April 7, 2020 | Margaret Carlock-Russo, EdD, LCAT, ATR-BC, ATCS
As I sit here wondering what I want to share with you about the current state of affairs in the U.S. and the world, I can’t help but think about the connectedness that has grown from this horrible situation. Like most of you, I am staying home, communicating virtually with colleagues, students, clients, family, and friends. It’s a humbling experience. Many things I took for granted are gone for now. I’ve lived through several natural and man-made disasters, and no matter what happened then, I was able to be there for others, in my role as an art therapist and personally. I took care of myself and my family always believing the situation was isolated and temporary. What we are living through now, does not compare. The ongoing isolation, uncertainty, and fear weighs heavily on all of us, even the most seasoned medical and mental health professionals.
Now more than ever, I need self-care, contact with others, perspective, and patience. The l technology that I’ve counted on to complete work tasks virtually and make life a bit easier has become a lifeline. I currently live in Arizona while most of my family and friends are in New York and North Carolina. Initially, I was feeling powerless to provide support for them. Through creativity and technology, I’ve been able to increase feelings of connectedness. We’ve started a virtual book club, shared many family videos, practiced calm breathing and mindful moments, reminisced, strategized recipe adaptations, made art, and simply helped each other through current challenges.
I’ve experienced similar moments of connection with colleagues as well. Whether it’s been virtual art making, posting of imagery and stories related to the pandemic, being present in moments of great grief and loss, or sharing imaginative ways of coping with restrictions, people are coming together, reaching out to help neighbors, staying home to protect others, and generally weathering the crisis together. This brings me hope. Life may be changed, things may be different once we finally flatten the curve, and hopefully, society will have changed as well. Maybe what we are going through will help us reassess the way we live and what’s most valuable. For me, it’s always been relationships, with each other and the earth. What has been getting me through these stressful days is the hope that we’ll all come out the other side changed for the better.
I wish you all strength, health, and safety through this global challenge.
Margaret Carlock-Russo, EdD, LCAT(NY), ATR-BC, ATCS
Margaret has over 24 years of experience as an art therapist working with individuals and groups. Much of her career has been spent working with people with health conditions or impairments and learning disabilities. Most recently, she has developed Chroma Soul Arts, an organization focused on providing community groups and retreats, addressing issues of aging, social connection, self-care, and wellness.
Margaret is also an associate faculty at Prescott College, coordinating their Expressive Arts Therapy Post Master’s Certificate Program. Prior to serving as Board President, she served as Speaker of the Assembly of Chapters (2016) and Governmental Affairs Committee Chair (2011-2015). Margaret’s academic research interest focuses on teachers’ understanding and integration of students’ social and emotional development within the academic environment.