they grow and change through the seasons, make my dog Scout super happy and greet the neighbors along the way doing the same thing. Some days saying hello and having a quick chat with a neighbor was just the smile or the wave I needed to know we are all in this together. And together is always better. #silverlinings2020
All these home projects never seemed possible until now. I am so lucky to have married a handy man that can build pretty much anything (he remodeled our home and built me an art studio!). 2020 was the year that all the big home projects were going to come to an end, but you can’t stop a man and his tools when time is on their side. Some fun new projects that were completed; BBQ outdoor area, greenhouse, skateboard half pipe, outdoor walls, veggie garden raised beds, fence painting + more!
I was able to enjoy more time in the garden; tending to my English flowers and trying to grow veggies (due to the coastal climate this is not always easy!) More time to putter in the art studio and then of course rearranging furniture and areas in my house as I got so inspired seeing all the amazing redecorating going on through Instagram. #silverlinings2020
7. Jeanne Oliver | Creatively Made Business
This past February I was enrolled in a 6 month online course “Creatively Made Business” taught and coached by Jeanne Oliver. Who would have guessed that a month into this class all our small, creative businesses would be turned upside down and inside out?! The live Zoom calls, book group meetings and Q+As with Jeanne now became times where we could get advice and guidance on how to switch gears and apply new ideas and action plans. Small creative businesses were hit very hard during Covid-19, but belonging to this CMB group made it feel like we were not alone and had somewhere to turn to when we had questions or needed support. #silverlinings2020
I can’t say enough about the impact this course had on my business and how I came away refocusing my efforts into the areas that will take my career to the next level. Jeanne is an incredible teacher and mentor. She reviews all the aspects of business in an easy-to-understand way, and has built a community of other like-minded people who have a passion to build something and make money doing it! Creatively Made Business will be open again in February 2021 and is available now for early bird registration pricing. For more information on CMB check it out here.
Thank you technology for being able to let us connect to so many of our loved ones. Even though we are social distancing, not traveling, or in lockdown during this past year, one thing that has given us a big boost is being able to see and our family and friends on screen. It’s the next best thing to a hug!
From work meetings and book groups to family chats and art classes I am so grateful for Zoom, FaceTime and Facebook Lives!
9. Magic Mornings
Since my boys have been in online school since March, my “magic morning” has gone from a rushed 45 minutes (regular school is so early) to a leisurely 1.2 hours! 90 minutes of peace and quiet Every.Single.Day. I’ve always had a morning ritual, but this year has provided me with an extra dose of time to soak it all in.
It starts at 5:45am with an alarm across the room with birds chirping (otherwise I’d hit the snooze 10 time and feel groggy) Not easy, but the habit has formed and I do feel better for doing it than on the handful days I just blew those damn birds off and went back to sleep!
Next comes some meditation through the Insight Timer App (mostly guided) or I try some breathing techniques for 15 minutes. The meditation is a practice that I keep practicing, I am often lost in my thoughts and not in that beautiful space of tranquil bliss, but I keep trying. I always feel better when I do it than when I don’t so I keep on doing it.
Then it’s teatime with some yummy Barry’s Irish breakfast tea while watching the sunrise on my kitchen window bench. I pull out my journal and write my morning pages (thank you Julia Cameron for this amazing practice – found in The Artist Way).
I’m always grateful for so many things and love to add to my Gratitude Jar. This has been especially helpful on days that have been dark this year. Most days I find myself writing “I am so thankful for my family's good health”.
If there’s still time I try to read a chapter in one of my business books. I find these are so inspiring and get me going in the morning to start my day. My favorite this year has been Creative Doer by Anna Lovind and currently I’m reading Creative Calling by Chase Jarvis that is also so good. Both recommended in my Creatively Made Business class! #silverlinings2020
For so many people this year ART (or substitute anything creative) has been a saving grace. I have always called art a superpower, but now more than ever that is true. Just the act of creating, painting, drawing – even doodling has brought me so much joy. It’s a time when my mind can just wander and play. I can let go of all the sadness, anxiety and frustration around me. Usually when I am done with a paint session or drawing in my art journal I feel better and less stressed. #silverlinings2020
I think I created over 60 small paintings with mixed media on paper, and most them are abstract which us relatively new for me. I am loving this process and will definitely continue this trend in 2021.
So if you are disillusioned and saddened by a year full of angst and pain, just think back on some areas that brought you joy and a smile. Think of those times, maybe jot them down in a Gratitude Jar and then start dreaming up some Hope, Hugs and Happiness for 2021!