On December 31, 2019, I had plans. Serious plans.
2020 was going to be *the* year, the one where everything came together. I was sure the year was going to be fabulous and had looked forward to a time that we (as people) recreated the hope and life of the 1920s merged with all of the knowledge we have gleaned over the last 100 years. I was even looked forward to the re-emergence of the flapper sheath dress (a look I can pull off very well) and a neo-Art Deco movement.
I'm not sure why I was so sure that the rest of the world was going to go along with these plans but I was.
I also had big personal plans as well. This was supposed to be *my* year. The year my photography and blogs (www.takethebackroads.com, www.riteoffancy.com, and www.everydaypatriot.com) were finally *noticed*. I was going to have regular readers and would be writing for real people (versus writing for the nonbeings in the ether), and perhaps, I would gain enough of a following to get a bit of publicity and maybe even a show (or two!).
This is far from what happened, and instead, I am reminded of a quote from the great comedic writer P.G. Wodehouse who said "Unseen in the background. Fate was quietly slipping lead into the boxing glove."
The COVID closures eliminated almost all of the venues I use for my work, including the city's library and I immediately began to struggle to create any new photographs or cyanotypes. I was left with what was in my archives and using online databases for research, along with what could be Googled.
Personally, it was also a challenge, as many events (including one that was very important to me) were canceled or postponed and I had to say goodbye to a very old friend, my cat Pookie, who had been a beloved partner in crime for nearly 20 years.
Finally, the discovery that we were going to need to move to Tulsa was also, in a word, heartbreaking.
Don't get me wrong, Tulsa is a lovely city and I'm sure we will be happy here, but, Fish and I once had a dream and that dream included a house, in the forest, next to a lake and we found that dream in our Arkansas house. I had so many things I wanted to do with that house too, including installing mahogany floors throughout its entirety. I had put off so many other fixes and upgrades while I had saved up for that flooring and it was a decision that would come to haunt me while I prepared my dream house for sale (although having a bit of money set aside for home upgrades certainly came in handy!).
I also discovered that I would no longer have children living at home (or even close to me) because of this move and, finally, we struggled to find an open apartment that would accept our dog Ziggy (a German Shepard mix) and our girls, the cats' Grace and Slinky. As a result, we are now residing, on packing crates, because I am most certainly will NOT be unpacking here, in a 600 square foot apartment, completely encrusted in 50+ years of cigarette smoke, bad scenarios, and dead dreams. I have been continually reminding myself that this is only temporary and that this truly isn't the worst year I have ever had.
Henry David Thoreau's quote "If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment." has become the mantra for me this year and I am trying very hard to be quiet and at peace.
Right before the move, I was given the book "The Sacrament of the Present Moment" by Jean-Pierre de Caussade, and it has been the perfect time to receive and read this book. It reminded me how much the practice of mindfulness can aid us in our resilience and how much daily expressions of gratitude can improve our happiness and our outlooks. The book also reminded me that it is through our work with our menial daily duties and responsibilities that we often find the greatest peace and that our happiness requires active participation from us, or, in the words of Paulo Coehlo "Joy is sometimes a blessing, but it is often a conquest."
Finding and expressing gratitude has been easy. The apartment has given me many reasons for gratitude. I am so eternally grateful that this (waves hands at the sad little complex next to the freeway, full of noise and exhaust and street lights) isn't my life and that I wasn't forced to quarantine in this place. I am very grateful that our house in Bella Vista went under contract very quickly and that very soon we will be back in our own home.
As for finding joy in my daily duties? That's been a bigger challenge. Ziggy was used to a life of sights and sounds and smells of a 1-acre forest and he is currently stuffed into a very small apartment and, although he is a relatively low energy dog, he is still a dog, and well, this has been no fun (the girls are doing much better, although they too are clingy). Keeping him entertained has been a full-time endeavor and I am desperately tired of playing "pet the dog".
Thankfully, the continual walking of the dog is good preparation for my eventual Camino, which, despite all the upheavals, I still plan to do.
xoxo a.d. elliott
P.S. - I spoke so much of recreating and enjoying the art and vibrance of the 1920s. Tulsa has a large collection of Art Deco features. This year has truly been an example of "be careful what you wish for".