These past 18 months have impacted all of us in varying degrees. Covid has taken a toll on caregivers, families, employers, teachers, students, … all of us. One could say we are adjusting to life after loss. Loss of a loved one, a job, a home, a lifestyle, or our freedom to come and go without a thought of a mask. It has also been a time of evaluation, introspection, creativity, and growth. Some of us have had time to focus on our health while others haven’t had a minute to spare. I, personally, have a newfound appreciation for all caregivers, healers, friends, relatives, essential workers, authors, movies, hiking trails, technology, farmers, nature, and my art supplies.

My Father

I will share with you that my 79-year old father passed away in the care of nursing staff at the Valente Nursing Home in Ishpeming, MI, where he resided with Alzheimer’s for the past 6 years. During the height of Covid with travel restrictions for Hawaii residents, I was not there in person for his funeral, but technology allowed us to virtually attend. In the course of the past year I have said my good-byes to two other dear friends who were important influences in my life. Connection during times like this is so important. I’ve missed my Dad for the past 6 years since he lost his ability to communicate, so his actual passing was the final good-bye. How I would have loved to be together with my children, brothers and mom, aunts, uncles, and nieces and nephews to celebrate his life. So I did the next best thing and celebrated his life anyway with my ohana (chosen family) here. I needed to connect with people who knew my father and who also wanted to know him. I also wanted to connect with the families of my dear friends who had passed and I was able to reach out by phone to one such loved one and had a small gathering with another set of friends for the other who was close to home. Such a reminder that life is fleeting, and we won’t have each other forever.

My Mother

This past summer I had an opportunity to help my 81-year-old mom recover her own sense of well-being. I followed my intuition regarding her apartment situation, settled her into a new community living apartment complex for seniors, found her the medical treatment she needed, and helped her with her finances. The best part was that we connected on a deeper level. She was vulnerable and trusted me enough to share her concerns and feelings which is huge for her. Her burden was lifted knowing she was not alone or abandoned. As a bonus I saw relatives I had not seen in years and some decades. We connected in person. Also, if it weren’t for the support of good friends and relatives who opened their homes and hearts and shared meals and conversation with us I would have felt like the lone ranger. At one point, my husband flew in for a week to “give me a hug” and help on moving day, also his 60th birthday. I needed to be there at that time, and it all worked out. A few weeks after I returned to Maui, the place where my mom had been living was closed. I was glad I followed my intuition. Connection to the people there as well as to my own intuition served its purpose.

My Kids

Our two sons have been establishing themselves independently on the mainland in their own practices. One, a business owner and tattoo artist in Rochester, NY, and the other as a chiropractor and personal trainer in Colorado. We have never been separated so long as these past 18 months. Once we were all vaccinated and felt safe traveling, all three (including my son’s girlfriend) flew out together for a visit with us in May. Not surprising that I sobbed in their embrace at the airport upon their arrival. We saw each other during our Zoom calls throughout the year, but technology cannot replace the real deal. Again, connecting as a family, especially after experiencing the loss of Papa, my father, was essential to our well-being. I should add that my mother flew here at the end of their visit so we could all be together. With everyone living in a different state, travel is a privilege we value, especially now. Travel allows us to see anew and be inspired, but it also has a benefit of connecting us with loved ones, other cultures and perspectives.

My Ohana

A few times I’ve connected with friends and students for get-togethers, holidays, and classes, but my contact in the social realm has greatly diminished. My calendar will continue to fill, but with care as not to overwhelm. I know the importance of connection and the difference between “busy” and “meaningful.” For a while, the world slowed down enough for me to mourn the loss of the past, my loved ones’ passing’s, and to dig deep into knowing I have endless capabilities.

We Are All Connected

The time away from my studio has served to strengthen my convictions and clear my vision for new, creative large-scale pursuits. Experiences change us, and whether we perceive them as good or bad I believe it’s all for our growth and development. Connecting with what is meaningful in my life has given me a new purpose, and I hope that you know you are among what is important to me. None of us are the Lone Ranger. Stay connected and reach out for support when needed. Creating art has been my salvation when I could not be with loved ones. When I was able to connect with my loved ones I was re-vitalized, and brought that back to my studio with a new perspective. My parting message to you is this: Whatever creative pursuit brings your heart joy – DO MORE OF IT! And know that we are ALL CONNECTED, ALWAYS, and in ALL WAYS!
Original abstract soft pastel painting by Maui artist Christine Waara

Connections original soft pastel

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