Paula Michelle is the owner of PGARTistry LLC and the editor and chief of “For Lack Of Better Words” Blog. She is a writer, artist, and teacher. Author of multiple poetry chapbooks and multiple works in progress, Paula has spent her artistic career focused on personal exploration, healing, and grief recovery.
YouTube: The Paula Michelle Channel
Looking Back, Moving Ahead:
Only Time Will Tell
This time last year, I was sitting on the living-room floor of my one bedroom apartment with my boyfriend. We had markers and cardboard, junk food and soda, ready to draw out our vision boards for 2020. In 2018, I took the year off to recoup. In 2019, I let life happen and lived spontaneously But for 2020, I intended to plan well and succeed.
My vision board was an image of my open cranium with all my plans spilling out: pay off debt, get my driver’s license back, pad my savings account, go back to school, lose weight, start a business, etc. After 2 years of life happening to me as it wanted, I was ready to take the wheel and stir life my way. Well, I don’t have to tell you what happened next.
March 2020 hit us like a ton of bricks. For me, the pandemic was hardly my biggest shock. When I received the call that my father died, I was in bed in that one bedroom apartment planning how to go back to school. Instead, I spent the day crying for a man I didn’t know and felt unloved by. However, I was completely unaware that this crying would be the start of the unraveling of my entire life. 2020 was shaping up to be the worst year ever. Within two weeks, I would lose 2 more family members, my home, all of my employees, and my peace. The peace I built up in the years before came crumbling down without apprehension.
By April, I was smiling through the pain. As I was constantly being reminded, it wasn’t that bad and we were blessed. We were living in a beautiful 6 bedroom house on a lake with a kitchen of my dreams. We were both still fully employed and had time to do things we always wanted like start a garden and fish everyday. I was still teaching and doing speaking engagements and finally started to get my health under control without life’s usual distractions. With all the blessings though, sadness found its way in and consumed me. These were not the things I had planned. Choices were being made that I wouldn’t have chosen. Life was yet again happening to me and my lack of control sent me spiraling into despair.
By August, I was in weekly zoom sessions with a therapist. I couldn’t control the nightmares and the days felt just as scary. It became painfully clear that without someone to talk me through it, I wouldn’t get through it. Not only was there a whole pandemic scaring me but the streets were being stomped down by protesters having to argue the rights of slain people of color. Everybody was either sick, racist, or sick of the racism. In the midst of it all, my little brother found himself on the crueler end of life so we moved him in. I, however, was unraveling and grappling with the traumas of my own past including uncovering the type of man my father was, coping with my brother’s grief and mental illness, and facing death head-on more times than I had ever wanted to. As loving and kind as my boyfriend and family were, I needed to learn to be good to myself before I could be any better for anyone else. So there was no choice but to get help and do the work. I wrote, I painted, I danced, I screamed, I talked, I vented, I set boundaries, and I broke down some too. But mostly, I took the time to figure out what I needed to survive and leaned into that.
At the end, I’m looking back over 2020 realizing that this year was not only the end of life as we thought we knew it but the beginning of life as it could be. What I mean is that we all had to evaluate and re-examine the important things. This year forced us to take less for granted and hold close what we cherished, namely each other. I got lost in trying to hold onto my ideas of what 2020 should have been but found myself again when I let those ideas go. I’m mentally stronger than I ever was and my soul feels so much better for it even though I still have a way to go. Crazy enough, I even completed most of my 2020 to do list including getting my license, starting a business, paying off debt, padding my savings account, and I lost 50 pounds. I didn’t plan to get pregnant with this baby boy I now carry but I believe that life happens best when it happens for you not just to you.
So goodbye, 2020! See ya never!
Yes, I’m making a 2021 vision board.
But don’t hold me to it.
Only time will tell!
3 Questions I Asked Paula 😉
- What are you most looking forward to in 2021?
Should the world not be destroyed at the stroke of midnight, I look forward to May 2021. I’ll welcome my lil homie into the world and by the age of 16, he’ll be well equipped to duel for this family’s honor… oh wait, I mean he’ll be happy, healthy, and whole! (I was watching TV while writing this.)
- What is your favorite past time that doesn’t involve art?
I like game nights with the family. It’d hard because gaming comes with snacking but there’s nothing better than talking smack and wise cracking over some no with my favorite people.
- Give one piece advise to someone not planning for the future?
That’s fine. Don’t plan if you don’t want. Do if you do. But either way, make choices for your happiness, you peace, and your prosperity. While you can’t control all that life brings, you can control how it effects you. Cliché’ but it’s your life and no one will care more about it’s outcome then you!
Don’t forget to check out the other “In Other Words” features!
We’ll be back in 2021!