January 4, 2017

The Power of Creativity to Heal

A girl I knew recently passed away on New Years Eve. It was a terrible way to die. Our mothers were best friends, and she was just a few months older than me. We lived parallel lives, each taking very different paths. 

Her death is shocking, and it has somewhat paralyzed me. This place that I call home is undeniably beautiful - the air is sweet in the summertime, the frozen sunsets are candy colored in mid-winter, and there's always that last terrible blizzard in spring, but the smell of dirt as everything melts is an exciting sign of renewal.

Until then, the snow looks like a puffy bed of glitter, the stars sparkle like cut glass, and the sun shines as hard as she can, even with an icy cold, crystalized halo surrounding her. It is beautiful, but it is harsh. It's not uncommon for temperatures to change from 40 degrees above zero, to 40 below in just 24 hours. The winds will steal your breath. The summers can be blazing hot and dry leading to drought, or they can be cold and dreary with massive flooding. It is not easy here. 

Most social activities center around alcohol, and teenagers can become the next drug lord. In 1999, summer house parties turned into meth parties in a matter of 3 months. It took over. Our tiny county shot to #1 in the state when it came to drug arrests. It is highly addictive, especially when all you want is an escape and this is the quickest way. Other drug options have entered the picture. Hundreds of children and babies are currently in the foster care system in our community because of it. Those little ones who cannot be placed go to shelters and are forever changed. Two of my cousins and one of our Beyond Buckskin employees are foster parents. Most of these children have parents battling - like seriously battling - addiction. It is grim.

I am depressed. My tendency is to think, "How can I help? What can I do to make a positive impact? What can I do to help prevent these unnecessary deaths and hardships?" I'm feeling overwhelmed, like there isn't a way out. I know this is not true, but this is how I feel right now, in the dead of winter, surrounded by death and the threat of death. So I sit on my couch and I bead. I believe wholeheartedly in the power of art therapy and the power of creativity to heal, and I've written about this topic before. Beading requires patience, which I don't have, and it forces me to slow down, to focus, to create something beautiful out of so much doubt and sadness, and to think. How do we create more positive opportunities for our community members? How do we forge a genuine sense of connectedness for everyone? How do we learn from the death and destruction of our loved ones so that we can create a brighter future for us all? I don't have any answers, so, I guess I'll just keep beading.