2023 was an exhausting year. In general, I think it was the year when we let the slowdown of COVID fall away. Maybe that fueled a sense of urgency and impatience to do all the things we couldn’t for 3 years. Maybe we just wanted to forget that restlessness and uncertainty. I imagine we all had different reasons, but I know a lot of us were fatigued, stressed, and overwhelmed.
I certainly felt overwhelmed.
We entered the second year of Main Street Studios, when all the initial momentum and excitement fell away to the day to day necessities and the reality of making it work. A particular challenge has been the duality of having a startup location and the history of a 45 year old non-profit. It takes time to know the needs of both identities and figure out how to balance the lessons from the old to make the new work. Time that has often felt scarce in the excitement of all that is moving forward with the arts in this city and region.
On a personal level, 2023 was a year of loss and grief and shifting priorities. It was – is – a lot. I remembered that life is short and the frenzy didn’t have to be my reality. So I opted to hit pause. I reduced my hours in December and took a step back. Some things didn’t get done. Some things will happen later. Some things happened anyway, but I was content to hear about them and not take part. I got to spend more time with my family, walk my dog, clean, watch the end of The Crown, and get some rest.
It did settle the chaos of todos, that sense of urgency to help and participate in all the things. Good things. Things I believe matter and will make this community better. But I realized things can matter and not have to be something I have to do. Because something else I realized in the pause was that the frenzy and urgency to help took me away from my own art, leaving me too drained and exhausted to be creative as I urge others to be.
As we step into 2024, I don’t want to lose that perspective or recognition. How time matters. How it matters to be an artist and not just support artists. But also, and most significantly, taking care of our mental health matters.
It matters in community. It matters with our physical well being. It also matters with how we make art. I am not going to sum up all these thoughts in a few paragraphs of an email update. I hope that it will inspire you to not only take your own care but be part of an ongoing conversation and sense of purpose we have at Main Street Studios. We will host some activities you can join. Or just stop in, make a cup of coffee, and take some time to share your story.
Until then, I offer you my wish to be well and be creative.
As a small organization, we rely on the support of our community to make things happen. Give us your time, your unused art supplies, or a donation to help us with our operating costs. Every contribution matters and helps us to build a space to create, connect, and celebrate art in downtown Fitchburg. Learn how you can support us today.